With Indians stranded in many places abroad, efforts have been on to bring them back. These have been mammoth exercises considering the health, safety and coordination required. It feels like a logistical nightmare, and one that many wouldn't really know about considering it is an unprecedented situation.
To that end, 26-year-old Meghana Manjunath, who returned from London to Bengaluru recently on an Air India flight, recounted her experience on Twitter so people would have a better idea.
Live tweeting my journey from London to Bangalore on the first set of @airindiain flights. This will just be me sharing my personal experience. If it can help someone else plan their journey then ✌🏼#VandeBharatMission #nammabengalooru— Meghana (@GoingMeghana) May 10, 2020
On May 11, Air India flight carrying 323 arrived from London in Bengaluru after a stopver in Delhi.
Love to @airindiain for handling this as well as they could in such an emergency. Responsive to queries.— Meghana (@GoingMeghana) May 10, 2020
My flight with British Airways got cancelled in March, but there was no one answering queries or helping with refunds. #VandeBharatMission
Thermal screening at boarding gate. Those with fever will not be boarded. If you show any symptoms, you will be offload-ed and put into quarantine facilities in the UK, at your cost. Pls don't fly if you have any symptoms. #VandeBharatMission pic.twitter.com/rEtZiya0uU— Meghana (@GoingMeghana) May 10, 2020
She was quite meticulous in her documentation of the entire experience.
Boarded after 1.5 hours delay (as of now) due to problems in ticketing. Only 2/3rds of the plane has received protective equipment as of now.— Meghana (@GoingMeghana) May 10, 2020
Two big boxes of packaged food and water placed on each seat. #VandeBharatMission pic.twitter.com/RK00yG5S3n
Once they landed, they had to wait for an hour to get off the plane, exiting 2 rows at a time to maintain social distancing.
Post landing:— Meghana (@GoingMeghana) May 11, 2020
1. Health check
3. Baggage collection
4. Hotel booking#VandeBharathMission
Thank you to staff at @airindiain! 🌟— Meghana (@GoingMeghana) May 11, 2020
Also, thx to @BLRAirport staff cleaning chairs, distributing sandwiches and water bottles waiting in facility booking queue. Can't be comfortable working in those PPE suits. #VandeBharatMission pic.twitter.com/CU1kamsVDL
Manjunath, an architecture student at the University of Sheffield, then described the rest of the facilities provided, regarding lodging and pricing.
There is no choice of hotel provided. You get to choose which category and a hotel will be assigned to you.— Meghana (@GoingMeghana) May 11, 2020
As of now it's Keys Whitefield for 3 star and Taj Yeshwanthpur for 5 star. #VandeBharatMission
Quarantine facilities available:— Meghana (@GoingMeghana) May 11, 2020
5* sgl occupancy ₹4100
5* dbl occupancy ₹5900
3* single ₹1850
3* double ₹2450
No star ₹1200#VandeBharatMission
Taken by BMTC buses, 20 pax in each, to respective quarantine facilities. Check-in was smooth. No payment collected upfront.— Meghana (@GoingMeghana) May 11, 2020
Might zone out for a while now ☕🍱🚿🛌 #VandeBharathMission
Once they're at the lodging, daily health checkups are done consisting of swab tests, which claims were not painful at all.
Day 1 swab test of nose and throat done at the hotel. It is not painful in any way, as I was scared into believing. #VandeBharatMission— Meghana (@GoingMeghana) May 11, 2020
To minimise contact with staff, food is left outside the door, and other measures are taken at the hotel.
Meals are placed outside our doors to avoid contact with staff. Towels, soap, coffee,tea, water bottles placed in corridor to pick up when reqd.— Meghana (@GoingMeghana) May 13, 2020
Extra masks, sanitiser stations in lobby.
NB: This is in 5* accommodation (YMMV) pic.twitter.com/H1iqs7Mmev
It's good to know that she managed to make her way back to India, and that there is hope for others. Considering the massive scale of this operation, it seems to have gone as well as hoped. In the end, the most important aspect is the health and safety of everyone involved.