Explained: What Restart of Regular International Flights to and from India Means for US-India Travel

After two years of the pandemic, India’s decision to resume regular international flights from March 27, 2022 provides much-needed impetus to the recovery of aviation economy. Air bubble flights, especially on nonstop routes between USA and India, cost almost double the fare for regular international travel. The preference for nonstop air bubble flights over one-stop flights shot up during the pandemic though it burnt holes into the pockets of travelers, as there was an apprehension about some unexpected regulations during transit in a third country or stricter post-arrival norms in India. The recommencement of scheduled passenger flights will gradually make things fall back in the pre-pandemic order.

scheduled international flights India, new nonstop flights to India, airlines flying to India

New routes to India from USA in 2022

The resumption of scheduled international air travel to and from India is a green signal for United Airlines and American Airlines to launch much-awaited nonstop flights to Bangalore from the US. United Airlines’ SFO to BLR route, and American Airlines’ Seattle to BLR service were repeatedly deferred over the low demand for travel, limited number of flights in the air bubble corridor, and other pandemic-induced restrictions. With international passenger flight operations returning to the pre-pandemic schedule from March 27, 2022, the new flights – SFO to BLR and Seattle to BLR – are likely to take off in May and October 2022 respectively.

Increased service frequency and seat availability 

Indian government’s go-ahead for 100% recommencement of regular international civil flights will remove the existing cap on weekly services to and from India for foreign airlines. Reportedly, Emirates flights to India are being restored to the pre-pandemic frequency in a graded manner. Emirates, one of the largest foreign carriers flying to India, operated 172 weekly flights connecting nine major Indian cities with the US via Dubai before the pandemic. Air Canada is also up with its spring schedule of 21 weekly return flights to Delhi from Canada.

In view of capacity restrictions to be eliminated from March 27, 2022, Lufthansa and Swiss International Airlines are looking to double their flights to Delhi and Mumbai in the weeks after March end. Bangalore and Chennai will also see the scaling up of weekly frequency by Lufthansa. Delta Airlines, Air France, KLM, and Virgin Atlantic have also operated international flights to India in limited capacity as per the air bubble agreement. These four partner airlines are looking to restore their pre-pandemic schedule for India.

India will also see resumption of flights by Turkish Airlines in the days following March 27, 2022. Turkish Airlines repeatedly cancelled its bookings for India in view of Indian government having extended the suspension of regular international travel, both inbound and outbound. Notably, Turkish Airlines, other than Qatar Airways and Emirates, connects Ahmedabad with 12 destinations in the US.

International airfares unlikely to drop anytime soon

“Higher frequency means lower fares. The restart of regular international air travel will provide stimulus to the competition among foreign airlines ramping up their service to India. The escalating competition on the international front will curb fares for not only economy travel but also business class air tickets to India in the months to come,” said the chief market analyst from Indian Eagle.

He added, “However, there are contradicting reports on this. Some reports state that international airfares will drop by 30-40% over the capacity and routes being restored to the pre-pandemic times. According to other reports, the resumption of scheduled international flights will have a very little impact on airfares in the aftermath of the geopolitical conflict that has already escalated the aviation turbine fuel (ATF) cost to an all-time high. Apparently, jet fuel accounts for nearly 40% of an airline’s operating expenses. If the ATF price hike sustains in view of the soaring crude oil prices, this will rule out any possibility for international flight tickets to get 40-30% cheaper in the near future.”

No airline-specific restriction for Indian travelers

Indian passport holders had been subjected to airline-specific restrictions on boarding in India for a considerable period of time during the pandemic. Bound to the bilateral air bubble agreement with India, British Airways, Air France, KLM, Lufthansa and Virgin Atlantic barred Indian passport holders from boarding flights in India, as they were destined to travel beyond Europe. Only US citizens and/or their spouses were able to travel to the US via Europe. Most of the European carriers, except British Airways, have recently loosened the restriction as reported by travelers holding an Indian passport.

US-India airlines, Indian Eagle flight tickets

However, the US-bound Indians travelled on BA flights from India, which were either ticketed or operated by the codeshare partner, American Airlines. We, at Indian Eagle, have addressed hundreds of queries regarding the travel eligibility for British Airways’ air bubble flights from India over more than 18 months of the pandemic, on our US-India travel news portal. The termination of air bubble travel agreements is expected to lift airline-specific restrictions, starting on March 27, 2022.

“The more routes, the more freedom of choice. With the reopening of routes through Europe for Indian nationals, we will be able to give our customers, especially students and B1/B2 visa holders, more competitive deals for travel between USA and India,” said the chief travel advisor of IndianEagle.com.

India restores all suspended tourist visas with immediate effect

With immediate effect from March 16, 2022, the government of India has restored all long-term valid tourist visas for the nationals and citizens of 156 countries, including the United States. The long-duration tourist visas, paper (regular) and electronic, had been suspended for entry to India since March 2020. Read the latest news about revalidation of tourist visas to India in detail.   

29 thoughts on “Explained: What Restart of Regular International Flights to and from India Means for US-India Travel

  1. Marsha Kelly

    When do you think multiple entry tourist visas for 5 or 10 years will be reinstated for US citizens?

    Reply
  2. Madhu

    I am not able to reschedule my appointment to the Hyderabad consulate inspite of having paid the fees a year ago.has the us consulate in Hyderabad not opened yet for tourist visas?

    Reply
    • indianeagle Post author

      Hi Madhu! To the best of our knowledge, the American Consulate in Hyderabad is open. You can follow them on Twitter or check out them on Facebook or call them at 040-4033-8300.

      Reply
  3. Praveen

    Hi .. iam travelling along with my family to USA in august 2022. I have already booked my flights directly on British Airways website after the news of removal of travel bubble. we all hold B1/B2 visa. will we be allowed to USA on BA flight as restrictions are being lifted from march 27th? my travel agent is confusing me that we might not be able to travel…

    Reply
    • indianeagle Post author

      Hi Praveen! We are expecting the restrictions to be lifted on Indian passport holders’ travel on British Airways from or after March 27.

      Reply
    • Natwar Singh Rawat

      I along with my wife have booked a flight from NewDelhi to SNF.
      16 April . What’s the requirements of RT-PCR for Senior Citizens though fully vaccinated even booster does also.

      Reply
      • indianeagle Post author

        Hi Natwar! If the US is the destination, you need to take an antigen or RT-PCR test any time the day before your international flight from New Delhi even though you are fully vaccinated. Do make sure to take the test at an ICMR-approved lab.

        Reply
  4. Mr Mark Bibby

    I’m hoping to fly from MAN to CMB via BOM (on one Lufthansa ticket). I am scheduled to change aircraft in Mumbai on the morning of 1 April, will I be able to transit?

    At the moment Lufthansa says I need an Indian entry visa because “international transfer via India is not allowed” I can’t get an India e-visa because I’m British – if transit via Mumbai will be available after 27 April it will save my flight.

    Reply
    • indianeagle Post author

      Hi Mark! In our knowledge, you need a transit visa to India only if the transit time is more than 24 hours or you leave the airport transit area in India.

      Reply
  5. Raj Dogra

    Hi,

    I have booked a BA flight dated 28th March for my mother from Delhi to Toronto, She is a Indian passport holder. With restrictions are being lifted, Can she now board the flight from Delhi?

    Please let me know

    Thanks
    Raj

    Reply
  6. Deep

    I have usa b1/b2 valid visa & I am travelling from mumbai to newyork in may with layover at london heathrow. Will i be allowed to board the flight because i am transiting through london. Haven’t yet booked the flight as there is confusion regarding transiting through london.

    Reply
    • indianeagle Post author

      Hi Deep! The resumption of regular international flights with effect from March 27 will lift all route-and-visa-specific restrictions. Hence, you are likely to travel via London on British Airways.

      Reply
  7. Gayathri

    Hi! Can I book appointments slots other than my hometown for b2 visa? Will this have any impact for approval? Please help

    Reply
  8. Vicky

    I am a student on F1 visa currently studying in the US. I am planning to depart US on June 1st and return to the US on Jul 7th. Can you please confirm whether I can book British Airways for my trip?

    Reply
    • indianeagle Post author

      Hi Vicky! In our knowledge, you can travel on British Airways. FYI, we have student-friendly flight deals for US-India round trips. You can call our travel advisors at 01-800-615-3969 for student-friendly itineraries and fare deals.

      Reply
  9. Dhairya

    I (Indian passport holder with B1/B2 visa)have been booked to fly in June from Hyd to Atlanta with a stop in LHR( BA flight). I haven’t booked directly with BA of American Airlines but have opted for and Indian third party app for better customer service. Will i face any issues with a stop in LHR and flying with British airways? Is it better to book a flight with American Airlines to avoid such hassles?

    Reply
    • indianeagle Post author

      Hi Lisu! If you are still unvaccinated, you must take an RT-PCR test and upload the negative result on Air Suvidha within 72 hours before your international flight to India. Do also carry the report with you. In addition, you are required to fill out a self-declaration form on Air Suvidha.

      Reply
  10. Murali Chandrasekaran

    I am travelling to India on 25th by Air India thanks to Indian Eagle for the wonderful support. I m vaccinated twice (A) in India (25th March and 27th April 2021) and (B) booster dose in the US in March 22.
    which certificate (A) or (B) I should upload in the Air Suvidha portal ?
    should I need to take RT-PCR test before I board?
    Request reply ASAP Please. Regards
    C Murali

    Reply
    • indianeagle Post author

      Hi Murali! You should upload the vaccination (A) card/certificate on Air Suvidha. Since you are fully vaccinated, you are not required to take an RT-PCR test before departure. Wish you a safe flight!

      Reply
  11. vamsi

    Hi i am planning to book tickets for my parents(B1/B2) fom bangalore to boston via amsterdam (KLM) on May end, Any travel restrictions?

    Reply
    • indianeagle Post author

      Hi Vamsi! Currently, no travel restrictions, except two compulsory requirements: International vaccination certificate downloaded from CoWin portal and a negative viral COVID-19 test report (antigen or RT-PCR test). FYI, we have the most competitive flight deals from our partner airlines including KLM, Air France, Delta, Virgin Atlantic, Lufthansa and Gulf airlines. We at IndianEagle.com are booking cost-to-cost flight tickets in view of the rising airfares.

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *