I Traveled on United Airlines’ Air Bubble Flight from USA to India This Month. Here’s My Experience

Like many other Indians, I traveled on one of the air bubble flights from USA to India in the first week of this month (October). I traveled on United Airlines during the international leg of my itinerary from Newark to Vijayawada (AP) via New Delhi, and the domestic leg was operated by Air India. I relied on Indian Eagle for the hassle-free booking of my trip in compliance with the Government of India’s travel regulations for international flyers.

United Airlines air bubble flights, US India air bubble flights experience

Picture Credit: Vineesha Badabhagni

Upon confirmation of my reservation on United Airlines’ air bubble flights, I received two forms to my registered email ID: one for entering India and the other for entering my home state. The forms needed me to furnish such details as my US contact number, a local contact number in India, my address in the home state, and my declaration that I would undergo 14 days of home quarantine at the final destination. It was easy to fill out the forms, an obligatory part of the new ‘normal’ travel to India. I also filled out a mandatory self-reporting form on Air Suvidha, a dedicated section of the New Delhi Airport website for international arrivals.

I did not register with the Indian Consulate in New York for my travel to India, as this requirement was scrapped by the Government of India in September 2020. Indian Eagle also confirmed in one of their travel news articles that registration with the Indian Embassy/Consulate is not required any more.

Covering your face with a quality mask is mandatory right from the entry to the departure airport until the exit from the destination airport. I kept on wearing a face mask and a face shield throughout my flight. The face shield was provided by United Airlines at the time of boarding. Overall, the flight was smooth and United Airlines’ inflight services were normal.

After I arrived at Delhi IGI Airport and got past the customs, I was asked whether I was COVID-19 negative to continue my onward travel to Vijayawada. You can either take a RT-PCR test 96 hours prior to your scheduled departure from the port of origin (first US airport in your itinerary) or get tested for COVID19 upon arrival at Delhi IGI Airport. As I did not carry a negative RT-PCR test report from Newark and my domestic connection time was as long as 11 hours, I chose to undergo a test at Delhi Airport itself.

I must say New Delhi International Airport has impressive COVID testing facilities. The officials took away my passport, provided me with a face shield, collected my swab, and gave the test report within 5 hours. I got back the passport too. While I waiting for the test result, I got access to a lounge and some refreshments. Social distancing was a must in the lounge. The testing and the lounge service cost me Rs. 5000 in total. As I tested negative, I was allowed to proceed to catch the domestic flight to Vijayawada. Travelers should carry minimum Rs 10,000 in cash or card.

The negative test report helped me get exempted from 7-day institutional quarantine in Vijayawada. At Delhi Airport, one of my hands was stamped indicating the date till which I needed to undergo home quarantine at the final destination. The ink was erased in two days.

Please note the customs and immigration clearance is taking longer than usual due to social distancing at New Delhi Airport. I truly appreciate the airports, the airlines and the respective governments for taking practical measures to make travel safer for us in the current unprecedented times. The most important tip I would like to give is that travelers should have a gap of 8-9 hours between their arrival at a major port of entry and their domestic connection in India. Brace yourself for the new normal of travel with a face mask on amid the pandemic.

More Stories of Travel Experience on VBM and Air Bubble Flights

We at Travel Beats, a leading community portal for Indians in USA, are pleased to have published Vineesha Badabhagni’s US to India travel experience amid the pandemic. Vineesha shared her travel experience with Indian Eagle, a trusted travel-booking partner of Indians in America, and gave her consent to publishing it.

54 thoughts on “I Traveled on United Airlines’ Air Bubble Flight from USA to India This Month. Here’s My Experience

  1. Raza

    Wanted to ask if the Negative RT_PCR covid test is needed while boarding the United airlines flight or we could choose an option to get tested after reaching India ?

    Reply
    • indianeagle Post author

      Hi Raza! No COVID test is mandatory for traveling on United Airlines. Yes, you can choose to get tested after your arrival in India.

      Reply
  2. Farooq

    Hi

    I am booked on United to Delhi on 23 Nov with and onward to Bangalore. I have planned to take the covid PCR test at Delhi airport and have kept sufficient time for same. I assume if i have a negative result the institutional quarantine will be waived and i will be required to home quarantine in Bangalore for 7 days.

    My question is – I have planned to stay in Bangalore for the first 3 days at a Hotel before moving to a residence. Would this be an issue ? or would I be required to stay at the hotel for the full 7 days?

    When I fill the forms for the covid test and the self reporting form should I provide the hotel details where it asks for address or the residence?

    Also is the process of getting the PCR test done at Delhi airport going smooth and should not be an issue?

    Look forward to a response asap – Thanks alot in advance

    Reply
    • indianeagle Post author

      Hi Farooq! We regret the delay in addressing your query. Hope you reached Bengaluru safely.

      Reply
      • Gautam

        I am in same situation. I need to stay in delhi for 4 days and then travel to my home town in Madhya Pradesh. Could you let me know what needs to be done in such situations. In the form do we mention hotel address of delhi and the van we travel to Madhya Pradesh on 5th day ?

        Reply
  3. Priyanka Sharma

    Hi I am about to travel to India with United airlines. However the option to select e food preference is not provided on their app. I am a vegetarian and tried contacting United but they agent told me that they are not taking any meal preference due to Covid-19.
    Is there vegetarian meal option available in-flight?

    Reply
    • indianeagle Post author

      Hi Priyanka! Needless to say, all airlines including United Airlines serve both veg and non-veg meals on board.

      Reply
  4. Anupama

    Hi,
    I am planning on flying to Chennai via Delhi by United Airlines in January 2021. Are there any new travel restrictions other than the PCR testing required to be taken prior to 96 hours of arrival at the final destination ? I am concerned about it due to the increasing cases here in the US. Does United Airlines have any specific requirements for travelers prior to boarding the flight?
    Do I need any e-pass to enter Chennai which is my final destination on my ticket?
    I made my reservation directly on United Airlines website (this is my first time traveling to India by United). Are there any special forms that need to be filled prior to travel ? If so, where can I get those forms?
    Any further guidance / advise in addition to responses to the above questions will be greatly appreciated.
    Thank you.

    Reply
    • indianeagle Post author

      Hi Anupama! Yes, You need to apply for a TN e-pass. There is no other restriction or requirement than a negative RT-PCR certificate. You need to fill out a self-reporting form on Air Suvidha (part of Delhi airport website) and a declaration form. You also need to apply for exemption based on a RT-PCR test and upload the test report.

      Reply
  5. Ajit

    Hello there!

    I have a couple of questions. I am an Indian citizen and will be travelling from the US to India with United airlines. My port of entry is Delhi with further connecting flight to Bhubaneswar (on the same PNR). My layover at Delhi is 6 hr 15 mins. So if I decide to get the covid PCR test in Delhi, will the duration be enough to get the results before I board the domestic flight ? (Including the time taken for immigration) Kindly help to shed some light on this. Thank you in advance!

    Reply
    • indianeagle Post author

      Hi Ajit! Nothing can be said certainly. It depends on the rush of international arrivals on the day you will land at Delhi airport.

      Reply
  6. Aaron

    Thank you for sharing your experience. I would like to know the approximate time taken and the order of things from the moment you deplane and finishing all the health checks, customs and immigration and the baggage collection in the New Delhi airport. Im traveling in an air bubble flight directly to New Delhi and I’m bringing my dog with me and all the required paperwork’s are in order with both the airlines and the Indian customs & Animal quarantine offices. I would like to know the details beforehand as I’m bringing multiple checked in bags and a big dog and it would help me a great deal. I’d really appreciate any help you could provide. Thanks in advance.

    Reply
  7. Siddharth

    I am booked on Qatar Airways to fly from Washington DC to Indore, MP via mumbai on Dec 23. I did not receive any forms to fill out like the article above. Would there be a problem?

    I am also planning to take an RT PCR test with in 72 hours of departure. Will I be exempted from institutional quarantine in Mumbai and just undergo home quarantine in MP for 14 days?

    I would appreciate if someone can answer these questions as I am very stressed about the lack of clear information from Indian government website

    Reply
    • indianeagle Post author

      Hi Siddharth! You may be given a film to fill out before or after boarding. Based on a valid RT-PCR negative certificate, you will get exemption from institutional quarantine in Mumbai and undergo home quarantine in MP.

      Reply
  8. Vik Makol

    This was very helpful. Thank you for sharing your experience. Very glad to know that India is taking strict and mandatory measures to stop the spread of Covid-19.

    Reply
  9. SL

    Is United allowing US Citizens with no OCI but with valid Emergency Visa ( X type visa) travel to India? Planning to apply the Emergency visa? Which other airlines are allowing?

    Reply
    • indianeagle Post author

      Hi Soma! US citizens without OCI card and with an Emergency visa can travel on United Airlines, British Airways, Delta and Qatar Airways.

      Reply
  10. Meenal

    Hi,

    Do we have to take the RT PCR test 72 hours before the travel time or we can take it 96 hours before the scheduled departure time at the port of origin?

    Reply
  11. Jalaluddin Gheewala

    i am planning to travel to mumbai in jan. 2021.Ihave not booked my tkt.can i fly by etihad or i must fly by 4 airlines mentioned by you i.e. united, delta, british airways and air india only

    Reply
    • indianeagle Post author

      Hi Jalaluddin! Currently, what airlines you can travel on depends on your nationality and visa type. The regulations may be relaxed in January.

      Reply
  12. Priyanka

    Hi,

    I also want to know if we have to take RT-PCR test 72 hours or 96 hours before flight. I am flying Air India in a week.

    Thanks

    Reply
    • indianeagle Post author

      Hi Priyanka! You need to take a test 72 hours prior to your departure for India. In case of travel to Chennai, the duration is 96 hours.

      Reply
      • Priyanka

        Thank you Indianeagle. My travel is on December 28th. As per 72 hours, I can do it on 25th onwards, but then 25th is Christmas and then Saturday and Sunday. Do you have some more details for circumstances like these? or Could you direct me to a link to Air India where this policy is explained in detail?

        Reply
  13. Revanth K

    Hi,

    I have a 9 hour layover at Delhi airport and am planning to take a test at the airport before proceeding to my final destination (HYD). Do I still need to take a test here in the USA within 72 hours of boarding ?

    Thanks

    Reply
    • indianeagle Post author

      Hi Revanth!If you choose to take a test after arrival at Delhi Airport, then no need to take an RT-PCR test in the USA.

      Reply
      • Revanth K

        Thanks for the info. One more question !! If I have a domestic connection (to HYD) from Delhi and have a negative COVID test, do I need to claim baggage at Delhi and check it back in ? Or is it going to be through check in to HYD ?

        Reply
  14. Naved

    Do I have to go under institutional Quarantine, even having Negative RT-PCR. I’m flying through Washington DC to Amsterdam and from Amsterdam to Mumbai. I’m Flying on 01/01/202. Please update me at your earliest convenience. thank you so much.

    Reply
    • indianeagle Post author

      Hi Naved! We regret not being able to address your query on time. Hope you had a hassle-free trip and arrived at Mumbai safely. Please share your experience in the comment section, so that other travelers will be helped.

      Reply
  15. Gaurangsheth

    Hi . I am Us citizen . I have valid visa travel to India . I don’t have oci card . I need emergency visa . Let me know thx

    Reply
  16. Balaji

    Hello, I am planning to travel from the US to India. I have an RTPCR test scheduled exactly at 72 hours (5:30pm Wednesday Jan 27th) to my first flight leg from Washington DC (5:30pm Saturday Jan30th). I have a connection in Newark NJ and eventually flying into Delhi. Would my test schedule (exactly 72 hours to departure from first airport in US) be valid if I get a Negative report for an exemption from mandatory institutional quarantine ?

    Reply
    • indianeagle Post author

      Hi Balaji! As per the mandate, you need to take an RT-PCR test not more than 72 hours before your departure from DC.

      Reply
  17. Shriraam Murali

    Thanks for sharing your experience. I am traveling from Oklahoma to Chicago to catch a flight to Delhi. I see from the comments section that my RT-PCR test should be done 72 hours prior to my departure time in Oklahoma. I have a couple of other questions as well.

    Under the self-declaration form and exemption form, do I have to fill in the flight details of Chicago to Delhi? or the flight details of Oklahoma to Chicago? I might not know the seat no until I get the boarding pass as well. Will it be okay to fill ‘NA’ or some random seat numbers?

    May I know if immigration happened in Delhi or in your last destination? (Sorry, I don’t know if Vijaywada is an international airport and I am flying to Chennai after landing in Delhi). Also, may I know if you collected your checkin bags at Delhi and also in Vijaywada or directly at Vijaywada?

    Reply
    • indianeagle Post author

      Hi Shriraam! You need to provide the flight details of the international leg of the itinerary. FYI, Vijaywada is not an international airport.

      Reply
  18. Srinivas

    Am travelling tomorrow from SFO to Delhi via United airlines and from Delhi to Chennai.
    So United airlines allows a carryon along with a laptop bag but when i checkin at Delhi Domestic for my transit would they allow the same as Air India website says 8 kg luggage.
    Coz my carry on is already 7 kg and my laptop bag (office/personal) would come around 4.5 kg

    Reply
  19. Amarjit Singh

    Hi. I am Amarjit Singh and I was supposed to fly back to IAD on February 21 from DEL, but unfortunately I have to extend my ticket due to emergency.

    Reply
    • indianeagle Post author

      Hi Amarjit! If you are a customer of Indian Eagle, please call our travel advisors at 01-800-615-3969 for assistance on your reservation.

      Reply
  20. Chetan R Birajdar

    Hello,

    I’m traveling back to US from india. Have flight on Feb 28 from Hyderabad to Delhi to Newark, will be reach Newark on March 1. I have got my RT-PCR done today 26 feb. Do I have to apply for any other self declarations or exemptions via Air suvidha? As I just have 3 hour layover in Delhi,

    Reply
    • indianeagle Post author

      Hi Chetan! You’re traveling from India to the USA. Air Suvidha is for international arrivals in India. So, you don’t need to apply for anything on Air Suvidha.

      Reply
  21. Ramana

    Hi, i am traveling from New York to Hyderabad in Etihad flight on 1st April.
    What is the quarantine policy ?

    Reply
    • indianeagle Post author

      Hi Ramana! You will be required to submit your swab sample for a molecular test upon arrival at Hyderabad Airport and then exit without having to wait for the result. Your result will be communicated to you through an Email or over phone. If the result is negative, you will be advised to self-monitor your health for 14 days.

      Reply
      • Ramana

        Hi, thanks for your response. . Is the immediate air travel allowed once I arrive in Hyderabad.. After arriving in hyd, i need to travel immediately to Varanasi and return to Hyderabad.

        Please advise

        Reply
        • indianeagle Post author

          Hi Ramana! Yes, you will be able to travel as there will be no institutional or home quarantine, if the result of the molecular test taken upon arrival in Hyderabad is negative.

          Reply
  22. Annie

    Hello..My mom needs to travel to Mumbai from EWR with portable oxygen with united airlines…anyone in same boat…and what is needed to travel with portable oxyge.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

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