With the continuation of VBM and air bubble flights through 2021, it is obvious that regular/normal international passenger flights to and from India will not be resumed anytime soon. Since May 2020, Air India and United Airlines have been the principal carriers in the US-India air bubble corridor. Eventually, airlines from Europe and the Middle East joined the green corridor and started operating to cater to the demand for air bubble flights between USA and India. Below is an updated list of the airlines flying from USA to India, their travel eligibility criteria for flyers, and the regulations applicable to their passengers.
All visas to India have been restored since October 21, 2020, except e-visa, tourist visa and medical visa. Those holding a medical visa to India need to get it re-validated by the embassy/consulate before booking their air bubble flights to India from USA. Foreign nationals, including US citizens, planning on traveling to India for medical treatment, need to apply for a fresh medical visa if they don’t have any such visa. Indian-origin US citizens having no OCI/PIO cards, need to apply for a regular entry X visa if they are planning on traveling to India this year.
United Airlines’ US-India Air Bubble Flights
United Airlines is operating nonstop air bubble flights between the US and India. Like Air India, United Airlines is part of the US-India air bubble travel agreement. You can book nonstop United flights between Newark and Mumbai, Newark and Delhi, San Francisco and Delhi, and Chicago and Delhi. The cheapest United flight tickets are available on IndianEagle.com for confirmed travel to and from India.
Who can take air bubble flights on United Airlines?
Whoever is permitted to enter India during the pandemic, according to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, can travel on United Airlines flights between USA and India. There is no visa-specific restriction. US citizens with/without an OCI card, lawful permanent residents/green card holders, and Indian citizens having a valid US visa can book United Airlines’ US-India air bubble flights. Indian passport holders on B2 (US visitor visa) can travel on USA-bound air bubble flights operated by United Airlines.
Air India VBM: US-India Air Bubble Flights
Currently, the phase 10 of Air India’s Vande Bharat Mission for US-India air bubble flights. Since the launch of Vande Bharat Mission in May 2020, more than 7.5 million people have travelled to and from India. Air India that operates most of the nonstop flights between USA and India has been instrumental in repatriation of Indians from abroad. IndianEagle.com is booking travel on Air India VBM flights scheduled till March 2022.
Emirates Airlines’ US-India Air Bubble Flights
Of the few airlines flying to India from USA currently, Emirates joined the US-India air bubble travel corridor in August 2020. Cheap Emirates flights between USA and India have connection time at Dubai for up to 6 hours. These days, Emirates Airlines is serving these US cities: New York JFK, Los Angeles, Chicago ORD, Houston IAH, Washington IAD, Boston, Seattle, San Francisco, and Dallas. Currently, you can book Emirates’ air bubble flights to India for Bengaluru, Kochi, Hyderabad, Chennai, Mumbai, New Delhi and Thiruvananthapuram.
All Indian nationals, irrespective of their US visas (B1/B2, H1, H4, F1 and likes), and US citizens with/without an OCI card can travel on one-stop Emirates flights between USA and India. US citizens having no OCI card need a regular entry X visa to travel to India as long as the tourist visa to India remains suspended. Can Indian citizens with a US visitor visa (B2) fly on Emirates from India to USA? Yes, they can travel both ways – the US to India and India to the US.
Please note you will have to take a molecular test on arrival at the entry airport in India because of your transit/layover in the Middle East. You will have to give your swab sample for the test and exit the airport or take a connecting domestic flight without waiting for the result.
Qatar Airways’ US-India Air Bubble Flights
Qatar Airways is one of the best airlines operating USA to India flights in the air bubble corridor. Other than Air India, United Airlines, and Emirates Airlines, Qatar Airways is flying all Indian nationals, irrespective of their US visas, and US citizens with OCI/PIO cards or a valid India visa via Doha. B1/B2, H1B, H4, F1 and other US visa holders from India can travel on Qatar Airways’ US-bound flights.
Qatar Airways is connecting travelers from the US on its air bubble flights to India at Doha Hamad International Airport. Available on IndianEagle.com for cheap airfares, Qatar Airways flights to India are available from New York JFK, Boston, Dallas, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Miami, Washington DC, Seattle and San Francisco. You can fly to New Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Chennai, Kolkata, Ahmadabad, Kochi, Kozhikode and Trivandrum via Doha. Qatar Airways flights to India from Atlanta will be resumed on June 1, 2021.
Lufthansa Flights to India from USA
This August 13, Lufthansa flights resumed to India from Frankfurt and Munich under the bilateral air bubble agreement between Germany and India. We booked Lufthansa flights to Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru for some of our customers, including Indian passport holders and foreign nationals of Indian origin from the USA until Lufthansa’s revised travel eligibility criteria for passengers took effect on October 21, 2020. Currently, Lufthansa is operating to and from New Delhi 4 days in a week, Mumbai 3 days in a week, and Bengaluru 3 days in a week.
Who can take air bubble flights on Lufthansa?
Only US citizens with a valid visa to India (not OCI card or tourist visa) can travel on Lufthansa flights between USA and India as per the most recent revision of travel eligibility criteria. Obviously, US nationals holding an OCI card or tourist visa and Indian passport holders from the US are barred from traveling on Lufthansa’s inbound flights to India. Lufthansa flights from India to USA can board only foreign nationals including US citizens (without OCI cards) and their spouses with a valid US visa.
India’s travel bubble corridor with the US and Germany has made way for Lufthansa’s flights to India from Seattle, Miami, Philadelphia, Austin, Houston, Dallas, Atlanta, Boston, Denver, Detroit, San Diego, Chicago, Charlotte, Los Angeles, Orlando, Tampa, San Francisco, and Washington Dulles Airport.
Please note you are required to obey the government of Germany’s rule for international transit travelers. You must take an Antigen/PCR/LAMP/TMA test not more than 48 hours before your transit in Frankfurt or Munich, apart from taking an RT-PCR test within 72 hours of undertaking the journey from the US for safe entry to India. Germany’s mandate for international transit travelers aged 6 and above took effect on March 30, 2021.
British Airways: Air Bubble Flights to and from India
British Airways resumed flights to and from India on August 17. Part of the India-UK bilateral air travel bubble agreement, British Airways flights to India are currently serving New Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru and Chennai with one-stop connections from the United States.
According to British Airways’ current travel eligibility criteria for inbound flights to India, stranded Indian nationals, OCI/PIO cardholders with passports of any country, and foreign nationals including US citizens (without OCI/PIO cards) and their dependents holding a valid visa to India (except e-visa, tourist visa) can travel to India on British Airways’ air bubble flights through London Heathrow (LHR).
Only foreign nationals including US citizens (without OCI/PIO cards) and their spouses can take BA flights from India to USA and transit in London without restrictions. Please note British Airways is not permitted to fly Indian Nationals beyond the UK, Ireland and Cayman Islands unless their spouse is a foreign national.
Please note you will have to take a paid molecular test on arrival in India because of your transit in the UK. You will be allowed to exit the arrival airport or take a connecting flight only after the negative test result is confirmed.
Delta Airlines Flights between USA and India
The list of airlines operating air bubble flights between USA and India includes Delta Airlines. Delta is currently operating Air France and KLM Airlines’ codeshare flights via Paris and Amsterdam respectively. Though both Air France and KLM Airlines are flying to and from India, they do not have the permission to carry Indian nationals beyond their hub airports in the EU region.
On Delta flights to India from USA, Indian passport holders, US citizens with/without OCI/PIO cards, and foreign nationals with a valid visa can travel. Only US citizens, lawful permanent residents (green cardholders), and their spouses as well as children, and non-citizen parents of a US citizen or green cardholder who is unmarried and under 21 years of age can fly on Delta Airlines from India.
Please note Delta Airlines’ nonstop flights to Mumbai from USA continue to remain suspended. Passengers traveling on Delta Airlines’ India-bound flights via Europe, have to undergo a molecular test on arrival despite having a pre-arrival negative RT-PCR report. They can exit the arrival airport or proceed for connecting domestic flights after submitting their swab sample at a designated area.
Virgin Atlantic Flights to India from USA
Virgin Atlantic flights to India will be resumed in September 2020. Virgin Atlantic’s London to New Delhi and Mumbai flights are scheduled under the UK-India air travel bubble arrangement. Virgin Atlantic flights to and from India will connect with the United States through London Heathrow. The airline will be operating three weekly flights to New Delhi starting September 2 and four weekly flights to Mumbai from September 17, 2020.
Indians in USA can board Virgin Atlantic’s India flights only from New York starting this September until further notice. Currently, the airline is not providing direct connections to and from other US cities. Delta Air Lines will connect Atlanta, Boston, Miami, Los Angeles, Seattle, Orlando, San Francisco and Washington IAD to New York for Virgin Atlantic’s India flights.