Covid fear: Passengers express wish to fly on bigger aircraft to minimise chances of infection
- Please book me on a flight that will operate with a bigger aircraft.
- What is the passenger load on your flight? Are all seats booked?
- I have taken two doses of a Covid vaccine. Do I still need to undergo an RT-PCR test?
Covid has changed the concerns of air passengers and their queries, said officials of airlines and the Calcutta airport.
Many passengers, while booking tickets, are expressing the wish to fly on a bigger aircraft to minimise chances of infection, even if travelling on such a flight costs more.
Calcutta businessman Kishore Mandani goes to Dubai frequently. “Earlier, I would prefer an airline with better service. Now I make it a point to my travel agent while booking a seat that it has to be a bigger aircraft. This gives a sense of safety,” said Mandani.
Tour operators said for the domestic sector, too, many passengers are insisting on a bigger aircraft.
“In sectors like Mumbai and Delhi where many options are available, passengers are insisting on booking on Air India or Vistara flights which operate bigger aircraft. They are ready to pay more but want a spacious plane,” said Anil Punjabi, chairman, east, Travel Agents Federation of India.
An official of Air India, which operates wide-body Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft in some of the omestic sectors like Delhi, said they were observing high demand for business class seats recently.
“Maybe because it's more specious,” said the official.
Most low-cost airlines operate narrow-body aircraft with 180 seats.
An official of the Airline Operators Committee at the Calcutta airport said most of the queries from passengers after the second wave of Covid infections were not about luggage but about whether the flight was fully booked or not.
“We cannot divulge the load factor to individual passengers but we tell them whether the flight is full or not,” said the AOC official.
Airport officials are also getting queries about RT-PCR tests.
“We are getting 100 to 150 calls every day from passengers who want to know whether they need to get an RT-PCR test done. Many passengers from London coming via Delhi or Dubai are calling to find out whether they have to spend hours at the airport after arrival to get a rapid PCR test done,” said an airport official.
Earlier, he said, most queries would be about departure and arrival timings.