With US easing travel restrictions, Indians worried about cancellations

Travel agents ask people not to panic as hotels offer refunds and airlines provide credit vouchers

For the Bahl family in New Jersey, the news about United States easing restrictions on travel from 33 countries including India from November came as a happy albeit uneasy surprise. For the past three months Bahls have been debating about the possibility of bringing their parents to the US.

After consulting travel agents, immigration forums and anticipating no end in sight to the Presidential Proclamation restricting entry of travelers from India, they decided to have their parents travel via Dubai to the US. With plans in place for a visit around Diwali, they made arrangements for visa, hotel stay and flight bookings through a travel agent.

Now with the sudden announcement of easing of restrictions beginning November, the family is anxious on whether they should cancel their connecting travel tickets and stay in Dubai or wait some more for the confirmations. Besides this, the family is worried about the amount they will lose in cancellations too.

The Bahls are not the only ones anxious on what the new developments may look like. Ashutosh Kumar, Delhi based travel and tour operator, who had in the recent past seen an unprecedented demand for UAE visa and stay requests for Indians wishing to travel to the US, has already received several cancellation requests.

Read: Covid travels: Going to the US via Dubai to beat the ban (September 21, 2021)

“It’s only been two days but we already have received about a dozen calls from anxious travelers on whether they can cancel their visa applications and travel arrangements in Dubai,” he says.

“Some of my other business colleagues who have been arranging travels to Maldives and Serbia also have a similar problem. They are not sure what the procedures are. There is almost a scurry right now with people looking at possible ways to cancel their long stay plans in a third country,” Kumar says.

However, New Jersey based Leena Bhatt, owner of Shivam Travels who have been arranging for travel during the Covid from India to the US via a third country advises travelers not to panic.

“Hotels are refundable provided they cancel in a timely manner. Also people should not worry that they will lose their money. Airlines will issue a credit voucher to be used within a year,” she says. “It does not have to be for the same route, they can use it for the same airline to travel worldwide.”

Read: What are India’s Latest Guidelines on International Travel? (September 21, 2021)

Anushka Shah from Colorado says, “I am still keeping my plans as planned. We have a tentative travel coming up for my in-laws but we are yet not changing a thing because from what we understand there has been no confirmed date announced for ending the travel ban.”

White House coronavirus response coordinator Jeff Zients announced on Monday that the US will ease travel restrictions for travelers from countries such as the UK and India provided they are fully vaccinated. The changes will take effect in early November.

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