In a letter to the ministry, the Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO) said it had heard from members of its association that their customers and incoming foreign travelers were having problems with the “Air Suvidha” form.
The “Air Suvidha” form was introduced by the Ministries of Civil Aviation and Health and Family Welfare after the Covid-19 outbreak. It was designed as a contactless self-declaration portal for international passengers entering India.
The industry body also said the government should relax travel standards for inbound passengers in line with guidelines followed by other countries.
“Travelers find it difficult to upload their passports and vaccination certificates in low resolution on ‘Air Suvidha’. Some fill in these forms at the last minute at airports, as those who book tickets online through platforms information that it is a mandatory requirement,” said IATO President Rajiv Mehra. “It becomes a nuisance in some cases. Airlines insist on these forms and no one asks for them or checks at domestic airports.”
The “Air Suvidha” form is mandatory for all international passengers. But after regular international commercial air travel resumed, travelers complained of technical glitches and errors in uploading documents to the portal, which in some cases even led to missed flights.
Sudhir Kumar, who runs restaurants in Delhi NCR, told ET that he missed his flight on his way back to India from Thailand with his family because they couldn’t complete the “Air Suvidha” form in time. The rebooking of flight tickets and hotel accommodation cost him about Rs 1 lakh more. “We had no information regarding Air Suvidha during our trip from New Delhi and even before coming to the airport in Thailand. You need to upload your passport copy and vaccination certificate in a zipped file and we had no not our laptops,” he said. “We wasted our time at the airport…and couldn’t find a good internet connection. We had to buy tickets for the next day because we had missed our flight.”
Gaurav Jain, a partner at Travel Solutions, an International Air Transport Association (IATA) approved travel management company based in New Delhi, said the “Air Suvidha” form is a “completely chaotic” exercise for those who travel to India from other countries.
“During our daily interactions with representatives of various international airlines, we know that many Indians are missing return flights to India. This is the case with every international flight returning to India,” a- he said, “Even as an agency, we are tired of filling out so many paperwork for our clients that are not even verified once they land in India. It is a completely futile exercise. Most countries have now abolished such forms.
Rajeev Kale, President and Country Head for Holidays, MICE and Visa, at
(India) Limited, said that to ensure the smooth running of the tour, the company regularly updates its customers with all important information before their departure.
“Documents should be uploaded to the portal in a prescribed file size and specific format, which requires sufficient time and high-speed internet connection. We advise our customers to upload their documents including passport, certificate vaccination and a negative RT-PCR certificate well before they leave to avoid last-minute hassles,” he said.
In a tweet earlier this week, cosmetic hair transplant surgeon Satya Saraswat said the Air Suvidha portal “usually doesn’t work.” Another Twitter user @VijayRBrahmbhat tweeted at Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Prime Minister’s Office saying the format of the form makes it difficult to fill out.
Twitter user @ilikeit1984 tweeted at Delhi airport stating that he was denied boarding at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris by Gulf Air because he had no impression of the “Air Suvidha” form.
Another user @mjoshuaben said he was in Tel Aviv returning to India and many Indians did not know the form and were forced to fill it out at the airport. “I helped an Israeli and he took the flight very late. Everyone was tense. When we landed, no one asked us about it,” he said.
Emails sent to the Ministries of Civil Aviation, Health and Tourism went unanswered until press time.
Sabina Chopra, co-founder of Yatra.com, said the company is in constant contact with its customers to guide them through the process and provide hassle-free solutions whenever needed.
A spokesperson for MakeMyTrip said the company is working closely with authorities, airline partners and tourist boards to ensure travelers are duly informed of evolving guidelines for a smooth flight experience.
Cleartrip said it has not received any specific inquiries regarding Air Suvidha or related scenarios.