Kolkata: Salt Lake resident Abhishek Pal spent most of Wednesday checking and rechecking his flight ticket status and packing his bag with baby carriers, jumpsuits and sets of diapers. Once he reaches Delhi on Thursday, it will be the first time he will see his twins. The babies had been born out of surrogacy at a Delhi clinic and have been staying there ever since. He has return tickets for the next day.
“I have been dying to meet my kids since they were born on April 2. But because of the lockdown, I got stuck here. I have tried to book tickets every time the sales opened, but they kept getting cancelled. Once the sales restarted, I booked tickets at the first go and now I have my fingers crossed. I will head to Delhi, take my kids and come back home the next day,” said Pal, who runs a publishing house on College Street.
Pal is among thousands in the city who had been away from their family during the lockdown and will be able to meet them on Thursday once domestic flights resume.
The family of deceased businessman Mahesh Agarwal, owner of the Haldiram brand (Prateek), have tickets booked for a morning flight from Delhi. Meena and Avni, wife and daughter of the deceased, were stuck in Singapore for nearly two months after Agarwal died of a liver disease there on April 3. The two had a harrowing time running to and from the Indian embassy, filling out requests and requisitions to fly back to Delhi earlier this month. They got themselves quarantined for seven days there. “Finally we managed to get ourselves on to the morning flight to Kolkata and will take the 6.05am Spicejet plane from Delhi. We are mentally exhausted,” Avni said from Delhi.
Equally excited to head back home is electronic engineer Tapas Kundu who had gone to meet his wife at Tiruchirappalli on March 21. He had been stuck there since then. “I am thankful that my wife and son are here, but my other family members are in Kolkata. I am coming back with my entire family and my wife will then head to Odisha where her parents stay,” said Kundu.
There are also the likes of Garia resident Arindam Ganguly, whose tickets have got cancelled again and they have no clue when they can return. “This is the third time my ticket has been cancelled and the airline has put that on credit shell. I had booked a ticket from Bengaluru on May 21 and had been trying to web check-in only to get a text message this morning that my flight to Kolkata has been cancelled. This is ridiculous,” said Ganguly who works as a project lead in a dairy company.
There are also many who are maintaining caution and are delaying their journey to ensure they do not get caught in the “quarantine tangle”. “Several of my clients who had initially booked tickets to Kolkata from various parts of the country have been cancelling their bookings for Thursday as they say they want to see how the airport deals with domestic passengers on the first day. Most are opting for tickets in the first week of next month,” said Anil Punjabi, a travel agent in Kolkata.