Parents of the large Punjabi student population in Australia, now have something to cheer about. Now they have a flight of their choice, which will take them directly from Amritsar to Sydney or Melbourne, to meet their wards.
The only hitch is change of an aircraft at the Indira Gandhi International (IGI) airport at New Delhi. The change is expected to be smooth as passengers will undergo all checks at Amritsar and at New Delhi they simply have to board another aircraft with the airlines staff taking care of their luggage transfer.
The flight from New Delhi to Sydney or Melbourne and vice versa will take 12-hours and there will be no halt in between. The passengers, particularly the aged, will have a comfortable journey as Air India is operating its state-of-the-art Boeing 787 Dreamliner carrier on this route.
Ashwani Gupta of Dove Travels, a local tour and travel agency, was aboard the inaugural Air India flight on August 29. He found the journey extremely comfortable, with change over at IGI hassle free.
"An ordinary Air India carrier takes you to Delhi from here and the same is the case on the journey back. In fact if we do not consider the change over at IGI, it is for the first time that a direct non-stop flight between Amritsar and Sydney or Melbourne has been introduced", Gupta told HT on his return.
He pointed out that Singapore Airlines operated between Amritsar and Melbourne but this flight had a fairly long halt at Singapore. This flight was discontinued in 2008, as the airlines did not consider it viable.
Currently, there is a Qatar Airlines flight from Amritsar to Down Under via Doha that halts at Doha for around 18-19 hours with most people not preferring the route.
Gupta pointed out that another benefit of the new Air India flight was that the entire crew was Indian and so there was no language bar.
Moreover, Indian food is served on board, to the liking of the majority Indian or rather Punjabi passengers.
Even though the passengers aboard the flight from Amritsar the fare is charged from Delhi to Sydney or Melbourne or vice versa.
On four days of the week the flight will touch down at Sydney and on the remaining three days at Melbourne. However after touching down at Sydney, the Dreamliner will travel to Melbourne. Same will be the case for the flight touching down at Melbourne as it will travel down to Sydney.
No additional fare has to be paid for travel between the two Australian cities.