Pinaki Gupta recently bought a brand new overcoat, a pair of gloves and woolen headgear for a Christmas vacation in Europe. However, none of those will be packed in his baggage when he boards a flight on Thursday.
Alarmed by travel woes caused by the snowstorm that grounded flight movement in Europe, a section of holiday revellers such as Gupta are heading to nearby destinations in south east Asia or the middle east.
The Guptas have swapped the Europe holiday for a week in north Thailand. “I have lost some money on hotels bookings. But at least I will have a peaceful vacation,” said the Powai-based marketing executive.
Travel agents have confirmed that several clients have made a last minute switch in flight bookings.
“Airlines operating on the south east Asia and the middle east have witnessed a sudden surge in last minute bookings,” said Rajesh Rateria, western region chairman with the Travel Agents Association of India.
Flight movement between India and Europe, London in particular, improved on Tuesday.
The Mumbai International Airport Limited spokesperson said that all airlines barring Air India operated flights to London. City-bound flights stuck at snow-soaked Heathrow airport also arrived in the city on schedule on Tuesday.
Kingfisher Airlines, however, cancelled its Delhi-London flight. The airline press release stated that a Delhi-bound flight was tentatively scheduled to leave Heathrow at 9.30pm on Tuesday. “This is subject to availability of assistance to remove snow from the aircraft at Brussels Airport and arrival slot clearance at Heathrow airport for the aircraft coming in from Brussels,” said the spokesperson.
All airlines have appealed to fliers to be patient because call centre lines are jammed owing to excessive passenger queries.