Travel Destinations

Maldives changes rules, puts honeymooners in a spot

NEW DELHI: Change in international travel norms for Indians during the Covid surge here has meant honeymooners Manali and Varun Parekh — and several others like them — are spending half of their stay in Maldives planning how to get back home.
They got married last November and had booked a Rs 2-lakh package for Maldives from April 25-30. While they were there, on April 27, the archipelago changed entry rules for Indian travellers that led to a drop in demand to travel and Indian carriers started cancelling or clubbing flights.
The Mumbai-based couple found out their morning Male-Mumbai flight on Friday (April 30) had been cancelled. They somehow managed to book another ticket on an evening flight the same day but had to shell out an extra Rs 45,000 on account of buying fresh tickets and another RT-PCR tests. “We are not sure how much refund we will get on the ticket we had originally bought,” Varun told TOI from Maldives on Thursday.
As per rules, 48 hours before departure for India, they tried to do web check-in for the return flight. “During this process, we got to know that the low-cost carrier had cancelled that flight and they did not bother to inform us. When we reached out to them, they offered us a flight on May 1, which also they were not very sure if it will operate,” Manali said.
The resort told them it was fully booked and could not extend their stay. Going to a relatively less expensive city hotel was not an option as from April 27 Indian travellers can’t stay in inhabited islands and can do so only in resorts on standalone islands in Maldives.
“Our original flight was at 10.40am and the tests were done as per that time. We somehow managed to get another (Indian LCC) flight that will leave Male at 5pm. We paid Rs 20,000 for the new tickets and Rs 25,000 for the RT-PCR tests,” Manali said.

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