GMR

First time air travel - A leaf out from a mother's travel journal

4 December 2020


Purvi was both excited and anxious. She had to travel with her infant - alone - first time ever - by air!

Coming from a spiritual city of Varanasi, it was now 2 years in marriage with 1yr old cuddly daughter. Purvi and Vendant, her husband, also from Varanasi, had migrated to Delhi in 2018. It was an arranged marriage turned love. Purvi grew up in a joint family and had enjoyed every bit of it. Purvi came from a remote village in Varanasi but was always a surefooted person. She still vividly recalls her apprehensions of metro city, the day she came out of the train with Vedant at New Delhi Railway station in the summer of 2018. The chaos, noise and splendor of Delhi had a confusing impression on Purvi. Living in a small 2BHK flat in Mayur Vihar, she took her own time adjusting to the fast life of Delhi.

In 2019 Purvi and Vedant were blessed with an apple of their eyes, whom they had fondly named Pihu. All was going great, when March 2020, Covid struck the world. India locked itself for over 2 months. Death toll across the county kept piling up. Purvi was home bound and scared for both her husband and little daughter. Vedant had a corporate job in business development with an MNC in Delhi. After a brief gap of work from home, he was already moving out for his sale pitches and endless meetings.

Vedant was very supportive at home despite all the office loads, however, responsibility beckoned him when his father was diagnosed with liver infection and had to rush to Varanasi taking a flight - the only mode of travel during Covid pandemic. It was more than 15 days that Vedant had been to Varanasi, Purvi felt desolate and pensive.

One night, when Purvi and Pihu were fast asleep, a phone call woke her up. Vedant was on line. He told Purvi to rush to Varanai as his father was taking time to recover and she was needed at home. Vedant had sent the flight ticket to Purvi already.

Purvi was a smart person, but going along with an infant for the first time that too through flight was unimaginable. Her heart thumped. She was to board her flight from Delhi Airport Terminal 3. She had seen the airport only in the news. Despite being a confident person, Purvi was mired with whats and hows of travel during covid times. She was more concerned about her infant daughter. She had no clue.

Next day, Purvi called Vedant, and voiced her fear. Vedant could relate to her. He advised her to visit the Delhi Airport's Website for more details. He shared two numbers for her to talk - +91-124-4797300; +91-124-6838410. He also forwarded a youtube video (https://youtu.be/glnkxbUdRr0) regarding the new norms.

Vedant asked Purvi to have a word with Delhi Airport's customer care number as well for any support. Purvi called up the customer care and felt reassured to know the kind of facilities being provided for mothers traveling alone with kids. She was beginning to gain back her confidence - however, as a first time flyer, she was still unsure.

Today, Purvi's flight was at 12 noon. She arrived at the airport 2 hours prior of the departures as informed by the customer care. She and her daughter were in their safety gear. They already had the digital copy of boarding card in the smart phone along with updated app of Aarogya Setu. She had taken authorized airport cab, which was fully sanitized along with the cab driver wearing face mask. She dropped down at the departures forecourt. She looked for some help. She approached an airport official at the gate, who smilingly advised Purvi to go the departure gate and show the documents to CISF personnel and enter the terminal.

At the airlines check in counter, Purvi submitted her check in baggage and proceeded for security check. With the help of airport personnel, she quickly got access to security hold after security check in amidst the fully sanitized ambience. Once inside the Security Hold Area, Purvi found a baby stroller kept fully sanitized. She kept Pihu in the stroller and chugged along admiring the beauty of the airport. The entire stretch had sensor based sanitizers. The housekeeping staff were continuously sanitizing the high contact surfaces. Purvi felt safe and secure. She could see the social distancing marking and gaps created on the seats for the passengers.

While Purvi was enjoying the window shopping at the vast retail space, she sensed that Pihu was getting restless. Purvi knew Pihu was hungry. Purvi was told that airport has several baby care rooms. She approached an airport official, who quickly guided her to the baby care room. Purvi went inside the baby room, which was all spick and span. Once inside, Purvi sanitized her hands and took Pihu in her lap. After 10 mins, Purvi and Pihu came out, boarding was being announced.

Purvi moved to her designated gate. She was handed over PPE kits and since she was traveling with an infant, the airlines asked her to go inside the aircraft first.

Purvi strutted through the aerobridge, she was super excited and Pihu cooed supporting her mother's excitement. The duo went inside the aircraft and got the window seat. She looked outside, it had been such a surreal experience for Purvi all this while - first time at an airport and first time now ready to fly. Purvi felt reassured and happy. Another one and half hour, she was longing to land at Varanasi and meet Vendant. The sun outside looked so calm and appealing. Purvi would never forget this travel...