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Flight Booking (Domestic)

If your travel itinerary is going to include domestic flights within India itself, then you’ll  robably be dealing with Indian Airlines (a quite separate body from Air India), which runs an extensive  etwork of flights connecting most major towns and cities in the country. In general, it’s wiser to book all your domestic flights from home, as booking within India can be time-consuming, but in practice, this is not always possible. The computerisation of Indian Airlines reservations in 985 has, in theory, made bookings far easier to confirm. Many international airlines are now linked by computer to Indian Airlines and most reservations should be  onfirmed instantly from any part of the world. Reconfirm all your domestic flights, though, as soon as you land in India with the nearest Indian Airlines office. Failure to do so could well jeopardise your entire travel itinerary. This can be done either by using an established travel agent—in the major cities most travel agents have direct access to the Indian Airlines computer system—or by going direct to one of the Indian Airlines offices listed in Getting Around.

 Computerisation has, however, made Indian Airlines’ cheap ‘package’ deals much more attractive than in the bad old days of double-booked seats and foiled reservation requests. The ‘Discover India’ ticket (US$400) offers 21 days’ unlimited economy class travel on all domestic Indian Airline services); the ‘Youth Fare’ ticket (75% of normal fare) offers 120 days’ unlimited travel, if you’re under 30); the ‘Tour India’ ticket (US$300) offers 14 days, over any six sectors), or here’s the ‘Wonderfare’ ticket (US$200 for 7 days, also over any 6 sectors of your choice in one of the 4 regions). There is also a ‘South India Excursion’ which gives a 30% discount on the US$ tariff for travel on specified south India sectors. With all these schemes, you are allowed to visit no airport more than once, except for the purpose of a connecting flight or when in transit.

 A third airline, Vayudoot, was established in 1981 as a feeder airline providing links with  maller airfields and towns. Covering a number of destinations within India not served by Indian  irlines, there are also plans for Vayudoot to operate international charters and haj flights to Saudi Arabia. Ask your nearest travel agent or Government of India tourist office for details. Delays of one to hree hours on popular domestic flights still occur but not as frequently as before. Wise travellers always check the current flight situation (i.e. phone ahead to the airport) before leaving their hotel.

Since 1990, a more liberalised government policy has allowed private airlines andcharter  ervices to be set up. At the time of writing, these new operations are still in their infancy. East West Airlines operates Boeing 737s from Bombay to Ahmedabad, Calicut, Cochin, Coimbatore, Mangalore and New Delhi. Jagson’s Airlines links New Delhi with Kulu, Shimla and Dehra Dun. From Bangalore UB Air links Madras, Tirupati and Mangalore.

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