Most of the air traffic inside the Indian subcontinent is handled by Indian Airlines. Their network covers the entire country with daily, interconnecting flights. The Indian Airlines timetable contains details of all their domestic flights, and should be available from their offices, listed below. In practice, demand exceeds availability. Otherwise there are two private publications which are generally available from hotel travel desks and bookshops: Divan and Excel. These list both domestic and international Indian Airlines’ flights, as well as the domestic stations covered by Vayudoot, the third national airline, which links several of the more remote or out-of-the-way centres not covered by Indian Airlines.
Domestic flights are surprisingly good value. For long-hauls, as from Delhi up to Srinagar (an exhausting 2-day journey, mainly by bus), paying out Rs1650 (less
than £35) for a beautiful 2-hour air journey over the Himalaya is money well spent. Indian Airlines are also useful for hopping back and forth between the four
main capitals, greatly extending your holiday options. The prices are reasonable:
Bombay-Delhi, Rs2603; Bombay-Calcutta, Rs2603 ; Bombay-Madras, Rs2488 ;
Calcutta-Delhi, Rs2488; Calcutta-Madras, Rs2603; Delhi-Madras, Rs3086. Meals
are supplied on most domestic flights. Special tickets and package deals are also
Foreign tourists are now required to make payment for their air tickets at a price
based on a dollar tariff, which may be up to 30% higher than the rupee rate paid by residents. Some hole-in-the-wall travel agents may offer to get round this problem for you.
It is relatively easy to arrange internal flights, but seats on some major trunk routes are not always instantly available, especially during the holiday periods, and you may find yourself on a wait-list for up to two weeks. And you’ll have to pay in foreign currency or produce an encashment certificate when buying a ticket (see p.21). If you have booked them from home, you’ll need to reconfirm your entire itinerary immediately to be sure of keeping your reservations. You can do this by going directly to one of the Indian Airlines offices listed below. (Airport abbreviated to apt.)
Agra: Hotel Clarks Shiraz, 54 Taj Rd (tel 361421/9, apt 360153)
Ahmedabad: Airlines House, Lal Darwaja (tel 353333/9, apt 319233/6)
Aurangabad: Amikar Building, Adalat Road (tel 24864, apt 83442)
Bangalore: Housing Board Building, Kempe Gowda Rd (tel 211211, apt 566233)
Bhubaneshwar: V11-C/8 Raj Path, Bapuji Nagar (tel 400544, apt 401084)
Bombay: Air India Building, 1st Floor, Madam Cama Rd, Nariman Point (tel
2876161, apt 6114433)
Calcutta: Airlines House, 39 Chittaranjan Ave (tel 263135, apt 569841-5)
Cochin: Durbar Hall Rd, Ernakulam (tel 353901, apt 364433)
Delhi: Safdarjang Airport (24 hours) (tel 4624332); Kanchenjunga, Barakhamba Rd
(tel 3313732, apt 142/143)
Goa (Dabolim): Dempo House, Cample, Panjim (tel 4067, apt 2568)
Hyderabad: Saifabad, near Legislative Assembly Building (tel 243333, apt 844433)
Jaipur: Nehru Place, Tonk Rd (tel 70724, apt 142)
Jodhpur: Rupali Tourist Bungalow, High Court Rd (tel 28600, apt 30617)
Khajuraho: Khajuraho Hotel (tel 2035, apt 2036)
Madras: 19 Marshalls Rd (tel 8251677, apt 142/2344433)
Srinagar: Tourist Reception Centre (tel 71918, apt 30334)
Trivandrum: Near Mascot Hotel, Museum Rd (tel 62288, apt 72740)
Udaipur: LIC Building, Delhi Gate (tel 28999, apt 142)
Varanasi: Mint House Motel, opposite Nadesar Palace, Cantonment (tel 44537, apt 142)
In Bombay and New Delhi the Indian Airlines offices at Santa Cruz Airport (tel
6114433) and at Safdarjung Airport (tel 4624332), respectively, are open 24 hours a day.
Queues at the Indian Airlines offices can be formidable, and in the larger cities,
particularly, you may have to get a travel agent to arrange reservations, cancellations and confirmations. Some of the larger hotels (usually Taj or Oberoi) have travel desks, and a few have Indian Airlines extension counters which can deal with bookings very quickly.
It’s a good idea to check in at each airport on your route a good hour before the scheduled time of flight departure. Flight information is available by telephone from the following airports:
Bangalore: 566233, 564433, 562533, 572605
Bombay: 142, 143, 2023262, 2876363
Dabolim (Goa): 2568, 2788, 3863
Delhi (arrivals):141,142; (departures):143 Guwahati: 82221, 82235, 82279
Hyderabad 844422, 844433
Trivandrum: 72740, 73537, 72228.
One last tip: if you are travelling to India on an open return (no fixed date for your
international flight home), go to the airline office dealing with your booking as soon as you can and pick a flight near to your intended departure date, and book it. In high season, many international flights are heavily subscribed, and failure to advance- book a seat may leave you stranded abroad for weeks. Don’t worry about being held to a provisional booking: you can always change it later on, should you wish to extend your trip.