US-bound Students Suffer As Flights Get Cancelled, Rescheduled

Several US-bound students are stuck in India as the flights have been recently cancelled or rescheduled. Though Indian students who have a valid visa can fly to the US and join their universities in August, the cancellation or rescheduling of flights has put many into obscurity.  

On May 4, 2021, United States had banned certain categories of non-immigrant travellers from India from entering the country. “The flyers expected US to relax these restrictions as the Covid cases have gone down. Anticipating this, they booked US flight tickets. But the restrictions haven’t been lifted yet and so this category of flyers have been cancelling their tickets,” an Air India source was quoted as saying. 

“A number of our fully-booked US flights now have many empty seats and so we were forced to cancel, reschedule. The students booked on these flights unfortunately took the collateral damage,” the source further said. 

After the Chinese, Indians are the second-largest community of international students in the United States. While the Chinese make up 35 per cent of all international students in the US, Indians account for 18 per cent. 

There was a four per cent drop in the total number of Indian students enrolled in the US in 2019-2020, at 13,511, the annual Open Doors Report on International Student Exchange had revealed. During that period, as many as 1,93,124 students attended colleges and universities in the US from India.  

Among the universities most preferred by Indians in the US are Carnegie Mellon University, Illinois Institute of Technology, University of San Diego, University of Toronto and more.  

The options for US travel are now few, and fares have increased significantly, as transit hubs like Dubai, London shut for Indians. 

According to an Air India spokesperson, some AI flights to the USA had to be rescheduled or cancelled after the May 4 US Presidential Proclamation restricting air traffic from India. 

“These were effected well in advance and passengers kept aware of the cancellations and rescheduling of their travel itinerary – which had to be done due to reasons beyond our control. Vis-a-vis the approximate 40 flights we used to operate to the USA before the presidential proclamation, we could operate 11 flights per week to USA in July. The frequency is being increased to 21 from August 7. In order to clear the passenger rush, an additional flight per week is also planned to Newark from Delhi over and above the existing flights to the US. With the frequency being enhanced on the US sector, all-out efforts are being made to accommodate as many passengers as possible in our US-bound flights from August,” the Air India spokesperson said. 

Starting from August 1 or later, students with valid F-1 or M-1 visas who want to begin or continue academic studies are permitted to enter the US. 

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