The shortest flights in India and elsewhere

abn397

As we have seen in the previous article, there are many international flights which cover over 10,000 km non-stop. The ultimate aim would be to have an aircraft which has a range of about 20,000 km (being half the circumference of the earth) which could travel between any two points on the globe without stopping. It would, of course, be useful to have such a missile and probably the US, Russia and even North Korea must have done something towards this end.

Now we look at short flights in India at present. This would appear to be Mumbai-Pune, operated by a 737-800 of Jet Airways. The point-to point distance is 123 km but distance flown may be as much as 211 km (which can be seen from sites such as http://uk.flightaware.com/ ) Quite wasteful for a 737. Other flights under 200 km include Diu-Porbandar (167 km), and Kochi-Thiruvanthapuram (195 km…

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Seychelles – Visa on Arrival with Indian Passport

Wife and I landed at Mahe Airport in The Seychelles last month. Had to fill out an immigration form and a health declaration. The immigration officer asked us for our return tickets. Then stamped a permit on the passport and let us through. No trouble at all and super easy. The permit was set to expire on our date of departure as per the ticket – no grace period of any sort there.

There is no excuse to not go to Seychelles. No visa and its only a 5 hour direct flight from Mumbai. The photos below should inspire you further!

 
Cat Cocos Jetty - Praslin Island, Seychelles

Granite Boulders - Anse Georgette, Seychelles

More Anse Georgette, Seychelles

UAE Visa & “OK To Board” – with Etihad for Abu Dhabi Trasit

We have a 14 hour transit coming up in Abu Dhabi, flying Etihad. That’s enough time to step out of the airport, see the town and probably even see a couple of other towns!

It was fairly straight forward to apply for the transit visa:

  1. Went to: https://www.ttsuaevisas.com/
  2. Started an individual online application for myself and a separate one for my wife
  3. Straightforward process – had to upload a bunch of documents in JPEG form only, including:
    1. Previous UAE visas
    2. Previous Schengen / USA / UK visas
    3. Air Tickets
    4. Hotel Bookings
    5. Passport Copies
  4. Only complication was the Hotel Bookings. Since we only have 14 hours during the day (not an overnight stop), we didn’t book any hotels. The system wouldn’t accept the transit visa application without a hotel booking. So I wrote a letter explaining why I don’t have a hotel booking and uploaded that in place of the hotel booking.
  5. Visa was processed and arrived via email in 2 working days.

One thing I didn’t know as it was not mentioned in any official communication – we need Etihad to do an “OK to Board” endorsement on our booking PNR. Luckily our travel agent (The Travel Partner) knew about this and told us on time. Process was simple – I sent an email to OTBUAEVisa@etihad.ae with visa and ticket copies for both me and my wife. They responded within 24 hours and did the OTB (OK to Board) as they call it.

Russian Visa Shakedown

Ran into the following requirement of the Russian Embassy when trying to apply for a tourist visa in New Delhi:

The original tourist/hotel voucher issued by a Russian tourist agency/hotel, which is registered with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs  (MFA) of the Russian Federation containing the necessary data of a traveler (name, date of birth, etc.), period of stay (date of entry and departure), name of receiving Russian travel agency, list of services paid for (transportation, accommodation, sightseeing, etc.), signed by a representative of the tourist agency, stamped with the agency’s seal and bearing an official MFA reference number. Faxed and scanned copies are not accepted.

I consulted my trusted travel agent on this and learned that the voucher has to come from a registered travel agency in Russia. And these travel agencies demand INR 20,000 (USD 300 approx.) for issuing a letter for one traveller.

Ain’t nothing but an old fashioned shake-down. Needless to say, Russia trip postponed till their Ministry of Foreign Affairs becomes more tourist friendly.

Update: I wrote to 2 separate hotels (in Moscow and St. Petersburg). Both confirmed that they will send me the required letters in Scan copy via email. But there are some further complications:

  • The local visa application centre here in Delhi refuses to accept scan copies – their website clearly says that the original must be couriered or mailed – impossible to predict how long that will take.
  • The hotel gives the letter for free, but says that they will charge 2000-3500 roubles if I take the letter but then cancel my hotel reservation.

In short – it is way too complicated and potentially expensive for a short casual visit. Russia visit cancelled for now.

USA Tourist Visa For Indians: Tips and Requirements.

The Shooting Star

So many myths surround the much sought after US Visa in India that I just have to bust them. I applied for mine shortly before my 6-month trip to Central America, New York and California, and was pleasantly surprised by how easy the process was. I walked away with a 10-year B1 tourist visa, which also gives me ‘visa on arrival’ access to many other countries!

The visa application process is long drawn, but if you are prepared with the right documents and a bit of patience, it is not nearly as difficult as many make it to be.  Here are my tips to help you enter the promised land:

1) The US Visa Forms and Fee

Select your location within India and start your application on the US Consular Electronic Application Centre website. You need to fill the DS-160 visa form (make sure you don’t leave any section unanswered), sign it electronically, upload a passport-size photo…

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Hong Kong & Macau

My wife and I recently visited both Hong Kong and Macau on our Indian passports. Our passports were brand new with new previous visas from any country. We were issued visas on arrival and allowed entry into both HK and Macau with no questions asked, no visa fees or any other complication. We got 14-day stay permissions. Both regions no longer stamp visitor passports, but instead give you a small paper slip with details of how long you can stay – try not to loose this slip.