There are several routes to travel between South Africa and India, and one of the more popular is the Durban to Dubai to Delhi (DUR-DXB-DEL) flights with Emirates. Durban, the home of most of the South African Indians, has in the past enjoyed a few direct routes to India but these have largely fallen away in recent years. Instead travellers from Durban have to opt for at least one stop, either in Johannesburg or through other countries like Mauritius and Singapore.
Transit times are often an issue and a short stop in Dubai also allows travellers to enjoy some duty free purchases in one of the shopping capitals of the world. The transit time in Dubai is just slightly over 3 hours which does not prove to be too tiring for travellers. Another advantage is that the Durban to Dubai to Delhi route allows Durbanites the opportunity to enter India through the capital city of New Delhi thereby avoiding the congestion of Mumbai. It is also ideal for Hindus on pilgrimage to holy sites like Hardwar, Rishikesh and Varanasi, all of which are situated in northern India.
Flight between Durban and Dubai
The flight between Durban and Dubai is just short of 8 and a half hours long. This may vary slightly depending on tail winds and weather. The Emirates flight is bustling with South Africans travelling via Dubai to various destinations across the globe, not only to India. There is a good balance of in-flight meals catering for most South African tastes, not only Indian, and the multilingual flight crew ensure that South Africans can communicate with them in most local languages.
Dubai International Airport Transit
As Dubai International Airport has become one of the gateway destinations to cities around the world, many travellers prefer it for the shopping options while in transit. Landing in Dubai, travellers have to join the hundreds of others from across the globe who are also in-transit via Dubai. Unfortunately the Dubai Airport staff is not always the friendliest and security guards checking incoming passengers can be impatient and sometimes plain rude. However, there may also be cultural misunderstandings that arise so travellers need to be patient when in transit via Dubai.
There is no shortage of restaurants, shops, ATMs and forex counters throughout Dubai International Airport. For smokers, there is limited options and one usually has to opt for one of the smoking bars and airport lounges. However, there is a fee of around USD$45 (ZAR 360) to enter some of these lounges. Smoking bars often do not charge an entrance fee but expect you to make total purchases of at least USD$30 (about ZAR 240) for food and beverages in order to utilise their facilities. South African rands and Indian rupees are not accepted.
Flight between Dubai and Delhi
The flight between Dubai to Delhi is slightly over 3 hours long. The plane is occupied by travellers from across the globe heading to Delhi via Dubai. There is a fair number of NRIs (non-resident Indians) and Indian nationals working in the UAE who are heading back home. Meals are a bit more Indian orientated and the trip is quite short by the time you enjoy an in-flight movie and have your meal. It is important to save some time and fill in the immigration card handed out by the flight crew. This is necessary for when you go through immigration at Delhi Airport. Save yourself some time and hassle by carrying your own pen. Make sure that you have the details of the hotel where you are staying at in India, its address and phone number.
Delhi Airport Arrival
Indian immigration officials are usually quite easy going and the process can be quick if your card is filled out properly. The process is much faster if you have a PIO card (People of India Origin card) or OCI (Overseas Citizenship of India). After collecting your luggage and exiting the arrivals area, do not be surprised by the large numbers of Indian soldiers and police officers walking around the airport with automatic rifles. Due to the terrorism threat, Delhi is always on high alert.
Cell Phone Coverage and SIM Cards in India
There is an Airtel counter within the Indira Gandhi International Airport. You can buy a SIM card for your cell phone and airtime. It will cost you around INR 500 (Indian rupees) which is equivalent to about ZAR 80. It is advisable to carry two passport sized photographs as the cellphone counter staff will need it along with some proof of address.
Paid Entry into Airport
Before stepping out of the airport, make sure that you handled all matters that need to be attended to. Once you step out you cannot return through the same doors. In fact you will have to walk a short distance to gain entry back into the airport and it is not free. You will need to pay to enter the airport and go through security checks.
Airport Transfer from Delhi Airport
Be careful about using local taxis for your airport transfers. While they are reliable, many try to rip off travellers. Fortunately the Delhi authorities have tried to curb this practice by having a prepaid taxi booth within the airport. Here you can get a price and pay for your trip prior to even seeing a taxi driver.
There are some premier airport transfer companies that have booths in the airport. This will ensure that you will secure an English speaking driver and a newer model vehicle to take you to your hotel, although you can pay as much as INR 2,000 (about ZAR350) for a trip that would normally cost INR 400 (about ZAR85).
Remember to change at least some of your currency to Indian rupees before you head off. You can also use the local ATMs in the airport to withdraw rupees. While US dollars and even South Africa rands are widely accepted, you will often end up paying more if you do not use the local currency.
Last updated on 20 August 2012