Got Visa and Passport Issues? Tweet at Sushma Swaraj

Plus, a new government app that makes flying a breeze. | By NGT Staff

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Forget queues and endless hours on the telephone—all Indian travellers now need to lodge an emergency complaint is their smartphone. Photo: iStock.com/Chalabala

Lost your passport while travelling? Need an urgent visa? Wondering why your new passport is taking so long to arrive? Tweet at Sushma Swaraj, India’s Minister for External Affairs.

In a series of tweets in early January, Swaraj asked Indian passport-holders to tweet their travel-related problems at her, turning her (already popular) Twitter account into a legitimate way for distressed travellers to register their grievances. For those travelling abroad, Swaraj asks that the Twitter handle of the Indian Embassy in the country where they are also be tagged. For those with passport woes within the country, she asks that the regional passport offices be tagged. The minister also tweeted out a list of Twitter handles for regional passport offices in India and Indian embassies around the world. Travellers may use the hashtag #SOS in case of emergency.

 

Swaraj’s tweets come shortly after another government offering to travellers. Late last year, the Ministry of Civil Aviation introduced the AirSewa smartphone and tablet app (available for free on iOS and Android) to help airline passengers track domestic flights and register complaints.

Passengers can file grievances under a variety of categories including baggage loss, onboard meals, immigration and customs, and even security check. The procedure for filing a complaint is simple and straightforward. Passengers must first choose the type of grievance from a given list, pick the airport at which the incident occurred, and file the complaint by typing a message, recording a voice note, or uploading a document or photo. Key in the date of journey, flight number, passenger name, email address and mobile number, and the complaint is good to go. Passengers will be given a unique reference number for each grievance, via email and SMS, to track the status and response to the complaint on the app.

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