We visited Vaishno Devi temple in Feb 2020. This was a last min plan so we had not booked our helicopter tickets online. We were informed that the ticket counter for current booking opens at 6:30 am. We had our accomodation booked in Niharika Bhawan, hence we decided to be in the queue by 4:30 am, thinking that we might have a good chance to be the first in the queue(2 hrs buffer was a reasonable one we thought).
To our surprise, the queue had already started at 1:00 am in the night and we had 20 odd people before us in the queue.
People fighting in the queue for whose turn was next. It was full dramatic situation where aunties and uncles were fighting like cats and dogs to make sure they get their ticket.
Finally the counter opened at 6:30 and suddenly the number of 20 rose up to 35 - 40. It was such a chaos that the counter was declared closed by 6:45 am and the slots being filled already. We were so disappointed but had no choice but to wait.
After standing in the queue for 4 hrs we finally got 2 tickets by 8:30 am.
We arrived at the helipad by 9:30 am. There are 2 service providers: Himalyan & Global Vector. The price is 1045/- per ticket and you need to pay at the counter in cash at the helipad. Once you pay in the full amount, you are given a time slot( when you will fly) on your ticket.
Our happiness had no limit and we thought finally the wait is over.
But.. the joy was short lived as we got a time slot of 1:50 pm. Another 4 hrs wait.
We requested the person at the boarding window to see if we have space for 2 people in an earlier slot however we had no luck.
At around 1:30 we were called in for the check in and got our boarding pass. The normal procedure includes weighing everyone including your luggage. Accordingly batch numbers are assigned and we were batch 58. There is a van service that takes passengers to the main helipad. The batch number required to fly is displayed on an electronic display for the ease of passengers.
It was 2:50 pm and our 10 hrs wait came to an end.
We boarded the helicopter. I was asked to sit on the co pilot seat next to the pilot. I could actually see through my feet since it was all glass shield. Trust me not.. but all the frustration and disappointment just disappeared in sec.
The only thing I could now feel was my heartbeat and the joy could be seen in my eyes. That 10 hrs of wait was actually worth for that 7 min ride. We landed by 3:00 pm and it took us another 15 min to reach Mata ka Bhawan.
In case the tickets are booked online.. this helicopter ride is a 100% recommend service.
Service: There could have been a batch system once you pay for the ticket at the first counter, instead of a manual system. There should be an electronic display at the base to keep the passanger informed.