FAMILIES are rushing to grab a seat on UK-bound flights from India to dodge the hotel quarantine that begins on Friday – seeing prices skyrocket.

Over 1,500 people PER DAY are expected to arrive before the travel ban comes into force at 4am at the end of the week, after Matt Hancock announced the "difficult but vital decision" to add India to the red list on Monday.

The usual £400 rate for an economy flight back to the UK now costs five times as much, due to most planes being on the brink of capacity.

Tickets are now going for £2,000, travel agents managing the madness told the Telegraph.

Chairman of Indra Travel Suresh Kumar said: "There was concern India was going to be added but it was still quite a shock. People are concerned and desperate to get back and in a frenzy.

"A normal £400 economy seat from Delhi is [now] anything up to £2,000. Even if you go for business or first class, there are not many around. They are over £3,000."

Many travellers had gone out on emergency visas to attend family funerals, weddings, or business trips, while students are also struggling to get back to their studies in the UK.

The 42 flights taking off from India in the next seven days could carry 10,965 passengers, if they are full, amounting to an average of 1566 passengers per day, a Telegraph analysis concluded.

The decision to add India to the red travel list has come "weeks too late", Britain's Health Secretary has been warned, as the new variant continues to cause chaos across the world.

Ministers have been accused of twiddling their thumbs while thousands of people continue to arrive from the country.

The number of confirmed cases of the B.1.617 strain in the UK had leapt up to 103 by Monday, with a number of transmissions occurring on British soil.

The Government is banning almost all travel from the country to protect the UK's vaccine rollout, while those who do return will have to complete a 10-day hotel quarantine.

It comes after a worrying few weeks amid fears the Indian variant "may be resistant" to vaccines, with experts suggesting ministers delayed reaction could be too little, too late.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has cancelled his trip to India next week, where he was due to meet with the country's PM Narendra Modi.

He said it was "only sensible" to postpone the trip, where he was planning on laying out post-Brexit free-trade plans as well as hoping to procure millions of vaccine doses.

Hancock told MP's in an address on Monday: "India is a country I know well and love. Between our two countries we have ties of friendship and family.

"I understand the impact of this decision, but I hope the House will concur that we must act because we must protect the progress we’ve made in this country at tackling this awful disease."

He added that surge testing will be deployed in the UK to prevent community transmission of the new variant and determine whether it had any "concerning characteristics".

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the decision to add India to the travel ban list was backed by the latest data and is necessary to ensure "we don't lose our hard-won progress on the vaccine rollout," in a tweet.

Boris Johnson said "everybody’s got a massive amount of sympathy with India" due to "the shape of the pandemic there" – as cases continue to climb.

The country is now recording more than 200,000 confirmed infections per day.

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