Air India has rolled out incentives to attract more bookings on its newly launched and much anticipated first-ever non-stop flight between San Francisco and New Delhi from Dec. 2, its officials announced during a press conference at the India Community Center here Oct. 15.
The national carrier’s officials offered promotions and more information related to the airline’s ambitious project during the event that was also attended by various Indian American community leaders.
A $999 round-trip introductory fare was announced for the SFO-New Delhi flights, which are currently bookable on Air India’s site.
“We have an introductory offer from here to Delhi at $999, so anyone who takes the flight to Delhi in the first few days will probably get that offer,” Pankaj Srivastava, director-commercial and board member of the airlines, said at the event.
The airline is running another promotion for customers choosing to fly in the airline’s premium cabins. SFO-New Delhi flight passengers who purchase round-trip first or business class cabin tickets to travel between Dec. 2, 2015 and Jan. 31, 2016 will receive a free round-trip executive class ticket on Air India’s domestic network.
The thrice-weekly flights to be operated on Sunday, Wednesday and Friday will use Boeing 777-200 LR aircraft and will offer a 3-cabin configuration, with eight seats in first class, 35 seats in business class and 195 seats in economy class. This ultra-long route will be clocking in at 7,700 miles and about 17 hours.
The flight will take off at 10 a.m. (PST) from San Francisco International Airport and land in New Delhi at 3:35 p.m. (IST); in the other direction, it will leave New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport at 2:45 a.m. (IST) and reach SFO at 6 a.m. (PST).
“Air India is constantly replacing its fleet. It’s no longer an old airline,” S. Venkat, director-finance for Air India, remarked. “The average age of Air India’s fleet is 5.6 years. It is one of the youngest airlines in Southeast Asia. It has improved its product all the way, and you will be impressed. From India Gate to Golden Gate and Golden Gate to India Gate.”
The officials said that for passengers travelling beyond Delhi, the airline offers quick and seamless connections to the cities of Bengaluru, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Kochi, Ahmedabad, Pune and Bhubaneswar.
“The 17 hours of flying will give passengers the best comfort with the extra seat-pitch, more legroom, great food and a variety of in-flight entertainment, and the safety and security standards that we have on Air India are unmatchable,” he said, adding, “And if you have any suggestions, send them to us even if they are negative, to help us improve our services.” The flight, officials said, will take the polar route, over the Atlantic.
It will provide three meals on board with about 26 options to choose from and, keeping in mind the long haul, flatbeds will be available in first and business class while the economy zone seats will enjoy legroom of 34 inches. The baggage allowance will be 50 pounds for two pieces in economy, and 70 pounds in first and business class.
The carrier, a member of Star Alliance, is also offering an attractive Frequent Flyer Program wherein passengers can earn and redeem miles on any of their partner airlines when flying them domestically. Making an instant offer, Srivastava said that new members registering on the Frequent Flier Program would receive a starting bonus of 5,000 points. San Francisco is Air India’s fourth destination in the United States after New York, Chicago O’Hare and Newark, where it operates daily non-stop flights.