“Round the World” service is a huge badge of honor, Pan Am used to offer a single flight that made stops and crossed both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
After United bought Pan Am’s Pacific routes, it operated round-the-world service as well. It was a source of pride, not profits.
At one point United flew New York JFK – Los Angeles – Hong Kong – Delhi – London Heathrow – New York JFK. United flights 1 and 2 traveled in opposite directions. The specific city pairs varied over time.
- At one point there was a stop in Bangkok between Hong Kong and Delhi
- New York JFK was replaced with Washington Dulles (I used to take this flight domestically somewhat regularly)
- I believe Los Angeles was also replaced with San Francisco at one point
What Air India is going to do isn’t quite as ambitious though they will have a single flight cross both oceans.
Air India Boeing 777-200LR, Copyright: boarding1now / 123RF Stock Photo
With an anticipated start date of October 15, Air India’s Delhi – San Francisco flight will route via Pacific, while the return San Francisco – Delhi trip will route via the Atlantic. This will become the only aircraft in the world to do this.
The idea is to take advantage of the strong tailwinds that would help in cutting down both the fuel cost and the travelling time. The total time thus saved could be from 45 minutes to 90 minutes on this route to San Francisco. The AI-174 from San Francisco to New Delhi would come back via the existing Atlantic route. The non-stop flight, which is operated three days in a week, would subsequently fly on six days in a week this winter in view of the growing passenger demand.
Technically this isn’t the Round-the-World service of Pan Am flight 1, or United flight 1 — where a single flight number continues around the world. Instead, it’s just a single aircraft that will do it, operating as Air India flight AI173 departing Delhi and AI174 departing San Francisco.
Of course it’s just another way for Air India to be ‘global’.