Air India to Launch Round-the-World Service

“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’.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

More articles by Gary Leff »


  1. Wouldn’t JFK-HKG also meet this criteria? The flight usually goes near the north pole, sometimes slightly to the east (over the Atlantic) and sometimes to the west (over the Pacific).

  2. And, this is exactly what SQ’s EWR.-SIN non-stop did. In terms of real round the world flights, BOAC 911 (unfortunate number) was a legitimate round the world flight until it crashed until into Mt. Fuji (per Wikipedia)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *