Air India on Friday launched its first non-stop flight from New York to Delhi.
This is Air India's second active non-stop flight to India from JFK International airport. Air India had started its non-stop service to Mumbai (Air India Flight 140, which also uses the B770-200LR) on August 1, 2007
Besides reducing the travel time to 14 hours, it also offers tickets at competitive rates.
"The flight tickets are priced very competitively around Rs 39,500 ($1,000) for an economy class return ticket. The prices for first class and executive class tickets vary due to promotional events, seasonal differences and reward programmes, "Air India marketing manager (USA and Canada) John Massey says.
Vikram, software engineer who works in Pennsylvania, USA, has not "been home in over four years," as he can't afford to waste time due to his tight work schedules.
But today he is happy to travel on Air India's maiden flight to New Delhi. "I only have 4 days. I will leave from India on Tuesday night," he says as he presents his bags and passport at the airport's check-in counter. "If I took a flight with connections, half of my time would be spent in transit."
Air India regional manager (USA and Canada) PS Rajagopal says, "With increased air travel to and from India, customers deserve the option to take a non-stop flight. The Indian community has always supported us; so we are thrilled to offer this new service."
The daily flight departs from JFK International Airport at 4:00 p.m. EST and arrives in Delhi next day at 4:30 p.m. IST, an estimated flight time of 14 hours.
The daily in-bound flight from Delhi -- Air India Flight 101 -- will leave at 12:30 a.m. IST and land same day in New York at 5:45 a.m. EST.
Massey confirms that the fleet's newest aircraft -- Boeing 777-200LR (longer range) -- will transport up to 238 passengers per flight (8 first class seats, 35 executive class seats and 195 economy class seats).
"The world's longest range commercial airplane," he says, "they are top of the line." "The Mumbai flight has got a great response. We are getting more first class and executive class customers," Massey explains.
Rajni Khanna who is travelling with her son Shiv says, "The direct flight is more convenient. It is always a hassle in London while take a connecting flight."
For Avtar Singh, a taxi-driver from Punjab, who lives in New Jersey with his wife and two children, the decision to take the new flight meant less money for a hassle free trip.
US carrier Continental Airlines offers the only other non-stop New York (Newark, NJ) to Delhi flight, which starts at $930 (around Rs 36,800) for an economy class return ticket.
Air India has been in operation since 1932 and flies to cities in Asia, North America, Europe, the Gulf Region and Africa.