American Airlines Upgrades New Delhi Services Before It Even Starts

This winter, American Airlines will inaugurate a new route between New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) and New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGI). However, starting this October, the airline will be upgrading its services from a Boeing 777-200ER to a Boeing 777-300ER before the route has even begun.

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American Airlines will use its flagship widebody on its route to Delhi. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

American Airlines upgrades Delhi flights

Eagle-eyed Twitter users first noted that American Airlines has upgraded the route to a larger Boeing 777-300ER.

American Airlines also displays the Boeing 777-300ER as the aircraft operating the route when booking:

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American displays the “77W” code, which is the 777-300ER. Screenshot: American Airlines Booking Website

The aircraft will run daily flights between New York and New Delhi starting on October 31st. This will be the only route American will operate to New Delhi. American separately plans to launch a Seattle-Bangalore flight that has been delayed repeatedly since the start of the crisis.

American’s Boeing 777-300ER

The Boeing 777-300ERs in American’s fleet have room for 304 passengers onboard. This includes eight in Flagship First, which is the airline’s true long-haul international first class product. These are more open, office-style seats rather than some of the enclosed suites you will find on other airlines. These seats are configured in a 1-2-1 layout.

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Flagship First on an American Airlines Boeing 777-300ER. Photo: American Airlines

Following this cabin are 52 Flagship Business reverse herringbone seats in a 1-2-1 configuration. The reverse herringbone product American has chosen is pretty standard across airlines but is still a great product for the mammoth journey to India.

Customers flying in a Flagship-branded cabin will be in for a treat. Those in Flagship First can access American’s exclusive Flagship First Dining facility on the ground in JFK. Both Flagship First and Flagship Business customers can access the airline’s Flagship Lounge. These facilities reopen in just a couple of weeks at JFK.

Following this are 28 premium economy seats. These seats are laid out in a 2-4-2 configuration, which is very comfortable on a 777. The premium economy seats are similar to that of the airline’s domestic first class seats. They are recliner style, but offer more width and pitch than economy seats onboard the aircraft.

American lastly has 28 extra-legroom economy seats, branded as Main Cabin Extra, with 36″ of pitch. There are also 188 standard economy seats with 31-32″ of pitch. These cabins are arranged in a 3-4-3 configuration.

All seats onboard the aircraft are equipped with seatback entertainment. There is also WiFi available on the flights for passengers who want to use their own devices to catch up on work or stream other entertainment.

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The Boeing 777-300ERs seat 304 passengers. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

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What to make of the shift

In April, American Airlines first announced service from JFK to DEL from October 31st with three flights per week. Between the peak travel period from November 17th through January 3rd, the airline planned to run the flight daily. All flights were set to run onboard Boeing 777-200ER aircraft.

Then, in June, American Airlines increased frequencies on the route. While holding onto the Boeing 777-200ER set to run the service, the carrier turned the service to a daily one.

The upgrades on this route come amid ongoing travel restrictions for India-bound and US-bound travelers. The US has barred most foreign nationals who were physically present in India in the last 14 days before entry from coming directly to the United States. India has also barred most foreigners from entering the country.

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American is betting big on Delhi. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

Nevertheless, there are strong familial ties between India and the US. It is a heavy visiting friends and relatives (VFR) market, and is a growing business one, as well. Some of these categories of travelers can get around the bans either through citizenship or special immigration status.

The use of the Boeing 777-300ER is very notable because it is American’s flagship long-haul international aircraft. These planes fly to the airline’s top international destinations, including Hong Kong, Sao Paulo, and London.

However, there is also a question of where traffic is these days. Hong Kong is largely closed, and American Airlines also shut down its Los Angeles-Hong Kong route indefinitely. This leaves the airline with some spare Boeing 777-300ERs that it can devote to routes like this.

Delhi has performed well for United Airlines. During the crisis, the airline inaugurated a new Chicago-Delhi nonstop service, which was quite successful at launch. It also flies to New Delhi from its hubs at Newark and San Francisco. Air India also flies heavily from Delhi to the United States – including to JFK. This also excludes the impact of connecting traffic, with passengers who fly via a point in Europe or the Middle East.

While it is a very competitive market, and that is without Vistara entering, American seems to be seeing some strong demand to New Delhi and is concentrating some of its flagship aircraft there right now as demand to most of East Asia remains dry.

Are you excited to see American fly its Boeing 777-300ERs to Delhi? Let us know in the comments!

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