United Airlines Operates Its First San Francisco – Delhi Flight

Announced over a year ago, United Airlines has officially begun its nonstop service between San Francisco International Airport and Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi. This daily service is seasonal and will only operate daily during the winter months. During the summer, this will reduce to three times weekly. The service was celebrated in Delhi by a number of VIPs.

United's 787 Dreamliner
United’s 787 Dreamliner will be used for this nonstop service. Photo: United Airlines

The launch of this service was celebrated with a gathering of some VIPs in Delhi. According to Travel Trends Today India, personnel present included:

  • Marcel Fuchs, Vice President Sales International, United Airlines
  • Thorsten Lettnin, Managing Director – Continental Europe & India, United Airlines
  • Harvinder Singh, Country Manager – India, United Airlines
  • Jitendra Singh, Vice President & Head – Airline Marketing & Route Development, Delhi International Airport Ltd

“We are excited to inaugurate our daily, nonstop seasonal service between Delhi and our San Francisco hub. This new flight strengthens our international route network and provides our customers from India with even greater travel choice as well as the option of our new Polaris business class service, with flat-bed seats. With a network of connections from San Francisco to almost 40 other destinations across the U.S. and Canada, the new service is opening up new opportunities for both business and leisure travellers alike.” -Harvinder Singh, Country Manager – India, United Airlines

Service on the 787-9 Dreamliner

United Airlines will fly its Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner on this service. This aircraft will have a capacity of 252 seats in a 3-class service including 48 flat-bed seats in Polaris business class, 88 in Economy Plus and 116 in Economy. The rollout of Polaris on its Dreamliners is something United has been working hard on in recent months.

Speaking with the Hindu Business Line last week, a United executive commented on the increased connectivity the airline is striving for with its Star Alliance partners:

“We appreciate the open skies agreement (between India and the United States). It allows us to add services as we just did (by starting the) San Francisco Delhi service. It allows us to capture the full potential. We are also working with our joint venture partners Lufthansa group and Air Canada to provide additional services over Europe including Zurich, Frankfurt and Munich,” -Marcel Fuchs, Vice President, International Sales, United Airlines

Competing with Star Alliance partner Air India

Air India Boeing 777 -200
Air India flies a direct service between Delhi and San Francisco using a Boeing 777. Photo: Bill Abbott via Flickr

It’s not unheard of that alliance partners would fly services on the same routes, especially on routes where there is high enough demand so that one airline isn’t stealing passengers from the other. In this case, United Airlines will be flying a route that Air India already services with its Boeing 777-200 five times weekly. With Air India already facing financial pressure, hopefully United isn’t adding more nails to the coffin of the Indian flag carrier. One Twitter user made her choice of airline clear with this tweet:

Which airline would you choose to fly on this route? United Airlines or Air India? Let us know your choice and why by leaving a comment!