United Airlines Starts New Route From Chicago To Delhi

United Airlines has officially started a new long-haul flight between Chicago and New Delhi. The first flight took off in the evening from Chicago on December 10th and arrived in India about 14 hours later. Served using a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, the carrier plans to fly this route daily.

United Airlines Boeing 787
United Airlines has started flights between Chicago and New Delhi. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | JFKJets.com

United inaugurates Chicago to Delhi services

On December 10th, United flight 898 spent just under 14 hours in the air from Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport (ORD) to New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport (DEL). In a year of relative pain for the airline, this flight marked the start of what United hopes is a turning point as the carrier moves beyond the crisis towards profitability.

The first United Airlines flight from Delhi to Chicago, flight 899, took off on December 12th. That flight clocked in a little longer at around 15 hours in the air.

Air India is the only other carrier to fly nonstop between Chicago and Delhi. The Indian flag carrier, a Star Alliance partner, operates the route using Boeing 777 aircraft. Compared to United Airlines, Air India offers a less competitive onboard product, especially in business class.

The aircraft

United is flying a Boeing 787-9 between Chicago and New Delhi. According to data from Flightradar24, United’s inaugural flight was operated by N26967, a four-year-old Boeing 787-9.

United Airlines is currently flying one of its older Boeing 787 products to India on this route. United’s older 787s feature 48 seats in Polaris business class, 88 in extra-legroom coach, and 116 in economy.

United 787 business class
Business class onboard United’s non-retrofitted 787s. Photo: Getty Images

The aircraft that operates this route has the airline’s older Polaris product, outfitted in a 2-2-2 forward-facing lie-flat configuration. In due time, the carrier is working on retrofitting its Boeing 787-9s to include the airline’s newest Polaris product and premium economy.

United also flies nonstop between San Francisco and New Delhi using a Boeing 787-9. Similarly, that aircraft also has the airline’s older business class product.

For passengers who want to fly Premium Plus, United’s premium economy, or the new Polaris product, they will have to look for flights from Newark to Delhi. United flies Boeing 777s on this route.

The first of United’s major long-haul expansion

In September, United Airlines announced seven new nonstop long-haul routes, including five international ones. The six other upcoming routes are:

  1. Dulles (IAD) To Accra (ACC)
  2. IAD to Lagos (LOS)
  3. Newark (EWR) to Johannesburg (JNB)
  4. San Francisco (SFO) to Bangalore (BLR)
  5. EWR to Kahului, Maui (OGG)
  6. ORD to Kona (KOA)

Most of the other routes will start from spring 2021. This includes United’s route to Bangalore, which will be the longest in the airline’s network and link the two big tech cities.

United 787
The Boeing 787 has helped power United’s long-haul expansions. Photo: Getty Images

United Airlines announced these new routes as it took advantage of the situation. Amid the ongoing crisis, South African Airways‘ flights between Africa and the United States were suspended. And, given the airline’s current state of affairs, United will have these routes all to itself.

On flights to India, United has a better reputation than Air India. It will definitely hold its own given its strength and ability to provide smoother domestic connections. United also has an agreement with Vistara for codeshares in India.

The new Chicago to Delhi route is part of United tapping into demand for flights to India while some of its competitors, including Delta, remain out of the market.

Are you glad to see United Airlines launch flights between Chicago and Delhi? Let us know in the comments!