First direct flight from San Francisco to Bengaluru takes off

Despite the pandemic, flight almost nearly booked with 225 out of 238 seats sold

The first ever direct flight between the two tech hubs – San Francisco and Bengaluru – seems to have been a hit in the city.

The maiden trip the Air India flight will make from the city to San Francisco on Monday, is almost fully booked – 225 seats sold out of 238 – despite the pandemic and concerns over air travel. Flight AI176 departed from San Francisco at 8.30 p.m. (local time) on Saturday and is expected to land at the Kempegowda International Airport at 3.45 a.m. (local time) on Monday.

Long-pending demand

The flight, that had long been in the pipeline, will be the first direct non-stop flight between the West Coast of the United States of America and South India. Given the significant population of south Indians in San Francisco, home to Silicon Valley, a direct flight has been a long pending demand. This will be a biweekly flight taking off to San Francisco from Bengaluru on Mondays and Thursdays, while leaving San Francisco to the city on Tuesdays and Saturdays, every week.

“The direct distance between Bengaluru and San Francisco is approximately 13,993 km and the cities are diametrically at opposite ends of the world with a time zone change of approximately 13.5 hours. The total flight time on this route will be more than 17 hours depending on the wind speed on that particular day,” a statement from Air India said.

All-woman crew

The flight will operate with Boeing 777-200LR aircraft VT ALG with a seating capacity of 238 seats including eight first class, 35 business class, 195 economy class seats.

It will be operated by an all-woman cockpit crew led by Capt. Zoya Aggarwal, who has over 8,000 hours of flying experience. Other pilots include Capt. Papagari Thanmai, Capt. Akansha Sonaware, and Capt. Shivani Manhas. This will also be the first time an all-women crew will fly over the North Pole, adding another first to the flight.

Given that Bengaluru and San Francisco are diametrically at opposite ends of the world, it will be an around-the-world flight which passes through the North Pole. “This will result in savings on flying time, fuel consumption and curbing carbon footprint. Passengers will benefit from the reduced flight duration and with less fuel consumption, the environment will have less carbon impact – making the service an economically viable option for passengers and Air India alike,” a statement from Air India said.

At present, Air India operates non-stop flights from Delhi to New York, Newark, Washington DC, San Francisco, and Chicago and from Mumbai to Newark and New York. Air India also plans to start its first ever non-stop service between Hyderabad and Chicago from 15 January, 2021.

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