Air India’s Dreamliner livery – Photo: Manu Venkat | AirlineReporter
Let’s start with the bare facts: India’s flag carrier Air India doesn’t have a great reputation. Whenever I’ve asked people about their experience on the airline, they cite inexplicable delays, poorly maintained aircraft, a non-negligible risk of food poisoning, or rude staff. Or, sometimes, all of the above. As a friend of mine put it, “If my only choice for a flight was Air India, I would just skip the trip and stay at home.”
As an American of Indian descent, I’ve always been a bit disappointed that my ancestral homeland’s flag carrier apparently doesn’t seem to have its act together. As someone who has never flown with the “maharaja,” part of me also wondered whether the airline is actually better than the reputation suggests. I decided to find out for myself.
An American Boeing 787-8 (N812AN) at LAX; the 787-9 is a stretched version of the -8
This story has been updated to include new information about the availability of premium economy and anticipated dates for domestic operations.
American Airlines today announced new details and routes for its newest addition to the fleet, the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner (789), which is set to arrive in the last quarter of this year. While American already operates 17 Boeing 787-8s (788s), four of the stretched -9s, with new business class seats and a cabin configuration to include a new Premium Economy section, will be delivered by the end of December 2016, with a total of 22 on order.
The 789s will initially be based out of American’s home base, Dallas-Fort Worth Airport (DFW), and on November 4 will commence service to Madrid-Barajas Airport (MAD) and Sao Paulo-Guarulhos International Airport (GRU).
AirlineReporter has received exclusive details on the inaugural route the 789 will actually fly…
London Heathrow Airport Terminal 5
I recently had the opportunity to fly both British Airways and Iberia in short-haul economy, and talk about a 180-degree difference, especially striking when both are owned by the same parent company. While short flights don’t generally get much consideration, when one carrier offers so much more than another on the exact same route (namely between London and Madrid) for the exact same price, it’s probably better to go with the airline that will offer more and avoid the one that (spoiler alert) won’t even give you water.
My business class seat on China Eastern – Photo: Jason Rabinowitz
China Eastern is not an airline I ever really expected to fly. With a fleet of new Boeing 777-300ERs, the opening of a new route to Chicago, and a small investment from Delta Air Lines, China Eastern is modernizing and becoming a real player in the North American market. When I saw a fare posted of $650 round-trip between New York and Japan, I jumped at the opportunity to give this airline a try.
My routing was New York JFK to Osaka, Japan via Shanghai, returning from Tokyo Narita back to New York. On the first leg to Shanghai, China Eastern graciously upgraded me to business class in order to experience the new product.
A Boeing 777-300ER at Paine Field showing China Eastern’s new livery- Photo: Bernie Leighton
At JFK, China Eastern departs from Terminal 1 and uses the recently renovated Air France lounge. Although this flight departed at 2:00 am (thanks for nothing, daylight saving time), the lounge was actually surprisingly crowded. As boarding time neared, I headed to the gate to find utter chaos. Lines of passengers extended in every direction with no signage to tell anyone where to stand. Eventually, gate agents put up a few signs, but that should have been done much earlier. A hectic boarding process sets a negative tone for a 15-hour flight. The same hectic process was applied to all four of my flights, indicating that China Eastern has a systemic problem with orderly boarding.