Air India launches San Francisco – Bangalore non-stop flight AI176 with all-women pilot team operating first flight

Air India scored first dibs on the San Francisco to Bangalore non-stop route, launching AI176 / AI175 flight between the two airports on January 9, 2021, from San Francisco to Bengaluru using a Boeing 777LR, which arrived in Bengaluru on January 11, 2021.

Air India had launched their Delhi – San Francisco operations back in 2015, which became one of their most profitable routes and they were operating 9-10X weekly as the route matured. United followed into their footsteps and launched Delhi – SFO of their own as well in 2018. Now, as the race to launch non-stops between India and the USA starts in right earnest, Air India went one-up on United for their upcoming San Francisco – Bengaluru non-stop flights, which are scheduled to launch on May 6, 2021.

Bangalore used to have a routing via Delhi so far, and it has been a long-standing ask of Bengaluru travellers to get them a direct non-stop flight. Air India is planning to launch its own Bengaluru – San Francisco non-stop flight in the coming months.

Air India operates inaugural San Francisco – Bengaluru non-stop on January 9, 2021

Air India operated the inaugural San Francisco – Bengaluru non-stop on January 9, 2021. The flight, which clocked 16:39 hours between the two airports, was operated by an all-women cockpit crew of four, supported by Air India’s Director of Flight Safety. The launch of this route makes it the longest flight in the Air India network, and the 6th longest flight globally at the time of writing this.

a map of the world with an airplane and plane Since it was an inaugural, Air India and the San Francisco airport had a small celebration at the gates.

a balloon arch in a lobby

a group of people wearing face masks standing in front of a balloon arch

The flight was operated by Captain Zoya Aggarwal, Captain Papagari Thanmai, Captain Akansha Sonaware and Captain Shivani Manhas.a group of people wearing face masks

Air India celebrated that it was a historic flight as it flew over the North Pole by an all-women crew.

#FlyAI: here is where AI176 is..on top of the 🌎 world

Posted by Air India on Sunday, January 10, 2021

Flying the polar route is nothing new. Airlines such as Singapore Airlines and Emirates have used the route frequently over the years. It requires some special preparation to be flying this route, given diversions need to be planned due to the polar route’s remote nature. As per Business Standard, AI has been working to operate SFO flights on the polar route since 2019. However, the use of the polar route will lead to savings of time and fuel.

For the Bengaluru – San Francisco connection, AI175 from Bengaluru will operate with a Boeing 777-200LR aircraft twice a week on Mondays and Thursdays departing from Bengaluru at 1430 hours to arrive in San Francisco at 1700 hrs (local time) on the same day. The return flight AI176 from San Francisco will operate on Saturdays and Tuesdays leaving San Francisco at 2030 hrs (local time) to arrive in Bengaluru at 0230 hours +2 days.


Flying between San Francisco and Bengaluru will become shorter with the launch of the new non-stop flight pair AI175/AI176 between the two cities on January 9, 2021, to be operated by a Boeing 777LR. Air India will operate a monopoly on this route till United joins in later in the year with its 787-9 service on the same route.

Are you looking forward to flying non-stop between San Francisco and Bengaluru?

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About Ajay

Ajay Awtaney is the Founder and Editor of Live From A Lounge (LFAL), a pioneering digital platform renowned for publishing news and views about aviation, hotels, passenger experience, loyalty programs, travel trends and frequent travel tips for the Global Indian. He is considered the Indian authority on business travel, luxury travel, frequent flyer miles, loyalty credit cards and travel for Indians around the globe. Ajay is a frequent contributor and commentator on the media as well, including ET Now, BBC, CNBC TV18, NDTV, Conde Nast Traveller and many other outlets.

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  1. I don’t see 4 captains! I can clearly see 3 stripes on one!

    Why the obsession in India of calling all pilots a Captain?

    they ain’t anything special! They operate machinery and are trained accordingly but this kind of reverence of them is unhealthy!

    (You don’t see Vice-President of IT Mr. xxxx written on entrances of homes! However, you do see Capt. xxxx on entrances!

  2. Plz start direct link or similar from Chennai to any important cities in US, hub of automobile and southern gate way of india, definitely Chennai need a non stop service to any important American destinations. Plz don’t ignore Chennai.

    • Choosing routes by an airline isn’t a simple task. I’m no expert when it comes to this, but from what I know passenger demand is an obvious factor. Bengaluru seems to have more of it compared to Chennai and also for the ones with a bigger margin for profits (Business Class product) from what I’ve read. Leisure travellers’ market is big in Chennai compared to the business one, that makes demand seasonal and unprofitable as leisure travel involves a lot of economical travel and not exactly luxurious ones. Leisure travellers aren’t as time bound as business travellers. They are more price sensitive too. Direct flights are more expensive to operate which will also reflect in a ticket’s cost. If a leisure traveller can save money by choosing a cheaper one stop connection to his/her destination with a reasonable layover time, he/her will go for the cheaper one. Hence, leisure travel doesn’t grab an airline’s attention as much as business travel does. Infact, Bengaluru was among the first 5 cities (others being Madrid, Toronto, Dubai and Tel Aviv) and also the only city from India to get the brand spanking new Airbus A350-1000 upgrade with the brand new Club Suite business class product from British Airways. That definitely tells a lot about Bengaluru’s potential as an aviation market.

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