It has been 50 years since the first Boeing 747 rolled off the assembly line for PanAm. More than 1500 of the humped Jumbo Jets have been built since September 28, 1968. Air India, one of the initial customers, received their first Boeing 747 in April 1971. Air India has since operated 30 of these Boeing 747 aircraft. The 747 was aptly coined the Queen of the Skies, and still is, one of the most loved aircraft worldwide.
Currently, Air India still has 4 Boeing 747-400s in their fleet. They are very old aircraft, north of 22 years since Entry into Service. Each 747 for them has 12 First class seats, 26 Business class seats and 385 Economy class seats. First class is in the nose of the aircraft in the lower level, in a 2-2 configuration. Business class occupies the entire upper deck, again in a 2-2 configuration. Economy seats, in 3-4-3, are also at the lower deck behind the first class cabin.
The Boeing 747-400 usually flies for VVIP operations for the Government of India as Air India 1. It also operates on Hyderabad-Jeddah and Hyderabad-Mumbai routes. Air India deploys the Queen of the Skies on Delhi – Mumbai rotations during peak seasons.
Air India has announced that they will operate the Boeing 747-400 on Delhi – Mumbai flights from October 16 to 21, 2018, and again between November 1 and 11, 2018. Delhi – Kolkata will also receive the Boeing 747-400 from October 16 to 21, 2018. Air India is using the Boeing 747-400 to increase capacity during Durga Puja and Diwali.
For Delhi Kolkata, it will replace an Airbus A321 on AI 764. The schedule is as follows
AI764 DEL1655 – 1910CCU 744 D
AI23 CCU2050 – 2255DEL 744 D
Air India operates 4 daily flights to Kolkata, with 2-morning flights on the Boeing 787-8 and the afternoon and evening frequency on Airbus A321 aircraft. During Durga Puja, this sector will have 3 on 4 frequencies operated by widebodies. There aren’t any special prices for this flight. A new addition of First class is seen on this flight though. Prices start at INR 5k for Economy,
INR 37K for Business and INR 56k for First class one way.
On Delhi – Mumbai as well, the 747-400 will replace an Airbus A321 with the following schedule
AI887 DEL0700-0905BOM 744 D
AI809 BOM1040-1245DEL 744 D
Air India operates 13-14 flights on the Delhi – Mumbai sector. Out of these, 4 are on widebody aircraft (2x B777-300ER and 2x B787-8) which will increase to 5 during this period. Again prices are the same. You can expect more availability of lower fare seats due to capacity increase on both the sectors though. You can fly the Jumbo for INR 4.4k in Economy class
Or fancy sitting on the upper deck in Business class for INR 31k one way or in the nose of the Jumbo Jet in First class for INR 48k.
The older Boeing 747s are now being replaced all over the world. Air India is one of the few carriers which have a Boeing 747-400 in its fleet. Air India’s 747-400 is expected to be retired once the Boeing 777-300ERs, which have been sent for retrofits for VVIP operations, return to India. So try and grab a seat to experience the classic aircraft while you can.
Remember, First Class and Business Class is angled and not lie-flat, it wouldn’t matter much on a 2-hour flight.
Air India is advertising this route as The classic 747 will offer a new experience to pax flying on domestic routes. I can be sure that one shouldn’t expect much of the hard product. These are old birds and Air India doesn’t have a good track record when it comes to maintaining the hard product. But the crew will be fantastic for sure as they usually operate flights for the President & Prime Minister of India.
Will you let your inner #avgeek book you on this flight?