United Airlines currently operates daily flights between Newark and Mumbai / New Delhi. While Mumbai is now served by a Boeing 777-300ER, United Airlines continues to operate a Boeing 777-200ER on New Delhi to Newark route. The 777-200ER used on this route features the old B/E Aerospace Diamond seat. United Airlines has installed the new Polaris seat on only 6 Boeing 777-200 aircraft as per their tracker.
I randomly started looking at United’s New Delhi to Newark service. The striking thing I noticed was, there were no Business class seats available on that leg for most of Thursday, Fridays and Saturdays till October 28, 2019. Especially on Fridays, I could only find four Fridays with some Business class seats bookable until the end of the schedule.
A similar case holds true for the onwards journey from Newark to New Delhi also. This makes sense for two reasons:
- A flight on Thursday or Friday is most convenient for corporate travellers and even VFR (Visiting Friends and Relatives)
- New Delhi to Newark is a monopoly route for United Airlines
Flight prices are also significantly higher on this route. Business class on Newark to New Delhi are available for INR 5.9 Lakh ($8,500) and those on the return leg for INR 2.24 Lakh ($ 3,200). I verified this on the United Airlines website also to check if it was true, it indeed was.
When United launched the Boeing 777-300ER on Mumbai to Newark route, there was news that even New Delhi route would receive an upgrade. The newer Boeing 777-300ER in United’s fleet is more efficient than the ~17 years old Boeing 777-200ER. The economics change a lot for a daily ultra long-haul flight like this. Plus the Boeing 77W features 60 Business class seats over 50 in the Boeing 772. United’s Boeing 77W also feature Premium Economy seats, at least some of them.
United Airlines took delivery of the final Boeing 77W on November 20, 2018. They are currently utilising this added capacity to complete the Premium Economy retrofit process. So it is a wait and watch situation as United Airlines haven’t announced another destination yet.
It was a good thing that United Airlines replaced the Boeing 777-200ER on the Mumbai route. AvGeeks like me who track aircraft movement would remember that United Airlines faced numerous delays and cancellations over mechanical issues on this route with the Boeing 777-200ER over the years.
United Airlines seems to be focusing on the Indian market now. They have added capacity after 8 years of service to India. They even added their new Polaris Business class seats to the Mumbai route. In a bout, customising for the market, they also started offering a Jain Vegetarian meal now after many years! Yes, this meal is important considering the market United Airlines is targetting out of Mumbai. They are rostering Hindi speaking crew also. They are going the extra mile of having language interpreters to greet people at every door of the aircraft to give a feeling of Indian hospitality since people are not used to American hospitality and may find it cold.
When do you think will United Airlines fly a 777 featuring their new Polaris seats on the New Delhi route?