Direct Flight Envy

Jet Airways, one of my favourite airlines is heavily promoting a direct flight from New York (Newark airport) to Mumbai. A friend who lives in Chicago and travels to India often was quite pleased with American Airlines’ direct flight to Delhi. American Airlines flies directly from Chicago to New Delhi. Flying time each way is between 15 and 16 hours. Compared to the 25 hours that I am used to on Cathay from SFO, even with a good connection in HongKong, that is travel nirvana.

I did some research on ClearTrip on the subject. There are nine direct flights between the US and India. All of them are from the New York area and Chicago to either Delhi or Mumbai. Either city in India works for me to land in. But there are no direct flights out of San Francisco. Bummer.

Why aren’t there direct flights out of San Francisco. Distance obviously isn’t the problem. New York to Bombay is 12, 500 km. San Francisco to Delhi is 12,360 km. So the distance that a plane can travel without refueling is obviously is not the problem.

The distances are as the crow flies and were computed here.

It can’t be a problem of no-fly zones either. That is to say, the shortest route involves flying over countries that won’t allow you to, so you have to alter the flight path to an extent where it becomes too long. The San Francisco to Mumbai shortest path essentially flies over Russia and China.

So then it must be about the San Francisco Bay Area market. Will they be able to fill seats on a direct flight to India from SFO? I find it hard to believe that Chicago can be a bigger destination than San Francisco. There’s a large Indian population in both metro areas, but the Bay Area has to be bigger by a wide margin. More businesses in the Bay Area – all the tech companies – do business in India than out of Chicago. Tech companies are both interested in the Indian market as well as India as an outsourcing/backoffice destination.

I hope some airline will stand up and admit that they have tarried too long on San Francisco and quickly inaugurate a direct flight to India. Someone was about to do it before the recession, so it isn’t entirely inconceivable.


  1. giridhar Rao says:

    > The distances are as the crow flies

    That’s some crow…. 🙂


    1. Canadian Geese would have been more appropriate. Although they are also traveling much less and telecommuting more.


  2. arZan says:

    Even though you list these as direct flights, only a handful of them are truly non-stop.

    The Delta flight makes a pickup stop in Atlanta and the Jet Airways in Brussels. You may not need to disembark but its still another landing-waiting-take off.

    I had taken the old Delta non-stop from JFK straight to BOM and loved that flight. Wish they would bring it back.

    I had heard rumors of SFO BLR getting a non-stop on Kingfisher once they start flying to US. Should happen some day.


    1. Basab says:

      Thanks! Maybe that explains why Delta takes over 20 hrs for the same flight JFK-BOM that Air India does in 14-15 hrs. Also, Jet Airways from EWR.


      1. arZan says:

        yes….that’s the airline trickery at its best. Infact the Air India flight is announced as a direct from New York to Hyderabad too. As the same aircraft carries on to Hyd.


  3. ravi says:

    It is feasible to have a SFO-BOM direct flight technically but question is whether it is profitable. Airlines make their money in the business class and most business travelers to from SFO, I would imagine would fly to BLR not BOM. There is not enough money in flying to BOM from SFO, which was why Jet stopped it’s flight which was really a boon


  4. sk roy says:

    Air India now flies direct to frisco from Delhi. Daily and non-stop. Bit late in 2015.
    Expect a houston non-stop next year in 2017.


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