Air India is gearing up for its first flight from the US West Coast to Bengaluru this weekend, and it looks like the national carrier is planning to mark the occasion with some special onboard arrangements.

Air India’s longest non-stop flight will be flown by women this weekend

Airlines have been scrambling to launch non-stop flights from south India to the US West Coast, and Air India is set to win that race with a new service from Bengaluru to San Francisco.

The inaugural flight from San Francisco to Bengaluru is due to take off this Saturday, January 9. Per The Times of India, Air India is planning to roster four of its most experienced pilots for the marathon 16-and-a-half-hour flight - and they’re all female.

In command of the Boeing 777-200ER will be captains Zoya Agrawal, Thanmai Papagari, Sonwane Akanksha and Shivani Manhas, who flew from Delhi to San Francisco on Wednesday ahead of the inaugural service.

Flight AI 176 is due to leave San Francisco at 8.30pm on Saturday, landing in Bengaluru at 02.30am on Monday, January 11.

An Air India official told the Times of India:

“Two sets of two pilots each operate our ultra long flights by turn. We have rostered an all-women cockpit crew of four pilots for the SFO-Bengaluru inaugural on January 9. Our head of flight safety, a senior woman commander, will also be on board. While it depends on weather conditions of the day, we are planning the B777 will fly over the north pole enroute Bengaluru.”

At over 14,000km, the new BLR-SFO flight - a twice-weekly service - will be Air India’s longest route.

United is due to launch a daily nonstop service on the same route, beginning May 8, 2021, while American Airlines is planning a Seattle-Bengaluru link.

Business class on the Air India Boeing 777

Air India’s long history of all-women crew flights

This won’t be the first time that an all-female crew has flown for Air India. In fact, the airline operated more than 50 such flights to mark International Women’s Day last March.

The airline has even put on flights where the entire flight operations, from cockpit crew to cabin crew, check-in staff, customer care staff, air traffic control and ground-handling, were all handled by women.

Air India pioneered the practice with an all-woman crew flying a domestic flight from Calcutta to Silchar way back in 1985.

Air India captains Kshamta Bajpayee and Shubhangi Singh are pictured with first officers Ramya Kirti Gupta and Captain Amrit Namdhari - a previous all-women crew

Summing up

Air India is drawing on its long tradition of putting on all-female crewed flights by rostering four of its most experienced women pilots to fly the inaugural San Francisco to Bengaluru service this weekend.

The airline is set to beat its American rivals by launching non-stop flights between south India and the US.

What do you make of Air India’s all-woman flight crew?