Air India’s inaugural service from San Francisco-Bengaluru is in the air - and the world’s first non-stop flight between the US West Coast and south India is being flown by an all-female crew.

New service is Air India’s longest route

With a distance of just under 14,000km, Air India’s new service between Bengaluru and San Francisco is Air India’s longest route (and one of the longest in the world).

The inaugural flight from San Francisco is currently in the air and is expected to arrive in Bengaluru in the early hours of Monday morning. It will take around 17 hours and will involve flying over the North Pole.

In command of the flight are an all female cockpit crew: captains Zoya Aggarwal, Papagari Thanmai, Akansha Sonaware and Shivani Manhas. They are joined by the airline’s executive director of flight safety, captain Nivedita Bhasin - another lady.

Air India shared this fuzzy photo showing the plane's position over the North Pole

The flight is being operated by a 12-year-old Boeing 777-200LR, registration VT-ALG and marked with the name ‘Kerala’ on the exterior and painted with the Mahatma Gandhi motif.

Air India's Boeing 777-200LR, registration VT-ALG. Photo: @flySFO
Air India's Boeing 777-200LR, registration VT-ALG. Photo: @flySFO

The plane has a seating capacity of 238 seats, with eight in first class, 35 in business class and 195 in economy. Besides the cockpit crew, there are 12 cabin crew on board.

It looks like there were some festivities on the ground before departure in San Fransisco, with a cake being cut by the crew, and a ribbon cut on the air bridge.

The inaugural flight left San Francisco on Saturday evening
Pre-flight celebrations at San Francisco airport
Pre-flight celebrations at San Francisco airport
Pre-flight celebrations at San Francisco airport
Pre-flight celebrations at San Francisco airport

Captain Zoya Aggarwal, leading the crew, has more than 8,000 flying hours under her belt, including 10 years’ command and 2,500 hours on the Boeing 777. Air India claims to have the highest ratio of female employees of any airline in the world.

Captain Zoya Aggarwal is in command of the flight

The airline operates non-stop flights from Delhi to New York, Newark, Washington DC, San Francisco and Chicago and from Mumbai to Newark and New York.

Air India also plans to start its first ever non-stop service between Hyderabad and Chicago on January 15, 2021.

Congratulations, Air India!