Today’s news in brief:

Air India to launch new flights to the US

Effective January 2021, Air India is to add new services to the United States, it’s being reported.

The national carrier will fly from Hyderabad to Chicago on January 9 - the first scheduled service between south India and the US - before adding a Bengaluru to San Francisco link on January 11, 2021.

Both services are expected to run twice weekly, though tickets aren’t yet on sale so there is no information on flight times etc.

It seems Air India is hoping to steal a march on its rivals, as a number of new services from Bengaluru to the US West Coast have already been announced by American carriers.

American Airlines has plans for a daily service between Seattle and Bengaluru, beginning next year, while United says it will fly daily between San Francisco and Bengaluru from May 2021.

Of the new Air India flights from Bengaluru to San Francisco, Bengaluru airport told the Times of India: "Air India will operate a 238-seater Boeing 777-200 LR aircraft on this route. This would be the first non-stop flight between Bengaluru and the United States, connecting the world’s two tech hubs – the original Silicon Valley and the Silicon Valley of India."

You can read our review of the Air India 777 business class experience here.

Emirates relaunches ‘Dubai Connect’ free hotel offer

Emirates passengers with long connections in Dubai will be able to take advantage of a free hotel stay as of next month. Dubai Connect provides hotel accommodation for customers booked in any class with a best available connection time that exceeds 10 hours.

Those passengers will receive a complimentary night’s stay in a four or five-star hotel in Dubai, ground transfers to and from the airport, meals at the hotel and a UAE visa on arrival (where required).

The service aims to provide customers whose best connection time is between 10 and 24 hours a more convenient travel journey. Those who qualify for Dubai Connect but are unable to leave the airport will be given access to the Emirates Dubai Connect airport lounge.

Passengers with new or existing bookings, travelling from December 1, 2020, are eligible. For more information visit the Dubai Connect page of the Emirates website.

Vistara adds Cash + Points option

Following the lead of airlines including Virgin Atlantic, Vistara has added a ‘Cash + Points’ facility, enabling you to book flights using a combination of money and Club Vistara points.

The move allows you to use your CV points to discount the cost of any flight operated by Vistara, rather than having to rely on award flight availability opening up for redemption.

To buy a flight using Cash + Points, log-in to your CV account and initiate a booking. Choose ‘Cash + Points’ before entering your journey details, select the passengers from your list of nominees, decide how many CV points to use then pay cash to complete the booking.

As usual with these kind of airline offers, there’s only limited value to the “cash and points” option, and it's probably only advisable if you want to use up a few spare points - or you’ve got plenty of them!

Note that members will earn CV Points and Tier Points for the cash portion of the base fare. If a member chooses to convert 100% of the base fare (excluding surcharges), the booking will not be eligible to earn CV Points or Tier Points.

Visit this page of the Vistara website for full details.