The 14-hour, nonstop flight, was launched on July 7, 2017.
By Sambhu N. Banik
WASHINGTON, DC: The launch of Air India’s non-stop service from this city to Delhi, on July 7, 2017, was a welcome news to Indian Americans living in the area. The 14-hour long nonstop flight from the US capital to the Indian capital has brought the people of world’s oldest and largest democracies closer, literally and figuratively.
This region is home to one of the largest Indian American communities in the country. As many as 150,000 Indian Americans live in the Greater Washington Metropolitan Area. The flight gives members of the community traveling to India, either to visit family members, or for vacation, a highly convenient option.
Until now, those flying to Delhi from Washington had to deal with hours-long stopovers in either European or Middle Eastern airports, or fly via New York. Senior citizens — parents and grand parents — were especially affected by it. Now they have the option of avoiding hardships of flying via New York, or having stopovers in foreign cities.
Many elderly Indian Americans — and this is true of Indians visiting family members and friends in this area — will also feel more comfortable flying an airline on which they can communicate with the crew in their languages and enjoy Indian cuisines.
RELATED: Air India’s nonstop Washington-Delhi flight launch celebrated in style (July 7, 2017)
Here I would like to highlight my own experience. Being an octogenarian, flying long haul involves certain risks. By reducing the flight duration, my wife and I can now visit India more frequently without worrying overly about the risks of blood clot — as a result of sitting too long in cramped seats. The shorter duration will also help fight jet lag better.
Other groups that will benefit from the flight include:
- The area’s business community, for whom time is money and money is time. Executives now can now avoid flying via Europe and Middle East, thereby saving precious time.
- Indian diplomats working at the Indian Embassy in Washington, US diplomats working in Delhi and Indian and US officials traveling to and from each other’s capitals.
The flight will also encourage more American tourists to consider India as a destination. That would boost the country’s tourism industry and help the economy. Of course, it will be a two-way street. As Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe pointed out at an inaugural event on July 7, the economy of Northern Virginia and the Washington area will get a shot in the arm from the new flight.
RELATED: New Air India DC-Delhi flight ‘opens great business opportunities’: McAuliffe (July 10, 2017)
Last, but not least, judging by the initial response from the community and various statements of Air India officials, the Washington-Delhi sector is going to a profitable route for the beleaguered airline. Air India officials have said that they have plans to increase the frequency to 7 days a week, from the current schedule of three days a week.
In short, it is a win-win situation for everyone.
This was not the first time Air India has launched a flight from Washington. Several years ago, it started a flight to the Washington Dulles International airport via New York. But it did not work as passengers found flying to New York JFY and switching flights there highly inconvenient and time-consuming.
As a long-term Washingtonian, who has lived in this city for more than 46 years, I am extremely happy that, finally, I can fly to India without having a stopover.
(Sambhu N. Banik, Ph.D., a community leader based in the Washington, DC, area, is the chairman of the NCAIA. He retired as a Professor of Psychology and Counseling at Bowie State University, in 2016 after 41 years. Currently, he is the president of Banik and Associates, Family Diagnostic and Therapeutic Center.)
More from Sambhu N. Banik:
Remembering Rajan Devadas (December 27, 2015)
Need to overhaul mental health services in the US (January 25, 2013)