American’s New Seattle To Bangalore Flight On Sale… Again

Filed Under: American

American Airlines has just put its Seattle to Bangalore flight on sale… again.

American Airlines’ Seattle expansion

Back in February, American Airlines caught most of us off guard, when it announced it would be forming an international hub in Seattle. So far American has announced plans to fly from Seattle to Bangalore, London, and Shanghai, with all three routes expected to launch in 2021.

All of this comes as American is cooperating more closely with Alaska Airlines, as Alaska plans to join the oneworld alliance in March 2021. I find American’s Seattle expansion to be rather strange, and I’m curious to see how it works out.

As you might expect, at least part of American’s Seattle expansion has been put on hold. In March American put its Seattle to Bangalore route on sale for travel as of October 2020, though that had been postponed. Well, the flight is now on sale once again, and it’s expected to launch about a year late.

American’s Seattle to Bangalore flight details

American Airlines’ Seattle to Bangalore flight is now on sale for travel as of October 31, 2021. The published schedule is as follows:

AA180 Seattle to Bangalore departing 5:55PM arriving 11:05PM (+1 day)
AA181 Bangalore to Seattle departing 1:45AM arriving 6:00AM

American’s Seattle to Bangalore route

The flight will cover a distance of 8,112 miles, and is blocked at 16hr40min to India, and 16hr45min from India. American will use a Boeing 787-9 for the route, featuring 30 business class seats, 21 premium economy seats, and 234 economy seats.

While it’s interesting to see the flight go back on sale, I’m curious to see if the timeline sticks, or if we see American delay the schedule for this again, given everything that is going on.

American’s 787-9 business class

American’s 787-9 scheduling in Seattle

When American put this flight on sale back in March, the airline had scheduled a 787-9 between Los Angeles and Seattle. In other words, the 787-9 would fly from Los Angeles to Seattle to Bangalore and back, because otherwise the plane would be on the ground in Seattle for 12 hours every day.

It seems that’s no longer American’s plan, but instead American will cycle a 787-9 between two international Seattle routes, specifically to Bangalore and Shanghai.

American’s Shanghai route shows a 777-200 through October 30, and as of that date it switches to a 787-9.

Just to show how the schedules complement one another, the Bangalore flight has the following schedule:

AA180 Seattle to Bangalore departing 5:55PM arriving 11:05PM (+1 day)
AA201 Bangalore to Seattle departing 1:45AM arriving 6:00AM

Meanwhile the Shanghai flight has the following schedule:

AA183 Seattle to Shanghai departing 12:50PM arriving 4:25PM (+1 day)
AA182 Shanghai to Seattle departing 6:25PM arriving 3:10PM

As you can see, this really helps with aircraft utilization. A 787-9 will arrive from Bangalore at 6AM and continue to Shanghai at 12:50PM, and then another 787-9 will arrive from Shanghai at 3:10PM and depart for Bangalore at 5:55PM.

American will cycle a 787-9 between Bangalore & Shanghai

I’m still skeptical about this route launching

When American first announced this route I thought it was surprising but it kind of made sense. No other airline flew nonstop between the US and Bangalore, so American would have an advantage in the market.

In the meantime quite a bit has changed:

It seems to me like American was betting on United not being able to fly from San Francisco to Bangalore due to the distance, since it’s right at the cusp of the 787-9’s range. However, United figured out a way to modify its 787-9s to make this route possible, presumably much to American’s dismay.

United will launch a San Francisco to Bangalore route

Why am I skeptical about American’s chance of success here? Pre-pandemic, here’s what demand looked like between Bangalore and the US:

  • San Francisco had 17.7% of the traffic (the most of any US city), accounting for over 200 travelers per day
  • Seattle had 4.3% of the traffic, accounting for roughly 50 passengers per day

American relies on there being a lot of connecting traffic, and presumably American expected it would get much of the San Francisco demand as well. But then United announced the San Francisco to Bangalore route.

While United’s route seems like it has a high chance of being successful, I just don’t see where the demand is supposed to come from to make American’s flight work, especially when you consider that from most of the US other than the West Coast, you’d be flying fewer miles routing to Bangalore through Europe, rather than connecting through Seattle.

Bottom line

American Airlines’ new flight from Seattle to Bangalore is now bookable, this time for travel as of October 2021. A lot has changed since the flight went on sale the first time, including United and Air India announcing San Francisco to Bangalore flights.

I just can’t make much sense of this flight at this point, given how San Francisco is the biggest US market from Bangalore, and that will now be served by two airlines.

What do you make of American’s Seattle to Bangalore flight? Do you think it will actually launch?

(Tip of the hat to @IshrionA)

  1. Out of interest, whatā€™s the implication on maintenance if those 789s are designated to PVG/BLR? It makes sense to increase utilisation between these two destinations, and that SEA-LHR 772s could be routed from another hub via LHR. But, with AS having no support for wide bodies, if MX happens, they would have to ferry it to/from LAX/DFW? Or, would they still schedule some weekly DFW/LAX-SEA flights with 789 for rotation.

  2. I’m not sure this flight will launch either, given all that’s going on, but it is sufficiently far out into the future that it would make some sense to test the waters with advance bookings, particularly given AS joining OW and the anticipated feed AA will have to fill the 789 at SEA. The scheduling of the BLR/PVG routes to allow 789 handoffs also makes some sense, but of all the announced BLR routes, I suspect UA will be the one to actually launch and likely find the most success. AI’s product and service is a joke and AA’s plans seem a bit of a stretch but there’s actually nothing wrong with them trying to build out something in SEA with PVG, BLR, and LHR given the AS feed they’ll have. I just think the strategy sits in a pre-pandemic world and much has changed with these oddball routes unlikely to see the light of day until the vaccines are proven effective and travel can truly resume in earnest.

  3. AS will feed the flight from dozens of US cities. Many pax today fly via Europe and M.E region, and of course East Asia to BLR. This will grab some of those (think OW and AA loyalty). Corporate accounts.

    I wonder if counting out AA is a sport on here, or just a ploy for making money? Why are people not celebrating new service and hoping for the best. Such negativity.

    Oh the changes 2021 will bring šŸ˜‰

  4. There is a set of people who cannot fly through Europe and would actually prefer to land directly in India. The reason they canā€™t fly through Europe is that they donā€™t have a stamped visa on their passports and European airports donā€™t allow those passengers. This flight would solve that problem for a lot of travellers to south India which does not have any direct flight from the US to that region. Most of the tech workers in SEA and west coast are from south India and given time they will start using this sector. I personally would prefer SEA over SFO to go to bangalore. SFO BLR is going to be close to 18 or 19 hours and the couple of fewer hours might make it more attractive for families.

  5. @Lucky, where do you get the daily passenger numbers between city pairs? Is there a database for this sort of thing?

  6. These types of international flights are successful by fine-tuning your schedule to create optimal connectivity from as many places as you can. Without the ability to coordinate with AS they are taking a huge financial risk which is why I doubt this route comes to fruition.

    Thereā€™s also huge operational risk in flowing the plane through PVG. Take a look back at the operational disaster LAX-HKG had at the beginning and imagine putting that same situation in a spoke city with no crew/MX base.

  7. Personally it is a shame it appears they aren’t going to bring in these widebodies from another hub daily. Being based in SEA I was really looking forward to having that 789 to take down to LA, especially to then connect on other lie flat services onward to MIA or JFK. I thought the whole idea of having the connection in LA was that it would be an onward service of sorts, so someone taking the trip to or from LA would be able to stay with the same aircraft, to make it less of a niche market?

  8. Emirates has removed the popular twice a day Seattle to Mumbai leg without any major announcements. Hope American steps in.
    Not sure why the travel blogs have not covered this major change.

  9. Where can you find data about passenger figures between cities? It would be helpful for my studies.

  10. American cancelled flights to PVG last week due to over scrutiny and harassment the crew were facing at customs. They had been flying DFW PVG via ICN cargo since November 11. United pulled out of PVG as well. With the deteriorating US China relations there may be another 789 flying LAX -DFW or put in storage.

  11. If i could fly business class in both directions for certain Iā€™d consider a trip to Bangalore and experience an Indian cricket match.

  12. Lucky, where are you seeing this for sale? I’m searching ITA Matrix and the AA website and getting nothing (just one-stop options via LHR). Cheers

  13. I can see it on AA app if the date is after Oct 30. Chose one way, because the booking window is not open for the return flight

  14. Anyone doubting Seattle – Bangalore should do some research into the amount of tech jobs in Bangalore.

  15. @ Business — Anyone not doubting the Seattle to Bangalore route should do some research into the passenger numbers between the US & Bangalore.

  16. @Business: I think you have no clue about passenger-traffic between US and B’lore. Number of tech jobs doesn’t matter – that’s clue #1.

    @Ben: Thank you!

  17. American should seriously serve something from JFK or LAX too such as SIN, BOM, KUL, DEL, even if there needs to be a refuel stop. Also the reason AA probably wants to start BLR is because Cathay Dragon has just shut down creating a problematic situation. I remember they were a huge feeder on this route from North America almost all families traveling by KA from BLR were connecting to LAX, SEA, YVR, SFO, DFW (AA), or ORD.

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