Finally: Air India Refreshing Boeing 777 & 787 Cabins

Finally: Air India Refreshing Boeing 777 & 787 Cabins

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Roughly a year ago, Air India was privatized, as Tata Group, which was Air India’s initial owner when the company was first founded, took control of the airline again. Since then, we’ve learned that Air India and Vistara will be merging, and Singapore Airlines will have a significant stake in the combined airline.

The pressure is now on for the Air India passenger experience to improve, and we’re seeing the first signs of that…

Air India investing $400 million in wide body jet interiors

Tata Group has today unveiled a $400 million investment, which will see the company refreshing the interiors of Air India’s long haul fleet. What do we know so far about these plans?

  • Air India will be refreshing the interiors of its entire legacy wide body fleet, including all Boeing 787s and Boeing 777s
  • Air India will not only be refreshing all cabins (including all new seats and inflight entertainment), but will also introduce a premium economy product across its long haul fleet
  • Air India will be retaining the first class cabin on its Boeing 777s
  • It’s expected that the planes will get a different configuration than before, so the airline may increase or reduce the number of seats in each cabin
  • The company has hired London-based JPA Design and Trendworks to assist with this project
  • The first aircraft with the new cabins is expected to enter service in mid-2024, after the merger with Vistara is finalized
Air India will retain first class on 777s

Here’s how Air India CEO Campbell Wilson describes these plans:

“Under our Vihaan.AI transformation program, Air India has committed to attaining the highest standards of product and service befitting of a world-class airline. We know that, at present, the cabin product on our 40 legacy widebody aircraft falls short of this standard. We are working closely with partners to accelerate the refit process as fast as possible and, in the meantime, leasing in at least 11 new widebody aircraft with brand new interiors to improve our offering at the earliest opportunity.”

Keep in mind that in addition to its existing long haul fleet, Air India is also in the process of picking up some used Boeing 777s from other carriers, some of which should lead to immediate cabin improvements. For example, Air India is leasing some former Delta Boeing 777-200LRs, which already feature business class suites and premium economy.

Air India will inherit Delta’s product on some leased 777s

Air India is also expected to eventually place a big new aircraft order, though nothing has been finalized there yet.

My take on Air India’s cabin upgrades

Air India is of course long overdue for cabin upgrades. Not only does the airline have a woefully outdated business class (in a 2-3-2 configuration with angled seats), but the cabins on many Air India planes are basically falling apart.

With Tata Group owning the airline, and Singapore Airlines soon having a stake in the combined airline as well, it was a given that some cabin upgrades were going to be made. A few thoughts about this news:

  • It’s interesting that Air India will maintain first class; I’m curious if the airline introduces a totally new first class, or simply makes minor cosmetic updates to the existing product
  • I’d assume business class will be completely overhauled, and that we’ll see fully flat beds with direct aisle access
  • While updates to economy are great as well, Air India currently has only nine seats per row on the 777, so I have to imagine the cabin will be densified, and the airline will choose (the now standard standard) 10 seats per row

I think the only real frustrating thing here is how long it will take for planes to be reconfigured. We’re told to expect the first reconfigured plane in mid-2024, so it’s clear that the airline is only in the very early stages of this project. And I’d imagine the timeline could slip even further, given general supply chain issues nowadays.

I wonder if Air India will complete this project before or after 2030…

Air India’s Boeing 787 business class

Bottom line

Air India has committed to spending $400 million updating the cabins on its Boeing 787s and 777s. The airline will maintain first class on 777s, introduce a new business class on all long haul planes, add premium economy to all long haul planes, and also update the economy product.

This is all great news, though we’re going to have to be patient, as the first plane with the new interiors will only be flying in mid-2024, and that’s best case scenario.

What do you make of Air India’s plans to update its cabins?

Conversations (24)
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  1. Punjab Guest

    Great… new beautiful planes so the Indians can throw trash/food everywhere and destroy it in two years. Thank you uncle ! Last time I flew air India there was more trash on the floor then in the bins. Such a dirty people with bo regard for others.

    1. Rahul Guest

      Really? I suspect they selected the passengers to make the likes of you feel like at home. What bins are you referring to btw? Idiotic comment.

  2. Ujjwal Gupta Guest

    Although redesigning will take sometime but AI's strategy of getting used airplanes for the time being will really help lift up their image (provided soft product improves as well). Example, AI flying first ex DL 777-200 from BOM - SFO starting Dec 15. Interesting to see how AI will sell PE tickets for these kind of aircrafts.

  3. Dave Guest

    They should also refurbish their A320NEOs. That's another plane they have in common with Vistara

  4. Dave Guest

    AI should start with their 787s first so its cabins can match what's on Vistara's 787s. This will give them time to figure out how to retrofit their 777s since Vistara doesn't have 777s for AI to take inspiration from

  5. Ranesh Guest

    About time. The IFE on both planes I took from LHR to ATQ and back had hardly any working at all and the seats were falling apart.

  6. Anon Guest

    "I wonder if Air India will complete this project before or after 2030…"

    Is this a necessary comment? Its in new private hands, with a reputable operator, and they are doing everything that needs to be done to turn around an airline. Why keep knocking them? They are not responsible for what happened in the past. So many comments about bad experiences. Yes obviously, thats why the airline got sold. Every article on this subject...

    "I wonder if Air India will complete this project before or after 2030…"

    Is this a necessary comment? Its in new private hands, with a reputable operator, and they are doing everything that needs to be done to turn around an airline. Why keep knocking them? They are not responsible for what happened in the past. So many comments about bad experiences. Yes obviously, thats why the airline got sold. Every article on this subject throws lots of shade on the turn around attempts. When they announced cabin crew training improvements everyone yelled "why aren't they updating the cabin." And then as they go to upgrade the cabin everyone mocks them on how long it will take, which is entirely out of their hands. Give them a break and lets see what happens. Yes the airline has fallen from grace bigtime. But any restructuring takes time. And its only been in private hands for around 9 months. You cant fix an airline in one year. They are tackling all the issues one by one, but it will take time. Overall the decisions are moving in the right direction.

    1. Jared Guest

      @Anon - Lucky makes money by selling ads. The more provocative an article, the more visits, the greater the money. A pleasant article on AI will not sell. Ultimately, it's that easy drive to make money, a narrow-western mindset and the "not invented here" syndrome, which drive such articles. Treat this blog for what it is - entertainment along the likes of The Jersey Shore.

  7. Vishal Mehra Guest

    TATA Group has an existing relationship with JPA Design, they have worked together for interiors of Udaipur Lake Palace, Umaid Bhavan, Taj Exotica Maldives, besides Singapore Airlines A380's J & Premium Economy seats.

  8. Saab Guest

    The worst airline ever, I had an awful business class experience couple of years back. They don’t understand the meaning of customer service.

    1. Kent Guest

      Sweet of you to complain considering your name suggests that you belong to the region widely noted for having the poorest customer service, globally.

  9. Kaleb_With_A_K Gold

    Lipstick meet pig.

  10. Rahupathi Devarajan Guest

    Please arrange London to chennai Direct flight service

    1. KK13 Gold

      Ben is not at your service, if you’re wondering.

    2. Ranesh Guest

      About time. The IFE on both planes I took from LHR to ATQ and back had hardly any working at all and the seats were falling apart.

    3. bruh Guest

      Not sure if it helps, but BA already flies a daily non-stop LHR-MAA service. BA35/BA36.

  11. Steven E Guest

    I think their first priority should be the cleanliness of its interiors. They often have issues with vermin onboard and food debris that is in between seats and arm rests ( this was in business) Paris - Delhi flight was just disgusting and the crew just do that shoulder shrug

    1. Ole Guest

      Steven, I don’t know what I am more surprised - you flying AI or you flying AI in business

    2. Eve Guest

      It’s not difficult to end up flying AI, you will find many cheap award redemptions on SAS Eurobonus in Asia which includes itinerary with AI. I have intentionally flown Tokyo to Singapore via Delhi several times

      At the same time, upgrades are cheap. You will always end up getting upgraded with your base bid on Plusgrade with AI

  12. EC Guest

    The most obvious additional step I can think of is a rebrand as well. The current AI branding and livery is really out of date and carries with it all the negative perceptions of the brand as a whole. I know these updates have been sensitive in the past, but the airline is in dire need of it if it wants to communicate that it's entering a new era.

    1. Kent Guest

      Keep the livery and branding. It's endearing and warm. Change the product. I think it should be bold and harken back to it's retro livery.

  13. Tim Dunn Diamond

    AI will be subject to the same global supply chain issues that are affecting other airlines including deliveries from Airbus and Boeing and refurbishment projects at major airlines including the US big 3.

    The sad part of AI's cabins is that they were allowed to deteriorate so badly in such a short period of time. They have to put in place maintenance processes to repair stuff as they break rather than leaving half of the...

    AI will be subject to the same global supply chain issues that are affecting other airlines including deliveries from Airbus and Boeing and refurbishment projects at major airlines including the US big 3.

    The sad part of AI's cabins is that they were allowed to deteriorate so badly in such a short period of time. They have to put in place maintenance processes to repair stuff as they break rather than leaving half of the AVOD screens on a plane broken for months at a time- as many of their passengers have experienced.

    1. Luke Guest

      ...not to mention a more thorough cleaning process!

    2. Emily Guest

      Here's a tip - next time you fly SQ, use the hot towel to clean the seats and the surfaces. You will be surprised at just how filthy they are. I always bring disinfecting wipes to clean the set and surfaces before a long haul. Airlines cut corners. An easy way to do so is by reducing the deep clean frequency.

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

EC Guest

The most obvious additional step I can think of is a rebrand as well. The current AI branding and livery is really out of date and carries with it all the negative perceptions of the brand as a whole. I know these updates have been sensitive in the past, but the airline is in dire need of it if it wants to communicate that it's entering a new era.

3
Luke Guest

...not to mention a more thorough cleaning process!

2
Anon Guest

"I wonder if Air India will complete this project before or after 2030…" Is this a necessary comment? Its in new private hands, with a reputable operator, and they are doing everything that needs to be done to turn around an airline. Why keep knocking them? They are not responsible for what happened in the past. So many comments about bad experiences. Yes obviously, thats why the airline got sold. Every article on this subject throws lots of shade on the turn around attempts. When they announced cabin crew training improvements everyone yelled "why aren't they updating the cabin." And then as they go to upgrade the cabin everyone mocks them on how long it will take, which is entirely out of their hands. Give them a break and lets see what happens. Yes the airline has fallen from grace bigtime. But any restructuring takes time. And its only been in private hands for around 9 months. You cant fix an airline in one year. They are tackling all the issues one by one, but it will take time. Overall the decisions are moving in the right direction.

1
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