American Airlines & IndiGo Launch India Partnership

American Airlines & IndiGo Launch India Partnership

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With American Airlines making a return to India, the airline has announced a new partnership to provide more connectivity within the country.

American & IndiGo codeshare agreement details

American Airlines is expected to launch two routes to India in the coming months — the airline will fly from New York to Delhi as of October 2021, and from Seattle to Bangalore as of January 2022. To coincide with this, American Airlines and IndiGo have announced a new codeshare agreement, giving American Airlines passengers access to more destinations within India:

  • American Airlines customers will have access to 29 additional routes from Bangalore and Delhi
  • AAdvantage members will be able to earn miles when traveling on American codeshare flights operated by IndiGo
  • The codeshare agreement is expected to launch in October 2021, and is subject to approval from the governments of the United States and India
Routes that are part of the American & IndiGo partnership

As Vasu Raja, American’s Chief Revenue Officer, describes this new partnership:

“We’re eager to add IndiGo as our trusted partner in India. Whether our customers are traveling for business or pleasure, this new partnership makes it easy to reach all four corners of India. Today we’re adding 29 new routes to our map as a result of this agreement, providing customers with even more options around the globe.”

What is IndiGo?

For those not familiar with IndiGo, it’s an Indian low cost carrier that’s also the largest airline in India in terms of the number of passengers carried and fleet size. The airline was founded in 2006, and has grown steadily over the past 15 years.

IndiGo operates a fleet of around 275 aircraft, with nearly 600 additional aircraft on order, so the plans for the airline are massive. IndiGo’s planes are in an all-economy layout, and the airline primarily operates Airbus A320-family aircraft.

IndiGo is India’s largest airline

My take on American Airlines’ new partner in India

American’s partnership with IndiGo makes sense, and ultimately isn’t very surprising:

  • Air India is in the Star Alliance, and has a close partnership with United
  • Vistara is probably India’s most premium airline, and that airline isn’t in the Star Alliance, but also has a partnership with airlines like Air Canada and United
  • Jet Airways went out of business, so that’s not an option anymore
  • So yeah, that probably leaves IndiGo as the best of the current options

On the plus side, IndiGo is a huge airline that offers lots of connectivity, so that’s good. Unfortunately it’s also a low cost carrier, so this isn’t exactly ideal for those flying business class on American beyond Bangalore or Delhi. Passengers won’t have lounge access, will have to sit in economy, etc.

Bigger picture, I can’t help but feel like American is just kind of taking whatever it can get at this point. For so long American wasn’t at all focused on partnerships. Now American is late to the party, and pickings are slim. Just look at Latin America — American lost its partnership with LATAM due to Delta’s investment in the carrier.

Now American has launched partnerships with and invested in both GOL of Brazil and JetSMART of Argentina and Chile. All of these partnerships are better than nothing, but they’re also particularly un-premium. American hopes to use these airlines to provide connections beyond major international gateways, though these airlines don’t have business class, and for the most part don’t have lounges.

I get there aren’t really alternatives, but still, I struggle to get too excited.

All of American’s newest partners are low cost carriers

Bottom line

American Airlines and IndiGo have announced a codeshare agreement. With this, American will codeshare on 29 IndiGo routes, to provide connectivity beyond Bangalore and Delhi. IndiGo is a huge low cost carrier — on the plus side the airline has a great schedule, though unfortunately the airline doesn’t have a premium cabin or lounges.

This is good to see, since there likely wasn’t another good alternative. But still, it’s hard to get too excited here.

What do you make of the new American & IndiGo partnership?

Conversations (29)
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  1. JB

    I've personally always found Indigo better than Air India. Sure you get a small meal and drink on AI, but that doesn't make up for them almost always running late, not to mention their surly cabin crew.
    Have taken 10ish Indigo flights and have left on time or early with nearly all of them.

  2. Jack

    Disappointing. Was hoping we'd see a Vistara partnership in the future since that's basically India's only decent carrier.

    1. DCharlie

      Not sure for the basis of your evaluation but Indigo consistently ranks above Vistara in customer feedback. Anyways, most Indian domestic airlines are a mark above domestic air services in Europe and North America.

  3. DCharlie

    My domestic air travel experience in India has always been favorable, especially compared to domestic air travel in the US (which is where I am based). Indian airlines may not have kept up with competition on international travel, but their domestic airlines are a mark above what is offered within the US and Europe on comparable distances (in my opinion). I have flown aboard all of the carriers and prefer to fly Vistara, IndiGo or...

    My domestic air travel experience in India has always been favorable, especially compared to domestic air travel in the US (which is where I am based). Indian airlines may not have kept up with competition on international travel, but their domestic airlines are a mark above what is offered within the US and Europe on comparable distances (in my opinion). I have flown aboard all of the carriers and prefer to fly Vistara, IndiGo or Air India. I don't prefer Spice Jet, Air Asia, and GoAir. While Vistara and Air India offer some frills, I don't miss them when on board IndiGo, especially since air travels rarely exceed three hours in India. All in all, IndiGo is a fantastic airline and I am pleased to see them as a preferred partner with a major global airline (even if that global airline is AA).

  4. DesertGhost

    Isn't an airline's main business to provide transportation? In reading some comments on travel blogs, one could surmise that it's to provide entertainment and food.

    1. Jack

      What sets airlines apart is mostly the on-board amenities. It shouldn't come as a surprise to you that people on a blog for frequent flyers are interested in enjoying their flights, not just getting from point A to point B.

    2. Kent

      I somewhat agree with you. As a frequent flyer and one who loves flying, I have never eaten on board. I consider food served on airlines to be at best subpar. I enjoy a lavish meal before my flight and use the flight to rest. I don't think I have ever browsed through content on an airline IFE either. I fly for work and for the joy of being in the air. If I wanted...

      I somewhat agree with you. As a frequent flyer and one who loves flying, I have never eaten on board. I consider food served on airlines to be at best subpar. I enjoy a lavish meal before my flight and use the flight to rest. I don't think I have ever browsed through content on an airline IFE either. I fly for work and for the joy of being in the air. If I wanted a good meal, I would go to a reputed restaurant.

      However, that's my preference since my main criteria for a good airline is cleanliness, seat/bed comfort and personalized service; in my case, make the bed and leave me alone until I request service.

  5. PM1

    I have flown Indigo, Air India hundreds of times over the past few years. While Air India can be unreliable, flying AI as a United 1K gives me standard Star Gold privileges like access to great lounges (atleast in Mumbai), extra baggage, first class ticketing queue, occasional upgrades etc. Air India aircraft generally have a pretty generous seat pitch, meals, tea/coffee and boarding is via jet bridges (generally).

    Indigo is operationally more reliable but...

    I have flown Indigo, Air India hundreds of times over the past few years. While Air India can be unreliable, flying AI as a United 1K gives me standard Star Gold privileges like access to great lounges (atleast in Mumbai), extra baggage, first class ticketing queue, occasional upgrades etc. Air India aircraft generally have a pretty generous seat pitch, meals, tea/coffee and boarding is via jet bridges (generally).

    Indigo is operationally more reliable but it's a cattle car: tight seat pitch, non-premium airports, no lounge access, no meals/tea/coffee/soda, boarding via tarmac stairs.

    I tolerated AI's operational unreliability for years for an arguably better experience.

    1. Kent

      I also value the perks afforded by AI for *Alliance Gold members. Frankly, I have not experienced any dissatisfaction flying on AI in recent years - maybe just my luck.

  6. John

    IndiGo is not a downgrade for AA pax. It's the other way round: AA is the real downgrade after coming off an IndiGo flight!

    1. Ben Schlappig

      @ John -- I'm by no means an American Airlines cheerleader, but how is an American business class seat a downgrade from IndiGo's 30" seat pitch?

    2. VT-CIE

      IndiGo has some of the best service for a low-cost carrier. Courteous, friendly flight attendants, decent buy-on-board offerings and not overcharging for every little extra thing: these are some things that you would be hard-pressed to find on Spirit or sometimes even on American. IndiGo is more like Southwest in that regard, as the employees clearly love the company and are proud of it.

    3. John

      Hello, Ben. My rationale is simple and tightly focused. Being treated like a human being on IndiGo is reason enough to regard it as superior to AA. ~ Safe travels, always.

  7. Richard

    If you can pick the exit row seats without charge, then you are already one better than intra-european business class.

  8. MeanMeosh

    Not to beat a dead horse, but IndiGo is a better LCC option than you might think. It runs on-time, the crews are good, and with the max flight length on a domestic Indian route around 2 hours, it's not like space is hugely important. I've flown them several times over the years, and it's always been a pleasant experience. Not a bad way for AA to get some connectivity into secondary Indian markets.

  9. Ole

    I like this alliance. TBH, I think Delta missed out as they do not have another capable airline left to feed their JFK-BOM flight (if they restart it). Considering most intra-India flights are short ~2 hrs, I don’t think lack of business class on Indigo is a deal. Indigo’s large network can comfortably feed the two AA flights.

    When it comes to LCC, I’d fly Indigo over Spirit/Frontier/Allegiant everytime.

  10. INS Vikrant

    Might make the BLR and DEL flights slightly more useful and fill the back of the plane.

  11. DMNYC

    IndiGo may be technically a low-cost carrier, but the flying experience on them is really good. I've flown with them a number of times within India, and the places are clean, the crews friendly, the look of the BOB menus, uniforms, seats, etc. modern.

    It is definitely more of a JetBlue kind of LCC than a Spirit. I think Ben sometimes reads LCC and thinks it's a cheap, ratty option. IndiGo is probably the best...

    IndiGo may be technically a low-cost carrier, but the flying experience on them is really good. I've flown with them a number of times within India, and the places are clean, the crews friendly, the look of the BOB menus, uniforms, seats, etc. modern.

    It is definitely more of a JetBlue kind of LCC than a Spirit. I think Ben sometimes reads LCC and thinks it's a cheap, ratty option. IndiGo is probably the best partner for any international airline looking for connectivity in India.

    (Sidebar: aside from the limited connectivity outside of Brasil, the same is true of GOL vs. LATAM in Brasil. LATAM has not business class on short-haul SA routes, and structures its fares like a LCC on those routes. GOL is an identical, and often more pleasant, experience).

    1. VT-CIE

      IndiGo is more Southwest than JetBlue, I’d say. JetBlue offers IFE and Wi-Fi on all aircraft, while IndiGo does not. JetBlue has a proper business class product on transcontinental and transatlantic routes. Where IndiGo excels is providing fast, efficient, courteous and award-winning service. Then again, Indan airlines have always excelled in having polite FAs.

  12. Michael

    Even though IndiGo has no business class, they allow you to buy a double or triple seat, which if you pay for makes the flight quite comfortable

  13. Jerry

    For domestic India flying IndiGo is perfectly acceptable.

  14. shoeguy

    Air India is an awful airline and likely no one's first choice. It doesn't really add anything to Star Alliance, other than connectivity. AA is making a good decision here as it rebuilds its presence in India. It doesn't have a lot of choice and IndiGo is as good a choice as any, even if it is an LCC. Lots of UAL DNA at IndiGo, but that's beside the point. It is a smart move for AA.

  15. baflyer2

    IndiGo is as good as it gets for intra-Indian travel. Air India and SpiceJet are notoriously unreliable. Vistara is nice but has an extremely limited route network. IndiGo has a vast route network and friendly crew. It's cheap, reliable, and still relatively comfortable for what is probably at most a 2 hour flight. For me, the most important thing is knowing that my domestic Indian flight will land on time so that I'll make my...

    IndiGo is as good as it gets for intra-Indian travel. Air India and SpiceJet are notoriously unreliable. Vistara is nice but has an extremely limited route network. IndiGo has a vast route network and friendly crew. It's cheap, reliable, and still relatively comfortable for what is probably at most a 2 hour flight. For me, the most important thing is knowing that my domestic Indian flight will land on time so that I'll make my international connection. I would only trust IndiGo in that regard. I'm excited to see this partnership, and I hope other oneworld airlines will join suit. Even better, I'd love to see IndiGo join oneworld as a full member or a Connect member.

  16. Luke

    So I guess they havent announced if award seats could be booked through AAdvantage for domestic flights on Indigo? Would be useful otherwise if trying to get to a city in India after connecting from an airline like Qatar in Delhi or Mumbai then going onwards on a domestic flight on the same award ticket.

  17. VT-CIE

    AA better take whatever it can get, and IndiGo is as good an option as any because of its expansive network. IndiGo also had a similar codeshare arrangement with Qatar Airways before the pandemic. Sometimes it is more important to have a connecting flight at the right time to your final destination than premium lounge access and business class. The revived Jet Airways sure as hell won’t partner with AA, but may look to restart its DL/AF/KL partnership.

  18. Mark

    I flew Indigo a few years back and was pleasantly surprised. I would way rather fly them for India domestic flight than any other Indian airline (except Vistara). Yes you're in coach, but it's also probably not a very long flight.

  19. Matthew

    Vistara is also partnered up with BA. But doesn’t have the schedule that IndiGo has. The reality is most consumers are price sensitive. And business travel is lagging. If AA can compete on schedule and price, then they have a fighting chance in India. And really that’s what I want to see. More available seats is always good for the consumer. If AA wants to add lounge access, I’m sure there are third party lounges they can partner with.

  20. Bobby J

    If AA’s goal is to fill seats and generate profit that way, then this partnership makes sense. Much of the passenger traffic within and to India is price-sensitive, especially from diaspora communities, so IndiGo is a natural pairing.

    I’m curious to see whether AA approaches WizzAir to plug the gaping hole in continental Europe, or whether they a more traditional airline (Air Serbia, e.g.).

  21. Chandan

    This doesn't make sense on the surface because IndiGo is a low cost carrier but then when you look at the alternatives they don't really have any other options, added to this is the face that Qatar Airways (another OW player and a significant AA shareholder) and IndiGo have a codeshare agreement too.

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VT-CIE

IndiGo is more Southwest than JetBlue, I’d say. JetBlue offers IFE and Wi-Fi on all aircraft, while IndiGo does not. JetBlue has a proper business class product on transcontinental and transatlantic routes. Where IndiGo excels is providing fast, efficient, courteous and award-winning service. Then again, Indan airlines have always excelled in having polite FAs.

John

IndiGo is not a downgrade for AA pax. It's the other way round: AA is the real downgrade after coming off an IndiGo flight!

MeanMeosh

Not to beat a dead horse, but IndiGo is a better LCC option than you might think. It runs on-time, the crews are good, and with the max flight length on a domestic Indian route around 2 hours, it's not like space is hugely important. I've flown them several times over the years, and it's always been a pleasant experience. Not a bad way for AA to get some connectivity into secondary Indian markets.

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