The Indian carrier Jet Airways will start flying between Newark and Mumbai next month, with an aggressive expansion schedule into Toronto, JFK and San Francisco. Its arrival in the United States is being greeted by a small, sophisticated and devoted group of fans.
Jet Airways is known in India for good service and for extremely luxurious first class suites on international flights. But it’s still competing fairly well on price, with round-trip coach airfares around the $1,200 mark, taxes and fees included, for Newark-Mumbai. (The aircraft on this route will be Boeing 777s, and they’ll stop in Brussels.)
The connoisseurs on the FlyerTalk boards are generally quite upbeat about Jet Airways, which started as a domestic airline in India and has branched out with some regional and European flights. My own inside source also gives the airline a big thumbs-up:
"I lived and worked in Gujarat, India, for a year and a half, and when we went to Delhi (or anywhere else in India) our airline of choice was always Jet Airways," writes Maryanne ‘The Sister’ Leblanc. "Prices were competitive, flights were on time, the aircraft were clean and appeared to be in good shape, they served drinks and decent meals or snacks even on short flights, the flight attendants and ground staff were polite and generally helpful, and waiting times for check-in were reasonable."
Jet Airways is already a partner with Northwest and KLM /Air France, among others. There’s some speculation on the FlyerTalk boards that it might join the Star Alliance, with United, U.S. Air and a whole lot of international carriers, or the Oneworld Alliance, sharing routes and miles with American and British Airways, among others.
That talk is probably a reaction to news that Air India, the government-owned airline, has been talking with the Star Alliance about joining up.
Speaking of Air India, it is scheduled to start direct, non-stop 14-hour JFK-to-Mumbai flights on Aug. 1 on 777s, although there’s some speculation that the launch will be delayed. Air India will also continue its 747 flights with stops in Paris or London.
It’s not too far off the mark to suggest that Jet Airways is to Air India what Virgin Atlantic has been to British Airways. And when the cheeky upstart private airline takes on the stodgy behemoth, I think we know how that usually goes.