In December 2023, Air India took delivery of its first Airbus A350-900, and unveiled it to the public in January 2024 at Wings India in Hyderabad.
Prince of Travel was live on location for the event. In this article, we’ll share some images of the brand-new product, as well as our initial impressions of the new aircraft and how it marks a transformative step for Air India.
In This Post
- Air India Unveils Its First A350-900
- Air India’s New A350-900 Business Class Cabin
- Air India’s New A350-900 Premium Economy Cabin
- Air India’s New A350-900 Economy Cabin
- A New Era for Air India
Air India Unveils Its First A350-900
On January 18, 2024, Air India unveiled its brand-new Airbus A350-900 aircraft at Wings India, an aviation exhibition that took place in Hyderabad.
This is the first of 20 A350-900s Air India has on order, with five more expected to join the fleet by March 2024.
Originally, this A350 and the next incoming five were destined for Aeroflot; however, Air India refreshed the interiors to align with its recent rebranding prior to the aircraft entering into service. The remaining A350-900s will join the fleet with Air India’s newest cabin design.
The aircraft’s exterior features Air India’s new logo and livery, which were previously announced in Summer 2023. This aircraft, registered VT-JRA, is the first to showcase Air India’s new brand identity.
The inauguration ceremony was attended by India’s Minister of Civil Aviation, Shri Jyotiraditya Scindia, who was accompanied by the airline’s CEO Campbell Wilson for the initial walkthrough.
As of January 22, 2024, the aircraft entered into service on domestic routes, and will fly to and from Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, and Mumbai for crew familiarization before being deployed on international flights later in 2024.
In North America, Air India currently flies to Toronto (YYZ), Vancouver (YVR), San Francisco (SFO), Chicago (ORD), Washington Dulles (IAD), New York (JFK), and Newark (EWR).
This aircraft offers 316 seats with business class, premium economy, and economy cabins.
Air India’s New A350-900 Business Class Cabin
Air India’s A350-900 business class cabin offers passengers 28 suites in a 1-2-1 configuration, each with aisle access and sliding privacy doors.
The cabin features an all-new colour palette, marked by deep blue and wood accents, as well as wavy lines on the walls of the suite.
The window seats are in a staggered configuration, with odd-numbered seats closer to the aisle and even-numbered seats closer to the window. However, since all seats have a sliding door, you won’t be as exposed to passers-by as you would be without a sliding door.
In the middle of the cabin, even-numbered rows are set in a “honeymoon” configuration, with the seats nestled close to each other. If you’re travelling with a partner, you can open up a sliding door to enjoy the flight together.
Odd-numbered rows in the middle seats are set further apart. If you aren’t able to select a window seat and are travelling solo, these are the next-best option.
Each suite features a wardrobe for storage of garments, as well as separate storage space for shoes. Air India provides business class passengers with slippers for long-haul flights.
The suites also come with a cabinet for additional storage space, and inside, you’ll find a mirror. This is also where you’ll find a nice lamp that accents the space.
The tray table slides out from underneath the 21-inch entertainment screen, and it can fold backwards onto itself for a smaller surface space.
A USB-A and universal power outlet are located under the cabinet, just behind the flat wooden surface space to the side of the seat.
Seat controls are nestled into the side of the surface panel, and just below, you’ll find the entertainment controller.
To the side of the seat, you’ll find a literature pocket and a beverage holder.
The seat reclines into a fully lie-flat bed. As part of the launch, Air India has also introduced new bedding and amenities, which we’ll feature in a separate article.
At the rear of the cabin, between business class and premium economy, is a lounge area. During the initial walkthrough, it featured snacks and a variety of liquor.
Overall, Air India’s new A350-900 business class suites are a huge upgrade from the airline’s legacy business class products.
Once the planes are scheduled on long-haul routes, passengers will benefit from direct service to Delhi and Mumbai from major North American hubs in a much-improved product.
Air India’s New A350-900 Premium Economy Cabin
Air India’s A350-900 aircraft also feature a brand-new premium economy cabin.
Passengers can choose from 24 seats spread out across three rows in a 2-4-2 configuration.
Unlike the new business class cabin, the premium economy cabin features a primarily aubergine colour palette, with red accents on the seats and bedding.
Each seat features 38 inches of pitch, 18.5 inches of width, and 8.5 inches of recline. Passengers can also make use of a four-way adjustable headrest and a legrest.
The entertainment screen measures 13.3 inches, and features touchscreen controls. Each seat also has access to a USB-A outlet, as well as a universal power outlet.
Air India’s New A350-900 Economy Cabin
Passengers travelling in the economy cabin of Air India’s new A350-900 will have 264 seats available in a 3-4-3 configuration.
The colour palette in the economy cabin is made of bright red hues with grey accents.
Each seat has a pitch of 31 inches, a width of 17.5 inches, a recline of six inches, and an adjustable headrest. The entertainment screen measures 12 inches in the economy cabin.
A New Era for Air India
The official launch of Air India’s first-ever Airbus A350-900 marks a huge milestone for the airline as it begins an era of transformative change.
In 2022, Air India was formally taken over by the Tata Group, who purchased it from the Indian government.
Since then, Air India has announced plans for a massive transformation, and has its sights set on becoming a world-class airline.
As part of the plan, Air India placed a landmark order for 470 new aircraft from Airbus and Boeing, to be delivered in the coming years. Included in this order are 20 Airbus A350-1000s and 15 Airbus A350-900s.
Beginning in Summer 2024, it will also start retrofitting its existing wide-body fleet with brand-new cabins, which are expected to feature a four-class configuration, including First Class.
As we’ll cover in a separate article, Air India has also revealed new uniforms for the cabin crew, as well as a new in-flight entertainment system, new crockery, new in-flight amenities in all cabin classes, and more.
Personally, I think the new business class cabin looks fantastic, and I’d love to give it a try when the aircraft is deployed on North American routes, hopefully later this year.
However, it’s worth noting that the full transformation won’t take place overnight, and will rather be drawn out over the next few years. The airline will need to revamp other aspects of the passenger experience to compete with what’s offered by leading Gulf and Asian carriers.
During my trip to India to attend the launch of the A350-900, I had the chance to learn more about how Air India plans to transform itself, and I’ll be sharing more insights from my trip in the weeks and months to come.
Until then, keep an eye out for this new aircraft on domestic routes in India for the next few months, and then on yet-to-be-announced international routes later this year.
Air India has unveiled its first Airbus A350-900 aircraft, which officially went into service on January 22, 2024.
The new aircraft features completely redesigned interiors, including business class suites with sliding privacy doors and direct aisle access for every passenger.
For now, the aircraft will be flown exclusively on domestic routes to familiarize crews with the new product. Later this year, it’s expected to be used for long-haul international routes.
This is the first of many important steps for Air India in its journey into a new era, as it works towards reestablishing itself as a world-class airline.