United Airlines is canceling it’s Newark (EWR) to Mumabi, India (BOM) route due to a recent ban placed on flights over the country of Iran as well as the Gulf of Oman and Strait of Hormuz.
This ultra long 15 hour nonstop flight between Newark and Mumbai is only possible with the ability to cross over Iranian airspace. Pakistan is situated next to Iran, however, their country also has a no-fly restriction at the moment due to tensions between India and Pakistan. Another alternative route would take the aircraft too close to Syria and Iraq. With no other viable alternative without adding a refueling stop, the decision was made to close the route altogether for the time being.
Airlines try to avoid fuel stops whenever possible due to the delay it could cause the flight, as well as the additional costs incurred by the airline and reduction in potential profits on the flight.
The United Airlines route between Newark and Mumbai is an important link, as Mumbai serves as the financial hub of India. The route typically carries businessmen and wealthier passengers. It’s a safe bet that United Airlines will resume the flight once tensions with Iran cool down, or the situation with Pakistan improves.
Until that time, passengers will need to connect through Europe to reach their Indian destination.
A few months ago, I had the opportunity to fly on United Airlines from Frankfurt, Germany (FRA) to Washington Dulles (IAD). This was my first long haul experience with United, as well as my first trip on a Boeing 777.
As I approached the gate in Frankfurt, I realized I had roughly 30 minutes prior to departure and sat in the boarding area. It was slightly eerie, as there was nobody else sitting around me. I approached the gate agent to confirm that I was in the right area for my flight back home. She told me that the flight was very light, and I could actually board early if I would like. I took advantage of this opportunity to settle in early, and boarded the aircraft.
While I boarded the aircraft, I was expecting similar service like I had received on Lufthansa. By this I mean cheerful flight attendants that greet you and point out where your seat is located. Sadly, I did not encounter this type of service. I cheerfully smiled and said ”Hello” to each of the three flight attendants while I made my way to the seat. None of them cracked a smiled, and only responded with a forced sigh and “Hello” back to me.
My seat for this flight was located in the very last row of the aircraft. I looked around, and there was not a soul nearby, except for the young gentleman one row up and across the aisle. Not long after boarding, they closed the cabin doors, and our flight back to the United States was under way. The flight attendant made her welcome announcement, and was probably one of the most unenthusiastic and uninviting announcements that I have ever heard. At this point, I could only imagine what the inflight service would be like as well, because I now felt that I had been spoiled with the high level of service that I received from Lufthansa on my way over to Europe.
The in-flight entertainment was just as bad as the service that I would receive on this flight as well. There were (3) seats in my row, and two of them had broken headphone sets. I politely asked the flight attendant for a working set, and her only response was “I don’t know. I’ll see what I can do”. 45 minutes later, the flight attendant reappeared and said “here”, while throwing the headphones at me. I was shocked and appalled! Out of the 3 in flight entertainment units, only 1 was working. It also had a tendency to freeze up with errors and reboot every 15-20 minutes. This was going to be a LONG flight home…
I was pretty hungry and we were served a soft drink and snack. I had asked for Coffee and Water, and an extra bag of pretzels. The flight attendant rolled her eyes, and granted my request. I was getting pretty upset with their service and wanted to complain so bad! The meal we were served was pretty awful, but I ate it anyway. Not everyone can have the same quality of food as Lufthansa I guess.
Finally, after many many hours of flying, we landed in Washington Dulles Airport. I was so happy to get off my flight and be one step closer to home. Honestly, this experience on United Airlines was pathetic and terrible. I will never fly United Airlines on a long haul flight again. Take my advice, and spend the extra money to fly on a European airline, as they tend to value service and the customer more than US airlines.