Washington, DC – On July 7th, Dulles International Airport welcomed the first direct flight between New Delhi and the Washington DC Metro area.
Puneet Ahluwalia, a prominent Indian American from Northern Virginia flew on the return flight to Delhi, and spoke to IAT upon his return.
In an interview, Ahluwalia highly recommended Dulles International Airport as a fly-in and fly-out option and expressed pride that the Indian flag-carrier Air India (AI) has chosen Dulles as the destination for the capital area.
Tell us about your experience on the first direct flight from Washington DC’s Dulles Airport to New Delhi.
I flew out on the morning of July 9th from Dulles Airport. The AI staff was very courteous and helpful and my check in was swift!! Apparently the entire Air India welcome team lead by Mr. Lohia, Chairman of AI, was traveling on the return fight. I very much enjoyed the company of Mr. Jagannath, CEO AI as my seat mate. We had a very interesting conversation on the possible sale of AI. He strongly believes in the AI brand and its hardworking and committed team.
The US potential is huge as a number of Indian Americans and US business persons would prefer to fly direct and make the most use of their time while away from home. The timings are perfect as one gets a whole day to work when you arrive in Delhi and then on your return, you sleep and rest and are ready to work at 7:15 am when you arrive in Washington DC.
How was your Air India flight experience and which class did you travel?
I travelled business class. The staff on both my journeys were personable and professional. The amenities provided inflight are similar to other airlines, but I feel that the quality of food can be dramatically improved with both Indian and international cuisine that was served.
The Business and First Class lounges have to be dramatically more sophisticated with variety and quality of food and drinks offered. Qatar Airlines and Doha would be a good example to follow.
How did your experience at Delhi airport compare to Dulles Airport?
Delhi Airport has improved substantially but I would recommend more and separate outlays for immigration check outs to streamline the process. Dulles is a class apart and very well managed.
How was your experience at Dulles Airport upon your return? Any improvements you suggest?
I flew back from Delhi on July 19th. Returning to Dulles was seamless as with the new automated kiosk system in place, I cleared immigration and grabbed my bags in 15-20 minutes.
What is your overall assessment of Dulles Airport facilities?
AAA rating. One of the best! I highly recommend people traveling from Dulles Airport. The only thing I would suggest is that Washington Flyer should make their rates competitive with Uber and Lyft for folks to have more options.
Dulles Shows the Way
Air India’s Dulles service is operating on Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays. It departs Dulles to Delhi at 11 a.m. There is already talk of making it a daily affair as Dulles International Airport is within short driving distance of Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia, Washington DC, and West Virginia among others.