Saturday June 14, 2008 was a day of "firsts" for Jet Airways, a major Indian airline.
The airline announced their new San Francisco to Mumbai via Shanghai daily flights from SFO, featuring new Boeing "Triple Seven" airliners.
As an invited member of the media (there were about a dozen of us), I was given a first-hand look at the new plane's seats -- and they were very nice.
First off, the economy seats featured something called a "foot net" underneath rather than the traditional foot rest. The "foot net" allows passengers to slide their feet under the seat in front of them for extended leg comfort while providing for a slight elevation of the legs to reduce circulation problems. It's a rather ingenious new invention, which is the first of its kind.
Additionally, the seats include neck rest supports that hold the neck firmly in place comfortably. The seats also recline 6 inches to provide more "open" and "spacious" seating similar to being in first class. TV monitors are also built into the back of every seat so that passengers can watch movies, television or use SMS ($5 per message) and email. For additional fees, they can also make phone calls in flight. There are also power outlets provided for U.S. and overseas plugs.
The First class seats, known as Premiere Class were also state-of-the-art, featuring fully adjustable bed seats that lay flat with a 80 inch length. They can be adjusted 180 degrees to simulate laying in bed. Passengers can also watch TV on 15 inch monitors or use their laptops. The seats also provide privacy from the next passenger with cubicle like walls.
As for the Luxury class seats, they were extremely nice. Like having a private compartment. Large trey table with room for two and a large 25 inch TV monitor and reclining chairs.
Later, we were taken to the boarding area to watch as the first flight arrived from India. Due to a weather delay, the plane arrived a bit late. But we were treated to wine, drinks, and gourmet candies provided through Gate Gourmet, which was being organized by International Chef Jimmy Zhang.
Zhang also carved a beautiful centerpiece with the company name Jet Airways carved into a watermelon sculpture for the occasion.
The airline, which started in 1993 with just four Boeing 737 airliners has since grown into a major carrier to India. Approximately 25 new employees will head up the new SFO flights.
To bless the inaugural first flight by an Indian airline from the U.S. West Coast, the company brought in several priests of various denominations including Hindu and Catholic. Prayers were offered in Hindi and ritual mantras were recited to bring success and blessings to the new employees and the airline.
Highlighting the arrival of the first plane was a fire cannon water salute by two fire trucks.
Linking major financial centers such as San Francisco, Shanghai and Mumbai with daily flights would seem to be a jackpot slot pull for the airline.
Perhaps those new "Triple Seven" planes will translate into seven-digit revenues soon.