New global carrier for SFO with an Indian twist

Etihad will use a Jet Airways 777 on its new SFO-Abu Dhabi run (Photo: Aero Icarus / Flickr)

Etihad will use a Jet Airways 777 on its new SFO-Abu Dhabi run (Photo: Aero Icarus / Flickr)

Abu Dhabi based Etihad Airways announced on Monday that it will fly to San Francisco International starting November 18. SFO will be the sixth U.S. city served by the rapidly expanding UAE carrier. Kinda….

This comes on the heals of Emirates Airline’s recent announcement that it will add double decker A380 flights at SFO starting this December.

Etihad is perhaps best known now as the carrier that recently said it will offer a spacious three bedroom suite (with shower) on board its A380 on flights between Abu Dhabi and London at the cost of $40,000 round trip.

Be sure to note the column "Operated by:"

Be sure to note the column “Operated by:”

Don’t get your hopes up that SFO will see that suite, or even an Etihad-liveried jet any time soon. 

Instead, SFO will see a return of Jet Airways planes, which is now 24%-owned by Etihad. Etihad is growing so fast that it is unable to deploy one of its own aircraft on the route.

An Etihad spokesperson tells TravelSkills that flights will use a three-class Boeing 777-300ER aircraft leased from India’s Jet Airways, which will have the livery, layout and seats of Jet Airways, but that Etihad crews will staff the flights. The spokesperson did not know when or if Etihad may deploy one of its own aircraft on the route.

The Jet Airways 777-300ER used by Etihad has eight first class seats (1-2-1), 30 in business (1-2-1) and 308 (3-4-3) in economy.

Jet Airways flew SFO-Shanghai-Mumbai back in 2008-2009.

Fares: For flights in November, economy runs from about $780 to $1380 round trip. Business class is around $5,000-$7000. First class is $14,515.

Etihad LogoEtihad is one of three Gulf carriers (the third being Qatar Airways) that seem to be taking the world by storm and freaking out large global carriers in the US, Asia and Europe with their posh planes, modern airports and excellent inflight service. Etihad recently launched daily nonstops from LAX to Abu Dhabi and says that in addition to San Francisco, it will launch nonstops to Dallas starting in December.

Related: Biz Trip: Abu Dhabi 

“We cannot be more thrilled to welcome Etihad to San Francisco,” said Tom Kiely, executive vice president of the San Francisco Travel Association. “Having just attended the Arabian Travel Market convention in Dubai, I saw first hand what Etihad’s revolutionary premium product is like. It will complement SFO’s existing service from India, southeast Asia and the Gulf region.”

India is indeed a key (if not THE key) market for these flights. As a matter of fact, The Times of India headline about the service reads Etihad to link Delhi, San Francisco via Abu Dhabi on planes leased from Jet. It is estimated that nearly 250,000 Indians reside in the Bay Area.

“San Francisco is another strong addition and provides our first direct link to Northern California. Given its global prominence as a tourism and business centre, we anticipate strong demand in First, Business and Economy Class, not only between San Francisco and Abu Dhabi, but onwards to destinations across our network and the networks of our codeshare partners,” said Etihad’s president and CEO James Hogan. Etihad’s codeshare partner in the US is American Airlines.

Chris McGinnis


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  • Jags

    Etihad has degraded a lot in general. Recently we had very bad experience where they were not allowing my dad’s carry on bag which was around 1 cm larger then recomended size (steel frame they use for that) and that too when both my mom and dad were traveling together with just one carry on.

  • txpatriate

    HUGE difference between true Etihad and “Etihad operated by Jet Airways” planes. Do your due diligence before you book, especially if your booking premium class. I’m fairly certain lots of folks get suckered into this and end up really disappointed.

  • Pallavi

    I traveled on 27th november and all i could say about the flight is nightmare. 5 out of 7 bathrooms in economy class disnt work, one of them flooded out. My seat didnt recline and air hostess didnt do anything. The food is terrible and 16 hours is too long to survive in that flight. The flight i took from abu dhabi to chennai is good didnt have any problems. The jet airways flight is the problem, its too old and has all sorts of problems. Also I found air hostesses on this one to be very rude and not at all accommodating when i asked if i can get something else to eat. I am looking to cancel my return flight

  • Chris McGinnis

    Hey David: I’m working with Etihad now on getting some photos of interiors of the plane… but it is taking longer than expected. Stay tuned. — chris

  • David Huber

    Is anyone aware of any reviews on the Etihad service between
    SFO – Abu Dhabi? I have some reservations that the cabin on the Jet Airways
    operated aircraft may not be as comfortable as traditional Etihad equipment. Any
    information that can be provided is greatly appreciated.

  • Nevada George

    It will create more travel and tourism between the two regions.
    In addition using the Boeing 777-300ER will add more air cargo capacity.
    Perhaps Northern California and the Pacific Northwest can utilize this flight
    to export hard freight and perishables (fruits,veggies,etc.)
    It might open up some new markets for U.S. Businesses.

  • fdsjg_1234.24

    Too bad you are not smart enough to do your jobs.

  • disqus_3C3PY37JDn

    Great, bring in more Indians to take more of our jobs. Great!

  • Michael James

    Odd enough, they have two versions on their 77W. One 3x3x3 and one 3x4x3. With most , if not all , carriers flying 77W, the 3x4x3 is most common. I would prefer the 3x3x3.

  • Michael James

    They will be at the “A” International Terminal.

  • Chris McGinnis

    I thought the Jet 777 was 3-4-3? If 3-3-3 at least there’s more space. I’d rather be 9 across than 10! — chris

  • mchawla

    Was initially excited to read this…but on more research it seems the SFO-AUH leg will be a 777-300 with a 3x3x3 config…not very desirable for family of 4 wanting 4 seats together…

  • xajn

    More bla bla blah on this subject in progress now, right here:

  • Global1st

    I guess they are not looking for connections….on the outbound back to AUH….0830 would be a stretch…anyone know if they would be on the A or G side of the house @ SFO? Thanks

  • Chris McGinnis

    Maybe Turkish can lease one of Jet Airways’ planes to launch SFO service, too 😉 –chris

  • Chris McGinnis

    Good point on the customs & immigration pre clearance at AUH, MJ! That is a big plus. Thanks. — chris

  • Michael James

    SFO is on Turkish short list. The issue is aircraft. They do not have any to launch the route. There was talk of them leasing LO 787s but I guess that fell through. I am sure one day TK will be at SFO.

  • Michael James

    Nice to see EY enter the SFO market. As mentioned, EK is going with their A380 this December and LH, Bangalore Express, is going with their A380 year round.

    EY does have one up on the others and that is pre clearance in AUH. Not much connections at SFO but on the AUH side, they meet up with their Indian bank.

    Good to see 9W return in a round about way but I think the EY livery is one of the best liveries out there.

  • Chris McGinnis

    Cool! Thanks.

  • xajn
  • Brad

    Yeah, Turkish is another airline that has been growing like a weed. I’ve been surprised it hasn’t made it this way.

  • Brad

    Nice to see the new service — if a little odd in its delivery. It still amazes me, though, that we can’t fly directly to South America or even most of the Caribbean. Maybe someday!

  • Chris McGinnis

    Thanks X! I have not heard that Turkish is coming, but I have a meeting with them later this month in LA and will ask. That would be awesome and exotic to have them here! — chris

  • xajn

    What I really wanna know, is when are we getting Turkish Airlines? There has been talk of them coming this year but haven’t heard anything in a while. Have you?