Air India Circles the Globe With First All-Female Crew

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International Women's DayWhat better way to kick off International Women’s Day: New Delhi to San Francisco flights manned by an all-female crew.

And by all-female we mean ALL female—from the Boeing 777’s captains to its engineers and air traffic controllers. It’s a “first” worthy of the Guinness World Record book, and Air India has applied for this accolade, as it should.

The women of Flight AI 174 completed the round-trip jaunt with 250 passengers after traveling more than 18,000 miles across the Atlantic and Pacific and 13 time zones, touching back down in New Delhi on February 27th.

The flight was a long time coming for the airline, which added its first female pilot back in the mid-1950s. The Feb. 26th flight was manned by Captain Kshamta Bajpai and Captain Sunita Narula—sources say both prompted timely mother-daughter advice from travelers as they boarded the plane: be like them.

Air India’s anti-discrimination policies are often met with cultural and familial pressures, a hauntingly familiar obstacle to female progress throughout Eastern and Western worlds, that make it difficult for women to thrive in male-dominated sectors, let alone become pilots.

The multifaceted ground-breaking flight of Air India gives momentum to a series of female-helmed flights that are hitting the skies today for International Women’s Day. And at a time of great pushback concerning the inherent rights of women and minorities, it’s a feat that takes us to the elevated level we should all be operating at.

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