United has added its Dreamliners back to the schedule, which is good news for plane geeks. The FAA grounded United’s 787-8 Dreamliners in January, but they are back on the upcoming flight schedule starting May 31.
Why This Is Cool
United recently acquired several Boeing 787 Dreamliners and announced the first international routes that will be serviced by the plane.
The plane has no first class (Global First), 36 business class seats (BusinessFirst), and a few hundred economy seats. United business class beds are world class.
The 787 has a host of technological features, which make flying more comfortable. The one I am most anxious to test is the pressurization of the cabin at 6,000 feet, but the bigger windows and quieter ride are great features too.
According to The Points Guy, the first route will be between Denver and Houston. A week and a half later, the plane is unleashed on the longhaul international routes for which it was designed.
Unfortunately United is being extremely stingy with business class award space on the Dreamliner, but I did find space on three routes: Houston to Lagos, Los Angeles to Tokyo, and Los Angeles to Shanghai.
Houston to Lagos
The Dreamliner is scheduled to begin flying from Houston to Lagos on August 1. In the first two months of the Dreamliner’s service, there are business class award seats on six days.
Interestingly, every day where there is one seat in business, there are eight seats available at the Saver price of 60,000 miles each way.
The good news if you don’t live in Houston or don’t want to go to Lagos is that this flight is easy to connect to on both ends.
And the flight arrives in Nigeria at 2:50 PM the next day. All three of United’s African partners–Egyptair, South African Airways, and Ethiopian–fly from Lagos to their hubs, so there are options throughout Africa. If you want to connect in Africa, united.com is unlikely to pick up a routing via Lagos. Search segment-by-segment, and call United at 800-UNITED-1 to book.
Los Angeles to Tokyo
The Dreamliner also begins to fly Los Angeles to Tokyo on August 1. The 787 has a few business beds available in the next 11 months.
The first is November 26.
When looking at the Los Angeles to Tokyo calendar on united.com, remember that ANA also flies the route, so not all the green and blue days have space on the United 787. They may have space on the ANA flight instead.
The other dates that do have Dreamliner bed space are January 23 and January 30.
This flight isn’t super easy to connect to, but it isn’t impossible either. The 11 AM departure from LAX will allow some connections, and the 4:00 PM arrival in Tokyo will allow connections to evening flights on ANA–United’s Japanese partner.
Los Angeles to Shanghai
The Dreamliner starts flying LAX to Shanghai on August 2, and I see one seat available for the route on September 5. Get it while it’s hot!
Getting the Miles
All three of the routes mentioned in this post cost 60,000 United miles oneway or 120,000 United miles roundtrip, so you need to earn a bundle of United miles to fly them. Luckily it’s pretty easy to earn a big sum of Ultimate Rewards, which can be transferred 1:1 to United miles.
Personal: Sapphire Preferred with 40,000 Ultimate Rewards after spending $3,000 in the first three months
Business: Ink Bold with 50,000 Ultimate Rewards after spending $5,000 in the first three months. Many people don’t realize they qualify for a business credit card.
United’s 787s take to the skies again starting May 31. Despite 36 beds per aircraft, United has been extremely stingy with award space on the plane’s routes in business class.
Your best bet is Houston to Lagos, and there is a little space on the LAX routes to Asia. If you want to fly the Dreamliner, you’ll need a ton of United miles–or better yet, a ton of Ultimate Rewards:
Application Link: Sapphire Preferred with 40,000 Ultimate Rewards
Application Link: Ink Bold with 50,000 Ultimate Rewards
Check out Tahsir’s trip report of flying on a United 787 in BusinessFirst class on its first day in operation.