November 4th, 2012. It’s a day just like any other but today was a little bit different. Today was the inaugural flight of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. The plane, known for its fuel efficiency, technology, and beauty was starting to fly after months of delays. United Airlines was to be the first North American carrier to fly the 787. Today, it delivered and boy did it do a damn good job.
United flew its first 787 from Houston to Chicago today and the flight landed to a water cannon salute at Chicago ORD. I was there to experience all of this because I scheduled myself to be on 2 segments. (Chicago-Houston & Houston to Los Angeles)
After the plane got to the gate, the passengers received a warm round of applause while walking out. Of the passengers, the CEO of United Airlines and fellow blogger Mommy Points were onboard. The celebration turned into an impromptu press conference at the gate. I was able to meet some pretty cool people including the CEO & Thomas Lee
After the festivities, it was time to board! I was the first passenger through the gates and onto the plane. I was able to snap some shots of the layout of the plane. The 787 is a 2 cabin plane configured with Economy, Economy Plus and Lie-Flat BusinessFirst Seats.
After boarding, we sat for a while and talked to other passengers. Everyone was pretty excited except the lady who booked a ticket on this flight and didn’t know what was going on. Eventually, we left the gate and took off. Let me say that the 787 is quiet. Too quiet. It is so quiet, that it’s weird. During takeoff, the engines only spooled up to 70% thrust and it sounded like nothing was happening. While in the air, the noise got even quieter. I was able to whisper to my friend and he still heard me. The 787 makes it very easy to talk to your seat mate and even easier to sleep. The economy plus portion of the 787 has a configuration of 3-3-3. It is actually very generous in the leg room area. I didn’t test it out but from what I heard, it was pretty good. I sat in 6E from Chicago-Houston and 1E from Houston-Los Angeles. Try to get the front cabin because the footrest area is a lot bigger at 1E. My seat mate pointed out that this was the old continental style BusinessFirst and that not much had changed. I still saw a few changes in the plane like the windows, LED lighting, sound, and overall pressurization. My ears didn’t pop and I didn’t feel dry.
For the inaugurals, United brought in their international Houston & Chicago based crew staff. I am assuming they did this to train the crew for their upcoming LAX-Tokyo flight on January 3rd.
The seat is actually pretty comfortable. It is a Lie-Flat seat that has the basic controls. The controls are actually in two places which makes it easier to turn the lights on when laying down. In addition, the blankets were pretty comfortable and the pillow was really nice! I took one. There are power outlets at every business class seat and it includes a selection of Ipod connection, headphone jack and USB outlet. The side of the seat goes down if you want it to kind of like the new Cathay Pacific business class.
The T.V is really big. It looks HD but I’m not sure if it is. It is super clear and very vivid. The map is 3-D ish and widescreen. The best part is that United actually has a good selection of movies and shows. The controller for the t.v is in the lower middle console however, the t.v is touchscreen so you rarely need the remote.
The lighting in this plane is fantastic. It is powered by bright LED’s all the way to the reading light. The mood lighting changes as you cruise, land, take-off, and eat.
The windows were also really cool. They are auto-dimming shades that dim with the push of a button. This feature proved to be super useful on our flight as we were taking off facing the sun .The blue shades helped make the plane look a lot cooler. The windows on this plane are actually a lot bigger than most planes because the 787 uses new material as its fuselage. United wouldn’t stop ranting about how the carbon fiber body reduces weight and enables them to do more things they normally couldn’t like fly at 40,000 feet.
The ride was super smooth and the turns were just amazing. At one point, I couldn’t even tell I was flying.
For the IAH-LAX flight, I slept for most of the time because I didn’t the night before. It was nice to have that Flat-Bed option for a small domestic flight.
The food on the flights was pretty good although I have no idea what I ate. Initially, the crew from ORD-IAH told me I would get a soup and salad but I honestly don’t know what it was. I do know that it was really good though! The Chicken offering on the second flight was also very good for domestic travel.
After landing at LAX, I was shown the cockpit, which is by far the coolest part of the plane. The entire cockpit is digital and has Heads-up displays for the pilot along with one single LCD screen to control all of the flight diagnostics.
All in all, I am so glad that I was able to fly the 787 on the first day. It’s a different feeling altogether and it was nice meeting with some frequent flyers and aviation buffs. It was a good day for me and a good day for United. High Five!
Thanks For Reading!