A United 787-9 touching down – Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter
United’s daily service from Los Angeles (LAX) to Melbourne (MEL), Australia is the world’s longest Boeing 787 Dreamliner flight. The long flight (UA98 is scheduled for 15 hours, 50 minutes) allowed me to not only put the 787-9 to the test, but also United’s Economy Plus product.
Flights from LAX to Melbourne take off in the late evening and arrive in the early morning, so the outbound flight is quite easy to sleep on, assuming you aren’t contemplating the remoteness of the vast Pacific Ocean. The routing typically takes the aircraft out on runway 25R, and after an eternity over open water, high above Kiribati, American Samoa, and Fiji, before crossing the Tasman Sea, leaving less than an hour of flying time over land.
Economy Plus on the United 787
As you enjoy your breakfast, you can gaze out on a sunrise over the Australian Alps and observe the Dreamliner’s wings, which are nearly free of fuel, in their most upward-bent shape. I was excited for the flight, but not sure if United could come through during such a long trip.
ANA returns to Sydney with the Star Wars 787-9
All Nippon Airways (ANA) has returned to Sydney after a 16-year hiatus, operating their Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners from Tokyo’s Haneda Airport. A stand-out from any other inaugural flight, the ANA Star Wars jet made its debut appearance in Australia’s largest city to celebrate this special event, as well as the upcoming film. As an avid Star Wars fan, I was compelled to be present for the arrival of this work of art.
As exciting as the prospect of ANA returning to Sydney was, the highlight for me was the aircraft tour shortly after arrival.
The R2-D2-style seat covers are a cute addition to the aircraft
After a period of rushing around issuing visitor passes to the media crews, the bus had us out at the runway 15 minutes prior to the arrival of the Star Wars Dreamliner. I was also made aware that people had flocked to the airport to witness this spectacle, with all the usual aircraft spotting areas full. Spotting at Sydney Airport can be a challenge to even the most experienced AvGeek, with runway selections seeming arbitrary at times. Fortunately on this occasion, the plane landed on the runway we hoped for.
ANA’s Star Wars R2-D2 arrives to gate S16 at SeaTac. This was the first time the aircraft had been deployed to Seattle.
My initial assignment, with AirlineReporter long ago, was to cover the arrival of the first ANA 787 to Seattle. It is befitting that my long history with AirlineReporter officially ends with another ANA 787; this time though it is the ultimate 787 – the R2-D2 Star Wars jet.
The special 787-9 rolled out in October and began service later that month to Vancouver. Now that it is operating out in the wild, I eagerly awaited my opportunity to spot it in my current hometown of Seattle. Being a Star Wars and Astromech droid fan myself (R5s are better than R2s in my opinion), how could I not take this on?
JA873A, better known as “The R2-D2 plane” rolled out of the paint hangar – Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter
It’s finally here!
We’ve waited months to see ANA bring their cross-promotion with Disney Japan for Star Wars: The Force Awakens to light, and boy was it worth it!
Just look at it! The attention to detail is stunning! Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter
This aircraft is, of course, the first of three in the ANA Star Wars line. ANA takes its partnership with Star Wars seriously. How seriously?