Around the World

Miles flown for stories
2014: 258,704
2013: 330,818

Buy Wholesale products for your airline business on DHgate.com

United Airlines Takes Delivery of their First Boeing 787 Dreamliner

United's first Boeing 787 Dreamliner (N20904) seen at Paine Field in early August 2012.

United’s first Boeing 787 Dreamliner (N20904) seen at Paine Field in early August 2012.

On Saturday, United Airlines officially took financial delivery of their first Boeing 787 Dreamliner. However, the aircraft is still in Seattle and is expected to be flown to Houston later this week.

BONUS: Photo tour of United Airlines first Boeing 787 Dreamliner

Jeff Smisek, president and CEO of United, said, “As the North American launch customer, we are delighted to be getting our first 787 Dreamliner. As we continue to build the world’s leading airline, we are excited for our customers and co-workers to experience this game-changing aircraft.”

Oddly, the 787 will depart from Boeing Field (which is located south of Seattle), where most delivery flights for the 747, 767, 777 and 787 leave from Paine Field. Each airline has the option to decide how they will take delivery. Some do it very quietly and others throw a huge party. I would suspect that United would want to throw a huge party, but no word on what that might look like — yet.

Infographic on the 787 Dreamliner by United Airlines (CLICK FOR LARGER).

Infographic on the 787 Dreamliner by United Airlines (CLICK FOR LARGER).

After arriving in Houston, the 787 and crew will go through a month-long training and certification program. The airline will also be flying the aircraft (without passengers) to some of their hubs to show it off.

United’s Dreamliner will start domestic service on November and then international service in December.

“This 787 delivery represents the continuation in the more than 80-year partnership between our two companies,” said Ray Conner, president and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes. “United now begins a new chapter with the 787 Dreamliner, the most technologically advanced commercial jetliner ever built. It reinforces United’s commitment to be the world’s leading airline by providing unmatched fuel efficiency and passenger comfort.”

Currently, ANA, JAL and Ethiopian are the only airlines with 787s in service. LAN has taken delivery of their first one, but have not yet put it into service. It is exciting to see an American airline take delivery and soon enter this next generation aircraft into service.

SOME UNITED HISTORICAL FUN FROM AIRCHIVE.COM:
* 1958 United DC-8 brochure
* The Friend Ship Boeing 747 introduction brochure from 1960
* Boeing 777 (which United was the launch customer) introduction brochure from 1995

Photo Tour of United’s First Boeing 787 Dreamliner

United's first Boeing 787 Dreamliner at Paine Field.

United’s first Boeing 787 Dreamliner at Paine Field.

Yesterday was a beautiful day at Paine Field to take a look at United Airline’s first Boeing 787 Dreamliner. This was not a delivery ceremony, but a celebration that the aircraft (reg N20904) is out of the paint booth and one step closer to being delivered.

United is expecting to take delivery of their 787 sometime in September. The terminology used yesterday makes me think the plane might be delivered closer to the beginning of the month than the end — we shall see.

That darn Dreamliner ruined our day (okay, it actually quite enhanced it).

That darn Dreamlifter ruined our day (okay, it actually quite enhanced it).

I arrived to Paine Field at about 9am to check in. All the media had their equipment quickly sniffed by a Boeing security dog (one of the best parts of the event) and we took a short bus ride to the compass rose, where the airplane was waiting.

There was a tent set up where United employees, VIP mileage members, invited guests and media waited. Before the event officially started, the media was able to take photos of the Dreamliner. It was difficult to sit down to listen to the speeches — I was itching to get on board.

Hanging out with some United flight crew before boarding the 787.

Hanging out with some United flight crew before boarding the 787.

During the speeches, United had some good things to say. David Hilfman, United Airlines senior VP of sales stated, “We have been awaiting this day for a while. And it has been worth every bit of the wait.” It is obvious that the airline is very excited about their new aircraft.

In the middle of the speeches, everyone was in awe, when a Boeing Dreamlifter took off in the background, to a cheering crowd.

This aircraft nose she is beautiful!

This aircraft nose she is beautiful!

Soon, it was time to board. I have been lucky enough to get on JAL’s 787, Qatar’s and a few of ANA’s Dreamliners previously which puts me in a pretty good position to compare United’s interior versus the others.

Welcome on board -- wait... where is the dramatic entry way?

Welcome on board — wait… where is the dramatic entry way?

My first surprise was the entry way. One of the things touted by Boeing about the Dreamliner is the ability to have a dramatic bar entry way (example of JAL’s). When boarding in the second set of doors on the United 787, you are greeted by one of the galleys, not an impressive entry way.

It isn’t bad and most passengers probably won’t notice, but it was a bit of a surprise. I talked to one of United’s VPs of Marketing and he explained the choice provides more space in the cabin. Read: probably a bean-counter’s decision to add more seats. It could be a smart move, since it is not clear yet how much these open bar areas will be used by passengers during flight on other airline’s Dreamliners.

United's Business First product on the 787 Dreamliner.

United’s Business First product on the 787 Dreamliner.

After entering, I headed to check out the Business First product. There are 36 of the seats configured in a 2-2-2 layout. The product looked clean and for the few minutes I sat in the seat, it was comfortable. The non-shared armrest in each seat is able to be lowered, providing a nice addition of width when sitting or sleeping.

United's Business First offers a fold flat bed.

United’s Business First offers a fold flat bed.

There is plenty of storage space and with 68″ of seat pitch, even the tallest passengers can get comfortable. The only down side that I could see is that the center divider between seats cannot be lowered. It is small enough to still be able to talk to the person next to you, but not large enough to give you a level of privacy that competing products have.

All the Business Premier seats have a slight tilt. With the left side seats tilting to the left and the center and right hand seats tilting to the right. This allows additional space and privacy for passengers.

United has their Economy set up in a 3-3-3 format.

United has their Economy set up in a 3-3-3 format.

Going farther back in the 787, you first come across 72 seats in Premium Economy and another 111 seats in Economy. United has decided to configure their Dreamliner in a 3-3-3 layout. The seats were comfortable, for the few minutes I sat in them, but not sure how a ten hour flight would go. Each seat on the plane has its own in-flight entertainment, which will offer a distraction for passengers not able to sit in a premium seat.

What are those? Yes, pillows and blankets on the Economy Plus seats.

What are those? Yes, pillows and blankets on the Economy Plus seats.

As with all 787 Dreamliners, United’s has the LED lighting, dimming windows, lower pressurized cabin and improved economics.

A Ethiopian Boeing 787 Dreamliner in the HUD on the United 787 Dreamliner.

A Ethiopian Boeing 787 Dreamliner in the HUD on the United 787 Dreamliner.

A tour of a 787 Dreamliner would not be complete with out a visit up to the flight deck. Between airlines, there is almost no different of the flight decks.  I have been told that really the only main difference is a screen view from airlines that use the Rolls Royce Trent 1000 versus the GEnx engine.

The crew rest area in the upper rear of the 787.

The crew rest area in the upper rear of the 787.

One part of the 787 Dreamliner I have not been able to check out yet was the rear crew rest area, which is located above the main cabin. I would have to say that it gets the job done, but surely is not super roomy.

A sign on the left side of the plane lets you know you are boarding a 787.

A sign on the left side of the plane lets you know you are boarding a 787.

There is no question for me that United’s 787 is a nice product. However, it is far from revolutionary. Still, I don’t think this is United’s fault. My guess is the carrier wanted to premiere their new Business First product on the 787, but due to the delays, they have already installed the product on 777s and 767s. Heck, even the 767s are getting a better in-flight entertainment system than the first 787s will have.

Currently, the only route that United has announced for their 50 Dreamliners has been Denver to Tokyo. The first commercial flight for United will be sometime in October.

A special thanks to Mal Muir for helping me at the event.

UNITED AIRLINES FIRST BOEING 787 DREAMLINER PHOTO GALLERY:


MORE STUFF TO CHECK OUT:
* Even more photos on my Flickr page
* Epic video from United with Rhapsody in Blue
* Video of the 787 Dreamliner coming out of the paint hangar

United Airlines Rolls Out Their First Boeing 787 Dreamliner

High-Resolution Photo: United’s first Boeing 787 Dreamliner comes out of the paint hangar. Photo from The Boeing Company.

High-Resolution Photo: United’s first Boeing 787 Dreamliner comes out of the paint hangar. Photo from The Boeing Company.

At 5:00am this morning, United Airlines rolled out their first Boeing 787 Dreamliner from the paint hangar at Paine Field. It was a bit too early for this Airline Reporter, so I have had to take a look at photos, like everyone else.

The video of this morning’s event, should be available on Thursday. That should also be the day, I will get the opportunity to check out the interior of this beautiful plane and see it first-hand. I know many of you have been critical of the “new” United livery, but this looks dang good.

High-Resolution Photo: United’s first Boeing 787 Dreamliner comes out of the paint hangar. Photo from The Boeing Company.

High-Resolution Photo: United’s first Boeing 787 Dreamliner comes out of the paint hangar. Photo from The Boeing Company.

The interior cabin will use blues and grays, which are consistent with the airline’s newer aircraft today. The 787 will also debut a new in-flight entertainment system that according to United will offer, “more intuitive browsing and more filtering options.”

To start preparations for the first 787 delivery, United has already installed a full-flight simulator at their Houston hub and has started training pilots,  flight attendants and mechanics.

After United takes delivery of their first 787 in September, they will conduct a variety of tests before the aircraft enters service later in the fall. United is hoping to take delivery of five 787 Dreamliners before the end of 2012.

High-Resolution Photo: United’s first Boeing 787 Dreamliner comes out of the paint hangar. Photo from The Boeing Company.

High-Resolution Photo: United’s first Boeing 787 Dreamliner comes out of the paint hangar. Photo from The Boeing Company.

Stay tuned for Thursday, August 2nd. Starting at about 10am PT, United will be giving a tour of the interior of their 787 Dreamliner at Paine Field to invited guests and media. You better believe I am more than excited to be going. Be sure to follow along on my Twitter and Facebook.

MORE PHOTOS OF UNITED’S BOEING 787 PAINT HANGAR ROLL OUT:
* Jon Ostrower got some screen shots of the live video feed this morning
* Local ABC Station, KOMO4, has posted photos taken from their helicopter this morning of United’s 787

PREVIOUS PHOTOS OF UNITED’S 787 DREAMLINER: