It has been a long journey, but I am proud to say that I have finally flown on a Dreamliner.
After two years of trying to get on the 787-8 Dreamliner, I finally had my opportunity to step aboard one of the most amazing aircraft ever built.My flight, United 1169, was from Houston to Los Angeles; they fly the aircraft once a day between these cities for positioning, and when I stumbled on it I couldn’t resist.
As time call to board my flight (in the Economy Plus section), it finally began to sink in that I was about to board the plane I have lost many nights of sleep over. I have followed the issues the plane has had throughout its flight test program and entry into service.
The aircraft I was flying on, N26902, has quite a history and actually is one of the 787s that cost me a couple night’s sleep, as it was the plane that diverted to New Orleans back in December, 2012, when the battery saga was beginning to catch fire. The aircraft also completed the inaugural flights for United to Tokyo Narita from Los Angeles, becoming the first 787 flown by a non-Japanese airline to land in Japan. Weeks later, it completed United’s first flight to Shanghai.
N26902 landed from Lagos, Nigeria in Houston at about the same time as me at 4:40AM. It was nice to watch the sunrise lighting up the aircraft.
Of course the jetway and gate I was boarding through was a mile long and every step my heart raced more as I made my way to the aircraft. Yes, I was this excited – there’s no question that I’m a proud AvGeek. Finally, I turned the corner and could see the big doorway and galley that welcomed me onto the aircraft.
As I was about to step onto the Dreamliner I was a little disappointed to see that the jetway covers the “Welcome aboard United’s 787 Dreamliner” sticker that United has placed on each of its 787s.
When I entered I quickly noticed the striking blue-colored mood lighting on the ceiling, which felt warm and welcoming. I couldn’t stay distracted too long; I had to find my seat – 17J, on the aisle.
I took my seat and my screen was adorned with a warm “Welcome aboard United’s 787 Dreamliner” with a pretty picture of it soaring through the skies. Soon that would be us.
Even from being three seats over I could see how much larger the window truly was; my seat mates had the window dimmed down but it was still a nice touch being able to actually look out the window and not have the shade restrict my view.
I quickly stowed my bag and began to play with the screen, seeing what was available to listen to. I was rather disappointed to not find Channel 9 (air traffic control) in the audio options. There was also no Wi-Fi on the flight, but at least there was other in-flight entertainment to keep me busy.
As the passengers began to settle down, the flight attendants came through and began to close all of the overhead bins. This seemed to really open up the ceiling of the aircraft and I was impressed. I have flown with the Boeing Sky Interior on the 737 many times and knew it was inspired from the Dreamliner’s interior, but it was still quite impressive.
Finally, it was time to push back from the gate and listen to those General Electric GEnx engines power this beauty up – what a beautiful sound it was. But it seemed that as soon as those engines started, the plane went silent. It was very nice to see that the plane really is as quiet as advertised; the loudest things I remember were just the hydraulics as the flaps and gear were lowered and raised along with the engine spool-up when we were cleared for takeoff.
Once we crossed through 10,000 feet I reclined my seat and was pleasantly surprised with how far back it went. The Economy Plus seats offer 35 inches of pitch compared to 32 inches in regular economy.
After watching a movie, I decided it was time to go and explore the entire aircraft. I started in the back and worked my way forward.
I made my way back to the mid-cabin, and like any good AvGeek, I had to go and explore the lavatory. When you open the door to enter it you are welcomed with a nice rich dark blue mood light, but as soon as you lock the door the normal lights kick on so you can actually see what you are doing.
When it came time to flush the toilet I was impressed with the motion sensor that you just wave your hand in front of and it actually closes the lid for you before it flushes. Sometimes the small details count.
Next up it was time to wash my hands, just like the flusher, it was also motion-activated, but something new that I have not seen before was the ability to push a button and make the water hotter or cooler.
Once I was done with my lavatory tour we had about an hour left of the flight. I made my way to the R3 door, just behind the wing, where I was able to shoot some pics out of the window.
The down side of catching a 787 flight domestically is it is way too short. As we began our descent into LAX I made my way back to my seat where I sat and stared out the window the entire way down to the ground. Just the flaps and gear were about the only thing I could heard the entire time down. Then we were over the runway and the pilots gracefully touched down on 25L.
As we were turning off of the runway you could see another United 787 taxing in just ahead of us, along with another one about ready to push from the gate to make its way to Tokyo. It was awesome to see three 787’s on the ground all at the same time and they will just become more of a common sight at airports around the world.
As soon as we parked at the gate I asked if I could view the flight deck, and I was allowed. The 787 blows me away with all of the big screens.
I was only in LA for a bit before boarding a classic Boeing 737-400 to continue my journey. It really makes you take for granted how advanced aircraft are getting these days. How one design will affect numerous aircraft types, in terms of the Boeing Sky Interior on the 737 Next Generation, to the engine chevrons that reduces noise and are now seen on the 747-8 and will be on the 737 Max.
I give two thumbs up for the 787 Dreamliner and cannot wait until my next flight – I only hope it will be a bit longer.