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.
United’s Boeing 787 Dreamliner in Houston. Photo: Brandon Farris
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.
Delta ad on one of their seatback video displays.
On Monday, Delta Air Lines announced a new level of service coming to long-haul international flights: Economy Comfort. By summer 2011, more than 160 of Delta’s Boeing 747, 757, 767, 777 and Airbus A330 will have the new Economy Comfort seats installed. The seats themselves aren’t that much of a change, but what comes with them is a pretty a nice improvement. The seats will give you four more inches of legroom and 50% more recline, but you are also going to get free drinks and premium boarding.
The obvious comparison is to United Airline’s Economy Plus. United flies Economy Plus on international and domestic flights and it has been a great way to create loyalty for their passengers.
To learn more and see a great comparison chart between Economy Comfort and Economy Plus, check out Brett Snyder’s blog, Cranky Flier.For some photos and even more information, check out Dan Webb’s blog, Things in the Sky.
There is strong competition between the world’s two largest airlines and it looks like Delta has just played their hand. United… it is your move.