In our line of work, new planes are a big deal. So we’ve watched closely as Boeing’s longest version of the Dreamliner — the 787-10 — hits the skies. United is the first U.S. airline to get the “dash-ten” and it has started deploying the stretch Dreamliner on their premium transcontinental routes between Newark and Los Angeles & San Francisco. When we found out that the San Francisco-Newark inaugural flight was on Valentine’s Day, we knew we had to be on it!
There’s a lot of reasons to care about United’s 787-10. It’s the first of United’s Dreamliners to carry the Polaris business class seat, which goes fully flat and offers everyone direct aisle access. The plane comes with an awesome new inflight entertainment system. And now United is the first and only airline to operate the full Dreamliner family: the 787-8, 787-9 and the 787-10.
Read on for photos and more from United’s inaugural 787-10 transcon service out of SFO — including a Valentine’s Day celebration for United’s newest plane.
Photo: United Airlines
What’s the best way to celebrate Valentine’s Day? For most people some combination of candy, kisses, chocolate, and rom-coms does the trick. But we AvGeeks like to do things a little differently, don’t we? So tomorrow and into Friday, get ready for some epic live tweeting as we — along with San Francisco (SFO) airport and United Airlines — give a little Valentine’s Day love to the new Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner.
United just started taking delivery of the -10, the largest version of the Dreamliner. It started on limited flights between Newark (EWR) and Los Angeles (LAX), and this Valentine’s Day will be the starting day for regular 787-10 service from Newark to San Francisco.
The 787-10 Polaris business class cabin – Photo: United Airlines
Why does this plane matter to you? Well, United is the first U.S. airline to fly the 787-10, and it’s also the first Dreamliner variant to get United’s true Polaris seat. The plane also sports a real-deal premium economy seat — called United Premium Plus — and a redesigned inflight entertainment system. So follow along on Twitter starting tomorrow at noon PST for live updates from our very special Valentine’s Day flight, as United inaugurates 787-10 service from SFO to EWR! And on Friday, drop by United’s brand-new Polaris lounge at LAX with us.
In 1948, United Airlines established a maintenance base at San Francisco International Airport. Seventy years later, the place is still hard at work keeping the airline’s planes safe and in the air. Every year, United brings tens of thousands of its employees to the base for Family Day, and this year the airline invited us to take part.
What a wild, awesome day it was! We got to meet “Chix Fix,” United’s award-winning all-female team of aircraft technicians, go on a tour of the maintenance facility, and celebrate the day with the United family. We even got to sample some food from Boeing’s newest plane: the 777-200BBQ (tail number N1BBQ)! AvGeeks eat your heart out, and read on for plenty of photos from the day’s fun.
Start ’em early! Author’s son planespotting at SFO. Photo: David Delagarza
“That’s insane.” That seemed to be the reaction most people, many of whom were seasoned fliers, had to our plan. My wife and I had schemed it up over a year ago while she was pregnant with our first child. We had always enjoyed traveling, and I had gotten into collecting miles and points when we found out that we would be adding a baby to the mix. We didn’t want to stop traveling once the baby was born, so we booked one of the most ambitious itineraries we could think of – flying to New Zealand, with stopovers in Japan and Australia. And, yes, we would be taking the baby with us.
11 months prior to the trip, we had the miles saved up. We had accumulated enough to book the trip in business class (at least prior to the recent United Airlines MileagePlus devaluation.) After diligently researching and waiting for availability to open up, I finally found a business class route that would work – at least until I saw the infant fare. United charges 10% of the cabin fare for lap infants on international flights. For economy cabins, this can add up to a couple hundred dollars. However, for the premium cabins, we were looking at paying nearly $1,000 each way. Although I did briefly consider footing that bill, we decided to go in economy and use the extra miles to put our son in his own seat (when we could find the award space) and stay in some nicer hotels along the way.
Our outbound itinerary ended up beginning with Denver to Tokyo Narita on United’s 787 Dreamliner. We had a 20-hour overnight stopover before continuing onto Singapore aboard Singapore Airlines’ A380. The final leg took us from Singapore to Christchurch, New Zealand on Singapore’s 777-220ER. 50 hours, four countries, and 14,000 miles just to get there.
Our return trip was a bit easier – Christchurch to Sydney on an Air New Zealand A320, followed by a 23-hour stopover in Sydney before continuing onto San Francisco on a United 747-400, connecting to Denver on a United A319. The only hitch was that I was unable to find any kind of routing that made sense for the return trip once my son was born, so he was going to fly home as a lap infant. It was sure to be quite the adventure.