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For the first time in nearly three months, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner is in the headlines for a positive reasonthey're returning to the skies! Of course, this comes after battery fires and millions upon millions lost by grounding the jets, but stillgood news.
According to Reuters, the fix required for the airplane's batteries won't be a cheap one, as the FAA "pegged the cost of repairing United's six jets at about $2.8 million." The installation of the modified lithium-ion batteries in Dreamliners should be complete by mid-May, meaning tickets are again being sold for 787 flights.
There are currently 50 Boeing 787 Dreamliners in service with airlines, all of which will be "fixed" and flying again as soon as the airlines can handle it. Here's the dates for when airlines expect their 787s to again fly with paying passengers:
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Its been nearly two full months since the FAA grounded Boeing's brand new 787 Dreamliners due to caution over battery issues, but last week saw the bird return to the air...over the skies of Washington State, at least. Boeing is in the process of trial flights to asses a fix to prevent future fires in its lithium-ion battery system.
Changes could be approved as early as the end of this month, and it's obvious that's exactly what a few airlines are betting on as a recent schedule update shows United's confident enough to put some 787s back on schedule, starting May 31. And those flights, between Houston and Denver, are already on sale, according to AirlineRoute.net.
We attempted to purchase a ticket on the first United flight using the 787, on May 31, and it was not only still available but reasonably priced and light in load.
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"Everyone on the bus!"
It was a nippy morning outside of Seattle and two loads of Boeing top brass and members of the press were being bussed out onto the tarmac at the airline manufacturer's Paine Field Airport. This would be the very first peek inside the shiniest airplane on the flight line before ANA/All Nippon Airways flew her away to Tokyo. The other airplanes on the tarmac, windows still blacked out and engines still unconnected, could have felt nothing but jealousy (if airplanes had feelings, that is).
This was 16 full months ago, in September 2011, when Boeing first delivered a 787 Dreamliner to a customer airline. We were there, onboard that bus, and then, later, inside that plane, running our palms over the new seat fabric and imagining the thousands of eager travelers who'd sit in each individual seat during only the first few months of service. Would they know what a special plane they were on?
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It flies! It actually flies!
The Boeing 787 Dreamliner is a headline hog. You can read all about it and its drama (lately more than ever) throughout major media, but there's nothing better than actually stepping onboard with a ticket to ride.
After more than a year of hanging out with the 787 on the tarmac, we finally flew the darned thing as South American airline LAN celebrated the inaugural flight of their new Los Angeles-to-Santiago, Chile 10-hour non-stop with the spiffy new bird.
So, what actually happens onboard a 787 flight? Is it really so different from any other airplane? Having just stepped off of this, our first 787 flight, we can finally answer those questions: lots of stuff and yes.
To describe a 10-hour flight is akin to boring neighbors with photo slides of a water park vacation. Instead, we're breaking it down into the hourly highlights ("the short of it") and, for those rapt with pleasure for every detail, the long of it, in first-person:
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While this week hasn't exactly been all sunshine and rainbows for airlines flying their Boeing 787 Dreamliners around the world, last week sure was. On January 2, we stepped onboard aircraft CC-BBC, the gleaming new third 787 delivered to South American airline LAN for what would be a monumental inaugural flight, non-stop from Los Angeles-LAX to Santiago, Chile-SCL.
Our ticket read seat 1L. As the first row, first window on the right, that's practically a cockpit jumpseat (though our legroom and recline would be better). This would be more than a first 787 flight from LAX; it would be our own, personal first 787 flight. To say we were psyched is a gross understatement. The energy and optimism rippled through the line of waiting passengers in all classes, holding all types of tickets, as a special party for the full flight began at the gate.
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How do you say "787?" Seven-eight-seven or seven-eighty-seven? Though technically both are perfectly acceptable, the language may vary depending on the country to/from which you're flying the new airplane. And, since United is the only US operator of the airlines with Boeing 787 Dreamliners, the international names for the bird are more prevalent.
Before we set off on last week's LAN inaugural flight from LAX-SCL on their newest Dreamliner, @PointstoPointB tweeted us to ask: "how do they call the plane in Spanish onboard? Siete Ocho Siete? Siete Ochenta y Siete? El Sueñoliner?"
Well, dearest @PointstoPointB and future flyers of the LAN Dreamliner, we cleared up the issue firsthand with LAN's flight attendants. Their answer:
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This is the future.
There may be no personal jetpacks or hoverboards or even cheesecake in pill form, but at least we have advanced enough as a civilization to install self-closing toilet lids in airplane lavatories.
Onboard the inaugural flight of the LAN 787 from LAX non-stop to Santiago, Chile earlier this week, we had 10 hours to explore the 787 in-flight, in both Economy and Premium Business class, and made the question of the lavatory a priority. Check back Tuesday for our full review and photo galleries of the flight, but let's resolve this important issue right here and now.
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Hello from LAX! Today we're off to Santiago, Chile (our 2012 Destination of the Year), though this time it's not the city we're checking out; we're flying 10-ish hours each way simply for the airplane taking us there. That's rightit's the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and this is yet another huge entry on its history timeline as LAN inaugurates a fresh route with their spanking new wings.
LAN Airlines was the fourth carrier to receive a Dreamliner, but first in the Americas. Today they tack on a few more records, as this inaugural flightLAN 603 LAX - SCLis...
· The first 787 scheduled service from LAX
· LAN's first 787 route to North America
· The first 787 service overall between North and South America
· The first non-stop service from LAX to Santiago, Chile (a new route that'll operate 3x/week, Wednesday-Friday-Sunday)
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"I just stepped off United's 787 Dreamliner and, boy, let me tell you about its awesomeness."
That's the sentence I had hoped to type to you today.
Instead, my story, typed from a hotel lobby across the country from home, goes a little something like this: "I flew to California and have nothing but disappointment." I only wanted to fly the United Dreamliner and had sought out an affordable route that included the 787 on one leg, from Newark (EWR) to Houston-George Bush (IAH). That routing just happened to go to Ontario, California. Whatever, so long as I get my 787 action. I booked it in October and also paid to upgrade to EconomyPlus. 24 hours before my flight, still seeing the 787 listed as my aircraft, I went ahead and booked a hotel night.
In case you aren't up on your Dreamliner news, the planes have had some electrical issues (resulting in non-life-threatening emergency landings) and United's been taking them off and on their routes. Reuters & WSJ have the latest updates. Knowing this, I had obsessively checked my travel details daily, fingers crossed that the 787 would stick. It did. Until it didn't.
Now I've wasted hundreds of dollars and have no United 787 photo galleries or stories to share with you, other than this sad one of lack of communication from United and a dreaded equipment change.
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We’ve been following the possibility of cheap 787 flights over to Europe for quite some time, and it looks like that might actually be happening sooner rather than later. Norwegian Air Shuttle has been running the numbers and counting their airplanes, and now they have some details and information to reveal.
The carrier is still on schedule to launch some flights between New York City and Oslo as soon as May of 2013, and they’re even ready to start taking reservations for these new routes. Their booking engine went live yesterday and, with the promise of roughly €250 for roundtrip flights, it quickly crashed. The site is back up now and there are still cheap flights to be had if you’re flexible, but the crazy deals may be a little hard to find.
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Quiet. That would be the word for United's Boeing 787 Dreamliner, as the first one for the US airline zipped into the skies yesterday morning on its maiden revenue flight, meaning there were actual paying passengers onboard. The flight, UA 1116 from Houston (HOU) to Chicago (ORD) hit its halfway point at 9:30am EST, meaning those passengers and invited guests sitting pretty in the whisper-quiet cabin were effectively sneaking in the special event before much of the country could wake up.
One such flyer was our buddy (and uber-major United frequent flyer) Peter Shankman, who filed this short video report from Economy Class:
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This week might not be the best time to call United with a complaint, as the reservation agents have bigger, hurricane-sized problems with that pesky Sandy and all. However, once the travel craziness dies down a little bit you’re probably going to need to do a little flight reshuffling. That’s because some of the earliest trips aboard one of United’s first domestic 787 flights won't be happening.
As you probably know, United is the first carrier in the US to score a Boeing 787 Dreamliner and they’re getting ready to crack the champagne on its inaugural flight (this Friday, for special people, if all goes according to plan). However, due to some delays in the next delivery, the airline only has one of the planes right now. The very first regular passenger flights scheduled for November 4 are still good to go, but some of the domestic hub-to-hub flights will be happening with different airplanes, like 767s.