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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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It’s been well over a year since the very first Boeing 787 Dreamliner took to the skies, and since then it’s been mostly men having all the flying fun when it comes to sitting up front. Thankfully the ladies finally got their chance to take control in the cockpit, as it looks like a couple female pilots from India are the first women to fly the Dreamliner.
Just recently—October 12 to be exact—an Air India flight did its thing between Delhi and Kolkata, but in doing so it made history as the first flight with women seated in both the pilot and co-pilot seats. Captain Rashmi Miranda and Captain Sakshi Kumar said it felt like any other flight, but they did admit to stopping to snap a picture for the aviation scrapbook.
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After much speculation, and a few glimpses in video clips the airline surreptitiously pulled from the internet, British Airways finally published seat plans for the Boeing 787 and Airbus A380, due to join its fleet next year.
So what can we expect on BA’s Dreamliner and Double Decker? We’ll start with the facts on both:
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A LOT Dreamliner on the Boeing factory line
At this point we should probably start telling you who doesn’t have a Boeing 787, as Dreamliner deliveries have really picked up over the last few months. This time Europe is getting in on the fun, as the first carrier on the continent accepts Boeing’s new bird. We mentioned how pumped they were to get their new plane, and now the time has finally arrived for LOT Polish Airlines to receive their very own 787.
Yesterday was the big day for the airline, as plenty of suits, officials, and other head honchos were on hand over in Warsaw, Poland to welcome the plane to the hangar. Obviously they need to get down to business, so that’s next on the new airplane to-do list. Now that the 787 has arrived over in Europe it sounds like they’ll be practicing throughout December on some short-haul routes. After that it will likely transition into their service between Warsaw and Chicago, and eventually Dreamliners will make their way onto other long-haul options to New York and Toronto.
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When it comes to scoring their very first Boeing 787, airline officials over at British Airways are pretty far back in the line. That means there will be no new Boeing under the tree this holiday season, but we think they’ll be okay. That’s because the assemblers and engineers have once again taken out the airplane directions, and they’re starting to put together the pieces for the very first British Airways 787.
The first 787 is set to join the fleet as soon as next May, and in total there will be around a couple dozen of the new airplanes. That’s not the only new puppy heading into the hangar, as British Airways also has like 12 Airbus A380s on backorder as well. In fact, they’ll be the first carrier in Europe flying both of these new planes, so other airlines have been warned.
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We don’t know where the time has gone, but it’s been roughly a year since the first Boeing 787 took flight into the world of commercial aviation. Just in case you can’t remember that far back it was All Nippon Airways that scored the inaugural, and since then there’s been a lot of flying for ANA and their new planes.
There’s no birthday cake—at least not yet—but ANA was pretty eager to share some facts and figures about their newest toy, and as always we’re suckers for anything and everything related to the 787. In the last year the carrier has had around 9,000 flights with the plane, and they’ve shared the new airplane smell with about 1.8 million paying passengers.
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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.