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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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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.
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The 787 gets a water cannon salute after landing in Houston
The skies above Texas today were absolutely speckled with the green and yellow radar blips of thunderstorms. That sucks for Texas, with the exception of one other radar blip: United Airlines' very first Boeing 787 Dreamliner, which came home to Houston on its delivery flight from Boeing Field in Washington State.
Those thunderstorms did add a twenty minute arrival delay, though; it was the final delay in a what's really been a saga of delays leading up to the first delivery of a 787 to a US airline.
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And yet it seems like only yesterday we were perched atop the Future of Flight Center in Everett, WA, in the early morning cold and mist, as the absolute very first Dreamliner was delivered, to Japanese carrier ANA. In fairness it's been a solid year since then and while five airlines now boast Boeing 787s in their fleets, there's a whole slew more champing at the bit to get their mitts on the sleek plane.
Let's review who's got it and who wants it, shall we?
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It feels like we've been talking about the Boeing 787 Dreamliner since the beginning of time. It has been a whopping eight years since the first order for the new airplane came in, when, in 2004, Japan-based ANA signed up for fifty.
Though there were only 3 787s placed in the hands of airlines in 2011, this year should see some 15 delivered, including the first one to a US carrierUnited.
Even though they're not quite sure when that first plane will land in their laps, United is psyching itself up anyway. They're not doing a flashmob and there's no viral ad campaign for it quite yet, but they have done the next best thing: made an infographic.
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We now know what United’s very first Boeing 787 Dreamliner looks like and we’ve got to admit that she’s a real beauty. However, the plane probably looks even better up in the air and that’s exactly what we wanted to fill you in on.
Boeing has been working overtime to get these planes done—well, pretty much all the 787s—and United should have five of the 787s in their hot little hands before 2012 rolls to a close. Flight attendants, mechanics, and pilots have already started to train on the simulator in Houston in preparation for the 787's arrival.
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The livery, pictured above and below, is the modern United look, but with the addition of a gold swooped cheatline inspired by Boeing's original Dreamliner paint scheme.
Suspense has been building for the livery ever since last fall, when we dropped by the 787 Assembly in Everett, WA and spotted United's Dreamliner fuselage making its way down the factory line. So, what do you think?
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There’s already a few Boeing 787 Dreamliners doing their thing high in the sky around the globe, but unfortunately still with no carriers from the nifty fifty...yet. That’s about to change sooner rather than later as United prepares for the arrival of their very first 787. Unfortunately the new airplane scent isn’t exactly going to be around for your summer vacation, but it does look like it won’t be too much longer.
They’re pretty excited over the arrival of the new airplane, as UA has already loaded in the seat map and started selling tickets for the very first 787 flights. If all goes according to plan—and that’s a big if—the factory fresh 787s will start flying between Denver and Tokyo-Narita beginning on March 31, 2013. We looked at some sample dates to get on one of the first flights, and you’re looking at around $1,750 or so—in coach—for about a week of Tokyo travel.
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The airline newlyweds over at United and Continental are still waiting for one of their best wedding gifts, as it’ll still be a little bit of time before Boeing hands over the keys to the airline’s very first 787 Dreamliner. The new plane is still rolling—slowly but surely—down the assembly line as engineers and workers finish adding wings, tails, bits, and bolts to ensure that each and every piece of the plane is ready to head up into the air. Things are progressing pretty well, and even President Obama got to swing by recently to check out United’s new bird; he thought the auto-dimming window shades were pretty nifty.
United’s first plane is expected to be delivered during the first half of 2012, but in the interim it’s time to start topping off your inaugural flight savings account. It sounds like United is already thinking about ways to cash in on its delivery flight, as the airline plans to auction off seats to the highest bidder for those wanting to sniff the new airplane scent in person. The flight won’t be the very first commercial flight, but rather will be the short and sweet delivery flight between Seattle and San Francisco.
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It is the domain of the chosen: The Boeing 787 Dreamliner factory floor in Everett, WA. The many, many workers underneath this roof are among the brightest and most dedicated, their desks spotless and the building quiet on a Sunday. As one of the small number of people who are invited to visit all the way down to the factory floor, we were honored to get right up close to tomorrow's crop of Dreamliner, still either being put together from pieces at one end, to being shined up on the other.
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So, you wan to buy a Boeing 787 Dreamliner? Our first question is: do you have between $190 million and $220 million dollars? Our second question: do you have somewhere to park it?
If you've answered to both questions above, then it's high time you paid a visit to Boeing's Dreamliner Gallery, a 787 shopping mall of sorts, where airline customers come to pick out all the goodies they want insidefrom seats to bun warmers. It's a nice building all its own, and pretty much a playground for anyone who enjoys airplanes.
There's an entire room just for economy, business class and first class seat options, and a wall of TVs for in-flight entertainment choice. Lavatories galore, crew galleys empty of their ovens, and a another wall just for showcasing the variety of ovens and coffee makers that may be installed.