Experiencing the United Airlines Boeing 787 Dreamliner

Hi All,

It has definitely been too long since I last posted something.

Im going to do a quick post on something that is way overdue.

THE BOEING 787 DREAMLINER 

For Thanksgiving break in 2012 I decided I’d head to Houston to visit a cousin of mine. Coincidently I found out that United Airlines was doing domestic runs with their first 3 787-8 Dreamliners, one such route was the Chicago O’Hare to Houston Intercontinental route. So I purposely booked a flight to fly STL-ORD-IAH-STL just to experience the dreamliner, even if it was only for 2 hours.

On November 21st, 2012 I arrived in Chicago O’Hare successfully after dense fog in St. Louis and Chicago delayed and cancelled many flights, I came very close to not making my connection on to flight UA 1510 operated by the 787 Dreamliner because of the weather. While some friends of mine quickly rebooked flights I insisted on waiting for the weather to clear and get on the first UA flight to O’Hare, my patience and will paid off as I arrived at the gate to see the beautiful piece of engineering created by Boeing sitting at the gate.

INITIAL OBSERVATIONS

Within a few minutes we boarded the flight. As promised by Boeing, the moment you walk in the jet you feel the increased amount of space with the high ceilings and blue mood lighting. I also noticed that the overhead bins were indeed larger and far better designed than say the ones found on the Boeing 777 family.

UA's 2nd Dreamliner sitting at the gate
UA’s 2nd Dreamliner sitting at the gate
Boarding the plane
Boarding the plane
Front economy class cabin, with the more efficiently designed overhead bins
Economy Plus cabin, with the more efficiently designed overhead bins

I arrived at my window seat, and settled in and began playing with the famous 787 dimming windows. I still have mixed feelings about these windows. It is great that you dont need to close the shades anymore and can still enjoy the view outside once the windows are completely dim, but to get it to the dimmest point, takes a few minutes which for some might be annoying when one is tired and just want to sleep. Nonetheless I thought this was such a cool feature.

The dimming buttons to dim and undim the windows
The dimming buttons to dim and undim the windows
The window at one of the levels of dimness, this was probably the 3rd or 2nd to last level
The window at one of the levels of dimness, this was probably the 3rd or 2nd to last level

Because of my delay, I originally had asked to be rebooked on another flight just in case, and so my original seat had been given to another man, but I told the flight attendant that I had pre-selected the seat and insisted on staying at the window, the gentleman was kind enough to let it be.

Thank goodness, because I kept awing at the beautiful aerodynamic curved wings and wingtip. I think of all the things on this plane, the wings is what impressed me the most. They were thing, curved, and very aerodynamic and the wingflex upon take off is simply astonishing, and really is a testament to Boeing’s engineering and design team.

The wings as we turn on to the runway for departure.
The wings as we turn on to the runway for departure.
The incredible wingflex
The incredible wingflex

As per the usual domestic U.S. flight the flight was nothing special nor was the service. It was nice that the AVOD was running on such a short hop though, but for me I was most focused on looking out at the wings and looking around the plane. After the drink service I got up and headed for the bathroom. I was impressed to find that there was not flush button, but rather a sensor, thus alleviating that germ conscious frequent flyer from some of their anxieties. This really was a glimpse into the future of flight.

the sensor flush
the sensor flush

After I got out of the bathroom, I started to talk to some flight attendants and asked one kind gentleman if I could get a tour of the plane after we landed, he simply decided to walk me through the plane at that moment since we were preparing for out initial descent into IAH already. I walked through both economy class cabins, and United Businessfirst cabins (which has orange moodlighting vs. blue/ no lighting in economy). I took some picture of the front galley and door 2 galley, and the flight attendants were kind enough to offer me a warm United First cookie! (I suppose the new plane also made the flight attendants happy).

Looking towards the two economy class cabins from behind, with the forward cabin being Economy Plus
Looking towards the two economy class cabins from behind, with the forward cabin being Economy Plus
the Forward BusinessFirst cabin
the Forward BusinessFirst cabin

After staring out the window to watch the wing’s movements as we landed, the plane arrived at the gate and passengers began to disembark. Before returning to my seat after my tour of the plane, I asked if it was possible for me to check out the state of the art cockpit after we landed, the flight attendant said it would be up to the pilot and if the pilot was still there. Luckily for me after most passengers had disembarked, the pilot was indeed still there and I was fortunate enough to be let into the cockpit! It was very much state of the art, in comparison to the A380 cockpit, it was far cleaner, sleek and seem to require far less mechanics to operate.

coming in to IAH
coming in to IAH
the Cockpit
the Cockpit

IMG_5252 IMG_5254

The magnificent Rolls Royce engines.
The magnificent Rolls Royce engines.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Unfortunately 2 hours was far too short to truly get a feel for just how evolutionary the dreamliner is and whether it lives up to Boeing’s promises. However, there were some things that I did notice.

– The entryway into the plane was indeed more spacious and the moodlighting helped.

– The overhead bins were a big improvement over previous designs just as Boeing had promised.

– The windows were quite innovative and may take time to get used but I can see this as the future norm in airplanes.

– The sensor toilet flush was a huge huge improvement, and I hope this trend continues.

– The wings! those wings! I really cannot get over just how amazing and aerodynamic they are!

– Finally, a point about the humidity, my throat or eyes did not feel dry or itchy at all after the flight which I think says something about the plane as even on short domestic hops on 737s, 767s…etc my throat gets rather dry. But I wont say whether this is fit to Boeing’s promise or not as I havent been on the jet for a 13 hours transpacific hop to compare it to a 747, 777, or A380.

Finally, as brilliant a piece of engineering as the Boeing 787 Dreamliner is, it was not as awe inspiring as the A380, granted this is my opinion, others may disagree.

Hopefully I’ll get a chance to fly the 787 on a longhaul flight on a better airline to really experience what the Dreamliner was made for. But for now, I am quite happy that I was able to experience the jet before its 3 month hiatus from the skies due to batter issues. And looking ahead, I’m looking forward to when I get the chance to fly the Airbus A350 which successfully took to the skies early this month!

I hope you too will get a chance to experience the dream and fly the 787!

Safe travels!

Garythegastronomictraveler

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