First North American airline takes delivery of a Dreamliner

United Airlines, the first airline to operate the 767 and 777, has become the first North American airline to take delivery of a 787 Dreamliner.

United's 787 Dreamliner on the ramp at Boeing Field, Seattle
Chicago-based United (NYSE:UAL) closed the deal Sept. 22. After several days of familiarization flights in and around western Washington, the Dreamliner departed Boeing Field (BFI) in Seattle for the airline's hub at Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) at 10:00 a.m. Sept. 28. A month-long training and certification process will ensue before the plane is place it into passenger service.

The aircraft is the 24th Dreamliner Boeing has delivered to date, and is the first of five new Dreamliners United expects to receive this year, according to its news release announcing the transaction.

The first Dreamliner will begin flying between IAH and other United hubs including San Francisco (SFO), Los Angeles (LAX), Chicago’s O’Hare (ORD), and Newark (EWR).

United had previously said the airliner would enter service as soon as the training and certification process was complete. It has since firmed up plans for its inaugural commercial flight to depart IAH for ORD at 7:25 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 4.

United’s next three Dreamliners, to be delivered by the end of November, will begin serving additional domestic routes, while the 5th Dreamliner is scheduled to begin international flights on Dec. 4.

According to Boeing data, half the Dreamliners United has ordered will be equipped with Rolls Royce Trent 1000 engines, while the other half will be equipped with General Electric GEnx engines. United’s first Dreamliner has the GE engines.

The plane is configured with 36 seats in Business/First, 70 seats in Economy Plus®, and 113 seats in Economy.

United's Dreamliner being fueled at BFI
As I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts, writers have waxed rhapsodic about the innovations the plane employs, and how riding in it will be a new type of passenger experience. 

A quieter interior, improved interior lighting, windows that are 30% larger than other commercial aircraft, an improved cabin ventilation system, and a lower cabin pressure altitude will all combine to provide passengers will a less stressful, more comfortable travel experience.

"We are excited for our customers and co-workers to experience this game-changing aircraft," Jeff Smisek, United’s president and CEO, said in a statement.

This post was updated with new information Sept. 28.

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Photos by Carl Dombek
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