When United announced they would have the Dreamliner running domestic routes for the month of November I had to ride on it. Once it goes international the plane becomes more difficult to get on. Since I now work for an airline, I would be able to non-rev on a 787 flight, so finding favorable loads was important.
Once my November schedule came out I decided on the 7th and started looking for flights and where I had to go to make it happen. ORD-IAH was a good one, left at 11:20 am and I could ride it down and get back for an easy day trip.
ORD-IAH is a busy route and as expected I watched as the flight filled up. The plane continues onto LAX, which was much more favorable to a non-rev. The plane turned back around to fly LAX-IAH, getting in late. With ORD-IAH full I routed myself ORD-ATL-IAH, it was a much safer route that would allow me to be ready for the Dreamliner to show up in IAH.
ORD-ATL on a DL 757, N531US
First thing I noticed about the plane is that I am not the only one excited about it. After it blocked in, everyone in the gate area took a picture of it. People coming off the plane took pictures of it. I guess according to some employees, what I saw was nothing compared to the first few days. I guess its old by day four.
Arriving from ORD
The A380 arrived just after the 787, I missed kind of a neat picture with both by just seconds.
You can really see how the wings flex above the fuselage.
The ugly 380 taxies in.
I think the nose of the 787 looks like the E-170 from this angle.
With some luck a friend who works for United, happened to be riding on the 787 to LAX as well. I noticed he cleared the standby list and I was now number two on it. The gate agent was nice enough to seat us together. I was to have 28B, he was in 28C.
I had intended on getting some pictures as I boarded, but I ended up just taking it in it, and got some of the entrance as I got off in LAX. The opening has a very spacious feeling though.
As I take my seat the size of the window is noticeable. The bottom is just slightly higher compared to a normal window, slightly lower to what a CRJ-700 or -900 window sits. The top of the window goes well above what any other plane does.
After taking our seats it is time to play with the window tint like little kids. The safety video shows the flight attendant holding the button and the window changing instantly. This is not how it works! On the side of the button there are 5 lights. The upper most one is no shade, and the lower four are darker until the last one is the darkest shade. To adjust it requires the simple touch of the button once to move it down one light. Hit the button four times and it goes as dark as it gets. Here is the part that people don’t pay attention to – once you move that light it blinks as it adjust the shade. So it takes 15-30 seconds. I am sure those buttons will break in the near future.
This is the window with tint of 4 of 5. I could go one more shade of darker, which allows you to view what is outside, but no light comes it. It is great for when you are stuck in the middle and the window seat passenger HAS to have the window shade closed. This allows for the middle seat pilot to still look out.
Window shade tint all the way off.
One window was already damaged. Apparently someone hit it with luggage. This is day four of revenue service, really?!
The window seat passenger showed up and said he would take the aisle. I tried to snag the window, but I lost out in seniority. Can you blame me for trying?
Safety demo is the same, but kind of cool to see THE plane that you are on in the video!
Engine start up was loud! It vibrated and rattled and sounded like there were props out there. I noticed that the air flow in the cabin stopped or greatly reduced for engine start. This is interesting because I believe the 787 has no pneumatics.
Taxi noise is equivalent to that of a 767. Noise on takeoff is the same as well, this being because we are aft of the wing and engines, making sense that you get the most noise.
When you look out the window at the gate it appears that the wing tip flexes, bends and rises above the fuselage. As we near V1 and pass it, the wings continue to flex, probably my favorite part. The flex is so great you see the top of the wing tip, unlike what you see at the gate.
At the gate
Once the gear is sucked up the plane becomes much quieter. Climb out is quick, smooth and fast. Inbound to IAH was bumpy, so outbound being smooth might have had something to do with the plane.
Behind the wing, the plane is easily the quietest I have experienced. Even the air noise you hear on the front end of a rear engine jet is not there.
The PSU is normal, but the lights seem to be improved LED reading lights.
The PTVs are set up for international flights, so it’s free and on demand. The touch screen is very nice, easy to control by soft touch (Delta’s touch screens require the use of a finger nail for best results, no need on the 787). However I do wonder how it will do with constant use.
There is a USB port next to the TV screen. I plugged my phone in, it allowed it to charge, but the system also recognized my phone. I guess I could play video or music from my phone and listen and watch through this system. It also said I would have to purchase a cable through the duty free catalog, but it recognized my phone. It was nice to be able to charge my phone from the USB.
Showing my iPhone was hooked up.
From the back of the plane
The descent and landing was quiet. Flaps are a little loud, which I guess is nothing new.
After landing we left the rest of the people off and took a few pictures, looked around and worked our way up to the front. The best part about this being day four of revenue flying is they are 100% ok with people wanting to see their new toy. Ground crews were all over the plane getting good looks, and the crew was great with showing us around. Got to see the crew bunks and the captain showed us the flight deck.
From the 2L entrance
I had looked at many options on what to do once arriving to LAX. Redeyes out of SFO were looking good. Going home to SAN was another option, but flights on the 8th were not so great. This trip was all about the 787, so after looking at all my options it was easy to decide to go back on the 787 to IAH with 150 open seats. Never mind the late 1 am arrival time.
When I left Houston I was 13 of 17 on the standby list. When I arrived to LAX I was number 38 of 45. Everyone else saw that 150 open seats still existed and jumped on. My fear was that I would not get a window seat on the way back. I lucked out though, the agent had overlooked one in Economy Plus window all night, so I snagged a nice seat just a few rows behind the start of the wing. This is nice because I get to compare the plane from a different section.
The wing flex impressed me again on departure from LAX. The plane is so quiet on the takeoff roll and climb out. They used mood lighting to do drink service, keeping it light in the cabin, but easy on the eyes and if you wanted to sleep.
Video of Takeoff from LAX: http://youtu.be/AIpKZATd7g4
I took a landing video but because we landed on 9 at IAH there are zero lights around and it is a bad video (not that the departure one is great).
The moving map said we did around Mach 0.84, nice!
Often on night flights, or flights in the winter, next to a window it can be cold. The 787 was comfortable. My feet were warm the entire flight, I can’t say the same for the next flight back to Chicago on a 737.
Landing back at IAH was perfect.
I have never before been on a new type of airplane, so this was a very cool experience. The plane is pressurized at a lower altitude allowing you to not be as tired when you arrive. I can’t speak for this due to the type of day I had. I love engine noise, I go out of my way to ride in the back of a DC-9 or MD-80. With that said, I really did enjoy how quiet the 787 is, both behind the wing and on top of it. As mentioned, by far and away my favorite part of this plane is watching that beautiful wing flex. I guess the 777 does the same thing, but never been on one, so can’t compare.