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Flying The Dash Ten’s Inaugural: United 787-10, Polaris Business Class (+Photos)

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Flying The Dash Ten’s Inaugural: United 787-10, Polaris Business Class (+Photos)

Flying The Dash Ten’s Inaugural: United 787-10, Polaris Business Class (+Photos)
January 10
07:11 2019

LOS ANGELES/NEWARK – As my morning started at 0400 local times in Los Angeles, I woke up excited knowing I was about to participate in the first official Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner flight with United Airlines (UA).

As I got to the airport, security was a breeze having gotten to Terminal 7 with plenty of time to spare in case lines were backed up due to lack of TSA having enough employees on duty because of the government shut down.

After getting through, I quickly made my way to Gate 77 where our flight would be departing from in hopes of being able to get a couple photos of the aircraft.

Unfortunately, there was no spot to be able to get a decent exterior shot of the plane, so I was now waiting for 0630 where media would have an opportunity to get onto the aircraft early to take some photos of the cabin.

The United Airlines 787-10 is unique, as it is the first 787 to feature the airline’s new Polaris Business class seats along with its new United Premium Plus cabin. As we walked down the jetway, you could feel the excitement in the air—everyone was smiling.

As we excitedly boarded, you were hit in the face with that new airplane smell. One of the most awesome things, in my opinion, is the the wide, tall entryway of the Dreamliner cabin.

The elegant blue mood lighting, along with the design of the overhead bins makes the aircraft feel open and spacious. I went to the front to get some photos and explore the new Polaris Business Class, which is configured in a 1-2-1 layout.  

From there, I walked back to the new United Premium Plus cabin where I tried the seat out.

If you don’t want to spring for Business Class, then I would recommend going with the United Premium Plus cabin, as it offers a gracious 38-inch seat pitch in a recliner style seat—about seven inches more compared to economy and three more then economy plus. They offer 21 of these seats onboard the 787-10 in a two-three-two layout.

After exploring around the entire plane including making way all the way back to row 60, the final row on this aircraft, it was time to go back to the gate for the preflight speakers.

United had one of its head 787 pilots, Jon Russell, come up to talk about the aircraft and how it’s been even more fuel efficient than what United had been expecting.

He was followed up by Randy Tinseth from Boeing, who talked about the relationship with United and his recent 787-10 experience when he flew with Star Alliance Partner Singapore Airlines on its inaugural flight from San Francisco.

Tinseth noted that even after spending 16 hours on the plane, he felt very refreshed upon landing in Singapore.

He would go on to talk about how the 787 is 80% quieter over the planes its replacing and how across the globe since 2011, the Dreamliners have saved all airlines about 4.7 billion gallons of fuel.

Following the preflight press conference, it was now time to board the aircraft.

As everyone lined up, United handed us all a certificate for being on the first flight. A postcard was included in the goodie bag, showcasing a photoshoot United did where they lined up all three 787s together in Los Angeles as they are the first in the world to operate all three types of the Dreamliner family.

I choose to go through the L1 door this time instead of the L2 door, which is the one we originally entered through for our preflight tour.

The excitement was really beginning to set. I was about to fly on my second 787 flight ever. As I made my way to seat 6A everyone in the cabin was excited.

Many people booked this flight just to be a part of history. Enthusiasts were across the plane and walking around trying to find that perfect picture to make an ever-lasting memory to show friends and family.

With it being an 8 am flight, our meal option was breakfast. The flight attendants began to make their way throughout the cabin offering pre-departure beverages, along with taking our meal orders.

I elected to go with the cereal option, as it was Raisin Bran. It was now the moment we were all waiting for—the main cabin door was closed, it was time to start the safety demonstration.

As usual with being at LAX, we sat at the gate for about 15 minutes waiting for other traffic to clear out of our way.

As we started to push back from gate 77, we pushed back tail east as it was a rainy day and LAX was using its reverse operations and using Runway 7s/6s for takeoffs and landing.

It was now time to start those General Electric GEnx. Similar to the GE90s that are on the Boeing 777, the GEnx motors have a very distinct howl on initial startup that makes them very recognizable.

The one thing that blows me away when flying on a Boeing 787 Dreamliner is how silent the cabin gets after the engine starts up. You can hardly hear anything as they spool the engines up to taxi to the runway.

With reverse operations in affect at LAX, it meant a very long taxi for us to Runway 6R, as United has gates on the Southeast side of the airfield.

After about a half hour we were finally lining up on the runway 6R to depart for Newark.

As the pilots spooled up the motors and that howl came over the cabin, it seemed as though we used full throttle as we used maybe a third of the runway before we rotated and took to the skies at 0849am local time.

As we climbed our way to 39,000 feet, it is remarkably noticeable how quiet the plane is even at full throttle and climbing. Since we took off to the east we went straight out and began our four-hour trek to Newark.

I purchased the Wi-Fi package, they had three options available, a one hour, two hour or entire flight.

It was $26.95 for the entire flight and was the best value of the three options. The reliability of it was not great.

It struggled to upload photos, let alone tweet out any videos. Some apps like Instagram also did not work on the United GoGo Wi-Fi, along with streaming video services such as Netflix.

Apparently, most inaugural flights always have glitchy internet connectivity. This was clearly not an exception.

Cabin crew came around and began taking drink orders along with putting a cloth down as they began to prep our meal service.

We started off with a fruit platter and was offered either a croissant or cinnamon roll to go with it. In the middle of service, we had some heavy turbulence as we were flying over the Rocky Mountains. Next was the entrée service.

We found out on the flight that we were actually following another United 787-10 that had departed from Denver about an hour after us and would be arriving into Newark about 30 minutes before us.

Following my meal, I decided it was time to go and explore the airplane and see if I could get any photos of those big composite wings and engines.

I managed to find a couple areas for a photo op and a fellow enthusiast allowed me to borrow his seat for a minute. After getting a few photos from different angles I made my way back to my seat.

Once settled in, I started watching a movie and explored the new entertainment system. It is cool to have the ability of opening two windows at the same time, so you can watch a show and the flight map at the exact same time. United has also integrated the ability to dim and brighten your window from the screen.

Talking about the windows, they are massive on the 787, along with the unique electric shade. It seems it takes about 20 seconds or so to go from bright to dark.

But a little over a minute to go from dim to bright. To me that is one of the most fascinating things about the 787 is its windows and no shades.

As we continue to get closer to the end of this amazing flight the cabin crew came around and offered another round of beverages and a snack of a tomato and basil sandwich or roast beef wrap along with some chips or Cheez It.

After about another half hour it was time to begin our descent into Newark.

The Captain came on to let us know it was cold and it was going to be a bumpy approach and asked the cabin crew to prepare the cabin early.

As the flaps were lowered, you didn’t even hear the hydraulics in the cabin— the first thing you really heard was when they dropped the landing gear.

As we quickly made our way back down towards earth, the pilots greased the landing and we were in Newark. When the pilots activated the reverse thrust, it was, by far, the loudest part of the flight.

We had a short taxi to the gate where we were greeted by lots of media who had come to Newark to cover this first flight of the 787-10 and were talking to passengers who had just come off the plane.

Some of the people who rode on the flight with us were turning around and going right back to LAX on the same aircraft. At the gate at Newark, we were finally able to get a good photo op of the exterior of the aircraft through the window.

Final Remarks


Overall, the flight was quite astonishing. The new United Polaris Business Class seat is extremely comfortable to ride in and I recommend that If you have the chance, try it.

I can only imagine how good you’d feel after a long flight. Along with the blanket and super soft pillow, it could be easy to sleep on this 787.

The cabin crew was nothing but great and worked with us to help us try to get whatever photos we needed from on the flight.


Airways wishes to thank United for the invitation to cover this historic flight.

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About Author

Brandon Farris

Brandon Farris

An aviation photojournalist based in Seattle, aka Boeing's back yard. Brandon is also a freight train engineer for his day job. Prior to that he spent five years working with a Seattle based airline. But his true love is still in aviation and always trying to get the best and most interesting shot possible. He started off his aviation photojournalist career with NYCAviation and AirlineReporter before eventually finding his way to the Airways team where he is the Northwest contributor. Brandon is also an accomplished sports photojournalist having shot MLS Cup, the NFL, NCAA college football, NASCAR races and world-famous soccer teams such as Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur.

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