American Airlines 787 Dreamliner Inaugural Flight Review

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Normal people who are 7 ½ months pregnant probably don’t get up at 4:45AM to catch a flight to Chicago just to immediately hop on another flight in Chicago to fly home purely to enjoy the aircraft itself, but no one ever accused me of being 100% normal.  If that’s what it took to be on American Airlines flight 2320, their first passenger 787 Dreamliner flight, that’s what I would do.

I love travel primarily for the purposes of experiencing amazing places around the world, but there are some aircraft that catch my attention. The 787 Dreamliner is one of the aircraft that impresses me beyond just a way to get from Point A to Point B.  It is a very big leap forward for commercial aircraft and offers great comforts for passengers, especially on longer trips.

American Airlines inaugural 787 Dreamliner flight

American Airlines inaugural 787 Dreamliner flight

A couple of years ago I had the pleasure of being on the inaugural United 787 flight from Houston to Chicago, and this morning I got to experience the inaugural American Airlines 787 flight from Dallas to Chicago.  I booked the tickets back in February as soon as it was confirmed this would be the inaugural flight and then looked forward to the big event.

Ready for the early morning inaugural flight!

Ready for the early morning inaugural flight!

Pre-Flight Festivities on the American Airlines 787 Dreamliner Inaugural

Inaugural flights for new aircraft types are typically special events for the airline and (geeky) customers. This particular inaugural was a big affair even though the flight time had the festivities starting in the pre-dawn hours.  To give you an example of who attends these sort of things, of the roughly 226 passengers on board, 78 of them reportedly had Executive Platinum top tier status with American Airlines.  That is not at all a normal percentage of travelers to have top tier status on one flight, but it is indicative of the frequent traveler who loves to fly and experience new aircraft.

American Airlines 787 Inaugural gate festivities

American Airlines 787 Inaugural gate festivities

At the gate there was free breakfast, speeches from American and Boeing folks, a photo opportunity for passengers, and lots of excitement from pretty much everyone.

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After the speeches were finished it was time to line up and head on board the shiny new aircraft.

While boarding passengers were given a 787 inaugural commemorative pack with goodies including a commemorative coin.  When is the last time that an airline handed out freebies that cool?!

American Airlines 787 Inaugural Coin

American Airlines 787 Inaugural Coin

On-Board the American Airlines 787 Dreamliner Inaugural Flight

After taking some obligatory boarding photos, I found that the overhead bins were large and seemed to easily hold all the bags brought on board (though many people probably had less luggage than normal due to the unique nature of the flight).

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After boarding the plane it was still far from a normal flight since virtually everyone was taking pictures of the plane, trying out different seats, capturing their perfect selfie, and certainly taking way longer to get settled than normal. Instead of having to inconspicuously take photos of the plane like I normally do, on this flight it was not only accepted but encouraged to photograph darn near everything!

The plane got a water cannon salute and then we headed to the runway for an on-time departure that was met with cheers from the passengers. Unlike on the United inaugural Dreamliner flight, there wasn’t any champagne sent around for a celebratory toast.  Once airborne, for the most part the crew tried to do a normal service, though there were far more people milling about in the aisles than on a regular flight making that a bit of a challenge I’m sure.

I sat in 9E, which is a Main Cabin Extra seat in the middle section on a 3-3-3 configuration in the second row of economy. I found the legroom to be total ample and comfortable even in the middle seat. The recline on the seat was also much more comfortable than expected, and it was not even all that intrusive to the person behind you when you reclined.

Legroom on seat 9E of American 787 in Main Cabin Extra

Legroom on seat 9E of American 787 in Main Cabin Extra

AA 787 seat reclined

AA 787 seat reclined

The in-flight entertainment had a good selection of movies and TV shows, as well as lots of power outlets to charge up your electronic goodies. The TV screen itself does not adjust its angle, so if you someone reclines the view is slightly different than when you are looking at the screen straight on.

Kid movies on American 787 Dreamliner

Kid movies on American 787 Dreamliner

The Panasonic internet was $12 for two hours of access, but the connectivity was terrible. I was able to successfully tweet twice on the two hour flight after many attempts, but the connection was slow, weak, and very inconsistent. A Panasonic rep on-board reportedly said that there were just too many people trying to connect for the system to handle. I think the Panasonic rep should have been handing out on-the-spot $12 refunds, but no such luck…

All plugged up, but no internet to go

All plugged up, but no internet to go

While I spent the majority of the flight in my economy seat, I was sure to try out the 77 inch lie-flat business class seats, which of course were great. There are forward and rear-facing seats in two separate business class cabins in a 1-2-1 configuration.  Since I didn’t actually fly in those seats I’ll leave more detailed reviews to those that did!

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American Airlines 787 Dreamliner Business Class Seat

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American Airlines 787 Dreamliner Business Class Seat

If you want the coach seats with the most legroom on the American Airlines 787, then head to row 19 where you have legroom for miles thanks to it being an emergency exit row.   Of course children under the age of 15 cannot sit in exit rows, so that isn’t helpful to families with little ones.

Most legroom on the American 787 Dreamliner

Most legroom on the American 787 Dreamliner

The lavatories I visited just behind row 18 both had changing tables available for those in need of such facilities.

Changing table on American 787 Dreamliner

Changing table on American 787 Dreamliner

As with all of the Dreamliner flights I have experienced, the ride was smooth and quiet.  The cabin lighting and dimming windows are very cool, and the flex wings are pretty spectacular to see in action.

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AA Dreamliner Wings

After an all too brief 1 hour and 52 minutes, we touched down at Chicago O’Hare at 9:23AM to another round of cheers for a successful first passenger flight on the AA 787 Dreamliner.

IMG_9272.JPGAfter the flight landed I said my goodbyes to fellow #avgeek friends, and headed through the terminal to catch a very ordinary American Embraer 175 flight home to Houston.

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Frequent flyer aficionados enjoying the inaugural!

The American Airlines 787 inaugural festivities were over, but the beginning of a long relationship between American and the Boeing Dreamliner was likely just beginning.  American will operate the 787 on domestic routes until early June, and then will fly it from Dallas to Beijing beginning on June 2nd, and from Dallas to Buenos Aires beginning June 4th.  They have over 40 787-8 and 787-9 planes on order, so in the coming years the Dreamliner will have a larger and larger presence in the American Airlines fleet.

I very much enjoyed my first American Airlines Dreamliner flight, and I look forward to flying that aircraft again (and again) in the future.  Is the Dreamliner on your list of favorite aircraft types?  Would you ever fly an inaugural flight just for the fun of it?

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Comments

  1. But, the article is missing something….oh, it’s the credit card links. Suddenly a moment of consciousness ? I am so grateful my wife made better decisions when eight months pregnant.

      • Not sure what’s wrong with Robert, but my wife and I took a RTW trip when she was 6+ months pregnant, and wouldn’t have traded it for the world.

        As to the article – thank you for the report! Have been looking forward to these reports since the flight was loaded into the system

    • And frankly Robert, I would LOVE to know what your wife’s response would be to that kind of condescension if you directed it at her. Mine would probably slap me.

  2. Robert, easy there cowboy. She wanted to fly a 787 inaugural and she did. I’m 99% sure she’s fine, and I’m 99% sure her baby’s fine after such a grueling 2 hour flight so maybe we could easy up on the condescension?

    • Joseph, yes, all are well after our “grueling” travel day. 😉 Landed back in Houston by 1PM and should sleep soundly tonight.

  3. sorry to hear about the internet – a real blackeye for Panasonic, if you ask me. They had a chance to shine in customer service, and passed. But glad you enjoyed your trip.

    Summer, the gremlins are at your site again. Fortunately the malware is gone. But now there are two separate audio/video ad locations on your page, and it would take a guide dog for me to figure how to pause them as the controls are microscopic. They alternate, and autoplay even after pausing.

    Best wishes over the next few months. May your trail be an easier one for you…

    • Boo on video issues! If you happen to know what they were advertising I can report them. Haven’t seen them myself yet and thanks!

  4. Nice review. BTW, no one is normal. Everyone would wake up at 4.45 am to do something that most of the rest of the world would think is crazy. It’s just that we all share your particular brand of crazy… so you are actually normal… at least to me.

  5. I love that you were able to experience AA’s inaugural 787 flight and have included the photo of you and Darren taken in the United terminal for that one back in 2012, in my memory book. Thx to all you frequent fliers for following your dreams!

    • Wow, the seat width does seem small. It looks crowded in economy.
      Summer was that your experience, or does it just look like it in the picture? Glad you enjoyed the flight!! Part of being a responsible parent is remembering to keep yourself happy. Children don’t benefit from their parents completely abandoning their own interests in some kind of odd deference to their child.

      • Jamie, it didn’t feel particularly cramped in economy, but remember I did have extra legroom seats. My seatmates were both on the smaller size of the average passenger these days, so that probably helped. That said, the recline was so good I don’t know that it could feel that cramped, at least in the Main Cabin Extra seats. It certainly wasn’t any worse than other similar aircraft seating arrangements, and actually was probably a bit more comfortable.

  6. I dont get it. I looked at the pics. Whats so dreamy about this plane other than having their outlet charging situation on point?

  7. Nice report. My first Boeing 787 flight was last June, British Airways flight London to Austin, the final flight of my Italy trip.

  8. Great post, thanks for sharing. My wife and I, along with our 13 month old flew the LOT Airlines 787 from JFK to Warsaw in business class recently. The plane was gorgeous and the flight was incredibly smooth. Their biz class configuration was 2-2-2, lots of ample space from a legroom perspective. Our daughter had plenty of room to roam, making friends with the other passengers and crew.

  9. The changing table looks huge by airplane bathroom standards! Hopefully that’s not just an optical illusion.

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