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The Dreamliner at the gate. And this one worked! Photos: author

I flew Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner last Wednesday on a United flight from Tokyo to Los Angeles. I’ve flown on over a thousand planes, and this segment goes down as one of my five favorite flights of my life.

There is much talk about how dicey the planes are, and that they’re fraught with gremlins. My flight took off and landed on time, with no complications. Compare that to the three Airbus flights I had cancelled on me in 2012.

Business First seats that go flat and the big new windows.

I’d blown the piggy bank and used points for a Business First seat, 2A. The first difference I noticed was the size of the overheads, and how much manageable they are. I could easily have stacked two suitcases in the compartment. The whole cabin smelled new, like when the plastic comes off a mattress or a couch.

This was the cabin crew’s first run on a Dreamliner and it was obvious that they were excited. Business First is always an enjoyable experience, but even up front the cabin crew can be frosty, depending on who you get. This crew was nice but also, I think, proud. They’ve probably flown the same tired old plane on this route for years, which will make anyone feel humdrum after a while. They looked as if they’d all traded in a Hyundai for a BMW.

Touch screen tv’s – no need for remote.

All of the bells and whistles are worth shouting about. The large windows somehow make the seats seem bigger. Dimming them without a shade is indeed neato. The push button televisions worked perfectly.

Tokyo love hotel-style ceiling lights are sexy. It’s like a tunnel of colors.

The plane’s interior lights were groovy and sometimes gave the vibe of a Japanese love hotel. The hues were pinkish and purplish, never the stark white light that normally hits your eyes on airplanes. I could never tell which of the ten lighting sequences was coming but I can say that whatever psychology they’re trying to employ, it works. I slept when I was supposed to sleep, I ate when I was supposed to eat, and I peed (in the rather large bathroom) when I was supposed to pee.

The air quality difference is noticeable, and not just because so many people have written about it. The air seems as good as outside, with moisture and no hiss as it pipes in. My water bottle did not do that thing where it twists into itself, which always makes me wonder what my body’s just flown through.

I could rave about the quality of the flat bed and the food, but I won’t. Instead I’ll point out one feature that made me the happiest: quiet. I was able to listen to my normal headphones at a low level, because there was nothing competing for decibels. This plane does not sound like other planes because it has little-to-no sound at all.

I’ve seen the reports of all the hiccups that the new fleet is having. I’m sure I’d be unsettled if I’d have been on a plane that had trouble. Instead, reporting from my own experience, I can only say that I will climb aboard another Dreamliner the first chance I get.

Luxury + High End


About The Author

Tom Gates

Tom is a wayward writer based in Los Angeles. He has served as Editor for both Matador Nights and Life. He loves to go far, far away whenever possible. He is also pretending to be a third person right now and is obviously writing his own bio. He knows that you knew that, despite the deft maneuvering of pronouns. Tom's new book 'Wayward: Fetching Tales from a Year On The Road' is available for download on Amazon and iTunes.

  • Julien Pons

    Hi Tom,
    i’m quite confused about the title of your feedback because it seems you are comparing the technical/maintenance issues of olding airbus airplanes to the cabin comfort of the brand new 787, which is quite irrelevant…even more considering those Cabin installations are supplied depending on the airline choice, the same suppliers work for airbus and boeing, just the air quality point is a real point, BTW, I’m aerospace engineer, I’ve worked on the 787, I’ve worked on the aA350 and even more so I’m more focused on safety than comfort, I don’t really care about the quality of the lights if the airplane will land by 500meters under the sea level…actually, I expected more from the title something to say that despite the US economical interest, the FAA is grounding the airplanes, it is a real demonstration the FAA is completely independent from the Boeing’s interests and this is the most important fact of all this….
    B787 will fly again, it will be safe by matching the standards and rules of its generation, it’s a beautiful airplane, we’ll compare it to the A350 when out…
    BTW, if you experienced so many flights cancellations in the past year are you sure they were airbuses? because the airbus airplanes of united are all A320: so they fly only regional flights but no transcontinental and they are less than 15% of the fleet of united and the youngest (2001), A320 is also one of the most reliable airplane in the world, in competition with the B737.

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