Long gone are the days of luxury flying for the average customer as seen on sentimental period TV dramas, but that doesn’t mean people don’t get excited about taking to the skies anymore. For the most part we’re burned out on the everyday, average flight, but yesterday United Airlines took to the skies with a horse of a different color. And by horse I mean plane, a very fancy one indeed: The Boeing Dreamliner 787, which was the first commercial flight for the plane in the U.S.
United Airlines Flight 1116 was sold out and took off from Houston Bush Intercontinental Airport at 7:20 a.m. yesterday morning and arrived at 9:47 a.m. in Chicago, reports USA Today. And it’s apparently such an awesome experience, one passenger likened it to heading to an amusement park.
“We were so excited, we all found it a bit difficult to sleep I believe so we were up and on the hotel shuttle van at 5 a.m.,” said one man who took the flight with seven pals. “It felt like we were kids going to Disney World for the first time I guess.”
And United seems to banking on this plan’s popularity to give the entire airline a boost.
“If you want to be the world’s leading airline, then you need the world’s leading airplane, and we have that,” Chief Executive Officer Jeff Smisek told passengers and employees in Houston before the flight yesterday.
So what’s so great about this plane? Beyond a fun “party atmosphere” as one reporter put it, Bloomberg says the plane boasts a 20% efficiency gain over other similarly-sized planes, which could save United about 30% on maintenance costs.
And of course, there are the things designed to make passengers happy. Because if the passengers are happy, the airline will do better, right? Those amenities include the largest stowage bins in the industry, personal entertainment systems at every seat, power outlets, LED lighting that changes during the phases of flight, touchless faucets and toilets and huge windows that use dimmers instead of those plastic shades to control how much light enters the cabin.
All of those things are part of the “cool” factor Boeing is promoting, as well as a cabin pressurization systems that allows for more oxygen in the air, which can help minimize fatigue and headaches. Sounds like a dream.