United Airlines has become the first North American carrier to take delivery of the Boeing 787-9, a stretched version of the Dreamliner that will allow the airline to accommodate more customers and further capitalise on its worldwide route network.
The aircraft is the first of 26 of the newest member of the Dreamliner family United has on order.
“The 787-9 builds on the Dreamliner’s fuel efficiency and customer comfort while giving us even more flexibility and range,” said United vice president of fleet Ron Baur.
“Last year our customers gave the 787 the highest customer satisfaction scores of any aircraft in our fleet, and we know they’ll enjoy what the 787-9 has to offer.”
The airline’s technicians will now perform United-specific software installations and hardware upgrades.
United pilots will then fly the aircraft to the airline’s Houston hub for additional flights before it is expected to enter domestic service in late September.
The 787-9’s extended range – 8,550 miles compared to the 787-8’s 8,200 – will enable United to launch its Los Angeles to Melbourne, Australia, service on October 26, the airline’s first regularly scheduled international deployment of the aircraft.
It will be the longest Dreamliner route in the world to date.
In advance of the Melbourne route launch, United will primarily fly the aircraft between Houston and Los Angeles.
United’s 787-9 will be configured with 252 seats – 48 in United BusinessFirst and 204 in United Economy, including 88 Economy Plus seats with added legroom and increased personal space.
United’s 787-9 fleet comes with factory-installed Wi-Fi connectivity.
Starting with this aircraft delivery, all of the airline’s subsequent Dreamliners, including the -8 and -10 variants, will be delivered with Wi-Fi. United currently has Wi-Fi on more than 300 aircraft, including all of its Airbus and Boeing 747 aircraft, and plans to equip the vast majority of its mainline fleet with Wi-Fi by mid-2015.