This morning United Airlines Flight 1 took off from Houston (IAH) on its way to Chicago (ORD) – marking the reintroduction into service of our Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Prior to the flight, Jeff Smisek, our chairman, president and CEO, and Jim McNerny, Boeing chairman of the board, president and CEO, spoke to a crowd of reporters and fellow passengers, flanked by Captains Niels Olufsen, Stephen Kastner and Bill Blocker.
“We’re delighted to have the 787 back in service,” said Jeff. “It’s a terrific aircraft and our customers love it.”
“Jeff, the partnership with you and your company mean everything to Boeing,” Jim said. “We could not be more excited to be here today.”
The atmosphere on the plane was festive as customers stepped onboard and took in the features that make the Dreamliner special – including the large windows with electronic dimmers, LED lighting and roomy overhead bins.
As our Dreamliner rolled down the runway, helicopters from news stations could be seen hovering in the air, taking the opportunity to film Flight 1 as it took to the skies. The windows were automatically dimmed for takeoff and passengers applauded when the wheels left the ground.
When we reached a cruising altitude of 41,000 feet, Jeff stood up and gave a brief welcome speech over the plane’s PA system. During the flight, the Economy cabin was bustling as reporters interviewed Jeff and Jim in a galley that served as a make-shift press room. At one point, Jeff took a seat in the midst of customers and spoke to members of the press who scurried to get a quote for their newspapers or TV stations.
The interior was noticeably quiet and the anti-turbulence technology made for a fairly smooth ride, despite changeable weather below us. We touched down in Chicago early, at 1:13 p.m. Central Time, to another round of applause. Even the arrival gate was energized with a cluster of reporters crowding around Jeff, Jim and other executives, and waiting passengers smiling at the conclusion of this noteworthy occasion.
If you're at one of our domestic hubs this week, keep an eye out for a glimpse of our Dreamliner, which we're operating from Houston to various hubs this week. On June 10, we'll launch international 787 service on the much-anticipated Denver-Tokyo route.
Over the summer we also plan to inaugurate 787 service on existing routes including Houston-London, Los Angeles-Tokyo, Los Angeles-Shanghai and Houston-Lagos.