United’s 787s return to the skies

United Airlines returned its fleet of Boeing 787-8s to revenue service on 20 May, with an inaugural flight from Houston Intercontinental to Chicago O’Hare.

The flight, United 1, fittingly flew from the former home of Continental Airlines – the North American launch customer of the 787 in 2004 – to the United’s current home, not to mention the corporate headquarters of manufacturer Boeing as well.

Jeff Smisek, chairman, president and chief executive of United, and James McNerney, chairman and, president and chief executive of Boeing, spoke before the flight. Both commended the aircraft, with Smisek joking about it being a “fairly expensive piece of sculpture to have on the ground” and McNerney apologising for the delay.

United’s 787s had been grounded since January, following two separate battery related incidents onboard aircraft flown by Japan’s All Nippon Airways (ANA) and Japan Airlines. 

Onboard the flight, which was flown by N27903, the mood was festive. Passengers were keen to play with the dimmable windows and clapped after took off from Houston and upon landing in Chicago.

Inflight, economy passengers had their preference of food from United’s Choice Menu, all for purchase with a major credit card.

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