Thursday, September 4, 2014

United adds 787-9 (with wifi!!) to their fleet

United Airlines is now the proud owner of a 787-9 Dreamliner, the first North American carrier for the type.

United Airlines 787-9

One lucky person at United’s Seattle station yesterday was able to get on board and has some (very shaky) video showing off the interior of the plane.

In addition to the usual platitudes mentioned in the press release – longer version of the plane to hold more passengers, greater range, newer route opportunities – there is something which is very good news for passengers on this particular aircraft and which will trickle down to the other 787s in the fleet. This is the first United 787 to be delivered with in-flight internet connectivity. Boeing only recently began offering wifi connectivity as a line-fit option and the United 787-9 is one of the earlier deliveries with that functionality installed.

United will use the same Panasonic eXConnect Ku system which is currently installed on the carrier’s 747 and Airbus fleets. That same system will also be installed on the rest of the long-haul fleet with expected completion by “mid-2015″ though that date has slipped a few times over the years. United will also be retrofitting the 787-8 aircraft already in the fleet to include the connectivity service as well. Eventually. No timeline announced on that one yet.

As for when it will enter service, look for the 787-9 on United’s schedule based out of IAH starting on 20 September 2014 running domestic proving routes (mostly LAX) and then international service starting in October as the Los Angeles – Melbourne route is established. It will be the longest 787 route in the world when it begins flying.

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