An exciting day for any aviation enthusiast, especially those who regularly fly American, the inaugural Boeing 787 flight for American was a really fun event.
With the flight scheduled to depart at 7:10a, it was an early departure for sure, though when I woke up and got to the gate, there was a buzz of excitement that quickly woke me up.
The 787 was parked at gate 25, in the D terminal, a short walk from the Grand Hyatt, and the Amex Centurion Lounge. There were a ton of passengers milling about, most of which that were in line for a photo opportunity in front of a green screen, which, when the photo printed out, portrayed you in front of the 787 on the runway…pretty cool. The line was long, but figuring I paid over 50,000 miles for the one-way First Class ticket, I figured it would be worth it to walk away with a souvenir.
Breakfast was also provided, and you could tell that there were some passengers on other flights stopping by to partake, not knowing what was going on or the significance of the event. About 25 minutes prior to boarding, a short ceremony was held, with a few quick speeches from folks at Boeing, American and DFW Airport. There was also a short photo opportunity with some of the pilots and flight crew, and following, boarding commenced.
First Class was called first, and as we walked down the jet bridge, there were employees on hand to give out small tablet cases with goodies inside. It was truly a festive atmosphere, and I was thanked numerous times for taking this particular trip.
Once on board, we were welcomed into the cabin, and I turned left into the larger of the two Business (marketed as First) cabins on this plane. Seated in 2H, I was in the middle section of seats, laid out in a 1x2x1 configuration. Seated in front of me was Geno, the infamous flyer who has been on almost every inaugural flight there is. Beside and around me were other frequent flyers, including a whole group of Executive Platinums who spent their miles just to fly this historic route.
The flight attendants distributed champagne, water and orange juice, though were blocked from quickly moving down the aisles due to all of us passengers milling about and exploring the plane. Pictures were being snapped like they were going out of style, and we were in awe at the various buttons, compartments and finishings that made up the cabin. Many of us walked back into the Economy cabin to check out their seats, as well.
What seemed like only a few short minutes later, boarding finished, and there were numerous pleas via the intercom system for all ground personnel to leave the aircraft. You could tell the excitement in their faces, too, and I know many of them didn’t want to leave, of course, not having a seat on the flight
The boarding door was shut, and we taxied to our runway 1-7 right, going through a water cannon salute from the Dallas Airport Fire Department along the way.
Take-off was incredibly easy, and calm – not the usual bumpiness you experience on similar planes. The engines were incredibly quiet, and there was an awe throughout the cabin as many experienced the lack of sounds for the first time. As the plane lifted off the ground, everyone broke out clapping, happy the plane had made its first take-off.
Once at our cruising altitude, the seatbelt sign came off, and as soon as it did, nearly everyone jumped up in excitement.
Let me touch on the seat a bit, for your awareness. Each seat in the business cabin alternates between forward facing and rear facing, though you can’t really seat your seatmate, which is good for privacy. There is a divider between the center section of seats, though no one could figure out how to lower it – even the purser and Captain. Each seat is fully-flat, and equipped with a built-in remote to control the television, which can swing out once take-off is compete. There’s limited storage, but the extensive overheard space makes up for it. At each seat is two electrical outlets, along with a variety of headphone jacks for use with regular and noise canceling headphones. The seat controls are done via a separate, fixed touch screen, and you can even set custom, saved options which you can use throughout the flight, without having to go back and find the perfect position. It also features a cradle position, like the older angled-flat seats, which I really like. Privacy is decent, though you can see folks across the aisle from you, which may make for a few awkward stares at times. The middle seats have little view of the windows, so if you like to look outside, make sure you get something on one of the outer sides, where you’ll have your own set of windows to yourself. The middle business seats are good for couples, but it isn’t the best for carrying on a conversation.
At this point in the flight, crowds were building in the aisles, as First and Economy passengers mingled with each other and explored both cabins. The flight attendants began their meal service, and at one point made an announcement stating such, indicating for folks to stay seated while they attempted to bring the breakfast trays out. It was chaos to say the least, and I felt bad for the cabin crew doing their jobs, while us excited flyers stood in their way. Once breakfast as served, I ate very quickly, wanting to get back up again and mingle with other friends. It’s worth noting that even though this is an internationally configured plane, the service was all domestic.
The Captain came out from the cockpit to introduce himself and thank the passengers, and also get their feedback on the new plane. He was very personable, and I found it interesting that he was headed to the rear of the plane to find his family, who was also onboard.
Some passengers got to see the crew rest areas, though by the time I got their, the seatbelt sign had been turned on and the cabin crew was scurrying people away. The plane was incredibly packed, though everyone was very friendly, and folks got to where they wanted to go by scooting in and out of seats and aisle.
It was a really fun experience, and before I knew it, it was time for landing. We descended into Chicago as the Captain informed us of several fun facts about the plane. There was sadness filling the forward cabin as we knew our journey would soon be over, though as we touched down, another round of clapping began, signaling out arrival into the Windy City.
As we pulled into L10, our wide-body gate, ground crews on the Tarmac could be seen taking pictures from their cell phones. Along the windows of the terminal, passengers lined up to see the inaugural flight, too. I got off the plane fairly quickly, and was greeted at the gate by the next round of departing passengers, excited for their turn in the new aircraft. There was a table with popcorn and water, though no other festivities were noted, as far as I saw.
I’m really happy I spent 55,000 AAnytime miles on this ticket, even though, in most circumstances, this would otherwise seem crazy. You only live once, and to share this flight with fellow friends and bloggers was an experience I’ll never forget. It was truly a fun experience, and one that I’ll never forget.
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