America Airlines’ 787 Dreamliner took to the skies for its first commercial flight Thursday morning and needless to say there was a decent celebration to mark the first commercial operation that was several years in the making. I had arrived at Dallas Fort wWorth Airport around 2am the night before and found myself napping in the Yoga room between Terminals D and B until around 5 am. Around that time, I headed towards the Admiral Club to shower and to check out the gate area to see what the festivities were going to be for the first Dreamliner flight.
As I passed the gate area, the employees were just starting to set up for the celebration. The plane (N801AC) was already parked at the gate.
The gate area had a few items set up for the inaugural flight, but the festivities were kept to a minimum due to the early 7:10am departure. There was a green screen where customers could have their photo taken and they would then be placed in front of the 787 on the tarmac, some balloons, and the expected speeches from a couple executives at American Airlines, including a short and brief one from Fern Hernandez, AA VP of Global Marketing.
Boarding line – Glenda (Picture above) had no clue she was booked on the inagural flight! upgrade list (below)- I was #6 of 81!
Boarding began about 45 minutes before our scheduled departure, but due the commotion around the gate, I honestly never heard any group numbers or boarding priority called. I was busy talking with several other American Airline Executive Platinum flyers who I know from online forums, and we boarded the plane we were among the last people to board. Boarding was relatively smooth, but many people were to excited to sit down and were constantly jumping up and moving around up until the minute the airplane door was shut.
We taxied towards the runway, had a small water cannon salute by the DFW fire department and were wheels up at 7:30, 20 minutes after pushing back.
it seemed like this was the first flight in a long time that not every bin was full!
every move and part of the flight was recorded, photographed, and documented! It appeared as though free drinks were being offered to everyone in coach as everyone was drinking and celebrating! Per the Inflight service manager they requested additional alcohol just for this flight!
There were three pilots on this flight and one was almost always in the aisle speaking with passengers and answering question about the new plane!
Throughout the flight, the party continued and people were bouncing around the plane, snapping photos, talking with crew and AA staff members, and checking out every nook, cranny, and closet just to see what was behind each door! Several customers were fascinated by the automated toilets and sinks in the bathrooms, while others were more impressed with the crew rest area! The AA staff that was working the plane was fantastic, they allowed people to see the crew rests during flight, an area which is typically off limits! There also was representatives onboard from Panasonic, Boeing, Zodiac, and AA and each person was eager to answer questions, troubleshoot, and of course join the celebration!
Crew rest for flight attendants are in the rear of the plane and are accessed via a staircase from the rear galley (pictured below)
I was seated in economy seat 16H and although I was only stayed seated for about 30 minutes of the total flight time, I actually found the seat to be very comfortable and well designed. The economy class cabin is designed in a 3x3x3 configuration and offers main cabin passengers seats that are 17-18 inches wide with a 31 inch seat pitch. Those customers seating in Main Cabin Extra have an additional 4 inches of seat pitch for 36 inches. The seats also recline backwards, but while doing so, the bottom of the seat slides slightly forward and rises slightly, providing a more comfortable angel for resting. The headrest is also adjustable making it easier to find a position to rest your head and keep yourself from falling into your neighbors lap while sleeping.
Each seat in economy has it’s own reading light and adjustable air vent. Personal TV, Powerport, and remote all on the seatback. Tray table folds down and extends
The tray table opens up and extends. It can be used either as a half table or opened up to double the size.
Economy class seats are small, but main cabin extra provides plenty of leg room. I’d recommend the bulkhead seats as the bulkhead seats probably have the most legroom in coach!
Bulkhead seats (photo above) Main cabin Extra leg room example (below)
Another great seat is the exit row! The slide doesn’t take up personal space and there is tons of extra legroom!
As we touched down in Chicago, a few minutes early, the plane broke into a loud applause to mark the end AA’s 787 first flight and everyone onboard was now part of American Airlines’ Dreamliner history! We taxied to gate L2 where there was a large crowd of AA employees on the ramp, many with their photos and phones out snapping photos of the Dreamliner as it pulled in. Slowly the passengers disembarked the aircraft, and many AVgeek and myself stayed on board long after landing to get a few last minute looks of the newest plane in American Airlines Fleet.
Related reading: American Airlines 787 Business Class Trip Report