United Airlines Boeing 787 Dreamliner Inaugural: UA Flight 1116 IAH to ORD

One week ago yesterday, I flew on United’s inaugural Boeing 787 Dreamliner flight from Houston to Chicago.

United Dreamliner Inaugural: Introduction

United Dreamliner Inaugural: Pre-Departure Festivities

United Dreamliner Inaugural: UA Flight 1116 IAH to ORD

United Dreamliner Inaugural: Chicago Arrival Celebration

United Dreamliner Inaugural: UA Flight 1510 ORD to IAH

United Dreamliner Inaugural: UA Flight 1209 IAH to LAX

The excitement following the pre-departure festivities at gate E5 in Houston culminated with very crowded boarding lanes for flight 1116 bound for Chicago.

a sign in a buildingI was among the first dozen or so to make it onboard and each passenger was greeted at their seat with a “Proud to fly the 787 Dreamliner†folder. It contained an inaugural flight certificate, 787 infographic card and an invitation to share pics and video with United’s social media team.

a seat in an airplanea close-up of a documentI was seated in 4A for this historic inaugural and my seatmate was to originally be Bruce (NonRevAdventure.com), but he fell victim to a mysterious and non-self-initiated seat change. I was very curious to find out who the “seat poacher†ended up being.

I settled in as boarding continued, lightened my electronic window shade that took quite a long time (all were darkened upon boarding) and snapped a couple of pics.

a screen with an airplane on ita window with raindrops on the winga group of men in an airplaneThe flight attendants did an amazing job ushering everyone onboard and directing them to the appropriate aisle to walk down. Virtually everyone was taking pictures or video as they boarded. It would be a while before the seat poacher appeared, but he eventually did.

Mr. Hxxxxxx sat down in 4B and didn’t seem all that enthusiastic about the occasion. Hmm. He kept to himself as I was busy investigating my surroundings and occasionally standing up to snap additional photos and chat with people I knew. He was, however, gracious enough to honor my request for a picture of me in 4A.

a man sitting in an airplane seatThe seat itself is your standard Continental BusinessFirst seat, which I find infinitely more comfortable and spacious than pre-merger United’s lie-flat offering. As boarding continued, people were a flurry around the cabin mingling and sharing their enthusiasm.

a blue and black sign on a person's lega group of people in an airplaneIt was an exciting start to a memorable flight. We pushed back on-time amongst a throng of United employees watching from the tarmac. Here’s the video showing our departure, including the takeoff and champagne (or cider) toast by Jeff Smisek once we were in-flight.

an airplane wing in the skya map of the united statesa man taking a picture of a manOnce the seat belt sign came off (and even before), many people were filing up and down the aisles filming the momentous occasion. Television crews and other media outlets were occupying Jeff Smisek’s time post-toast. Meanwhile, I took a closer look at the seat and my surroundings, including the fan-like overhead air nozzles.

a white ceiling with circular objectsa sign on a planea close up of a devicea remote control on a person's legPrior to breakfast being served in BusinessFirst, I headed to the nearby lavatory just forward of door two. It’s an incredibly spacious handicap-accessible lav with an inward opening door that took me by surprise. The touchless flush and sink features were fantastic. Now, if Boeing could just come up with a mechanism to avoid having to lift the seat/lid…

a toilet in a bathroom

a sink with a bottle of liquid and a bottle of soapBack at my seat, Mr. Hxxxxxx sat there unenthusiastically as he had from the beginning watching the IFE. My curiosity was peaked as to who he was exactly and I was fascinated that he kept such a stoic and thoughtless presence about himself. Oh well. Not everyone is an aviation enthusiast.

Breakfast arrived and I was incredibly unimpressed. I thought United always served a choice of an omelet or cereal dish, but maybe that’s just on my constant mid-con or greater mileage flying. This was a ham muffin with egg, as well as fruit, yogurt and either a croissant or cinnamon roll. Ehh.

a breakfast on the trayAfter eating, I was rarely in my seat. Everyone (except 4B) was milling about, chatting away, taking pictures and simply standing in the aisles sharing their excitement. It was a fantastic experience and it came to an end far too quickly.

a map of the united states with an airplane flyinga window with a blue skyBefore I knew it, we were descending for our approach into Chicago. Settling back into my seat, I brought my video camera out again and… (sorry FAA)… filmed the approach. You’ll see that in the next installment.

The in-flight crew on this inaugural were simply fantastic. They were consummate professionals in handling the occasion while at the same time equally enthralled by the experience. Kudos to them!

Much more is to follow, including my overall impression (pluses and minuses) of the 787.

Up next: Chicago Arrival Celebration

Related posts:

United Airlines Boeing 787 Dreamliner Inaugural: Introduction

United Airlines Boeing 787 Dreamliner Inaugural: Pre-Departure Festivities

United 787 Inaugural Takeoff Video



  1. That plane looks plastic-cheap. Nothing new except the technology. lavatories are nothing special. I enjoy the luxury of the A380 much better.

    • @Laura: It definitely could have been. Bruce was swapped out of 4B a couple of weeks in advance.
      @duer: If you’re a window person, go for 2A or 2L (you control three windows in that section of BF and they offer the best view). Note there’s no overhead storage for 1D/1E and limited for 2D/2E – the pilot rest area is above that section. Otherwise, I’d go for 2B or 2K.

  2. Thanks! I can’t wait to fly the 787 segments from LAX to IAH. I just hope that they don’t change the aircraft last minute, as that’s what happen to my mom and aunt who were suppose to fly out this morning to ORD.

  3. I am glad you agreed on breakfast being unimpressed. I had seen other reports on this flight in other publications, someone even mentioned this was tasty, I was thinking like that person must have gotten money from UA to say that. As no one think this is tasty, in a matter of fact, this is totally nasty and pathetic to called this as breakfast for domestic first class ! Even McDonald’s egg McMuffin sandwhich taste way better than this !

    This was the standard PMCO breakfast for flights under 1000 miles. PMUA breakfast for this length would be apple pancakes. The egg dish was supposed to be on flights that are 3+ hours long or over 1500 miles. However, right before the merger, I had egg dish even for ORD-DEN.

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