United began flying its new Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner between Los Angeles and Newark this week, and will commence service between Newark and San Francisco in February. Aviation geeks will rejoice to see a new type of aircraft in the skies over the U.S. this winter. But all travelers should also enjoy being able to book the airline’s nicest business-class seats on these flights, as well as trying out United’s new Premium Plus seating.
There’s a 787-10?
United is one of only three airlines to have received the largest type of Dreamliner so far. The other two are Singapore Airlines and Etihad. United will eventually have 14 of the jets in its fleet, and is also the only airline in the world to have all three variants of the aircraft: the 787-8, 787-9 and 787-10.
The next-generation 787-10 fields all the same features as its smaller siblings, including better fuel efficiency than conventional jets, quieter engines, higher cabin pressurization and humidity for enhanced passenger comfort, advanced lighting systems to help travelers adjust their circadian rhythms easier, and larger windows to let in more natural light.
However, the 787-10 is 18 feet longer than the 787-9 and 38 feet longer than the 787-8. Those might not seem like major differences, but it means United’s 787-10 can carry 66 more passengers than its 787-9, and 99 more than the 787-8.
Just because there will be more passengers on board doesn’t mean that fliers will give up any creature comforts, though. In fact, the 787-10 features the same flagship Polaris business-class seats fliers will find on select international routes, and the airline’s all-new Premium Plus section (its recently introduced version of premium economy).
Cabins and Classes
United’s 787-10 has 44 seats in a single business-class cabin, 21 in the Premium Plus section, 54 Economy Plus seats, and 199 regular economy seats.
In business class, the 11 rows are arranged in a staggered 1 – 2 – 1 seating pattern so that every passenger has direct access to the aisle. Each seat is 20.6 inches wide and reclines to a fully flat bed that is 78 inches long.
Similar to international flights, passengers in transcontinental Polaris receive Saks Fifth Avenue bedding items including a blanket and small pillow. The pared-down amenity kits include Soho House & Co. Cowshed Spa lip balm, ear plugs, a toothbrush, toothpaste and an eye mask. Passengers are also given noise-canceling headphones to use with the 16-inch in-flight entertainment screens.
Thanks to the airline’s partnership with the Trotter Project, meals are created by chefs like Delia Gossett of Spago, Michael Rotondo of Parallel 37, and Bill Kim of urbanbelly Restaurants. On the inaugural flight from Los Angeles on Monday, dishes included a starter of Greek yogurt with granola and fresh fruit, and a choice of either cheese blintzes with mixed berry sauce and pork sausage, or chicken chorizo chili verde with tortilla chips, scrambled eggs and Colby Jack cheese.
Polaris passengers can order complimentary wine and beer, and a selection of spirits that includes a signature Old Fashioned created for the airline by On The Rocks Cocktails with Knob Creek bourbon and a candied orange peel.
The Premier of Premium Plus
Just behind business class is the section with United’s new Premium Plus seats. There are 21 places total in three rows of seven seats each, arranged in a 2 – 3 – 2 layout. With two fewer seats per row than in regular economy, each of them is 19 inches wide, has 38 inches of pitch, and six inches of recline. They also have adjustable leg and footrests for a more ergonomic ride.
The entertainment screens are 13 inches wide, and each seat has its own USB and power ports.
Passengers seated in Premium Plus and Economy Plus can also count on free “coastal-city-inspired” meals that include a hot entrée, dessert, fruit and a pre-arrival snack as well as complimentary alcoholic beverages.
Characteristics of Coach
Just behind Premium Plus, there are five rows of Economy Plus seats (yes, it’s different than Premium Plus, and it’s confusing). These 54 seats are basically regular economy seats with extra legroom. They are laid out in a 3 – 3 – 3 pattern, just like the normal economy rows. Each is 17.5 inches across and has 35 inches of pitch, compared to 31 inches in regular economy. Both these and regular economy seats recline up to three inches, and have USB ports for each passenger, but only two power plugs shared per three-seat bloc, so claim yours quickly! These seats have 10-inch entertainment screens.
Speaking of the entertainment systems, the ones on the 787-10 are the latest from United, and have a variety of innovative elements. There is a split-screen feature so passengers can watch content while also monitoring the flight map. The system provides film and television recommendations based on remaining flight time, and offers advanced accessibility features to accommodate passengers with mobility, hearing, and vision issues.
Flights and Fares
United operates over a dozen daily non-stops on each of its routes between Newark and its two West Coast hubs, Los Angeles and San Francisco. So if you would like to fly the 787-10 yourself, be sure to double check the flight numbers and aircraft type before you purchase an itinerary. Flight schedules are subject to change, and the airline plans to add the 787-10 to more transcontinental frequencies, but this information is current at time of publication.
The 787-10 now operates United flight UA 2418 from Los Angeles to Newark, departing at 8:15 am and arriving at 4:19 pm; and United flight UA 275 from Newark to Los Angeles, departing at 6:00 pm and arriving at 9:06 pm. In April, some of these flight times will shift, and the airline will begin operating an additional daily flight in each direction with a 787-10.
Meanwhile, starting Feb. 14, United will begin flying the 787-10 between San Francisco and Newark. United flight UA 637 will depart Newark at 9:00 am and arrive in San Francisco at 12:16 pm. On the return, United flight UA 2319 will depart San Francisco at 2:00 pm and arrive in Newark at 9:59 pm. These flight numbers and schedules will change later this year as we head into the peak summer travel season.
One-way fares on both routes start at $127 for basic economy, $157 for regular economy, $271 for Economy Plus, and $659 for business class in January and February.
Did you notice something missing there? Unlike international routes, the airline is not selling separate Premium Plus airfares on domestic flights. Savvy travelers can simply purchase an Economy Plus fare, and then if a larger Premium Plus seat is available on your flight, you can select that as your option and enjoy all those extra inches of space.
If you do not plan to fly between the East and West Coasts, United also plans to put its forthcoming 787-10s into service from Newark to several international destinations as well.
Starting March 30, the 787-10 will begin flying from Newark to Frankfurt and Tel Aviv. On April 29, it will begin service to both Paris and Barcelona, while on May 22, passengers will find the jet on flights to Brussels and Dublin.
The debut of the Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner with United’s nicest business-class seats and its new Premium Plus section is an exciting step forward both for the airline and domestic passengers on transcontinental routes. It marks the next round in the competition to woo premium passengers between United, American and Delta, and hopefully fliers can reap the benefits of additional choices and better seats.