On-Board American Airlines Inaugural Boeing 787-8 Flight!

Several years ago, American Airlines announced an ambitious goal. Their plan was to replace the rapidly aging fleet of Boeing 757-200, 767-200, and MD-80s with state-of-the-art Airbus A319/A321 and on the widebody side, the Boeing 777-300ER and the boeing 787-8 and -9. With hundreds of new aircraft on order, American would drastically reduce the overall age of their fleet, while also improving their onboard product with the introduction of satellite based wifi for international flights, inflight entertainment and power outlets at most seats. Premium cabin were also receiving a much needed makeover, replacing all of the angled lie-flat seats with 180° lie-flats, direct aisle access, and a walk-up bar on some aircraft. Though a huge task for American, the company set forth with specific goals in mind and helped to revolutionize air travel for their passengers.


AA2320
Dallas to Chicago
May 7th, 2015
Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner
N801AC
Seat: 3D, Business Class
 
787
N801AC from the D24 Admirals Club
 
gids
Largest Upgrade List I've Ever Seen!

As expected, American had a small gate celebration about an hour before our departure to Chicago. Food was provided and passengers had the opportunity to have their photo printed onto a 787 flight deck, thanks to a green screen at the gate.

Shortly before boarding, Fern Hernandez (AA's VP of Global Marketing) welcomed us to this historic day and talked about how important the 787 was to American and future plans for the aircraft. Representatives from Boeing and the DFW Airport also gave short speeches. Fern also introduced us to Captain Charles Savage and some of the crew taking us up to Chicago.

pilots
Inaugural Flight Crew + VIPs

Moments later, the gate agents welcomed aboard first class passengers. Though everybody was excited to board the 787, the boarding process seemed fairly smooth. Once our boarding passes were scanned, American representatives were on hand to provide gift bags to all of the passengers.

boarding
Almost every passenger behind me stopped for their 787 entry-door photo

Boarding was through the 2L door, which passes through the onboard walk-up bar for premium cabin passengers. The entry, unlike a typical widebody aircraft, has raised ceilings and feels much less cramped. Before checking out my seat, I made sure to pay a visit to the flight deck.

flightdeck
Boeing 787-8 Flight Deck

Directly opposite the flight deck, a crew rest in built into upper lobe for the pilots, vs. taking up seats in the premium cabin.

crew rest
Flight Deck Crew Rest

I made it back to my seat and grabbed a few photos before hoards of passengers descended into the cabin, each wanting to check out every last bit of the new interior.

J
Forward-Facing Business Class - Seat 7A
 
cabin
Forward Business Class Cabin
 
J shot
The View from Seat 3D
 
controlscontrols
Seat Controls
 
gift bag
Gift Bag Provided to All Passengers
 
After a so-so water cannon salute from the DFW Fire Department, we turned onto the runway and quickly took to the skies. With little cargo on today's flight, the Captain later mentioned that they only used 55% engine power for the departure. Inside the cabin, the take-off roll was the quiestest that I've ever experienced on a widebody, leading some to wonder if the engines were really running.
 
wing
Beautiful view of the wing flex and our GEnx-1B engine

 

bar
Premium Cabin Walk-Up Bar

On the 787, I heard many passengers remark that the seats looked awfully narrow. Though I would agree about the forward-facing seats, the rear-facing seats offer a bit more room. I have pretty wide shoulders and felt fairly comfortable when laying down, though that was for less than a minute. It remains to be said how it would feel on a longhaul flight.

3D
Lieflat position on the rear-facing seat

With a quick flight up to Chicago (one hour, fifty-two minutes), the flight attendants were noticeably stressed while trying to complete the meal service. Most passengers remained in the aisle throughout the flight, further complicating the process.

Meal choices were a quiche or oatmeal dish. I pre-ordered the quiche and enjoyed the dish, though reports of the oatmeal being enjoyable are greatly exaggerated.

quiche
Breakfast Quiche

By the time I made it back to the economy cabin, we were already beginning our descent into Chicago, so I only had a few minutes to snap some photos. With a 3-3-3 layout, it seemed a bit cramped, though it didn't feel too bad. Just like the lie-flat seat in business, I'd like to have more than a minute or two to sample the product and see how it might feel on a longhaul flight!

Y
Middle Economy Cabin
 
landing
I don't want it to end!

The seatbelt sign was turned on for the final time, to a collective groan from the passengers, as we descended below 10,000 feet. Though it was quite foggy in Chicago, we were able to pick out bits and pieces of downtown. Moments later, O'Hare came into view and we touched down to applause from all aboard.

We pulled into gate L10 right on-time and were welcomed by a large number of staff from American. Though everybody was sad that the trip was over so fast, most agreed that it was truly a pleasure to be a part of aviation history!

gate party
Welcome Party at L10
 
L10
American Airlines Boeing 787-8
 
L10
American Airlines Boeing 787-8

I love flying inaugural flights, so I was quite happy to have the chance to join in on today's festivities! Fellow UPGRD bloggers Rocky and Sriram were also onboard, so be sure to keep an eye out for their posts.

Comments

Where's the photo with the hat, Daniel? Oh, wait, I forgot to give one to you...

I'd go so far as declaring the water cannon a #FAIL, at least on the starboard side of the aircraft. We didn't even get our windows wet.

#2
Aptraveler May 7, 2015 at 09:16 pm

Nice write up & good pics!

#3
Bob September 16, 2015 at 08:46 am

Very nice report, Daniel! I hope to travel on an inaugural flight someday. I'm delighted you had this experience!

#4
Mike February 18, 2016 at 05:32 pm

This might be a long shot, but would you have any recommendations for couples traveling together as far as whether to chose the rear facing or front facing seats (in the middle row of the premium cabin)? The rear facing seats are oriented such that your heads are closer together, but you're both facing outward. The front facing seats allow you to both face inward toward each other, but your heads are 6 feet apart.

Trying to figure out which would be best if you're traveling with someone you want to be able to communicate with, hold hands... stuff like that.

Thanks!

#5
Daniel February 19, 2016 at 01:47 pm

Hi Mike:

I'd lean towards the rear facing seats, primarily due to the fact that they offer a bit more space. On the middle pairs, all of the dividers were fixed in the up position, so you wouldn't be able to see your wife (unless you stood up). I do recall reading something about the dividers potentially being reset so they were in the down position, though I will double check to see if that actually happened.