Going long

Greetings from Singapore where I landed after taking the longest Dreamliner flight in the world on board a United Airlines 787-9. We left San Francisco about 16 hours earlier on board UAL Flight 1.

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A water cannon salute awaited us upon arrival in Singapore.

We were greeted with a water cannon salute on arrival in Singapore. The flight was right on time.

United now operates the top 3 longest 787 nonstop routes in the world (see chart below). This flight between SFO and SIN also becomes the 4th longest in the world overall. (Dubai to Auckland on the Emirates 777-200LR takes the top spot).

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So now the big question— how do you feel after all that time in the air? The answer is absolutely great. I couldn’t help but overhear my fellow passengers talking about how good the air was on board and how the 787 lived up to its billing.

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The gate events were spectacular.

As for passing the time up there, I can tell you that the trip went by surprisingly fast. We had two meals and a lot of snacks, and I was able to watch three movies and get about seven hours of sleep.

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Are we there yet? I was checking out the map to make sure I still had time to watch another movie.

Perhaps the best compliment came from a passenger who told me “this is what the 787 was made for.” I couldn’t agree more. In fact, this is the 3rd trip I’ve made this year alone to Asia on board a 787. More than 100 new nonstop markets have been opened by the Dreamliner.

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I had the pleasure of sharing the stage with United during the American Chamber of Commerce luncheon in Singapore shortly after arriving.

Congrats to United for “going long” with the 787. It was my pleasure to be on board. USA Today included some of my comments in their story, which includes a great photo gallery. By the way, I’d love to hear your comments about how to pass the time on long haul flights.

Comments (19)

Greg (San Jose, CA):

Where did you sit on the plane, Randy, hopefully in a lie-flat seat in the biz class?

Norman Garza (Long Beach, CA):

Those are ranges that one would expect a 777-200LR to do and not with a full load at least with San Francisco to Singapore. That is quite impressive and what better plane with better pressurization than the 787 for these long routes.

Thomas Flynn (Freeport, NY, U.S.A.):

Hi Randy,

How does one pass the time on long haul flights? I heartily suggest the following: look out the window! All too often people are looking at their tablet, smartphone and/or laptop computer (or their IFE system screen) - all things one can do whilst on the ground. The best show is right outside the window - day or night. And now with some aircraft equipped with cameras giving external views of the plane and the landscape below, those in non-window seats have no excuses either for not enjoying the show.

I never tire of the majestic views afforded by air travel.

Wishing you many more exotic journeys to come...

Patrick (The Netherlands):

You are probably right, sitting in business class this will be a good flight. But not everyone can afford to sit there, and are sitting cramped in economy class. I wonder if there won't be more deep vain thrombosis incidents coming. Airliners threats economy passengers like cows and pics nowadays..... The more people on a square meter, the better for their revenue. Comfort and legroom are becoming more and more a non issue. Too bad :(

Donald Grove (Spokane, WA):

I have flown commercial since 1955 and was very happy when I was able to fly across the U.S. on your 707 (1959) thus not having the droning of those big radial engines. Since I retired in 1992 I have flown most all types of aircraft around the world. I have also followed the airplane industry all these years and have been a "Boeing person". To the point - I tracked the birth of your 787 since its start and was very anxious to be able to fly on it. Last year I flew ANA from Singapore to Seattle via Narita. The flight from Narita to Seattle was on the 787 R2D2 and I had a business class seat looking out the window at the starboard engine. I thought the 787 would be fairly quiet but it was very noisy at this location, a big disappointment! I did not like the fact that the window controls were overridden by the crew since I like to look out. All in all I prefer your 777 series aircraft.

Ellis (Atlanta):

Congratulations to United for creating this route and for the B787. I would love to try it out and see if the air really is better up there Randy. Not sure if I could do 16 hours on any airplane though!

Mike Whitney (Manchester. UK):

The 787 is a marvellous advance in aviation engineering and technology. Watching the wing work during the departure and approach stages of flight is just magical.

I've been privileged enough to have travelled on numerous carriers' Dreamliners in every class, from First through to Economy.

Whilst travelling in First or Business is an absolute delight on the 787, it is a shame that no matter how outstanding Boeing, or indeed Airbus, make their latest offering, airlines in today's competitive environment will cram in the absolute maximum number of seats into the minimum possible space allocated to Y and Y+. 9 across in Coach is not acceptable in today's world and especially on sectors of the length mentioned in this blog article.
17" seats should, IMO, be legislated against for health reasons.

Carl Dombek (Seattle):

Hello, Randy.

I just recently made the DXB-AKL flight with Emirates on the 777-200 and, while I have also been privileged to fly the 787 (ANA, SEA to NRT), I have to say the 777 was just fine.

I published a couple of articles about my experiences as well. One was my tips for surviving an ultra-long-haul flight at http://www.thetravelpro.us/2016/04/surviving-ultra-long-haul-flight.html and the other an hour-by-hour recap of the DXB-AKL run at http://www.thetravelpro.us/2016/05/hour-by-hour-on-worlds-longest.html. Hope you find them interesting, useful and entertaining.

Francis Mohajerin (Huntington Beach):

Three films and a full nights sleep. Arrive fresh. Sounds wonderful! Wish it originated from LAX.

Freddy Hagens (Kirkland, WA):

I concur with fellow Dutchman Patrick from the Netherlands. Especially on long flights but even on shorter ones. It is about time the industry takes note of the forgotten economy class. Provide 32 inch pitch (or more in premium economy) for all in economy class! That mood lighting, sculptured ceilings, great IFE, and electronic dimmable window, are lost on you if you are pinned in your seat for 10 hours. This happened to me on a 787 flight to Brazil this year.

Steven Carter (Perth Western Australia):

I recently flew B-787 with Scoot PER-SIN-PER and found the aircraft to be fine. Overhead lockers are enormous, seating for a budget airline had plenty of legroom and lightning was cool. Large windows with graduated shade was very innovative. It is a shame Scoot chooses to have very primitive seat backs for poor storage. I do agree with a previous person in that I did not find it any quieter than a B-777.

John Stone (Brisbane Australia):

There is some research (sorry do not have reference) that one of the contributing causes of DVT is the low cabin pressure in passenger aircraft causing pooling in the veins.
It will be interesting to see in the future if the incidence of DVT is lower on aircraft with higher cabin pressure like the 787.

John Stone (Brisbane Australia):

Why not make it 8 abreast in Y on extra long haul flights.
This would reduce the pax numbers to 260, but I bet it is going out with pax restrictions anyway. Plus, save the weight of the 30 or so seats.

Jin (Xi An China):

I took 787 from BeiJing to Warsaw last September, It was really a amazing flight.The entire trip went smoothly and quitely, after two movies and several naps,I got to destination, without any tiredness. It is real dream liner.

Dave Anderson (Seattle):

Great to hear about your flight, Randy. I flew the ANA 787 from Seattle to Narita, and it was everything I expected. I especially liked the better cabin pressure and humidity, and arrived feeling great and in time to catch my connection to Singapore. Nonstop would have been even better.

Peter Wyeth (Cornwall England):

Great for United, I fly 787 London- Houston, also Qatar B787 to Phuket,great aeroplane. "If its not Boeing I'm not going"

Mortimer Duke (USA):

Three cheers more for another direct long-haul city pair served, but not without the caveat others have mentioned about aircraft being more able to endure 16 hours aloft than their passengers, even for smokers.

German G (Ottawa, ON. Canada):

I’m always happy to hear positive things about Boeing and the new aircraft… I’m still sad how other airlines did not take on the 747-8i… the most gorgeous and stylish airplane of all. However, I have to said that 787 and 777 series are fantastic… except for the configurations that airlines are doing today.
I had the chance to fly 788 LAX-NRT two years ago and it was fine… quitter and very nice... Unfortunately the UA service in economy wasn’t that great and the seats cushions were not up to standards of long haul flights… and it was a brand new airplane… but that is an UA problem not Boeing.
Honestly.. I feel the difference on the air between 788 and 772… but really not much… I did EWR-HKG that took 15:44 four years ago…and it was good.
One thing for sure is that I noticed that A350 is not much better than the 787 series… PHL-DOH was horrible… disliked so much that aircraft, it feels like a bit more space than the 330… but you feel like flying on a "cheap copy" between 330 and 787.. because the truly Innovations came from BOEING. Thank you BOEING for thinks ahead… and bring great airplanes to fall n love.

Kerwin McKenzie (Houston, TX USA):

Cool report.
I was also on that flight. Here's my report - http://www.cruisinaltitude.com/airline-service-review-united-airlines-ua1-san-francisco-ca-sfo-singapore-sin/.

I've flown many long haul flights including, SFO to AKL, SYD/MEL to LAX/SFO, SYD to YVR, BKK to JFK, EWR to SIN just to name a few. I sleep, work, eat, read, watch the entertainment system and talk to other passengers. I never have an issue. Although the 12th hour of a 14 hour flight get really interesting. It's like you want to get it over with, but you can't :-).

Thanks.
Kerwin.

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