United's First Boeing 787 Takes Prep Flight

United Airlines' first 787 Dreamliner completed its first production flight as Boeing makes final preparations for delivering it to United at the end of September.

UA 787
Source: United Airlines
UA 787

The aircraft took off from Boeing's Paine Field in Everett, Wash., on Sunday. Boeing pilots flew the 787 around the Seattle area for more than three hours as part of planned tests of the aircraft's controls and systems.

United will be the first North American airline to operate the Dreamliner. Passengers can expect a host of amenities designed to enhance the flying experience.

The aircraft cabin is configured with 36 seats in United's hybrid BusinessFirst class — a cross between first class and business class — offering fully lie-flat seats, on-demand entertainment and multi-course meals.

In economy, there are 72 Economy Plus seats offering up to five inches of enhanced legroom over the 111 standard economy seats further back in the aircraft.

Other features include improved lighting, much larger windows with automatic darkening shades, large overhead bins allowing for multiple rollaboards in the same compartment and lower cabin altitude and enhanced ventilation providing higher humidity settings to help reduce the effects of long-haul flying.

The 787's inflight entertainment system features an all-new design that offers more intuitive browsing and more filtering options, giving passengers the option of searching for programs by language.

United's first passenger flight on the 787 isn't expected to take place until October. Initially flying domestic routes in the U.S., United will eventually roll out the aircraft in nonstop international markets it wouldn't otherwise serve, including the recently announced Denver to Tokyo service beginning next spring.

The airline has firm orders for 50 787s, for delivery by 2019.