Airline: United Aircraft: Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner Row: 19 Seat: L Class: Economy Plus
The Seat: Economy Plus gives you a 3 to 4 inch advantage when it comes to legroom. If that’s enough to keep your claustrophobia at bay or keep you from angrily mumble-cursing in discomfort for 14 or so hours then go ahead and buy the upgrade. If you’re in it more for the entertainment or to gaze outside then you might be just fine in a regular economy seat. Subtract the slight legroom benefit and everything is the same in both “classes”. Same big windows, same tiny seats.
Other Seat Notes:
-Armrests benefit from not having a bulky controller for the personal audio/video unit as the system is entirely touch-screen.
-Headrests are adjustable and handy if you want to catch a nap during the plane’s eerily quiet takeoff and landing.
-Windows, while gigantic, aren’t always well aligned with seats so you may have to lean a little to get a good look out.
-Power outlet is in a tough spot underneath the center seat creating an intimate, awkward moment with your neighbor when plugging in your gizmos.
Food: Ours was a domestic flight, so we dined on offerings from United’s “Choice” (food for purchase) menu. On the longer, overseas routes these planes typically fly, meals will differ and in most cases be complimentary.
Service: This was an experienced international crew newly trained to work on the United 787-8. Perhaps it was the new work environment boosting morale, but this was likely the best service we’d experienced aboard United in a year. Very friendly crew.
Summary: The benefits of flying aboard this newer style of aircraft are nearly forgotten the moment you sit down. The only reminder being the big window and the ability to stand up without jamming your skull into the overhead. The plane brings benefits you can’t see though, like cleaner air, better pressurization and lighting designed to help you feel refreshed when you get to your destination and better insulation from engine noise.
Rating: 3 hops (of 5)
Strategy: If you had passed up purchasing one of these seats or choosing them as an elite member in advance, try a friendly exchange with the gate agent. Chances are likely better if you arrive early.
Elite on December 10, 2012
Gate agents sure as hell better not give people economy plus unless the flight is oversold and that is the only place they can be put or they pay for it. The few times I have seen people begging for it, the gate agent has rejected them, thankfully. 787 is a great plane though, I have flown on it a few times, both in back and front (all 4 on UA).
volterrific on December 18, 2012
The Dreamliner is a nice aircraft, but intensely dislike United’s narrow economy seats. Boeing designed the 787 for 8 seats per row in economy (2-4-2). Unfortunately United and many other airlines are opting for 9 seats per row (3-3-3). The fuselage didn’t get wider, so the seats and aisles are narrower. I’m not an overweight guy so I fit into my seat ok with barely enough hip room. Unfortunately, one one recent 787 flight a large teenager was in the middle seat next to me. His elbows and shoulders spilled over into my space. I’m a cozy guy, but rubbing shoulders with a stranger is not my idea of a comfortable flight. I couldn’t wait for the 3.5 hour flight from IAH-LAX to end. Not the enjoyment I had hoped for a Dreamliner flight.
I flew an ANA 787 in Japan and loved it. 8 seats per row, roomy and comfortable.
I am now dreading my April LAX-NRT United 787 flight. I’ve booked 16L at the front of economy plus so I can at least easily escape my seat if I’m stuck with a large person in the middle seat.
Airlines have assumed they can give passengers a fancy toilet, more humid air, lower altitude pressure, and bigger windows and assume that compensates for an uncomfortable seat. I disagree. Sad to say, any 787 with 3-3-3 in economy is an airplane I will avoid. There are other options. For example, Singapore Airlines A380 LAX-NRT with a very nice 19″ wide economy seat versus United’s horrible 17.3″ seat. A friend who always flies that run in Business Class concurs. United’s Business First seats are no match for Singapore’s generously sized Business seats, and better service to go with it. Much as I am a Boeing fanboy, I’ll go with a seat comfort any day, especially on a long flight.