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.