Airlines quick off the mark to fly the Boeing 787-9

By David Flynn, July 25 2014
Airlines quick off the mark to fly the Boeing 787-9

With the world's first Boeing 787-9 now in the hands of launch customer Air New Zealand, the stretched Dreamliner is literally flying out of the factories and into the waiting arms of airlines around the world.

Six airlines have already marked the Dreamliner's dance card for the rest of this year.

Air New Zealand

The Kiwi carrier already has the first of ten Boeing 787-9s in its hangar, with two more to follow by December.

The first commercial flights are due from August 9 as a temporary daily trans-Tasman service between Auckland and Sydney.

Air New Zealand's first fully scheduled Boeing 787-9 service will be on the Auckland-Perth route from October 15, to be followed by Shanghai and Tokyo before year's end.

The NZ airline opted for a three-class layout comprising 18 lie-flat business class seats (shown below), 21 new-design premium economy seats plus 263 standard economy seats.

Read: our reviews of Air New Zealand's Boeing 787-9 business classpremium economy and economy seats


ANA recieves the world's second Boeing 787-9 this month and will whisk it into rapid service on a special charter flight on August 4 from Tokyo's Haneda Airport over Mount Fuji.

ANA's first Boeing 787-9 will sport a domestic two-class configuration with a compact Premium Class cabin of 18 seats plus 377 economy seats for an overall tally of 395.

Scheduled domestic routes within Japan will follow through to April 2015, when a new wave of internationally-configured 787-9s will begin international service.

United Airlines

The same month that Air New Zealand starts Boeing 787-9 flights between Auckland and Perth, United will bring its first 787-9 'down under' to open a new direct service between Los Angeles and Melbourne from October 28.

At an average of 15 hours this trans-Pacific trek will showcase the Dreamliner's jetlag-busting traits such as lower effective cabin altitude, higher humidity and fresher air. 

United’s Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners will carry 252 passengers, with 48 business class seats in the pointy end (shown below), a sizeable 'economy plus' cabin of 88 seats and a further 116 standard economy seats.

Read: United Airlines tells "why Melbourne got our first Boeing 787-9"

Virgin Atlantic

Virgin Atlantic will be the first European airline to add the Boeing 787-9 to its fleet and will launch the Dreamliner onto the London-Boston route on October 29, after taking delivery of its first 787-9 in late September.

Washington DC, Newark and New York's JFK airport are expected to follow from December 2014 through to February 2015.

The fleet will be configured with 31 seats in 'Upper Class' business class, 35 in premium economy and 198 in economy.

Virgin Atlantic chairman Richard Branson says that Virgin's Dreamliners will be slick and, well, very Virgin with "completely new seats, completely new entertainment systems, completely new bars, a completely new lighting system."

“It’s going to look stunning and will give Virgin Atlantic a real shot in the arm" the billionaire Brit promised, adding that he is also keen to bring the larger Boeing 787-10 into the fleet.

Read: Virgin Atlantic mulls Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner

Etihad Airways 

Etihad Airways' first Boeing 787-9 will take to the skies in December this year with inaugural services from Abu Dhabi to Dusseldorf, followed by Washington DC, Mumbai, and from June 2015, Brisbane and Moscow.

A stand-out feature will be an all-new first class suite designed specifically for the Boeing 787-9.

The eight 'First Suites' are arranged in a 1-2-1 configuration with curved aisles between them, to not only provide slightly more useable space but also to make the cabin feel even more private.

The centre suites can be joined to create a double bed for travelling companions.

Boasting a 26 inch wide Poltrona Frau lounge chair that converts to a comfortable 80.5-inch long fully-flat bed, like the First Apartments on the A380, leather upholstery and three different colour schemes also make an appearance.

Complete with in-seat massage, an ottoman with space for carry-on storage, a 23" x 20" dining table, a personal wardrobe and chilled mini-bar fridge, the elaborate suite also sees an inflight chef on hand to prepare a la carte five-star meals throughout the flight.

There are also 28 of Etihad's new Business Studios, which bring elements of suite design into business class.

The Business Studios are arranged in a 1-2-1 'dovetail' configuration so that every passenger has direct access to the aisle.

The centre studios are ideal for guests travelling together but have a full height screen between the seats if you value privacy over sociability, and at meal times, there's a sturdy 16" x 18" dining table.

The suite has a 22 inch wide seat and separate ottoman, which together form a lie-flat bed up to 80.5 inches (2.04 metres) long.

Each passengers gets a side table for parking their laptop, tablet, books and other items plus room beneath the ottoman for carry-on items and shoes.

Finally, there are 199 of the new Economy Smart Seats.

However, Etihad will also configure half of its 787 fleet as a two-class version which will drop the First Suites for a larger business class cabin and possibly an additional mini-cabin for economy.

Read: Etihad Boeing 787's in three-class and two-class versions


Singapore Airlines' low-cost offshoot Scoot will receive its first Boeing 787-9 in November this year and then take delivery of as many as one per month from February 2015 to June 2015.

Scoot expects its Boeing 787-9 inaugural flight to take wing in December and while Sydney is high on the shortlist, a spokesperson for the airline tells Australian Business Traveller that "no firm decision has been made yet" as to which city will first be graced by its big yellow and white bird.

Scoot aims to retire all six of its Boeing 777-200s, which were handed down from Singapore Airlines, by the middle of 2015 and shift to an all-Boeing 787 fleet in order to parlay the Dreamliner's increased fuel efficiency into a healthier bottom line.

The airline has 20 Boeing 787s on order, split into ten of the original Boeing 787-8 and ten of the larger, longer-range 787-9.

Scoot will receive only Boeing 787-9s until the middle of 2015, at which point the first of 10 smaller 787-8s will arrive. These will pack the same seats as the 787-9 but with a total seatcount down to around 330.

Scoot's Boeing 787-9 will be kitted out with 35 'all-leather' premium seats in ScootBiz class, arranged in a 2-3-2 layout.

Each features include an extendable leg-rest and a 'cradle' recline position.

The bulk of the bird will of course be given over to a sea of 340 economy seats in a 3-3-3 configuration, for a total head count – or should that be bum count – of 375.

Pleasingly, all seats from tip to tail will enjoy access to AC power and "streaming Internet connectivity."

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David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

29 Aug 2013

Total posts 57

Great update, thanks David! It is a shame that you left out the plans for QF's 789's  from the article as I'm sure they will do some amazing things with the jet... Oh wait a minute ;-)

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

20 Sep 2013

Total posts 467

The article is not about QF 789,s but if they ever get it ,well may be 2050 and it will be outdated by then.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

22 Jul 2014

Total posts 25

Scootbiz looks horrible

Emirates Airlines - Skywards

07 Sep 2012

Total posts 149

And UA biz doesn't look much better then most other airlines Premium Economy.

21 Jul 2012

Total posts 128

Please enlighten us, which airline is it that has fully-flat beds with 78" pitch in Premium Economy?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

05 Jun 2014

Total posts 209

Its a budget airline do you really expect it to be a full service product

25 Jan 2014

Total posts 10

Just booked on United's brand new Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner flight  From Melbourne to LAX  late Jan 2015,  what a bargain at  $1,137  dollars for a return flight. Including Lunch over to Lax and dinner on the way back to Melbourne and 1 checked bag at 23 kg's. The dreamliner is an amazing plane, flew on Jetstar's 787 last year to the Gold Coast

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

22 Jul 2014

Total posts 25

Hey I like Planes, I agree with you except take for account your on a 7.5hour flight to Singapore in business class that doesn't even recline far and there is no IFE...but yes it is a budget airline.

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