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Plane Spotting: Who’s Flying the Boeing 787 Dreamliner?

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Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner was one of the most anticipated new planes when it was being developed in the early 2000s. The company was looking to replace its 767 aircraft with a more fuel-efficient midsize, long-range wide-body jet with twin engines.

Boeing implemented the use of carbon fiber composites—which are as strong as but lighter than traditional materials—into the 787. The weight reduction makes the Dreamliner 20 percent more fuel-efficient than the 767—and that’s a major reason why airlines such as All Nippon Airways, Japan Airlines, United and Air Canada all placed orders.

In contrast to Airbus humongous A380, the Dreamliner is quite a bit more intimate. Depending on the way each airline configures the interior, the Dreamliner can accommodate between 210 and 335 people. That’s a far cry from the 853 people that can be accommodated aboard the A380!

LAN 787 Dreamliner
LAN 787 Dreamliner

The Dreamliner was plagued by production delays throughout its development, and when the first 787 was finally delivered—to All Nippon Airways on September 25, 2011—it was three years behind schedule. Still, aviation enthusiasts vied for seats via auction on the inaugural flight.

Things went well for a short time, but then a series of in-service incidents marred the airplanes debut, starting with a Japan Airlines flight suffering a fuel leak on January 8, 2013. In addition to fuel leaks reported by several airlines, there was a fire aboard an Ethiopian aircraft. The issue related to the 787s lithium-ion batteries, and that ultimately grounded all Dreamliners from January 16, 2013, through April 27, 2013, while Boeing redesigned the battery system. Performance has improved significantly, and Dreamliner 787’s continue to become an important part of many airline fleets. As of April of this year Boeing has sold 140 aircraft to airlines around the world.

Who Flies the 787 Dreamliner?

Here’s a snapshot of the airlines currently flying the 787, their routes and the cabin classes offered.

All Nippon Airways (ANA)

Routes: From Narita, ANA flies the 787 to Beijing, Shanghai and San Jose. It also flies to a variety of cities from Haneda, including Beijing, Sapporo, Hiroshima, Frankfurt, Okinawa, Osaka and Taipei Song Shan, among others.

Cabins: ANA flies three versions of the 787: two versions have business and economy class cabins, while the third also offers 21 premium economy seats. There are two versions of business class seats: Business Staggered on new 787s and the original Business Cradle.

British Airways

British Airways Club World
British Airways Club World

Routes: British Airways currently flies its 787 Dreamliners between London and Toronto, Newark, Austin and Hyderabad. Additional routes to Chengdu, Philadelphia, Calgary and Chennai are being added throughout the year.

Cabins: The airline decided to configure its eight Dreamliners with three cabins: Club World (35 seats), World Traveller Plus (25 premium economy seats) and World Traveller (154 economy seats). If you’re flying Club World, consider selecting a seat in the intimate and quiet minicabin, which consists of just two rows: 6 and 7.

China Southern Airlines

China Southern First Class Skybed
China Southern First Class Skybed

Routes: The first Dreamliner route flown by China Southern was Guangzhou to Beijing. The airline now flies its 787 from Guangzhou to Paris, Vancouver, London and Auckland.

Cabins: China Southern is the only airline that installed a first class cabin on its 787s. There are four first class Skybeds, plus 24 business class seats and an economy cabin that accommodates 200.

Japan Airlines

Japan Airlines Shell Flat Neo Business Seats
Japan Airlines Shell Flat Neo Business Seats

Routes: Japan Airlines flies 787s from both Narita and Haneda. From Narita you can find flights to Boston, San Diego, Honolulu, Vancouver, New York, Frankfurt, Helsinki, Moscow, Paris and Jakarta. The Haneda flight goes to San Francisco.

Cabins: There are just two cabins aboard Japan Airlines Dreamliners: 42 business class seats in the JAL Shell Flat Neo configuration and 144 economy seats.


Routes: LAN was the first Latin American carrier to adopt the 787 and used the aircraft to fly from Santiago, Chile–Lima, Peru then on to New York, Los Angeles and Frankfurt.

Cabins: LAN has a spacious premium business class cabin seating 30 and space to accommodate 217 people in economy.

LOT Polish Airlines

Routes: From Warsaw, LOT’s Dreamliners head to New York, Chicago, Toronto, Beijing, Tbilisi and Toronto.

Cabins: There are 18 business class, 21 premium economy and 213 economy seats.

Qatar Airways

Routes: Qatar flies its 787s out of Doha and goes to Dubai, London, Manchester, Frankfurt, Munich and Zurich.

Cabins: The business class cabin is configured for 22 people, while economy holds 232.


United BusinessFirst
United BusinessFirst

Routes: A wide range of routes are available via United on its 787s. From Houston you can go to Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, Newark, London or Lagos. From Denver, head to Tokyo or Narita; from Los Angeles, Narita or Shanghai.

Cabins: United installed 36 BusinessFirst seats, 70 Premium Economy and 113 Economy.

Ethiopian Airlines, Air India, Thomson Airways, Norwegian Air Shuttle, Hainan Airlines, Aeromexico, Royal Brunei Airlines, Jetstar Airways and Jetairfly also operate Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft.

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