First U.S. Dreamliner Revenue Flight Arrives Early

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The first revenue flight for a Boeing 787 Dreamliner touched down at O'Hare International Airport at 9:37 a.m. CST Sunday, about 10 minutes ahead of schedule but not a moment too soon for executives at United Airlines. "We've been waiting a long time for this," said CEO Jeff Smisek. He would have waited longer had United not bought out Continental Airlines last year. The aircraft that flew Flight 1116 was part of Continental's order and originated at its Houston hub, packed mostly with journalists and VIPs. Continental and United each ordered 25 Dreamliners but Continental was first. Only some of the 219 passengers were fare-paying customers and virtually all of them were "first flight" enthusiasts who wanted to be aboard the historic flight.

The flight started out with a few bumps as it battled the tail of a front that prompted a somewhat circuitous route to the west. The two-hour flight was part of the shakedown of the aircraft that will see it and the first few others joining the fleet staying close to home for a few months. The 787 was designed for intercontinental service and the first such United flight will go from Houston to Amsterdam on Dec. 4, followed by scheduled service from U.S. hubs to Japan, Nigeria and London in following months. Delivery delays of the next few Dreamliners have forced changes to the initial flight schedule.