First United Airlines Boeing 787-9 is almost ready

United's first 787-9, which it will fly from L.A. to Melbourne, is just about ready to fly for the carrier. Photo: United.

United’s first 787-9, which it will fly from L.A. to Melbourne, is just about ready to fly for the carrier. Photo: United.

The first United Airlines Boeing 787-9 has rolled off the assembly line in Everett, Wash., the carrier said this week.

This will be the airplane United uses on the Los Angeles to Melbourne, Australia route, a flight the airline intends to begin in October. It will be operated six times per week.

Yes, United already has 787s, but those are 787-8s. This is a new version. It’s 20 feet longer than United’s current 787 fleet, and it carries 30 more passengers. It also has slightly longer range. It can fly an additional 300 nautical miles, according to United.

Boeing is actually using the United airplane to secure certification for the 787-9 program. It’s one of five airplanes being used that way, United said.

According to Forbes, the L.A.-Melbourne route will be the world’s longest 787 flight, atĀ 7,927 miles.

Air New Zealand is officially the launch customer for the new model. Boeing published some photos of Air New Zealand’s first planeĀ earlier this week.

Air New Zealand Boeing 787-9

 

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New Star Alliance lounge at LAX will have outdoor lounge chairs and fire pits

Above, an early rendering of what the new Star Alliance lounge at LAX will look like.

Above, an early rendering of what the new Star Alliance lounge at LAX will look like.

If you have access to the new Star Alliance lounge at Los Angeles International Airport, you’ll be in for a unique outdoor experience.

The lounge for elite and premium cabin passengers on some airlines will feature an outdoor patio with lounge chairs for sun bathing, an outdoor bar, fire pits and a water feature, airport officials told me Thursday. The space in the almost finished new Tom Bradley International Terminal will have sweeping views of downtown Los Angeles and the airfield.

“You’ll be able to enjoy the sunshine of Southern California,” said Mike Doucette, project manager for Los Angeles World Airports. “And daytime or nighttime, you’ll be able to watch planes approach on an outdoor balcony that’s landscaped and has a bar area on it.”

Outdoor clubs are a relatively new phenomenon, and Delta Air Lines has been rolling them out in New York and Atlanta with great fanfare. But despite the great weather in Southern California, all the airline clubs at LAX are indoors. This should represent a welcome change for premium Star Alliance customers flying internationally.

Air New Zealand will be running the LAX club on behalf of the other members of the alliance, which include Swiss, Lufthansa, Eva Air, Singapore Airlines, Turkish Airlines and Thai Airways. (A full list of carriers can be found here, though not all those airlines will serve the new international terminal).

Doucette said original plans for the lounge did not include an outdoor element. But he said airline officials decided they wanted more space, and an outdoor patio seemed like a good place to put more seating.

“We’re trying to create something that is symbolic of Los Angeles and the California lifestyle,” Doucette said.

The new lounge should be ready for passengers in August or September, when the new terminal is expected to open. Until then, premium and elite passengers will have to wait for flights in the quaint but relatively small existing Star Alliance lounge.

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