From our London offices – where plane spotting is a spectator sport – we couldn’t help but notice the 787 Dreamliner gliding into Heathrow on Monday.
It was the Dreamliner’s first leg of a world tour by Boeing to promote its next-gen plane and so naturally, we were a little star struck.
The plane will be making its way to Gatwick on Wednesday after making a fleeting appearance at Manchester Airport on Tuesday.
Brits will have the chance to fly the 787 out of UK airports in 2013 when the first batch of jets take to the skies with charter airline Thomson and British Airways.
Virgin Atlantic, which has 16 Dreamliners on order, will follow suit in 2014.
A short-lived dream?
We’ve all heard great things about the Dreamliner, the new staple of long-haul travel which has been built with fuel efficiency and passenger comfort in mind, from the fuselage up.
But is the Dreamliner really the ‘revolution’ in air travel that it’s touted to be – at least in terms of the passenger experience in economy class?
As impressive as the Dreamliner is on paper – with its lightweight airframe, higher humidity levels aimed at combating jet lag, giant porthole windows and mood lit cabin – in the skies the issue for most travellers has yet to be addressed: leg-room.
Naturally, airlines have little desire to add square inches in economy class. Instead they prefer to please their prized passengers at the front of the plane with fripperies such as lie-flat beds, umpteen varieties of bubbly and Michelin star meals.
Sure the larger overhead locker space and fancy lighting are nice touches, but the Dreamliner still doesn’t offer much of an improvement over the knee crushing experience you get in economy on any airline.
Instead, the improvements you can expect on board are more evolutionary than revolutionary.
But that doesn’t mean airlines aren’t willing to try new things on the Dreamliner.
Thomson Airways is bringing a bar on board its charter flights on the Dreamliner that will offer smoothies, as well as broadband access.
A sign of things changing for the better? Definitely. But enough to compensate for the leg room? That view of course depends on where you’re sitting on the plane.