10 years ago, United Airlines became the first US carrier to fly the Boeing 787

The Boeing 787 family is a key part of United Airlines’ day-to-day operations today, but where did it all begin for the former US carrier’s relationship with the Dreamliner? It turns out that the Chicago-based company star alliance founding member was America’s first operator of the 787 and launched the type 10 years ago.

The maiden flight

November 4, 2012 was the date of United Airlinesprimary source of income Boeing flight operated by 787, and the service was born at its Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH). As is often the case with new planes, the carrier chose a domestic route for the 787’s first flight, with flight number UA1116.


This was a service that connected Houston to another United hub, namely Chicago O’Hare International (ORD). FlightRadar24.com shows that flight UA1116 was used most recently on the San Francisco – Tampa route, although last month saw it deployed on Chicago – Houston, the reverse of its first 787 flight.

The image bank of The Airchive shows that the departure time for this special service was 07:20 on the morning of November 4, 2012. Needless to say, however, the excitement generated by the new aircraft type for those on board will have been worth the early start . According to USA Today, it reached Chicago at 9:47 a.m.

United Airlines Boeing 787 Launch Balloons

The aircraft involved

The commercial launch of the Boeing 787 at United Airlines had been quite a long time coming, given that, according to ABC News, the carrier’s first Dreamliner had been unveiled three months earlier, in August 2012. The plane that operated the maiden flight paying was a 787-8 registered N20904.

According to data from ch-aviation.com, this jet first flew on August 19, 2012 and was delivered to United on September 23 of the same year. It has since accumulated, as of July 31, 2022, 38,844 hours over 5,009 flight cycles. Its four-class configuration can accommodate 243 passengers, including 28 in business class flatbeds.

RadarBox.com data shows the plane has been based in Chicago and Washington for the past 12 months, with those two cities being its most common destinations. Outside the United States, its top three destinations are Munich, Amsterdam and Paris, with 68, 66 and 59 movements involving them over the past year.

United Airlines Boeing 787 maiden flight panel

United’s 787 fleet today

United Airlines’ Boeing 787 fleet has grown significantly since becoming the first US carrier to commercially introduce the type 10 years ago. Indeed, it now has 12 copies of the original variant of the 787-8, with an average age of 9.4 years. It just so happens that this version of the Dreamliner is now the least numerous.

Indeed, going up in size, there are 38 mid-size Boeing 787-9s in United’s current fleet, with a much younger average age of just 5.2 years. More recent still, its 14 787-10 Dreamliners with stretched fuselage, which are on average only three years old. United Airlines also has seven more of these planes on order.

Did you know that today was the 10th anniversary of the first flight of United’s 787? Perhaps you were even on board this special service? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments!

Sources: ABC News, ch-aviation.com, FlightRadar24.com, RadarBox.com, The Airchive, USA today

  • United-Airlines-Boeing-777-300(ER)--1
    United Airlines

    IATA/ICAO code:

    Airline type:
    Full service carrier

    Chicago O’Hare International Airport, Denver International Airport, Guam International Airport, Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport, Los Angeles International Airport, Newark Liberty International Airport, San Francisco International Airport, Washington Dulles International Airport

    Year of foundation:

    star alliance

    Scott Kirby

    United States
  • 787-8 Dreamliner

    Stock code:

    Creation date :

    Dave Calhoun

    Head office location:
    Chicago, United States

    Key product lines:
    Boeing 737, Boeing 747, Boeing 757, Boeing 767, Boeing 777, Boeing 787

    Type of company:

Previous AerCap (NYSE:AER) Releases Fiscal 2022 Earnings Guidance
Next The C919 narrow-body aircraft will make its first public appearance at the Chinese air show