United will soon fly Dreamliners on all of its flights between Chicago and Asia

Nov 21, 2019

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United Airlines flights to Asia from its Chicago O’Hare base will be exclusively flown with Boeing 787s by next fall, with the Boeing 777 disappearing from long-haul flights at the hub.

The Star Alliance carrier will transition its flights between Chicago (ORD) and Shanghai Pudong (PVG) in mid-May, Beijing Capital (PEK) in mid-June, and Tokyo Haneda (HND) next fall to the Dreamliner, it told employees in an internal newsletter earlier in November.

The 787 will replace 777-200s on all three routes, United said. It does not specify which Dreamliner variant will operate each route.

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United plans to transition long-haul flying from Chicago to either Boeing 767-300ERs, primarily those in its “high-J” configuration with an expanded business class cabin, and 787s next year.

The carrier will begin flying the Dreamliner from O’Hare in March. The return an extended hiatus at United’s largest hub will see 787-9s and -10s flying to Brussels (BRU), Frankfurt (FRA) and Munich (MUC) beginning March 28.

After the initial European and now Asian routes, Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG) and São Paulo Guarulhos (GRU) are the only remaining long-haul routes from Chicago without a timeline to shift to the 787.

Related: United Is bringing the Boeing 787 back to Chicago

United’s shift in Chicago comes as it plans to debut its first 787-8s and -9s retrofitted with its Polaris business class hard product by year end. The 787-10s are all outfitted with the seats, as well as its Premium Plus premium economy cabin, from delivery.

United's Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner Polaris cabin shot on the Pixel 3. (Image by Zach Honig / The Points Guy)
The Polaris business class cabin on a United Boeing 787-10. (Image by Zach Honig / The Points Guy)

Patrick Quayle, United’s head of international network planning, told TPG in September that the updated 787s will likely float around the airline’s international network initially once they enter service. However, he hopes to isolate them on ultra long-haul routes, like between Houston (IAH) and Sydney (SYD) or San Francisco (SFO) and Singapore (SIN), as soon as there is a critical mass of aircraft.

Related: Where United Airlines is reducing (and adding) seats this winter

Featured image by Alberto Riva/TPG.

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