United already operates 10 Boeing 787-8 Dreamliners, on which it seats 219 passengers. With its fuselage stretched by 20 feet, the 787-9 will be configured with 252 seats, including 48 in BusinessFirst and 204 in economy. Of the economy seats, 88 will be EconomyPlus with added legroom.
United is the U.S. launch customer for the 787-9. On Sunday, Boeing rolled the first 787-9 out of the paint hangar, painted in a black color scheme for global launch customer Air New Zealand.
The 787-9 can fly 300 nautical miles farther than the 787-8. United will fly the 787-9 on the world's longest 787 route, Los Angeles-Melbourne, where it will begin six-flights-a-week service in October. The route is 7,927 miles.
"The 787-9 is an amazing aircraft that builds on the 787-8's proven fuel efficiency, performance and customer comfort," said Ron Baur, United's vice president of fleet, in a prepared statement. "It gives us even more flexibility and range to capitalize on our extensive worldwide route network."
In 2013, United's 787 had the highest customer satisfaction scores of any aircraft in its fleet, the carrier said. To date, United has flown its 787 fleet more than 30,000 hours on over 4,400 flights. The airline has 55 more Dreamliners on order.
-- Written by Ted Reed in Charlotte, N.C.
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