Friday, January 18, 2013

Dreamliner or Last Tango in BA

For months I have been anticipating our first ride on the 787 Dreamliner.  Shortly after getting our tickets an article in the Wall St Journal said LAN Chile was going to get some of the first new planes. One of their most important routes is the Los Angeles to Santiago trip and we had seats up front thanks to lots of frequent flyer miles.  We were excited. Then the stories began. A JAL flight was aborted in Boston due to a battery fire. Next two more flights, ANA and JAL were in trouble in Japan. Passengers had to slide down the emergency exit slides as smoke filled the cabin. On the morning of our trip the FAA grounded all domestic 787's flights in the US, later in the day the European aviation officials grounded them in Europe. Finally Japanese officials grounded the fleet there too. We had flown from Seattle to LA on Alaska and were scheduled to fly to South America on a 787. As the time of our flight neared I asked the ground staff in LA if we were going to be flying on the 787? They gave me a pained look and said "we do not know." 

     After an hours delay in the waiting area, we boarded the shuttle bus and drove clear out to the end of the runway. There, shining in the sun, was a big beautiful brand new 787. Gail and I walked in and sat down in seats 5A and 5C. The stewardess brought us some ice water and a newspaper, La Segunda, from Santiago. The seats were soft and wide and they reclined into flatbeds. The windows were gigantic. The leg room and headroom were generous. The lighting made the interior space seem larger and more open. The overhead bins huge and the entertainment system suburb. The food, King crab, Ecuadorean shrimp and steak, paired with Chilean Chardonnay and Argentine Malbec wines was memorable. But when we arrived in Santiago CNN announced that all 787 flights had been suspended.  We had to wait an extra hour and fly on to Buenos Aires in an Airbus 320. Not the same experience in the least.  LAN personnel were very apologetic and gave us each a travel voucher for $430 due to the inconvenience. What a great airline.

      Our 787 flight was excellent. 11 hours and 30 minutes, non stop from LA to Chile. No battery fires, no turbulence. Just a magic carpet ride in a plastic-composite airplane, with many thanks to the Boeing engineers and production workers in Seattle for building the best airplane we have ever flown.

      Now, safely in Argentina, sitting at an Apple computer and looking out onto Santa Fe avenue in 90 degree sunshine, I hope they fix the batteries before it is time to go home. Dale

Our Digs in BA


Tolentino's Trivium said...

Oh my!!!!!

Gail said...

Only 50 of these airplanes in the world and we got to ride one. Guess that is a good thing? A bit scary to think our plane was "grounded" in Santiago. Glad we did not know what was going on!