DREAMLINER DANCING DEBUT
As Qatar’s Airways multi-million dollar Dreamliner taxied to Terminal 4 at Heathrow it nearly ended up at the wrong gate but for a quick thinking pilot performing a nifty maneuver and saved blushes all round.
With Qatar Airways CEO Mr Akbar Al Baker on the flight it would have been slightly embarrassing if the plane had come to a stop one gate from where all the invited guests had been waiting. Some frantic waving by the airport marshalling team and the 250-ton Boeing skipped to the left and was back on track to the correct gate.
Mr. Al Baker along with His Excellency Michael O’Neill, British Ambassador to the State of Qatar was extremely pleased to be in London although Mr. Al Baker did have some scathing words to the makers of the plane he had just spent 7 hours in from Doha. He was referring to the fact that one of three Dreamliner planes they had ordered from Boeing was grounded with technical problem the same that had affected United one recently. Mr. Al Baker said he was “disappointed” by the current situation.
Qatar Airways’ 787 is the first Dreamliner to operate scheduled flights to and from the UK. Qatar Airways has 30 Dreamliners on order with a possibility that it could be as many as 60 in the total.
This first visit was also a chance for travel media representatives including thetraveltrunk.net to have a ‘first hand’ and close-up view of the brand $200 million aircraft.
There are a whole range of things that make this plane different from may current passenger jets, the 787 is made of much more composite materials than other planes use. In fact composite materials make up 50 percent of the primary structure of the 787 including the fuselage and wing.
In flight the cabin air pressure is lower and also moister which it is claimed makes for a better air travel experience, with some passengers feeling that they arrived at their destinations more relaxed and less tired or less ‘frazzled’ as one put it. In size it is fairly similar to that of a 767 but the width of the body does give an open feel in the main cabin area. The high ceiling with quite large looking overhead lockers and windows that are some 30 per cent larger than on a 767 confirmed this to the many journalists that were invited on board.
If you are lucky to be turning left on entering the plane you will be in the business section where the angled flat bed seating gives a cosy and relaxing premier passenger area.
The 787-8 version can carry from 210 to 250 passengers for distances up to 8,200 nautical miles and from a plane operator’s point of view have savings of 20 percent in fuel consumption in planes of a similar size.
If flying from Heathrow and you have access to the Qatar Airways lounge then you are in for a treat there too and as Mr. Al Baker says London is an important operating centre for them “The Doha – Heathrow route is one of our most popular international routes and it was only fitting that we deploy our 787 to and from London.”
Qatar Airways has 254 custom-made seats across its 787. Business and Economy Class cabins have specially designed interiors, Business Class is configured 1–2–1 with 22 seats, while Economy has 232 seats in a 3–3–3 layout.
The airline’s 787s are the world’s first fully connected planes Dreamliners with wireless facilities for passengers so they can remain in touch with their friends and loved ones on the ground through the internet and SMS mobile texting across both the Business and Economy cabins.
Every seat throughout the 787 has a touch screen system, where passengers are able to navigate through personal handsets an interactive service offering more than 1,000 movie, TV programmes, music and gaming entertainment.
Not all travellers will welcome this ‘fully connected’ cabin as some envy the chance to be away from such every day intrusions but it looks like the mobile phone will truly being going mobile as far as these planes are concerned. If the ambience in the cabin is as good as it seems to be from first reports then this may be the trade off for travellers.