10 Reasons – Why not to fly with Boeing 787 Dreamliner

Aviation

Over the past 30 years I’ve been flying all across the globe with almost all passenger aircraft you can imagine and with a huge number of different airlines – on long-haul, short-haul, charter, low-cost – for both business and pleasure.

Of course in recent times I was also flying with the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Praised by Boeing and the media for being “a new way of flying and offering unprecedented improvements to passenger comfort” I was very curious to see what it really has to offer.

To make long stories short, travelling in Economy Class I’m really disappointed by this aircraft and not impressed at all. I’m avoiding flying with it wherever I can and I suggest to all people traveling on long-haul doing the same. The plane is OK for short-haul hops between big cities, but for long-haul it’s horrible!

But why is that?

See, I’m 6.3ft tall (1,91m) but very skinny. I’m very sensitive when it comes to seating comfort and I’ve an expert’s eye on build quality, functionality and materials.
Most cabin improvements I see are actually steps backwards, decreasing comfort compared to older cabin and seat designs.

Of course, the 787 offers less fuel consumption because of using light-weight materials. This is an improvement and step in the right direction to save costs (for the airlines, not for the passengers) and reduce fossil burning. But the reduced weight not only comes from a new way of building the fuselage and components like wings and stabilizers, but also from stripping down the entire cabin, removing anything that adds any extra weight, no matter how minimal, and replacing the already cheap materials with even cheaper ones. This reduces passenger comfort in almost any aspect, but was sold by Boeing Marketing as “big improvements and futuristic cabin design”.
So, basically the airlines are saving money, your ticket prices stay the same or even increase and you’re getting less comfort than before.

Let me show you some examples from a recent flight with LAN Airlines 787 between Europe and South America. Usually I’m flying this route with LAN Boeing 767 or Iberia Airbus A340, A330. So I have a good comparison between “new” and “old”.

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10. Noisy
Boeing promotes the “Dreamliner” to offer a more quiet and relaxing cabin. In reality I cannot notice any big difference to any other modern airliner in terms of noise level. In some aspects I even find it to be more noisy than “regular” airplanes. In any case no particular reason for choosing to fly with the Dreamliner instead of any other plane.

9. Luggage compartments
The 787 Dreamliner offers larger luggage compartments than on any other “older” aircaft. There’s even a mirror to help looking inside. Nice. But this doesn’t help if you can’t reach up there! I’ve never seen so many people standing on seats to reach for their luggage. Another example of bad design.

8. Table design
7 10 Reasons – Why not to fly with Boeing 787 DreamlinerPictures say more than a thousand words. The table is mounted too low. It gets even worse if the seat is put back. Eating in that position promises to be “fun”.
To reduce weight, the table is made smaller than on other planes. It also doesn’t feature an edge to stop the tray from sliding down.

7. Seat pocket
6 10 Reasons – Why not to fly with Boeing 787 DreamlinerWe have the year 2015, and still the old-school metal frame of the 787 seat pocket is maltreating my knees? How unconfortable is that? Come on, today there’re already plenty of other aircrafts/airlines/seat designs that have done this right nicely! No issue on Iberia A340! Acceptable on short-haul but not on a 10+ hours long-haul flight.

6. Build quality
5 10 Reasons – Why not to fly with Boeing 787 DreamlinerIn general I’m missing attention to detail and build quality in the entire cabin. All feels very cheap, too cheap. A good example for the very poor quality are the cup holders. On all my 787 flights, these have been broken on almost any seat I could see from my position. Why? Because the design of those things is that cheap that it breaks after using a few times.
The plastics used in the cabin are that cheap, that, for example, you can dent the overhead light/air panel with your finger, if using the air nozzle.
No attention to detail at all, you can also see in the fact, that Boeing is using identical wall panels on both, the left and the right side of the cabin, probably to save costs. Because of that, the blue LEDs on the element to control window tinting is on the wrong side if sitting on the left hand side of the plane. No major issue at all but not the level of quality and innovation they are always promoting.

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5. Seat spacing
4 10 Reasons – Why not to fly with Boeing 787 DreamlinerAlready said that the Boeing 787 virtually forces airlines to squeeze in seats, just look at this picture + size comparison. Do YOU want to sit there 10+ hours? I don’t! That’s why I’m preferring to fly with LAN Boeing 767 that offers more room on the same route. (Hey @LAN, why not sell your 787 tickets for a cheaper price than your regular tickets? Would only be fair! Less comfort = cheaper price)

4. 3-3-3 Seat Configuration
A 3-X-3 seat configuration is highly unpopular amongst the majority of international long-haul passengers, surveys have proven. The Boeing 787 3-3-3 (9-abreast) configuration squeezes in as many extra seats as possible. To recover the high costs for purchasing the 787 and to reach the advertised rate for reduced fuel consumption per-passenger. The nine-abreast seating of the Boeing 787 gives passengers less space than on any other jet. Even less space than a 10-abreast 777 or a 737! Way more space on a LAN 767 than on LAN 787! Only exception is ANA with a 2-4-2 layout that features wider seats and more space.
B767, A340, A330 – all offer the more loved 2-X-2 layout.

3. In-seat screen
3 10 Reasons – Why not to fly with Boeing 787 DreamlinerWell, I don’t really know what the engineers have done here, but the in-seat screen cannot be tilted! The entire screen is fixed and cannot be moved in any direction. This is a no-go! If the guy in front of you is putting his seat back down – that’s the end for you seeing anything on your screen. What a “great” innovation.

2. 787 Arm Rest
2 10 Reasons – Why not to fly with Boeing 787 DreamlinerThe Boeing 787 arm rest is tiny! Any full-grown man has problems finding any comfort on this tiny thing of cheap, hard plastic. It’s too short, too small and because the surface consists of two different kinds of plastic, you get painful pressure mark on your elbow.

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1. 787 Seat Design
1 10 Reasons – Why not to fly with Boeing 787 DreamlinerThe seat is uncomfortable as hell! I get back pain almost instantly after taking the seat. This is because they introduced “back support” into the seat. In reality it seems the seat was stripped down, removing all “old-styled” seat cushions to reduce weight. In addition the seats became more narrow and slim to fit in more seats. On the LAN 767 serving the same route, the seats are far more relaxing and comfortable. Iberia A340 offers better seating comfort, too.

So, if you’re traveling on long-haul and if there’s any alternative, you should definitely avoid flying with the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. It doesn’t give you any advantage over regular planes and offers worse passenger comfort.

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7 Comments
  1. Debbie Brown Martin

    I guess you have the message by now. Boeing only produces the aircraft, The airline configures the aircraft the way they want them. From the carpet up.

  2. MegaZone

    As others have said, this article is ignorant bullshit. Only two of these 10 issues are tied to the aircraft – noise and luggage compartments. Noise is mostly the design and build of the airframe – materials, sound proofing, etc. Objective decibel measurements show the B787 is one of the quietest widebody airliners, but different people perceive sound differently so it is a bit subjective in experience. And really, the author says it seems to be about the same – so hardly a reason not to fly the B787.

    The overhead luggage compartments are provided by Boeing. I’m not sure on the specifics of the B787, on some models there are options for different designs, but Boeing touts the designs as their own. But I’ve seen people climbing on seats on the A330, B767, B747, etc. It depends on the passengers really.

    Every other item is related to the airline, not Boeing or the B787. There are a number of different interior options and the airline selects them. They decide on the seat layout, the seat pitch, the specific design and materials of the seats, the IFE (In-Flight Entertainment) system, etc. That’s customer-provided equipment. If you have a problem with it, it is the airline – not the B787 – that you have an issue with.

    • Hector

      I am sorry to say every word of the article is truth, just made Bogota Madrid in this aircraft and was the most uncomfortable flight ever.

  3. wanderlust

    I guess you just flew LAN,nothing wrong with that, FYI,airlines order the interiors. This is not objective and assuming you often write articles, this is unacceptable information for passengers. This article might describe your personal reasons why not to fly again on a 787 A/C,which is valid for YOU, but it is inaccurate and not a reality.
    I would like to share some reasons to fly 787s: Hepa filters (way much better air and …no odors)
    Pressurization adjusted to 6,000 ft (less jetlag),
    Lights adjusted to optimize your rest (less jetlag).
    Super quiet.
    Wings adjusts when turbulence is sensed (sensors are located around the A/C).
    Eco friendly.
    State of the art navigational system.
    Super fast , 650 miles per hour (you can feel the difference specially on a Long Haul trip)
    Dimming system on windows.
    Great entertainment on android- based -really -big -touch screens.
    Extra leg room (specially rows 6 ,ABC the best seats, and row 24)
    Excellent baby friendly features.
    lots of room to stow your carry on bags.
    Spacious lavatories, normally 8 throughout the cabin, with automatic lid on WC a sensor, so you don’t use you hands to flush or close the lid or press the faucet to wash your hands, hygiene facts.
    And not to mention the Recaro seats that normally airlines order, but , I guess seats is your department!
    etc. etc…
    I fly an average of 100 hrs a month on these babies…

  4. Jeremy Patient

    I have flown 787 with Air New Zealand and highly recommend it. As mentioned by others the airlines select seats and other components and they are not standard across all airlines that operate the same aircraft.

  5. Mario

    I’m yet to fly on the dreamliner but I have read lots of reviews on the Boeing 787 experience. According to all the reviews, the Boeing 787 is one of the quietest aircraft in service. In fact, the only commercial aircraft quieter than the B787 is the A350 (probably because it’s newer). So it’s surprising and almost unbelievable that you find the B787 to be noisier than ‘regular’ airliners. Though it would have helped our understanding if you had defined ‘regular’ in this context.

    You rightly pointed out that the Boeing 787 offers a larger luggage compartment than ‘older’ aircraft. Yet according to you, its ‘another example of bad design.’ How is it so? Isn’t larger luggage compartment one of the things passengers like about the Boeing 787?

    All the other points you raised depend on the airlines. It’s the airlines that determine the IFE system, seat design, seat quality, seat configuration including seat width and seat pitch. Airlines even go as far as determining the number of lavatories and where they are located on board the aircraft.

    If you really want to compare the Boeing 787 to other aircraft, then talk about fuel efficiency, aerodynamics, turbulence tolerance, mood lighting, cabin pressurization, navigational system, cruising altitudes etc. Otherwise, you’re just comparing airlines.

    The Boeing 787 is an innovative and game-changing aircraft with lots of selling points. If an airline decides to be ungenerous with seat pitch and seat widths, it’s not B787 or Boeing’s problem. After all, a couple of airlines have chosen to go 10-abreast on the A350 which Airbus has no problem with. I’m sure you know that Air Asia flies their A330s in 9-abreast configuration (16.3″ seat width) and that doesn’t mean that the A330 is an uncomfortable aircraft.

    It’s okay if you don’t love the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Not because there are reasons to hate it, but because you have the right to. However, that will never change the fact that the Boeing 787 Dreamliner is a game changer.

  6. PHb787

    A lot of your complains are merely the interior design of the airplanes. The interior design varies mainly with every companies, not with each model of airplanes. Your argument is invalid. Go file a complain with LAN or give 787 another try by a different airline, or even better: do both 🙂
    (sorry for my poor English)

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