United Flight 1209 from Houston landed at 5:22 p.m. on the inaugural day of 787 flights for the carrier. United is the first North American customer for the 787, which is partially constructed from lighter composite materials rather than metal. Flight 1694 was set to return to Houston at 7:47 p.m.
Boeing estimates the new airframe will save airlines roughly 20 percent in fuel compared with similar-sized planes. The plane is also supposed to be more comfortable for passengers: It is pressurized to 6,000 feet above sea level, rather than 8,000 on typical jets, according to Boeing. United's 787 has 36 seats in business class and 183 in coach.
United, which has received two of the 50 787s it has ordered, will be deploying the jet often to LAX. The airline is scheduled to begin daily service to Tokyo with the 787 on Jan. 3 and to Shanghai on March 30. The plane replaces the Boeing 777 on both routes.
"This is the first brand new aircraft for United in a long time," spokeswoman Megan McCarthy said. "We are excited to provide our customers with a better travel experience and our coworkers with a better workplace."