United Airlines says all new 787 aircraft delivered from this month forward will be outfitted with in-flight Wi-fi upon delivery from Boeing, an important perk for many business travelers.
The first aircraft outfitted with the new system was delivered to United in early September. It's United's first 787-9, a bigger aircraft that can fly slightly longer distances than the original model, dubbed 787-8.
United was the first North American customer for the 787-8, receiving its first aircraft in 2012. The aircraft was state-in-the art in just about every way, but it was not delivered with onboard internet. Eventually, United will probably need to retrofit its 11 older 787-8s to install connectivity.
The good news is United is still planning to take delivery of about 50 787-9s and 787-10s, all of which will come from the factory with Internet. I'd argue that's a necessity in today's competitive environment.
United's first 787-9 is expected to start flying later this month on domestic runs between Los Angeles and Houston. Its first international route starts on Oct. 26, a new nonstop from Los Angeles to Melbourne, Australia. According to Ted Reed of Forbes, that will be the longest route flown by a 787. United is also expected to fly the new 787-9 between Los Angeles and Shanghai starting in March 2015.
The 787-9 has a range of 8,550 miles, or about 350 more miles than the 787-8. In United's configuration, the 787-9 will have 252 seats. The 787-8 has 219 seats in United's configuration.