Of the first wave of trans-Pacific routes to be served by United Airlines’ B787 Dreamliners (the first of which is scheduled for delivery this week, click here for the story) – Los Angeles-Tokyo Narita, Los Angeles-Shanghai and Denver-Tokyo Narita – it is Denver, gateway to Colorado's Rocky Mountains, that presents a new frontier for Asian travellers.
Set to undergo a certification programme through non-commercial test flights around the US, the aircraft is expected to fly officially between United’s Houston hub and Denver on November 4, followed by its first international service between Houston and Lagos on January 7, 2013 and the rest of the roster.
Walter Dias, United's managing director, Greater China and Korea, said Denver remained one of the US’s leading hubs that had weak links to Asia. “There is definitely oil business there that goes to Northern China through Tokyo, but until now there are no direct flights between Denver and our region.”
He predicted tourism traffic to increase with the new service, especially with the growing number of Asians taking up and becoming addicted to skiing. Colorado’s ski and ski boarding resorts – an estimated 26 major ones – are acknowledged as world-class.
Interior shots of the Dreamliner cabin
Inflight service executives, according to Dias, are working to upgrade menus on flights between the US and Asia to feature more Asian flavours and entrees, as well as include more Mandarin and Cantonese entertainment features in the IFE system.
Work is also now beginning to equip over 300 United aircraft with wifi, provided by Panasonic, starting with the B747 fleet. This is good news especially for economy class passengers on this model of aircraft, as there are no in-seat TV monitors at the back end. Said Dias: “With more people carrying a personal device, we thought it more expeditious to provide wifi, so we could just stream the entertainment content into their gadgets. Then, it becomes a greener way to fly and saves on fuel. We are really excited about this.”
On September 25, United started offering through check-in at the Dongguan Ferry Pier for passengers bound for flights departing from Hong Kong International Airport. Dongguan is one of southern China's biggest manufacturing hubs. Currently, no other US carrier provides this service in any Pearl River Delta port.
For more about the airline, visit www.united.com
Margie T Logarta