Commercial aviation’s newest aircraft, the Boeing 787, has made headlines for its dramatic fuel savings, more comfortable cabin pressure and humidity and larger windows. Many of the new features are owed to its carbon-fibre fuselage (traditional airframes are made of aluminum). Unfortunately, in the last few weeks, the aircraft has been making headlines due to a series batteries overheating and in one case, catching fire.
The entire global fleet of 787s has been grounded by safety authorities while the issue is investigated. No one yet knows when they’ll be back in the air, but there is little expectation that it will be before the end of February (as of January 31, authorities still don’t know the cause of the problem). So, what are airlines doing about the grounding and why are you still seeing the 787 listed in flight displays?
Airlines like United, which has 6 of the 787 aircraft, are proactively substituting different aircraft on the routes where the 787 was scheduled to fly. In our recent searches, it appears that they making the substitutions for flights within 2-3 weeks. So, if you look for a late February flight from LA to Tokyo on United, you might see it scheduled on the 787.
Your instinct may be to avoid that flight, but we’ve seen that United has been replacing the 787 with the larger 777, which means that no passengers should be displaced by the aircraft substitution. Do note however, that your reserved seat may change in the process.