KLM’s Boeing 787 Dreamliner has been flying for a month, now—a shiny, new aircraft brimming with the latest technology. I was offered a peek inside and—being the curious person I am—I tried everything I was allowed to get my hands on. So, what’s new? Which buttons are the handiest to know about? Which features make for a more pleasant trip?
1. The IFE console
Let me start with an exception—the “button” (as it were) that controls the entertainment. It’s not really a button at all, but a complete console, the sort you find on gaming computers. This makes it very easy to scroll through all the films, games, and music. Or, if you prefer, you can push right on the touchscreen. Feel like talking to someone? Using your entertainment system, you can set up a chat with other passengers who have logged into Seat Chat. So, you can send a message that reads, “Hey, 21-B, where are you headed?”
2. The air valve
The cockpit is equipped with a switch that regulates airflow. Of course, passengers don’t have access to that, but the airflow in the 787 is an enormous asset. The aircraft hull is outfitted with an air intake which, rather like a fish’s gill, can open to let air in. This source of fresh air is external and does not run through the engines (as on other aircraft).
3. The espresso machine button
In the galley situated right behind World Business Class, I have discovered the key to the brown-gold elixir: the espresso machine—complete with milk-foamer—so I can have an espresso macchiato at the flip of a switch. If you’re flying in World Business Class, I’d certainly recommend that you ask the cabin crew to make you a lovely cup of UTZ-certified sustainable coffee.
There is also a touchscreen with about ten different light programmes. The cabin crew choose the ambient lighting to suit the moment. When you first board the aircraft, the lighting will be bright and cool. During takeoff, it takes on a warmer tinge. During your meal, it transitions into a warm yellow—dinner by candlelight, as it were. When sleeping time is over, a four-minute soft-pink programme mimics the dawn to help you wake up. It’s remarkable to see just how you can create a different mood with lighting. I think these are the best buttons in the entire aircraft.
5. The baggage bin button
This is a sliding button that can move in two directions. It allows you to open the bin by moving up or down. The bin opens slowly to reveal an extremely spacious baggage bin. Very inventive and extremely user friendly.
6. The window dimmer
I just love this one! I think I pushed it about thirty times. The button is round and has five lights on the side. So each passenger can determine just how much light they want. When you push on the button, it activates an electronic gel that darkens the window. There are five settings (besides full light) from light twilight to full night-time.
You have to be a patient though — the window needs a little time to reach the desired setting. So don’t keep jamming the button again and again ;). By the way, did you know that the Dreamliner’s windows are about 30% larger than in other aircraft?
7. The seat button
This one is going to make you happy. The seats in World Business Class are flatbeds that let you stretch out fully. With a push of the button, your seat turns into a bed. You can stretch out your legs under seat in front of you. That makes any long trip a lot more pleasant. It’s pretty good in Economy Class as well. There, the seats can lean back 40% farther than in other aircraft. So you can really relax during your trip.
I’m curious—have you already flown on the Dreamliner? If so, which button did you think was absolutely indispensable?