Airports, Airlines, Aviation

Flying to Rio on the Dreamliner

Recently, I decided to take a spur of the moment trip to Brazil with some friends and got to do so flying to Rio on the Dreamliner.

Here was my itinerary for Friday, October 7th (2016):

  • DEN-IAH 310PM-626PM UA1874 (787 Dreamliner)
  • IAH-GIG 930PM-925AM UA129 (flying to Rio on the Dreamliner)

My visa and passport came via FedEx overnight from Travisa the morning of October 7th, just in time to make my 310PM flight out of DEN so that I’d be flying to Rio on the Dreamliner. See more about that Visa process here.

I got to DEN around 1PM, with plenty of time to check my bag and TSA Pre-Check my way lickety-split through Jeppeson security in 20 minutes flat (check out tripchi’s #layovertip guide of DEN if you’re new to this airport). I often go through the Concourse A security as it’s often a shorter #travelhack, but since I was flying United this time around and would have to take the train anyways, I did the Jeppeson main security direct to the train to wind up efficiently in Concourse C.

Hello DEN Concourse C, it's been too long
Hello DEN Concourse C, it’s been too long

I had a good amount of time to kill when I hit my gate, and spent the time calling mom and Skyping with friends right up until boarding the plane and flying to Rio on the Dreamliner.

CJ Flying to Rio on the Dreamliner - easy breezy
CJ Flying to Rio on the Dreamliner – easy breezy

I used 30,000 miles and $139.66 to the entire outbound leg, and I booked the flight about 5 days in advance. There was plenty of availability which made flying to Rio on the Dreamliner both cheap and stress-free.

Tinted windows while flying to Rio on the Dreamliner
Tinted windows while flying to Rio on the Dreamliner

The key to surviving this long economy-class trip while flying to Rio was that both legs were on the posh Dreamliner Boeing 787 aircraft. The flight to Houston/IAH was a breeze and I had a window seat where I could play with the cool tinted windows on the aircraft (31L).

After a quick 90 minute flight to Houston, one movie on the amazing new United in-flight entertainment system (I chose the 13 hours – Secret Soldiers of Benghazi), and a bitchy flight attendant sitting next to me later (see rant on this blog here), we arrived in Houston early.

In Houston, I killed some time Skyping and then heading to the Red Carpet Club where I had some appetizers. I had brought with me two Club passes that would expire at the end of 2016, and it was high-time to use them. I have to say – it had been years since I had visited a United Red Carpet Club (I used to have annual memberships back in the 2005-2008 period when I was traveling with Unite frequently), and I was pleasantly surprised with the improvement of the food options. I tried a feta and red pepper tomato bisque, a few pieces of Parmesan cheese, some carrots (which actually were delicious dipped in the soup), and a chocolate chip cookie. A perfect snack!20161022_154105

The flight from IAH to GIG (Rio de Janeiro) was on time and I ambled on as usual last minute at the final call to finally finish flying to Rio on the Dreamliner 787. No need to hurry on-board since it would be another 10 hours since I would be able to stretch my legs. The aircraft was another comfy Dreamliner and I again had a window seat, 35K. There was a Brazilian man on the aisle but an empty middle seat between us, so we were able to spill over and stretch into the seat and shared floor space between us. Much appreciated on this red-eye flight flying to Rio on the Dreamliner!

Dreamliner 787 cabin
Dreamliner 787 cabin

Take off was on-time and I especially enjoyed the United Rio Olympics safety visit centered around Team USA. 20161007_151443

I had requested the East Asian special meal and it came prior to the regular food service. Note – another benefit of ordering the special meal is that you get served first! Of course, they failed to provide silverware, so I actually ended up waited until the regular service came around 😉 The food selection normally was a pasta dish or a chicken, but I was actually quite happy with my East Asian dish which was a veg plate of chickpea/lentil curry, a side of yogurt, and gluten free chocolate chip cookies. A wonderful (and mildly healthy #travelhack).

United in-flight entertainment while flying to Rio on the Dreamliner
United in-flight entertainment while flying to Rio on the Dreamliner

The wonderful United in-flight entertainment system kept me entertained throughout the flight. Two movies (10 Cloverfield and Finding Dory) and 6 hours of restless sleep later, I awoke to a breakfast of a croissant and yogurt and found myself landing in Rio shortly after. We deplaned, wound our way through the GIG airport (a nice 15 minute walk from our gate to immigration), and made it through immigration thankfully in 10 minutes.

Overall rating for my flying to Rio on the Dreamliner experience?

A solid A


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