• United is deploying its all-new Boeing 787-10 on service between Newark and Los Angeles.
  • The flights offer United's first premium transcontinental service.
  • LAX is one of the most competitive airports in the country.

The Boeing BA 787-10 can travel more than 6,400 miles without having to refuel. United Airlines UAL deploys it on a journey half as long.

United has introduced this week its all-new Boeing 787-10, the largest of the Dreamliner jets, on one of its flights between Newark and Los Angeles. He hopes that servicing the route with the 787, which airlines use most often on long international flights, will give him a boost in the battle of the most lucrative countries. In February, he will start offering a flight between Newark and San Francisco using another flight 787-10. The airline has ordered 14 aircraft. Others will be used on the routes to Europe.

In favor of United, the new aircraft consumes less fuel and carries more passengers than most other planes it uses to cross the country.

The airlines have embarked on the race to improve international connections, looking for well-paying business travelers in major cities like Boston, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York.

Delta Air Lines DAL, for example, began offering Delta One cabins on domestic routes last April, including Boston to Los Angeles and New York to Los Angeles, San Diego and Seattle. The cabins have flat beds and Tumi amenity kits. Travelers can also book meals in advance. JetBlue Airways JBLU has extended its Mint business class service to four west coast cities from Boston and John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. American Airlines AAL operates a three-class cabin – a premiere, a deal and a coach – on its transcontinental service between New York and San Francisco and between New York and Los Angeles. It will add more flights with this configuration from Boston to Los Angeles this spring.

So why does United start in Los Angeles?

Los Angeles International Airport is the most competitive airport of any major US airport – no carrier has more than 18% of seats stolen, according to the consulting firm ICF. In comparison, American Airlines has 90% capacity in Charlotte, North Carolina.

"It's a very valuable route, one of the only ones in the country where there is a significant and paying first-class demand," said Samuel Engel, head of aerospace practices at ICF. He estimates that revenue per passenger on New York flights to Los Angeles and San Francisco and similar routes from Boston are 5 to 10% higher than those of other flights of the same distance.

By mid-April, United had made 11 non-stop departures from Newark to Los Angeles and the remaining 10 were to be operated by a smaller Boeing 757 aircraft. United is also using Boeing 777, its largest Boeing aircraft, to connect Newark to Los Angeles.

The 787-10 will feature 318 seats, including 44 Polaris seats – their highest class of service – and 21 in the premium economy section. This is United's first regular service with economy class tickets, but benefits such as convenience kits and special catering service will not start until March, said a spokesman.

American and United have already used 787 aircraft on other routes across the country, but this service will be the first scheduled non-stop transcontinental service using aircraft.

Travelers can search for the type of plane on the route when booking, but the plane can still change due to mechanical or other problems.

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