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A “Betterfly” Experience on-board Royal Brunei’s Boeing 787 Dreamliner

It was a well deserved tick off my aviation bucket List for this year – flying on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. The promises made by Boeing of a more efficient, comfortable, environmental friendly, quieter, roomier, and modern aircraft sounded very dreamy indeed. Alhamdulillah I had a taste of that dream as I joined 98 other passengers on-board Royal Brunei flight BI872 on 19th Oct 2013, the first Boeing 787 flight to depart from KL International Airport (KLIA).

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This is a continuation from my previous post where I shared my experience welcoming the arrival of the first Dreamliner aircraft to KLIA. Click here to read that post.

After a grand welcoming ceremony for the Dreamliner, the VIPs left the gate and boarding process for the passengers started.

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The first impression, as we settled ourselves in seat 32A and 32B.

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The cabin feels roomier thanks to the combination of taller headroom, larger windows, choice of seats and probably to some extend the lighting effects.

“Selamat Datang”

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Thanks to the light load (original pax count was 113 pax) , seat 32C remained unoccupied making it easier for me to move around throughout the flight. The passengers for the flight can be vaguely categorised into four groups – actual passengers that are travelling to Bandar Seri Begawan, the VIPs attending the inaugural flight, passengers that are flying on the flight just to experience Dreamliner and a group of media/tour agents’ representatives. Also on-board was a small group of engineers on standby.

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We were pushed back from the gate slightly behind schedule due to the earlier inaugural flight welcoming ceremony for BI871. It was a joyful moment for many of the passengers as the aircraft started its engine #1.

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As I was busy capturing the action on the tarmac, I saw the pushback truck making a comeback towards the front part of the aircraft. Not a good sign!

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True enough, it wasn’t good news. A few minutes later, the Captain announced that the aircraft need to be towed back to Gate C2 to troubleshoot a “technical glitch” on one of the systems. We went back to the gate and after about 20 minutes, the Captain made another announcement that they would require more time to fix the glitch and the flight was officially re-timed until further notice.

Passengers leaving the plane as Dreamliner once again live up to its negative reputation.

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Royal Brunei Airlines personnel were efficient in managing the situation and passengers were given food vouchers once the engineers confirmed that the fixing would require some time. Not really a dreamy start for #betterfly but this kind of things does happen. Safety is always the highest priority.

I even overheard one of the passengers saying “all we can do is just sit back, relax and enjoy Murphy’s Law :)”

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After waiting for about 3 hours, the aircraft was finally ready to go. V8-DLA ‘s Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines were re-started to verify the fix and the green light was given shortly after for passengers to re-board the aircraft.

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Due to the almost 4 hours delay, a group of day-trippers aviation enthusiasts and media/tour agents’ representatives opted to be off-loaded as they would miss their return flight to KL. Royal Brunei was kind enough to offer opportunities to fly the Dreamliner in the future.

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For my wife and I, we lost half a day of sightseeing opportunity in Brunei but at least we still have half of the next day to check out what Bandar Seri Begawan has to offer.

Re-boarding was faster the second time with only 96 pax and everyone knows where their seats are located. A sense of relieve as the engines were started without any issues and we began taxiing towards Runway 32R. Brunei Airlines is one of the few airlines that recite doa/prayers during pushback.

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Safety demo video for the airline’s Boeing 787 is probably still in the making hence a manual safety demo was carried out by the crew.

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Traffic was quite busy as we had to wait for a couple of flights to take-off before our turn but we were pleased to be given a “speed pass” to be ahead of a couple more A320s that were there before us. Probably due to the fact that we were significantly behind schedule.

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Nice wingview but the ‘wing flex’ action was quite minimal. Probably due to the angle from where I was seating or it could be due to the aircraft being quite light load in terms of pax and fuel. Probably an #AvGeek can advice me on this 🙂

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Once the seatbelt signs were switched off, my other half started enjoying the in-flight entertainment on the 9” touch-screen similar to the ones on Malindo’s 737-900.

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Passengers were given a normal headset but can also use their own single or double 3.5mm ports headphones. By the way the ‘crew call’ button and the ‘reading light on/off’ switch are all part of the ‘touch-screen features’. Based on my observation, multiple times the crew call button was accidentally pressed when the passengers were scrolling the on-screen menu.

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As my wife enjoys the in-flight movies, it was time for me to explore the cabin. The 3-3-3 cabin layout in economy class features seats that are quite comfortable with 32 inch seat pitch in average and seat width of 17.2 inches. The seats have an angle of recline of 6 inches which is quite important for long haul flights.

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Each seats come with adjustable headrest and a fluffy pillow which is quite standard on many wide-body flights.

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All seats are generally OK for long hauls but I would recommend row 26 for maximum leg room/seat pitch. Row 43(photo below) is equally spacious but it is unfortunately a windowless row. For couples, the best seat would be in row 52 and 53. In Economy Class, avoid seat 50A and 50K as both are window-less. For a detailed layout, check out Royal Brunei’s website here.

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Besides the individual USB port for charging at every seat, normal in-seat power are also available with 2 units for every 3 seats. This would be useful for those using their laptops/notebooks in-flight.

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Another unique feature of the Dreamliner is its windows. The windows are 19 inches tall and 65% larger than the standard airplane windows so you’ll get to see a lot more of your surroundings at the same time creates a roomier effect to the cabin.

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The best part of the window is not its size but its innovative dimmer. Say good-bye to the pull-down plastic shade and hello to the electronic dimming window that can be adjusted to let in various amounts of light.

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A few clicks to adjust the dimmer to different settings. On a sunny day, passengers would still be able to enjoy the view without disturbing the rest.

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The dimmer can also be controlled by cabin crew through their centralised system ensuring that during certain times like take-off and landing that the dimmer should be at 0%.

At the height of 41,000 feet, the Captain made an announcement welcoming all passengers to the special flight. The Captain also announced a series of surprises for all passengers, starting with a short “light show”.

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Windows were automatically dimmed and the crew displayed the ability of the cabin lighting system creating various ‘mood lighting’ effects that can be beneficial for passengers travelling long hauls across a few time zones.

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Tn Hj Norman capturing the show on video. Like few others including myself, he flew to Bandar Seri Begawan just to experience being on the first Boeing 787 Dreamliner flight from KL. Next would be the last DC-10 from KL? 😛

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Check-out the size of those windows!

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The next surprise was quite an interesting one. A short violin performance by Shian Li.

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Awesome young talent.

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The last surprise was the distribution of limited edition #RBbetterfly gift pack consist of nice eye shades, travel wallet, USB drive and notepad.

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More awesome items to be added to my collection of aviation related goodies.

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Right after that it was back to the usual routine, in-flight meals were served.

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Delicious meal with a cute dessert.

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The only minor setback was when I was asked by one of the stewards – “Can I have the fork and spoon?” when they were clearing the trays. I had put the cutleries inside the tray and covered it with the foil to make it easier for them to clear. Do I look like I can’t afford a set of plastic cutleries? 🙂

Items inside the seat pocket. No I did not take any of those neither!

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The mandatory tour of the lavatory 🙂

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Descending towards BWN.

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Another milestone for AzuanZahdi.com!

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One for the album!

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Alhamdulillah, our dream to fly the Dreamliner has become a reality. The Boeing 787 is definitely the right kind of plane for long-haul and would give Royal Brunei a competitive edge to compete in the ever competitive airline business. Let’s hope for less problems with the upcoming 787s and soon we could see Brunei becoming a more popular destination for transit to Australia, South East Asia and Europe.

All the best #RBbetterfly @tweeting787!

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7 Comments

  1. Shawn G October 25, 2013 at 7:01 am

    Probably the most complete TR on RB’s 787. Thank you Azuan.

  2. Keyla October 25, 2013 at 7:15 am

    Crew is locals?

  3. STEVE October 29, 2013 at 12:39 am

    HI Great review, could I ask, do you know if the seats in row 53 reclined as usually those at the rear are against a wall?

    Thanks Steve

  4. Desmond January 24, 2014 at 10:06 pm

    I think this is a superb comprehensive review, and I equally like your video on youtube. Well done azuan. Highly informative.

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