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Wheels up: Boeing’s Dreamliner makes inaugural Chicago-to-Warsaw flight

Updated: June 5, 2013 9:47PM

Declaring “Welcome to the future,’’ LOT Polish Airline officials Wednesday finally kicked off their inaugural trans-Atlantic flight of a Boeing Dreamliner from Chicago — nearly five months after the 787 was grounded.

The ceremony at O’Hare International Airport finally fulfilled a debut that was aborted last Jan. 16, when the Chicago-to-Warsaw-bound Dreamliner was grounded only hours before its first trans-Atlantic takeoff.

Boeing has since gone “10 steps beyond” to address problems with smoldering lithium-ion batteries that emerged on two planes, said Dominic Bernardo, LOT head of U.S. sales.

“I trust the engineers of Boeing,’’ Bernardo said.

And so did some of the passengers waiting to board LOT’s inaugural trans-Atlantic flight from Chicago to Warsaw

“I have faith in them,’’ passenger Ron Kulig, 72, said of Boeing. They wouldn’t allow it to fly if it didn’t work.’’

Kulig said he had specifically booked a flight on a Dreamliner to Warsaw last December, and was disappointed when it was grounded in January. So to get a seat on the first Dreamliner flight to Warsaw from Chicago was a special treat.

“I’m excited. I didn’t think I’d be on it. I was hoping I would,’’ Kulig said. “To me, it’s the best plane in the world’’

But not every one was excited about the prospect of flying on a Dreamliner.

Anna Doboszynska, 59, a pulmonary specialist from a small town outside Warsaw, said she only learned at the boarding gate that she

would be taking a Dreamliner.

“I know they had some mistakes in the construction so I’m a little bit afraid,” Doboszynska said. “But I hope I will be happy and get safely home.”

Wednesday, the celebration focused on the souped-up features of LOT’s Dreamliner – something reporters in January never got to see. That includes better pressurization and humidity to reduce jet lag, bigger windows, and a new premium economy class with more leg and seat room.

The plane is 20 percent more fuel efficient than the B767 it replaced, can make the trip to Warsaw in 45 less minutes, and features 13 more seats.

“This is something very, very special,’’ Frank Joost, LOT regional sales director for the Americas, told a small group of reporters and dignitaries Wednesday as he welcomed them aboard for a tour shortly before takeoff.

“Welcome to the future.’’

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