Dreamliners worldwide are now temporarily grounded for safety concerns. NY1 travel reporter Valarie D’Elia was on hand in Chicago when the first European carrier to fly the Boeing 787 voluntarily canceled its inaugural flight to comply and filed the following report.
A splashy event for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner quickly became a public relations nightmare for LOT Polish Airlines this week when it abruptly canceled its inaugural flight from Chicago to Warsaw four hours before takeoff and a short time after the FAA grounded its US-operated counterparts.
"We have received over the night in Warsaw, recommendations from FAA and Boeing to take action and ground the plane," said LOT Polish Airlines Regional Sales Director
I was among a group of journalists invited to fly the 787’s debut route to Warsaw, but quickly saw the story dissolve into disappointment for paying passengers.
"It was flying over my house at 7:28 so I thought there would be no problems, and then we got here and I just found out our flight was canceled," said one passenger.
"I called LOT and they said that it wasn’t a Polish issue so I didn't have anything to worry about and that our flight was scheduled to take off," said another passenger.
"It’s a big mess," noted a third passenger.
The 787 grounded in Chicago flew safely from Warsaw just hours before the announcement.
"Flight was great, no problems at all, smooth absolutely," recalled Jan Mikruta, a Polsat TV reporter.
The FAA grounding officially applies only to U.S. airlines, but worldwide all 50 of the planes in service complied. So now, eager passengers will wait indefinitely to sample what the groundbreaking plane has to offer.
"If you’re on a 12 hour flight which I’ve done, you begin to notice that there is 15 percent humidity instead of four percent. You notice the turbulence control which keeps the plane from thrashing about in turbulence, you notice the cleaner air," said Jonathan Spira, a travel writer.
The FAA said it will require a "corrective action plan" before any flights can resume, including LOT’s New York inaugural set for early February.