Will The Dreamliner Be Dreamy?

October 26, 2011

Boeing and ANA crews testing the 787 Dreamliner in Osaka, Japan, on July 5, 2011

Today the Boeing Dreamliner will make its first scheduled commercial flight, an All Nippon Airways hop from Tokyo to Hong Kong.

The 264 passengers will enjoy wider aisles, bigger windows and a host of thoughtful touches designed to make travel more comfortable. Nearly a decade in development, the Dreamliner will be 20 percent more fuel-efficient than today’s jet fleet, thanks largely to its carbon-fiber body. Boeing also claims the new airship will be 30 percent cheaper to maintain.

That sounds like a great deal for the airlines. Do you think they’ll pass along any of their savings to the customers?

Doubtful. One of the little-noticed events of last summer’s federal budget negotiations was the money grab by many airlines when an array of federal airline taxes expired during the budget battle. Instead of dropping their fares to reflect the (temporary) end of the taxes, airlines raised them instead. Result: The airline industry collected a windfall of about $25 million a day.

So enjoy those beautiful seats and big windows when you ride the Dreamliner. Just don’t expect the airlines to pass their savings on to you.