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A week Boeing would like to forget

By Alex Zolbert, CNN
updated 5:38 AM EST, Sat January 12, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • A computer system glitch kept a Dreamliner grounded for 24 hours in Los Angeles Monday
  • The same day, a Japan Airlines' 787 caught fire in Boston after passengers disembarked
  • Another Japan Airlines' 787 in Boston had to scrap a takeoff on Tuesday due to a fuel leak
  • Analysts don't appear alarmed, saying that new aircraft models often have "growing pains"

(CNN) -- Some passengers pay no attention to what type of airplane they'll be flying on. Others are obsessed.

I'd put myself in the middle of the pack, mainly due to the new planes on offer from Airbus and Boeing.

So I was in slightly better spirits this week, as I boarded the 11-hour United Airlines flight from Los Angeles to Tokyo this week.

It was my first chance to fly on a Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

But the trip quickly descended into -- certainly not a nightmare -- but definitely a headache.

Dreamliner catches fire at airport

It's a drill millions of travelers know all too well.

After starting the taxi out to the runway Monday morning, we were informed that there was an issue with the computer system, and they were unable to start one of the plane's engines. We remained onboard for nearly 3 hours, as flight attendants sheepishly offered cups of water to frustrated passengers.

Eventually we disembarked.

A delay of four hours turned into five, then six, seven ... and the flight was eventually canceled.

We then had the pleasure of spending the night at an airport hotel that seemed to have been last updated around the time commercial air travel started.

It was then that I realized we weren't the only ones encountering issues with the Dreamliner on Monday.

A Japan Airlines' 787 caught fire in Boston after passengers disembarked.

Boeing said the fire was traced to a battery unit that helps to power electrical systems when the engines are idle -- typically while a plane is being serviced or cleaned. And the company says it's cooperating with investigators.

As Tuesday morning arrived, we were back on board another United Airlines' Dreamliner in Los Angeles.

But in a rather comical turn of events, the second plane never left the gate.

We were told there was an issue with the paperwork filed with the FAA.

More than a day late, many coffees, and very little sleep later, the third time finally proved to be the charm -- more than 24 hours after our scheduled departure.

But as we finally took to the skies, more Dreamliner issues were unfolding.

Another Japan Airlines' 787 in Boston had to scrap a takeoff on Tuesday due to a fuel leak. And an ANA Dreamliner flight was canceled in Japan on Wednesday, because of a glitch with its brake system.

But Boeing is standing by its latest aircraft. The company's chief project engineer, Mike Sinnett, says he is "100% convinced the airplane is safe to fly."

Analysts seem not to be alarmed, saying that new aircraft models often have "growing pains."

But what is very clear is this was a week that Boeing would certainly like to forget.

After a nearly 40-hour trip back home, I'll second that.

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