Passengers applauded Monday morning as United Airlines' Boeing 787 Dreamliner lifted off from Bush Intercontinental Airport for its first flight after its months-long grounding over problems with its lithium-ion batteries.

Teams from United and Boeing were aboard the 2 ½-hour flight to Chicago O'Hare Airport.

So were camera crews.

Many passengers sought out the Dreamliner's return flight, but others were surprised to find their trip to Chicago was something special.

"I can't get enough of the Dreamliners," said Jeff Bridges, a self-proclaimed aviation enthusiast from Austin. "It's the way of the future. A great aircraft."

The aircraft had been widely anticipated because of its new-age design that boosts fuel efficiency and increases flier comfort. United, which operates its largest hub at Bush, first used the Dreamliner in September.

In addition to being lauded as the world's most fuel-efficient aircraft, Boeing claims that by adjusting cabin pressure the Dreamliner could reduce headaches, dry eyes and fatigue that can be experienced at high altitudes. It also has larger windows, which dim electronically with the press of a button, and more head room.

"You can tell the difference," said Peter Wolf, a private pilot from Chicago. "There is definitely more oxygen and it's fresher in this plane."

For more on the Dreamliner's return to the airways, please read Tuesday's edition of the Houston Chronicle.