On the morning of August 2, the phrase “Wow – it still has that new plane smell” was very likely on the minds of United employees from Seattle-Tacoma airport. Boeing employees and members of the media also had the opportunity to board the freshly minted 787 Dreamliner outfitted with the United interior.
Our 787 makes an impression online
The unveiling at Boeing’s Paine Field in Everett, Washington, provided approximately 150 people the first look at the 787’s livery and interior. Our social media team was onsite and held a live TweetChat – a scheduled event for our Twitter followers to ask questions about a specific topic and receive near real-time responses from experts. For the 787 event, Dave Hilfman, United Senior VP of Sales, Mark Bergsrud, United Senior VP of Marketing, Pete Hendrickson, United Senior Manager of New Aircraft Development and Monty Oliver, Boeing Director of Sales for United, Bill Blocker, United Captain, Niels Olufsen, United Captain and Laureen Kelley, United Flight Attendant.
TweetChat participants fed us a steady stream of questions, some popular topics being 787 flight destinations, seating and other onboard features. Comments from United followers included: “Love the 787s. Beautiful plane,” from @gnakamasu and “am 1K who flies A LOT, excited to see fancy new features,” from @smallsjk.
In his blog AirlineReporter, David Parker Browne posted an entry about the event. In a passage about our exclusive livery, he wrote, “I know many of you have been critical of the 'new' United livery, but this looks dang good.”
United and Boeing representatives present the plane
At 10:00 a.m. Pacific time, Dave Hilfman, our VP of Sales, opened the event. “It’s thrilling to be here. Boeing is such an incredible partner for us,” he said. “We’ve been awaiting this day for a while and It’s been worth the wait.” He then pointed out some of the features, adding, “Not only is it stunningly beautiful and efficient, but it’s got the bigger windows, improved cabin pressure and higher humidity levels.”
As we reported in our earlier article
, our 787 will hold 219 passengers, with 36 United BusinessFirst® flat-bed seats, 72 United Economy Plus® seats and 111 United Economy® seats.
Monty Oliver, Boeing Sales Director, was next up on the podium. “I can’t tell you how exciting it is to see the aircraft painted in United’s livery,” he exclaimed. “Boeing and United grew up together…and our partnership continues to flourish.”
"Quite an extraordinary work of art,” is how our VP of Flight Operations Howard Attarian described the aircraft. “It’s always a thrill to get our hands on new metal – or in this case composite,” he continued, with a nod to the unprecedented use of 50 percent composite materials for the Dreamliner’s exterior. “By opening the doors to new destinations, this airplane creates opportunities that our coworkers and our customers have never experienced.” Howard explained that the 787 allows us to fly to destinations that customers wouldn’t otherwise be able to reach on United. The perfect example? Denver to Tokyo – one of our scheduled 787 routes starting in Spring 2013.
Sam Risoli, our VP of Inflight Services, followed with a full list of interior amenities including “our famous flat-bed seats,” wine selected by sommelier Doug Frost, dynamic LED lighting and a special horseshoe-shaped galley placement that facilitates the flow of service. Sam captured the feel of the interior by saying, “It is absolutely incredible on the inside. The experience that customers will have is like nothing else in the system.”
A passionate United passenger can’t wait
Special guest Dave Dawe, a United Global Services customer, closed the event with heartfelt comments reflecting his long-time passion for flying – and flying United. “My very first flight was in 1971,” he announced, “and it happened to be on United Airlines.” He went on to describe himself as “a nut for airplanes and travel,” proving that point with the jaw-dropping accumulation of 2.7 million miles that he’s flown with us to date.
Dave flew on the Boeing 777 within 10 days of United taking delivery of that aircraft and can’t wait to fly on our 787. “The Dreamliner is at the top of my list now.” Pledging to “go thousands of miles out of my way” for the opportunity to fly on the new aircraft, he jokingly waved a boarding pass from 1975 as his “in.”
Pilots and flight attendants were also present at the event. Captain Niels Olufsen, who has served as a United pilot for 25 years, mirrored the crowd’s enthusiasm for the new aircraft, remarking that the new model will be quieter and more comfortable for passengers. He also gave a shout-out to the spacious overhead bins.
The experience of debuting our 787 Dreamliner with our Boeing partners was an exciting one. Earlier in the week, we did a live video stream of our aircraft emerging from the paint hangar, and we completed our visit with this inspiring First Look employee and press event.
Keep your eyes on the 787 Dreamliner
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