As a major “thank you” to a special group of co-workers who’ve been recognized by teammates for their outstanding performance and dedication, on Thursday, November 15 we launched a special co-worker celebration flight on our Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
Starting at Boeing’s Paine Field in Everett, Washington, co-workers toured the facility where our 787 Dreamliner is manufactured and then enjoyed a festive dinner in one of the massive hangars. Parked right there inside the hangar: the Dreamliner that they’d soon be flying on.
The next morning, the group was shuttled by van down to Boeing Field, just south of Seattle, for a welcome breakfast and to witness the ceremonial signing against a backdrop with a banner that read “Celebrating United’s 787 Dreamliner – First to Fly in America”.
Next up was a ribbon-cutting in front of the plane, by executives and select co-workers alike. And then everyone boarded the plane.
Decked out in a service apron and with champagne glass in hand, Jeff Smisek, our President and CEO, toasted the lucky passengers. “You all were selected by fellow co-workers because you exemplify the very best at United Airlines and I couldn’t be prouder to be on this airplane with this terrific crew.” He then raised a glass and said “Cheers,” with everyone chiming in.
Jeff and a number of department leaders then passed out hot towels followed by a complete lunch service. The sentiment onboard was one of celebration and camaraderie. Those in attendance hailed from both our domestic and international airports and offices. “This event brings all of us together from different divisions,” said Kathe Hull, a member of the Inflight team at New York’s JFK.
Terry Kelly, in Airport Operations, also stationed at JFK, echoed the sentiment, saying, “It’s great to meet various people from different departments – all different avenues of the company.” Terry added that the co-worker celebration flight is the highlight of her 26-year career.
As soon as it was safe to walk around the cabin, the passengers took a look at the innovative aspects of the aircraft interior, specifically in the front cabin, galleys and lavatories, as well as the flat-screen inflight entertainment system.
Steve Greenfield, Information Technology, Chicago headquarters, expressed his surprise and delight at being selected for the celebratory flight. “I’m overwhelmed by being a part of something historic,” said Steve. He talked about passing on the experience to his children and grandchildren.
Catherine Miller, who works in Airport Operations at our Denver hub, summed up the experience: “I love being part of the 787 Dreamliner experience. It’s in my heart and I’ll carry it with me forever.”
The event came to a close with a cheer from the passengers when the aircraft touched down at Chicago O’Hare.