Nearly 200 employees boarded our brand-new Boeing 787-9 Tuesday morning in Seattle and flew to Chicago, marking the aircraft's first flight and the delivery of our 15th 787-9.

Inviting our employees on the first flight of an aircraft – one of the most-liked and most innovative aircraft types in the world – is a true signal that employees will lead this company into the future. We'll use the 787-9 on our newly announced San Francisco-Singapore route, which will be the longest U.S.-based flight in the world.

The front-line employees on board the special delivery flight represented all major work groups and were chosen by their leaders for their consistently excellent performance. Additionally, a group of about 20 employees who helped roll out the iPhone 6 Plus devices our flight attendants use in flight to assist customers were recognized through participation in this flight.

Boeing treated the employees to a tour of the Museum of Flight followed by a dinner on Monday. The celebration continued Tuesday morning, as selected employees "signed" for the aircraft and officially took the keys.

"I was amazed that out of everybody, I was called to sign for this aircraft. Everyone here was deserving," said Rick Balajadia, a lead ramp service employee in Guam. "It was a real honor."

Once on board, several United officers served food and drinks to our employees throughout the celebratory flight.

"I feel like a rock star," said Flight Attendant Amy Leonhardt after deplaning in Chicago. "I've been here since 1998 and have never experienced anything like this – the camaraderie, the energy. It was just a wonderful feeling of 'we are United.' It was such an honor to be part of this."