American Airline's flight crew are ready to welcome guests to see the new Sky Interior at Boeing's delivery center at Boeing Field (BFI).
Yesterday American Airlines took delivery of their first Boeing 737-800 (N867NN) with the new Boeing Sky Interior. I feltÂ privilegedÂ to hitch a ride on the airplane during its delivery flight from Boeing Field to Dallas-Fort Worth with American and other invited guests.
Before getting outside to see the aircraft and interior we had to go through a little security. There was a conveyor belt and metal detector, but no requirement to remove shoes, laptops or put yourÂ toiletriesÂ in a ziploc bag — nice.
The aluminum fuselageÂ glistened in the sun outside Boeing’s delivery center waiting to fly passengers for the first time.Â After the ribbon was cut and photos were taken, it was time to check out the new Sky Interior first hand.
You have to love walking onto a brand spanking new plane and breathing that new-plane smell. There is something to be said about flying on a plane with only 21 other people (including the pilots) on its delivery flight from an airport that doesn’t see scheduled jet service.
Although I thought the ceiling lighting was going to be the most noticable aspect when entering the 737, I was actually first drawn to the new window openings and clean interior walls. Being an airline nerd, I spend a good chunk of my time staring out the window and this was a welcomed sight.
The Boeing Sky Interior on American's newest Boeing 737-800 (N867NN).
A combination of the larger window openings, blue lighting in the ceiling and new luggage bins, there really is a sense of space with the new Sky Interior. Boeing allows airlines to customize their lighting and American has pre-programmed the following:
* Boarding and de-boarding: blue top, white side lights
* Take off and landing: blue on top and blue on the side
* Cruise: wall lights are off, top is blue
* Night/Sleep: dark blue on the ceiling, wall lights are off
* Meal: Amber on top and side
* Sunrise/Sunset During Takeoff/Landing: Deep orange tones
On top of the nifty colors, the overhead bins have been improved to mimic the Boeing 787 Dreamliner’s bins. They are larger and are able to hold more luggage (48 more bags to be exact in the 737-800). They also fold up into the ceiling to provide more cabin space. If you are 6’1″ you will still hit your head while standing, but those of shorter stature should have better luck.
Even though the windows are the same size in the fuselage, the new interior shows more of the window.
Probably moreÂ noticeableÂ to flight attendants, the call button has been moved away from the light buttons, helping to reduce the chance of a passenger trying to turn on their light, but instead hitting the call button.
The American interiors on the 737 are newer than other aircraft in their fleet and aren’t too bad, but after seeing the new interior, the standard interior looks a bit aged and cramped.
The new Boeing 737-800 with Sky Interior is part of American’s fleet renewal plan. Later in the week I will go into more detail on American Airline’s future plans to let customers know they mean business.
CHECK OUT ALL 30 PHOTOS FROM THE DELIVERY FLIGHT
Dinner hosted at the Experience Music Project in downtown Seattle the night before the delivery.
Air New Zealand’s first Boeing 777-300ER was recently delivered to the airline, then flown to Los Angeles before heading to Auckland. Being able to show off the new interior was quite exciting. This was a huge deal for Air New Zealand, Boeing and airline geeks around the world. Boeing and Air New Zealand worked hard to make sure the hand over was not a small celebration and I wanted to share what happens behind-the-scenes on a VIP aircraft delivery.
The event really started the day before the delivery. Boeing employees, Air New Zealand guests, the media and other VIP’s were invited to take a special tour of the Boeing factory and attend a celebratory dinner. Due to scheduling I had to choose to either take a tour of the factory (which I have done quite a bit previously) or take a ride down to LAX on the new plane. Needless to say, I didn’t make the tour.
After the factory tour, people were invited to dinner, which was hosted at the Experience Music Project and Science Fiction Museum in downtown Seattle. The dinner was quite the fancy affair. “The venue -Â Experimental Music Project (EMP)Â was a good fit for the delivery dinner as it followed ANZÂ ‘sÂ branding ofÂ clean, modern, sleek, technologically advanced and fun as well as all the lighting etc that are part of their new interior andÂ product,” Linda Lee with Boeing International Communications explained to me.
Everyone was in business suits and fancy h’orderves and drinks were being served when I arrived. Although we had free access to roam the facility, I decided to stay and talk with Air New Zealand and Boeing folks. We were housed in a very large room with a huge LED wall with an Air New Zealand Boeing 777-300ER displayed on the wall. On either side was a projected Air New Zealand logo and on the other a Boeing logo. The purple hue of the lights really matched the feeling of the inside of Air New Zealand’s new 777-300ER.
The Future of Flight’s Gallery was closed off for the delivery celebration. Where you see the projector screen were the large doors that opened to reveal the new 777-300ER (click for larger).
After things calmed down we all sat in our assigned seats. Sitting on one side of me was Andrew Baker who is the Cultural and Customer Ambassador and on the other was David Wilson who isÂ the Boeing 777 Deputy Fleet Manager and was one of the pilots taking the new 777 to Auckland. Cool. I care very little about celebrities on TV or in movies. For me, these people are celebrities. It was wonderful speaking with them and the rest of the guests at the table about airlines, airplanes and the whole business.
Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren of NYCAviation, who was also covering the event, pointed out that he enjoyed how Air New Zealand set up the seating. “Air New Zealand peppered in more than just the communications staff at the media tables.Â We had David, the first officer, and Chris, one of the premium cabin flight attendants at our table among others.Â To get their perspectives and pick their brains provided a much more frank and real discussion; one you may not have had at a table with only communications staff parroting talking points.” Oh yes, the food was not too shabby either.
What kind of dinner would it be with out those special speeches? There was a lot of thanks and appreciation that was shared between both companies and it was all well deserved. Although the dinner was a very fun and informational event, one couldn’t help but be excited about actually seeing the plane the next day.
Being December in Seattle, I was expecting rain. The airline-delivery gods were smiling on us and gave us one beautiful day. Our flight was scheduled to leave from Paine Field at 3pm, but were asked to show up at the Future of Flight by 10am. I really didn’t know the full plan for the day and I was totally fine with that. I knew I was there at 10am, plane was leaving at 3pm and I had my return flight back to Seattle. Everything else was going to be an adventure.
Going outside to check out Air New Zealand’s Boeing 777-300ER for the first time.
When most airplanes are delivered to an airline there isn’t a huge ceremony. On the east side of the airport, Boeing has a building where the airline’s crew will show up, some paperwork is signed and the aircraft is flown off. Actually during the ceremony, two other airlines took delivery of other Boeing 777-300ERs: Qatar and Turkish Airlines with little fanfare. But with certain milestones, airlines like to make a little bigger deal about their delivery. “Events and deliveries vary based onÂ theÂ airlineÂ customer i.e. IsÂ it aÂ first of model, milestone delivery, participation and attendance levels etc.Â This obviously was a large event as it wasÂ ANZ’s First 777-300ER and the world introduction of their new interior and branding,”Â Lee stated.
On the Future of Flight’s gallery floor there was a large stage and chairs set up. The gallery was closed to the general public during this event, but it provides one heck of a backdrop for celebrating an airplane. After some more speeches and some paperwork signed, Boeing handed over the keys — literally. Now, the keys aren’t used to actually start the plane, but I was told they do access the cockpit door. At this point, the airplane is no longer Boeing’s and belongs to the airline (well the bank I guess). After the handshakes and big smiles, the large hangar doors opened to show the shiny new Boeing 777-300ER.
Since this was a few days before Christmas (er, non-denominational holiday time-frame) there was a Santa and two elves dancing around the plane with a big sign that read “Happy Holiday Air NewZealand!” I got too caught up looking at the new plane, others caught something a bit more touching. “Another correspondent working the event noted that he saw a few welled up eyes on the team as the doors pulled back â€“ and Iâ€™m not surprised.” Dwyer-Lindgren explained to me. “To be able to share in that excitement and witness the deep pride they felt for their company and their plane was really something special.” The event was more than just getting a new airplane.
Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren (with NYC Aviation) and I show off our boarding passes before getting on board at Paine Field.
Before any of us could take a look inside, Mr. Baker, in traditional garb, blessed the aircraft. Then it was finally time: checking out the inside. Since my blog about the interior already goes over that part of the event, I will skip it on this one. After we all had our tour, it was back into the Future of Flight’s gallery for some food and networking while we waited for the aircraft to be prepared for flight. This was a good time for most media-types to start writing out stories and checking the photos they took.
Then it was time to re-board the airplane, but in a very different way.Â InsteadÂ of going out the hangar doors and up onto the plane, we all went through a mini-security screening, being wanded and having our bags searched. Before getting to the security screening, we received our boarding passes. Now you know you might be an airline geek if getting a boarding pass from Paine Field to LAX gives you a huge smile. Dwyer-Lindgren explains it best, “I got the sense that all the media on board realized that this ticket was something unique and specialâ€¦but it was us aviation nuts who appreciated it the most.Â To have a ticket that actually reads Paine Fieldâ€¦for a domestic flight on an international airline on a brand-spanking new 777-300ER (there are no US airlines who currently utilize them)â€¦was just so unique.Â So yes, it was [censored] AWESOME.”
Then it was up on to the plane and time to take our seats. Let’s see, row 7, seat J, that sounds like it might be near the front of the plane and it sure was. Air New Zealand had allowed the media and their guests to try out the seats up front while they sat in Economy Plus (which weren’t too shabby either).
Having to leave the new Boeing 777-300ER at LAX was difficult, especially knowing she was on her way to Auckland.
Taking off in a Boeing 777-300ER, which is about 1/4 full, is a unique experience. I can tell you that we didn’t take up too much of the runway before goingÂ airborne. Being a part of a flight with only media, Boeing and airline folks is a fun ride. Easy going atmosphere, cheering during take off and great conversations. I almost wish more flying experiences could be like that.
UnfortunatelyÂ the flight was short. In less than three hours we were lining up to land at LAX. For a good chunk of people on board, they were heading on to Auckland, but since it was only a few days before Christmas, I had to get off and take a flight right back to Seattle. It was not easy going from my super luxurious seat on the Air New Zealand 777-300ER to my normal economy seat heading back to Seattle.
The delivery of this aircraft was a big deal and both Boeing and Air New Zealand did it right. Although it takes a lot of work from people on both sides to make an event like this happen, it is great to remind people why they are in this business. Where most deliveries will just be pilots coming to pick up the plane with little show, others, will get a much larger and well deserved celebration.
If you missed it earlier, Air New Zealand is having a contest until Valentine’s Day to allow you to win a free trip to New Zealand or England in Cuddle Class.
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