Believe it or not, airplanes have that “new car” smell. If you don’t believe me, just ask any of the more than 80 employees that accompanied Delta’s newest Boeing 777-200LR from the factory in Seattle to the company’s headquarters in Atlanta last Thursday. Delta CEO Richard Anderson joined employees for the delivery events.
The employees are all members of Delta’s annual Chairman’s Club, which honors 100 peer-nominated employees for consistently demonstrating dedication and determination to the highest standards of service to customers, fellow employees and the communities Delta serves worldwide each year. While not a Chairman’s Club member, I had the honor of attending the event as a reporter for Delta’s internal employee communications publications.
The festivities kicked off on Wednesday with employees receiving a VIP tour of Boeing’s factory and Future of Flight Museum. While some guests then opted to hit the gift shop. others group stood atop a hill near the factory’s runway and clapped, cheered, and cried as they saw Delta’s 777-200LR take off for its ferry flight to Seattle International Airport. That evening, we sat down with Boeing and Delta leaders for dinner at Boeing’s Museum of Flight.
Thursday morning, we wiped the sleep from our eyes and headed to Delta’s hangar at Seattle International Airport. On the bus ride over, attendees swapped flying stories and filled the bus with laughter as a light rain continued to fall over Seattle. After noshing on a light breakfast, we boarded the air stairs, loaded our bags, and strapped in. While the plane featured Delta’s full-flat seats in BusinessElite, everyone sat in economy so that the seats would be available during flight for us to explore.
During the four and a half hour flight back to Atlanta-which felt like just a few minutes- we explored the cabin and dined on a four course meal. Flight attendants gave away prizes to those who answered tough trivia questions posed over the PA (e.g., When was the war of 1812?). We explored the aircraft’s in-seat entertainment system, taking in the latest Oscar-winning movies while munching on Haagen Dazs ice cream sundaes.
The employees on that plane told me they will remember different moments from the event that will stay with them forever. One said for him, it will be the moment the doors to the hangar opened and revealed the mammoth aircraft. Another told me she will remember meeting so many employees that shared a deep passion for Delta and its success. But there is one thing that all participants will surely remember: the smell of the new leather seats and the feel of the brand new aircraft as they boarded the plane for its inaugural flight home.
Have you been on the Boeing 777-200LR? Share your experience with us.
Rachel W., Writer, Corporate Communications