Full disclosure: I am an aviation geek. I love to travel, but especially, I love to fly. Airplanes amaze me – they are instruments of wonder and genius. Through flight, we are able to take off from whatever troubles pursue us. The world’s influence shrinks beneath us, at least for awhile. Airplanes free us.
I have flown on many airlines, and on many planes.
KLM is the Dutch national airline. I fly with them somewhat frequently (10 times in 2015), and they’ve taken me to places like Berlin, Bucharest and Moscow. I love KLM, in spite of the frequent failures with wheelchair assistance. Back in January, my friend Michael (the founder of TravelZork) let me know that their long-awaited Boeing 787 was scheduled to make its first flight in October. The planned route: Amsterdam to Bahrain, with a stop in Abu Dhabi. The “Dreamliner” is nothing new – I have flown before on a Kenya Airways 787. The KLM flight is different: an opportunity to experience an inaugural flight. Passengers onboard these launch flights are treated to a celebration, typically complete with cake, champagne and a souvenir gift or certificate. A party in the sky!
I booked the flight immediately, for free with 70,000 of my Delta SkyMiles. That put me in Business Class, and I selected the window seat, 2K. This was going to be an exciting time, my first inaugural and a dream fulfilled on the Dreamliner.
In early September, almost 9 months after I first booked the flight, we got a sneak peek of the aircraft. She was on the assembly line at the Boeing factory in Everett, Washington. The wings were being mounted at the time.
Just after the Dreamliner had its engines mounted and entered the final stage of assembly, I noticed a schedule change for the first flight. It was moved to November 16. I tried to book it, but KLM had not released any inventory for award tickets. I began a process of begging for inventory to be released, but to no avail.
After the assembled aircraft had been painted, the 787’s first passenger flight was moved to November 22 on the KLM schedule. I became aware within 5 minutes of the change posting, and booked it immediately. Back on the flight and in Business Class, I could take a sigh of relief.[pl_video source=”youtube” id=”Y1YNvppXrt4″]
On October 14, the new Dreamliner took her first test flight, from Boeing’s Paine Field in Everett, Washington. What a beauty! Having kept a close eye on her progress through the factory’s assembly line, I was floored to see that she had taken flight. Seeing clouds under her wings for the first time was truly spectacular.
My joy was short lived. About a week later, KLM announced one more, presumably final, change to the schedule. November 23rd would be the date and, you guessed it – award space was blocked. I’ve gone back to begging. No luck.
Here’s hoping KLM will release the award space and allow me to live out a dream that has been nearly a year (or a lifetime) in the making. I also look forward to bringing you a review of the aircraft’s accessibility, as well as WheelchairTravel.org’s first accessibility guides to cities in the Middle East!
Check out these blogs for more information on the KLM Dreamliner:
- How Pilots Prepare For The Boeing 787, KLM Blog
- KLM 787-9 (“Dreamliner”) Inaugural Update for November 2015, TravelZork
What is your favorite type of aircraft? Would you be comfortable taking the first passenger flight aboard a new airplane? Let me know in the comments below.