Cathay Pacific-Boeing Delivery Flight: An Education in Aviation

What an honor to have been invited to represent the Philippines on the Cathay Pacific-Boeing Delivery Flight of the last 777-300 ER, and their 70th 777 to date! Here we are with Cathay and Boeing executives, pilots and cabin crew, and fellow journalists from around Asia- a total of only 50 pax (try to find me; I'm kneeling)- with the brand-new plane at Everett Center in Washington. (Photo courtesy of Cathay Pacific)

Cathay Pacific is one of my favorite airlines. I hold a silver Marco Polo club card and I really love how it allows me access to business class lounges and business class check-in counters, reserve my seats in advance and extra baggage allowance, regardless of whichever class I’m flying. (This is especially a treat at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport as the Cathay lounge, which opened just last May 9, 2015 is the first of its kind in the Philippines!)

Another very precious gift that Cathay Pacific offers their top Marco Polo Club members, as well as top-performing staff and key members of the press, I recently found out, is the delivery flight experience. What is a delivery flight experience, you might ask? Basically, whenever an airline orders a new aircraft, they have to pick it up [at say, the Boeing factory], and deliver it to the home airport as soon as it is ready. While almost everyday, a new plane is picked up and flown home by an airline, Cathay took this a notch further and turned it into an experience– a celebration for a special milestone.

I was so honored that this blog <> was invited to represent the Philippines to fly to Washington, USA and “pick up” the brand new 777-300ER from Boeing’s Everett, Washington plant (about an hour’s drive from Seattle), to deliver it home to its hub airport in Hong Kong, along with other journalists around Asia, Cathay Pacific and Boeing executives, and three pilots and six cabin crew members! We were a total of only 50 pax who would be flying the brand-new airplane back!

What an honor for to have been invited to pick up the brand new Cathay Pacific plane from Boeing! This is a first for me :)
What an honor for to have been invited to pick up the brand new Cathay Pacific plane from Boeing! This is a first for me :)
Cross Cultures by Cheryl Tiu- Philippine Star- Cathay Pacific Lounge Ninoy Aquino International Airport
My trip began with an amazing dimsum breakfast at the just opened Cathay Pacific business class lounge at NAIA 3 (the BEST food in the airport, no joke!)– the first of its kind in the Philippines! And what a surprise to find my events platform Cross Cultures on the papers, too! My lucky day! So grateful! <3
Cathay Pacific First Class- Hong Kong International Airport- Champagne Trolley
Transiting at Hong Kong International Airport’s Cathay Pacific… FIRST class! It was my first time to step into the First Class lounge and I was very happily welcomed by the champagne bar (or maybe, I welcomed it, hehe!) Veuve Clicquot, Deutz and Moet Rose.. I picked rose of course!
777-300ER CAT #1333-WE605 Delivery
And we’re here in Washington, USA!! The brand-new Cathay Pacific 777-300ER is the 53rd of its kind and the last on their order book. This is all in line with their upcoming expansion plans and new fleets.. you’ll find out more in my next blog post :) (Photo courtesy of Cathay Pacific)

“This is a milestone because it is our last 777 on our order book,” shares Cathay Pacific Director for Corporate Affairs James Tong, “The 777 has been a big part of our history. We have made use of this aircraft to enable our expansion plan in the last 10 years or so.  Before 10 years ago, we did not have that many long haul routes but because this air craft is so good– so fuel efficient and with the right configuration of about 300 people, the right size for long haul flights from Hong Kong— we have been able to use this aircraft to fly in multiple frequencies to all the major cities: New York 5x a day, London 5x a day, and Los Angeles 4x a day. It’s important to keep up the frequency so customers have more choices in terms of timings. This is why we find this aircraft a kind of a milestone and wanted to make it a celebration.”

James Tong, Cathay Pacific Director for Corporate Affairs

This particular one we went to pick up is Cathay’s 70th 777 aircraft— also the last and 53rd 777-300 ER (Extended Range) of the confirmed orders. FYI, the Boeing 777-300ER is the largest long-range twin-engine commercial airplane in the world. It is also the industry leader in reliability, meaning it’s on time 95% of the time, and it is engineered to improve fuel use by 2%. (Apart from these, they have 12 777-300s and five 777-200s, making Cathay Asia’s largest operator of the 777 fleet.)

The 777 fleet has helped in Cathay Pacific’s efforts to reinforce Hong Kong’s position as one of the world’s most important international aviation hubs, currently with the 3rd highest international passenger traffic in the world, with 62.9 million people in 2014. This is just after Dubai (69.9 million) and London (68.1 million).

“We wanted to make use of this opportunity to promote aviation that’s why we have always tried to invite different stakeholders to come to the Boeing factory. Our major aim is to promote the industry so that people can get some first hand information about what flying is all about—our own staff, media, students, government personnel, Marco Polo members, trade partners including freight forwarders and travel agents and young people. We want to let them know what goes on behind the scenes. It’s easy to see one airline flying from one city to another, but not the massive arrangements that goes on behind it. Of course, the aircraft itself is a very fascinating object and we want to let them know that an aircraft is made from so many different parts, and Boeing has done an amazing job to show how they are manufactured.”

Given that, I’d like to give you a photogenic synopsis on what goes behind the scenes (aka my education in aviation!) at the Boeing Dreamliner Gallery and Boeing Factory at Everett, Washington:

Boeing Dreamliner Gallery- Everett, Washington- Reception
Welcome to the Boeing Dreamliner Gallery. This is the reception area.
Pilot Cockpit- Boeing Dreamliner Gallery- Boeing Delivery Service
The mockup cockpit of the 787 Dreamliner
Boeing Dreamliner Gallery- Seats Prototype- Cathay Pacific-Boeing Delivery Flight
Shopping for economy class seats? The Boeing Dreamliner Gallery offers customers (airlines) the opportunity to select the seats and all the interiors and amenities for their new aircraft
Boeing Dreamliner Gallery- Seats Prototype 2- Cathay Pacific-Boeing Delivery Flight
Shopping for business class seats…
Boeing Dreamliner Gallery- Panasonic- Inflight Entertainment- Boeing Delivery Flight
Shopping for in-flight entertainment..
Boeing Dreamliner Gallery- Cabin Crew Quarters 1- Boeing Delivery Flight
Cabin crew quarters! This I found the most interesting of them all because hardly anyone– unless you are part of cabin crew– gets to see this part of the plane. We were told that the pilots’ are towards the front of the plane while cabin crew’s are at the back.
Boeing Dreamliner Gallery- Cabin Crew Quarters 2- Boeing Delivery Flight
Another configuration of the cabin crew’s sleeping quarters
Boeing Factory- Everett, Washington- Boeing- Cathay Pacific 777-300ER Delivery Experience
The Boeing Factory…
Boeing-Cathay Pacific 777-300 ER Delivery Flight- Alya Honasan, Cheryl Tiu- Boeing Factory, Washington
Protective gear is mandatory before being allowed into the Boeing Factory– where the actual aircrafts are being made and put together. Here I am with Alya Honasan of Philippine Daily Inquirer
Inside the Boeing Factory- Everett, Washington- Boeing Delivery Service
A visit to the Boeing Factory shows you how a plane is made. The factory is 39.9 hectares (3.99 million sqm)– which can fit 911 NBA basketball courts or 2,142 houses! There are six cafeterias, three coffee sops, a movie rental place, a cellphone store, and the world’s largest industrial fire department for their 40,000 employees!
Boeing Factory- Everett, Washington- Boeing- Cathay Pacific 777-300ER Delivery Experience 2
It takes 46 days to build a 777-300ER from scratch. It contains 3 million parts and 134 miles of wiring.
The framework of an airplane- Boeing Factory, Everett, Washington- Cathay Pacific-Boeing Delivery Flight
A cross-section of a Boeing 747, the world’s only two-storey aicraft, first built in 1968.

I spent a total of 48 hours in the United States of America, before being back in Asia again– the shortest I’ve been in a long-haul destination. There was no time to even feel jetlag because before I knew it, I was back in Asia again!  But this was my first time to visit Seattle, and this trip allowed me to visit some important landmarks– and likewise, see the city a little bit. Stay tuned for my next post on the ACTUAL Cathay Pacific-Boeing experience from Everett, Washington (first time to fly out NOT from an airport!) to Hong Kong on a spanking brand-new 777-300 ER! 

Cheryl Tiu- Farmer's Market- Pike Place Market- Seattle, Washington- Cathay Pacific- Boeing Delivery Flight
Hello and goodbye from Seattle! Got to visit the famous Pike Place Market at night– it was closed already, but the lights were stunning! Luckily, on our last day, I woke up extra early and lined up for some piroshkies– Russian hand-held pies that are a MUST when you’re in Seattle– before our epic flight (See next post) :) #SleeplessInSeattle

To read about my actual flight experience “picking up” the Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER, click HERE.