United Airlines Boeing 787 Dreamliner Inaugural: Pre-Departure Festivities

Inaugural day had arrived with my alarm going off at 3:30 a.m.

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I was very thankful for the extra hour of sleep due to daylight savings time ending, but it was still a slight struggle to wake up. My excitement for the day ahead and downing a couple of cups of coffee quickly shook off my grogginess, and I arrived at the airport at about 4:45 a.m.

I first bumped into Jack Harty, of Airways Magazine, as we were both on the quest for a cardstock version of our boarding pass. All of the machines in the lobby area, however, only printed out the thermal paper type. I’d end up waiting until I was airside to get the heavier printout to keep as an unadulterated (non-TSA abused) memento.

At 5:00 a.m., those of us with invites met with members of United’s Media Relations team for a rundown of the morning’s festivities (mentioned in this post). Shortly after, I made my way through security and headed down to gate E5 with Chris Sloan of Airchive.com.

United had the gate area decked out with balloons, tables, banners, TV monitors showing 787 specs and a very generous assortment of continental breakfast items, including 787 cookies.

At about 5:30, members of the media were invited onboard for a tour. First, my pictures:

And here’s the video version:

I was in the first wave of media people through, so back in the gate area, I had plenty of time to catch up with good friend Bruce of NonRevAdventure.com. And I even had the pleasure of meeting some of my blog readers and other enthusiasts. By now, the gate area was bustling with excitement while TV and newspaper journalist were interviewing passengers.

Around 6:30, Stephanie Buchanan, United’s vice president of the Houston hub, kicked off the other festivities, including a speech by CEO Jeff Smisek and ribbon cutting ceremony.

And with that, it was time to board!

Up next: UA Flight 1116 IAH to ORD

Related posts:

United Airlines Boeing 787 Dreamliner Inaugural: Introduction

United Flight 1116: Inaugural 787 Takeoff Video



  1. To get unmarked boarding passes, I print them out at the kiosk, stash them away, and then use mobile boarding passes for everything else, so there isn’t any chance for damage, which is much easier to do with the flimsy ones they have seemingly everywhere now.

    • @Kris: That’s exactly what I do, too… should’ve mentioned that in the post. I was dying for cardstock BPs for this flight… didn’t know I’d get them till post-security. All self-serve CO machines in the E terminal at IAH spit out the thermal paper (and all gate agent-provided, as well)… the United Club there still prints semi-cardstock BPs (not as thick as UAs).

  2. Buy a ream of cardstock for your home printer. Then print a boarding pass at home for your use. Use the kiosk at the airport to print out a boarding pass to use. I always have a ream of white cardstock in my home office. There are things that I like printed on cardstock.

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