Tuesday, July 14th, 2009
Richard Branson, Celebrities, and Champagne
Seattle, the Boeing Factory, Richard Branson, celebrities, and champagne – nirvana for an airline geek like me! The delivery ceremony and first V Australia flight was finally here. From ceremony dinners and after parties, to media events onboard I was assured to be sleepless in Seattle!
I was speechless (there’s a first time for everything!) when I was told that I had won a spot to join Richard Branson for the delivery of our first aircraft. Nothing could have prepared me for the trip ahead! A fun filled five days was just beginning and I could already feel the pride and exhilaration building as the imminent delivery of our first aircraft was approaching.
Boeing gave us a wonderful welcome upon our arrival. We were treated to a fascinating tour of Seattle, a beautiful city surrounded by lakes, lush evergreens and a snow capped Mt. Rainer. Seattle also knows how to party, which our group was only too happy to oblige!
The main event was getting closer, but first, a private tour of the Boeing factory. Loving planes as I do this was the highlight for me. We were thrilled to see our third aircraft on the production line.
No time to rest as we were whisked away to a festively decorated hangar at Boeing Field for the delivery ceremony.
While the real star of the show ‘Didgeree Blue’ waited to be unveiled, Sir Richard, Brett Godfrey and Boeing executives gave wonderful tributes to everyone who had worked so hard to make V Australia a reality.
Then, with the sound of Potbelleez’ ‘Are you with me’ playing in the background, the hangar doors were ceremoniously opened. Sir Richard, along with bikini clad models and dancing cheer leaders introduced Didgeree Blue to the excited crowd. We stood holding our breath, beaming with pride, our eyes welling.
It was time to board and explore. It was off to L.A. and we quickly found our seats in the beautiful and roomy cabin. We lifted off from Seattle to rapturous applause and cheering! The atmosphere on the flight was euphoric and electric. We landed in L.A. to an awaiting crowd which included the Mayor of Los Angeles and other dignitaries.
We all enjoyed a cocktail party with Sir Richard, Australian celebrities Julian McMahon and Holly Valance and many others while the Australian and American media reported on the event.
After a wonderful twenty-four hours in Los Angeles it was soon time to board our flight to Sydney. What happens on board a thirteen hour ferry flight with 30 staff? Well….let’s just say we celebrated and toasted our achievements. Soon, we arrived in Sydney, greeted by our Virgin Blue and V Australia colleagues and many well wishers. History had truly been made and like our flight home to Australia, a trip I’ll always cherish, was over in the blink of an eye.