Delivery flight diary: Singapore Airlines' first Boeing 787-10

Delivery flight diary: Singapore Airlines' first Boeing 787-10

This article is being updated several times each day in the lead to delivery of the world’s first Boeing 787-109 Dreamliner to Singapore Airlines and its arrival into Singapore’s Changi Airport.

Australian Business Traveller will be on board the delivery flight from Boeing’s South Carolina facility as a guest of Singapore Airlines, and we’ll use this article and its rolling updates to share the experience with Australian Business Traveller readers.

The most recent additions appear at the top of the page – so if you’ve just discovered this article, start at the bottom and scroll up.

Readers are invited to ask questions via comments below this article, and we'll endeavour to answer those questions as best we can.


Review: Singapore Airlines Boeing 787-10 regional business class

We're back – and after spending almost 24 hours in Singapore Airlines' new Boeing 787-10 we've got the world's first, most-detailed and photo-laden review of Singapore Airlines 2018 regional business class seat!


AusBT review: Singapore Airlines Boeing 787-10 regional business class

Getting ready to roll...

Monday March 26: It's been a pretty busy day here, including a catch-up with Singapore Airlines CEO Mr Goh Choon Phong where he revealed to Australian Business Traveller plans for new first class and business class on the airline's Boeing 777-9 jets.

We also had a walkthrough of the Boeing 787-10 on which we'll be flying back to Singapore via Osaka from 10pm tonight (as special flight SQ8878).

So yes, we've seen and sat in the new regional business class seats – and we're impressed. We're also under embargo until Wednesday mid-morning, after the jet arrives in Singapore, so for now we can't share more details and we definitely can't share photos!

But you can expect a detailed and photo-laden review after we've spent the 20+ hour delivery flight in these seats.

And now, with the magic hour of 10pm approaching, we're on board and ready to take wing.

Tonight: The Boeing 787-10 'First Delivery Celebration'

Sunday March 25: We're told there will be a 'big bang' event from 7.30pm tonight to mark the delivery of this first Boeing 787-10, which is a celebration for the company's South Carolina staff as much as anybody else.

We've not been told exactly what's on the cards, only that it'll be big – and outdoors, 'under the stars', which means a crisp 11°C. We've heard that Boeing might be streaming this, so check the Twitter feed of Boeing South Carolina (@weareboeingsc) for details.

(We were with Boeing at Seattle for the First Delivery Celebration of the 787-9 the night before it was handed over to Air New Zealand and that was quite the bash, so I'm definitely hoping for some of that southern hospitality which reader Covvers has suggested I seek!)

Snippets from Boeing's 787 briefing

Sunday March 25: We had a quick briefing on the Boeing 787 family this morning, with Boeing keen to point out that Singapore Airlines as a group is the first airline to fly all three versions of the Dreamliner, with the parent about to take delivery of the very first 787-10 while its low-cost sibling Scoot already flies the 787-8 and 787-9.

Now when we say that Singapore Airlines is getting the first Boeing 787-10, that's of course not strictly accurate. This will be the first 787-10 for a commercial airline, but the fourth to be built – Boeing made and flew three of them as test and demonstration aircraft, which the company says will be refurbished and put up for sale to airlines.

Anyway, Boeing also talked up the range of the 787-10 – while less than that of the 787-9 (11,910km versus 14,140km), it's still solid enough to cover SQ's medium-range 'regional' needs, which the airline measures as flights up to eight hours.

Boeing says the the 787-10 brings 80% of the world’s population within reach from Singapore. And it's got a nice map to prove it.

(Singapore Airlines' new regional fleet will comprise of the Boeing 787-10 and some Airbus A350s, with both jets featuring the all-new regional business class seat but no premium economy cabin: just business and economy.)

So how does Boeing position each model within the Dreamliner family? They've got another pretty picture for that, too.

United will be the first airline to run all three members of the Dreamliner family in its own stripe when the US carrier adds the Boeing 787-10 to its fleet later this year, so it will be interesting to see if UA embraces Boeing's gameplan or has its own ideas about how to manage this Dreamliner triple-play.

The rest of the presentation would hold little news for our readers, but here are a few other take-aways:

  • Boeing batted away suggestions of a further stretch beyond the Boeing 787-10 with a non-committal "we always look at those possibilities"
  • 'Code One' is Boeing-speak for the delivery of the first of a new type of Boeing aircraft to an airline: such as the first Boeing 787-9 to Qantas in November 2017, the first Boeing 737 MAX to Virgin Australia in late 2019, and of course the first Boeing 787-10 to Singapore Airlines tomorrow night [read more at Boeing calls 'Code One' for Singapore Airlines' big new Dreamliner]
  • the entire 55,000m² rooftop of the Boeing final assembly line is covered in thin-film solar cells to provide 100% renewable energy
  • a very large male alligator lives in one of the ponds across the road from the plant. He's sort of become 'the Boeing alligator', although he doesn't seem have a name

We also went on a tour of Boeing's Charleston facility, which includes a look at the raw material of these composite jets – a spool of carbon fibre..

... and a look at the finished product on the final assembly line, with two Singapore Airlines Boeing 787-10s, two Dreamliners for Scoot and one for JAL, plus one more whose tail we are not allowed to show.

Must... have... coffee!

Sunday March 25, 7.45am: Being a journalist, and an Aussie one at that, means finding a decent coffee to start the day. Mission accomplished: although only a handful of the Charleston cafes near our hotel were open at 7.30am, City Lights Coffee on Market Street pours a pleasingly decent flat white.

Meanwhile, reader AB__CD asked "Is the trip all expenses paid? If so, by how much: as in all flights and hotels and bus fees and whatnot, or just the flight, hotel and schedule, and you're expected to find food, airport transfer etc by yourself?"

These sorts of press trip are completely covered by the hosts, which in this case are Singapore Airlines and Boeing: so that's flights, hotels, meals and transfers (we're on a group bus).

Of course, should one wish to step outside the schedule – such as buying proper coffee instead of drinking the hotel stuff (see above), or skipping a hosted lunch or dinner to do one's own thing, that's up to the individual to pay for. Likewise hotel incidentals such as mini-bar, room service, dry cleaning etc.

Hello, Charleston

Saturday March 24, 7pm: We’ve finally arrived at Charleston, South Carolina, and a very pretty city it is too. I hope there’s a little bit of free time in the schedule to go for a wander before Monday night's fly-away.

Boeing's Charleston facility, which we'll visit tomorrow, is a dedicated Dreamliner operation turning out the 787-8, -9 and of course (and exclusive to Charleston) the 787-10.

Media from the USA and Japan have now joined us, so the full contingent numbers around 24.

In reader comments, DeepAvThroat asked what what would happen if somebody on this trip broke the embargo which Singapore Airlines has placed on photos of the new regional business class seats. There’s no penalty such as a fine, legal action or such: we haven’t even signed an NDA, as this all works on trust.

But if somebody broke an embargo under those conditions I’d expect they would be declared persona non grata and find themselves blacklisted from invitations to future trips and similar opportunities, and possibly from SQ events, along with vastly reduced access to executives for interviews and so on.

Seat selection on SQ’s Boeing 787-10

Saturday March 24, 2.30pm (New York local time): My Singapore Airlines booking includes the Charleston-Singapore flight, but it looks like only a handful of people (I’m going to suggest those would be SQ and Boeing execs) have selected their seat... which leaves plenty for me to choose from. 12A looks good.

Singapore Airlines’ new regional business class

Saturday March 24, 2pm (New York local time): Beyond a Boeing 787-10 in SQ stripe, the big news for business travellers will be the reveal of Singapore Airlines’ all-new regional business class seat which will also rolled out on a series of regional Airbus A350s.

Reader djcz asked when we can expect to see these seats. We'll get a first look during an inspection of the Boeing 787-10 on Monday March 26, but SQ has slapped a strict embargo on media publishing any photos or videos of the new seats before the aircraft arrives into Singapore on the morning of Wednesday March 28 for the official launch event.

However, as Australian Business Traveller has previously reported, the airline has chosen Stelia Aerospace seats with a staggered 1-2-1 layout and which convert into fully flat beds – no more ‘sloping sleepers’.

The two day delivery-fest

Saturday March 24, 1.30pm (New York local time): We’ve landed in New York and have a few hours up our somewhat jetlagged sleeves until our flight to Charleston.

Here’s a quick rundown of the next two days we’ll be spending at Boeing’s South Carolina facility.

Sunday March 25 is pretty much ‘Boeing day’ including a briefing on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner family and a tour of the 787 production line. The evening sees a ‘Festival of the Stars Delivery Celebration’ which we’re warned will be held outdoors in this very chilly Charleston weather.

Monday March 26 belongs mainly to Singapore Airlines: the schedule shows a roundtable discussion with SQ CEO Mr Goh Choon Phong, a tour of the airline’s Boeing 787-10, briefings on the Dreamliner’s interior design and a delivery dinner, before we fly away on the first Boeing 787-10 from Boeing’s South Carolina Delivery Centre at 10pm local time as SQ8878.

A fizzy secret weapon for fighting jetlag

Saturday March 24, 6am (Frankfurt local time): I’ve managed to grab six hours’ sleep on the Singapore-Frankfurt leg, and as it’s now morning, out comes the Berocca.

Berocca is part of my standard travel kit, as I find this fizzy shot of Vitamin B helps readjust my bodyclock by proving kick-start for the day. Many Aussie airline crew members also swear by it.

There's a brief respite at Frankfurt ahead of SQ26’s second leg to New York.

Dinner on SQ26, courtesy of Book the Cook

Friday March 24, 2am: Singapore Airlines has such a wide range of dishes available through its Book the Cook service, especially on flights out of Singapore, yet I tend to default to the Lobster Thermidor. I should be more adventurous. Next time.

From the Book the Cook breakfast menu, here is the poached eggs and hollandaise sauce.

My nest for the next 14ish hours

Friday March 23, 11.40pm: Our flight's running a little late for departure, but no drama. I've got 14-odd hours ahead, an extra 30 minutes won’t make much difference. Here’s my ride: seat 24K.

Singapore Airlines’ Airbus A380 business class is about a decade old now, and was created for the superjumbo by JPA Design, who’ve since shaped both the airline’s Boeing 777-300ER and new Airbus A380 business class.

JPA codenamed this seat the ‘Diamond’ and it was a groundbreaker: less a seat than a wide bench, in fact it’s the only business class seat which I’ve ever found to be perhaps too wide – it doesn’t cradle you, you can’t nestle into it.

I love window seats on the A380 because they provide me with these wonderful under-window storage bins for tucking away my shoes, laptop bag, amenity kit and what-not.

But here’s a helpful note: avoid 24K, because the bin directly next to you contains selected A380 spare parts (switches and what-not, I’m told) so it’s closed and not available for use by passengers.

Roll on, those non-stops to New York

Friday March 23, 11.30pm: Time to power down and settle into our 11.55pm flight SQ26 from Singapore, starting with the first leg through to Frankfurt.

Come the second half of this year, of course, Singapore Airlines will be offering non-stop flights between Singapore and New York on the ultra-long range Airbus A350-900ULR.

That’s expected to be an 19 hour trip, with the long-legged A350 fitted out with only business class and premium economy seats – in effect, an updated version of its old Airbus A340 Singapore-New York service with once sported business class and ‘executive economy’ seating.

Interestingly, Singapore Airlines has previously told us that they see the appeal of the direct flights to be a little less about speed and more about skipping that Frankfurt stop-over and providing passengers with an unbroken stretch of flying time in which they can sleep, work, relax and basically do whatever suits their personal timetable in whatever order suits them.

(Airbus is also pitching the A350-900ULR to Qantas and Air New Zealand for their own non-stop services to New York, going up against Boeing’s 777-8 series.)

But for now and for us, it’s "next stop, Frankfurt".

And there's this other Dreamliner flight happening...

Friday March 23, 11pm: The Boeing 787-10 isn’t the only big Dreamliner event happening this weekend. Saturday sees Qantas begin non-stop Boeing 787-9 flights from Perth to London.

It’s a whole new chapter for the Kangaroo Route from Australia to the UK, which began in 1947 spread over four days with nine stops and has for the past few decades involved a single stop at either Dubai or Singapore.

So while I’m en route to Charleston for Singapore Airlines’ Boeing 787-10 delivery, my Australian Business Traveller colleague Sid Raja is travelling on the inaugural Perth-London flight of the Qantas Boeing 787-9 – watch for his coverage here, as well as on our Twitter and Facebook channels.

A brief respite in the first class lounge

Friday March 23, 10.30pm: Settling in at Singapore Airlines’ SilverKris first class lounge, in the company of a dozen other journalists taking this invitation-only trip (and no forgetting our chaperones from the Singapore Airlines PR team).

We’re flying business class on SQ26, but I never argue with a bump into any first class lounge.

Singapore Airlines’ first class lounge is a little of an oddity: the airline has a seperate lounge for its own first class travellers, that being The Private Room, so the SilverKris first class lounge is really for first class passengers on other Star Alliance airlines such as Lufthansa and Swiss (as well as SQ's own top-level Solitaire PPS Club flyers, regardless of where in the plane they're sitting).

That said, the first class lounge has a solid food offering and a superb Champagne in Piper-Heidsieck Millesime 2002 Rare (which sells for around A$300 a bottle).

But I shan’t be partaking: a lot of my business travel time is spent writing, and I’ve got a few hours of keyboard-hammering still to be done above the clouds on Singapore Airlines’ superjumbo.

Oh, alright then, I suppose one glass won’t kill me… 

Changi's famous casino carpet

Friday March 23, 10.15pm: No airport does casino carpet like Changi. This is the familiar flooring of T3…

… and in case you thought those old school patterns were, well, simply the result of being out of date, here’s the carpet from T4, which opened in late 2017.

Plans are already underway for Terminal 5, which is expected to become operational in 2030. I bet they’ve already picked out the carpet…

The journey of a thousand miles...

Friday March 23, 10pm: I’ve arrived at Singapore’s Changi Airport from Hong Kong, where I’ve been covering the opening of Cathay Pacific’s all-new The Deck lounge.

A long journey stretches ahead of me: first it’s onto SQ26 from Singapore to Frankfurt, which is around 14 hours. Then there’s the second leg of SQ26 from Frankfurt to New York – that’s another eight hours.

After a 3½ hour stop-over at JFK, the final leg – flying with JetBlue – takes us to Charleston, South Carolina, which is where Boeing assembles and tests the Boeing 787-10 and where Singapore Airlines’ shiny new stretched Dreamliner awaits.

Hmmm... so Singapore-Frankfurt-New York-Charleston is not so much a journey of a thousand miles but one of 10,883 miles, according to the Great Circle Mapper.

Welcome to our 'Dreamliner Delivery Diary'

Friday March 23: There’s an undeniable and understandable mystique to the ‘delivery flight’ which sees a factory-fresh aircraft handed over to an airline and flown to its new home.

After all, these are jets built to carry hundreds of passengers. Yet the delivery flight (sometimes also called a ‘ferry flight’) is more like a private jet for the enjoyment of a few dozen travellers at most.

Australian Business Traveller has taken part in delivery flights for Boeing 737s and Boeing 787s, for the Airbus A350 and the A380 superjumbo: but there’s something special about this one.

It’s the debut of the first Boeing 787-10, a super-stretched version of the Dreamliner capable of carrying more passengers than its smaller 787-8 and 787-9 siblings.

Singapore Airlines is the prestigious launch customer for the 787-10, which will depart from Boeing’s South Carolina Delivery Centre as flight SQ8878 at 10pm, Monday March 26 (local time) and land at Singapore’s Changi Airport around 10am Wednesday March 28 (local time).

We thought this would be an ideal opportunity to share the unique delivery flight experience from ‘go’ to ‘woah’ with our readers: from the flight from Singapore to Boeing’s Charleston facility through to Boeing and Singapore Airlines media briefings, the factory tours, the delivery event and of course that flight back to Singapore. So let's get started…

David Flynn is travelling as a guest of Singapore Airlines

David Flynn
David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.
 

27 comments

  • David Flynn

    David

    24 Mar, 2018 06:21 pm

    Readers are asked to keep questions and comments on topic. Comments may at some stage be held for moderation, and may also be edited or deleted according to Australian Business Traveller comment policy and in an effort to keep them on the topic of this article.
    No member give thanks

  • djcz

    djcz

    24 Mar, 2018 06:34 pm

    Just assuming, I don't think SQ has officially introduced the Business Class seat featured on their 787-10 yet?

    I presume these will only be shown when onboard the aircraft for the first time, or will they be shown a day or two before?
    No member give thanks

  • David Flynn

    David

    26 Mar, 2018 07:52 am

    Answered in the article, thanks for your question!
    No member give thanks

  • Jason Hamilton

    JKH

    24 Mar, 2018 07:50 pm

    Enjoy David! I’d find it a bit of a buzz, I confess.
    No member give thanks

  • DeepAvThroat

    DeepAvThroat

    25 Mar, 2018 05:54 am

    David, what would happen if somebody broke the embargo which SQ has placed on photos of the seats? Legal action for breach of commercial confidence?
    No member give thanks

  • comcats2168

    comcats2168

    25 Mar, 2018 12:54 pm

    Most likely they'd not be invited to future events and it'd be harder to get information about upcoming news.
    No member give thanks

  • David Flynn

    David

    26 Mar, 2018 07:52 am

    Now answered in the article, thanks for asking!
    No member give thanks

  • UpUpAndAway

    UpUpAndAway

    25 Mar, 2018 09:24 am

    I'm jealous, SQ is one of those airline that I always look forward to flying.
    No member give thanks

  • Traveller14

    Traveller14

    25 Mar, 2018 11:42 am

    David, could you please let us know what the seats are upholstered in? The photos may be misleading but it looks like a 'sticky' material rather than cloth seats. I'm not a fan of 'leather' seats.
    No member give thanks

  • David Flynn

    David

    26 Mar, 2018 07:53 am

    Will do once we get to see the seats.
    No member give thanks

  • Simon Coveney

    Covvers

    25 Mar, 2018 04:14 pm

    Looks like an awful lot of fun David. Make sure you take in some southern hospitality whilst you’re in SC. They’re great folk down there.
    No member give thanks

  • Steve987

    Steve987

    25 Mar, 2018 07:50 pm

    Slightly OT, but live the tip about Berocca. Flying to US later this week and will definitely be giving it a shot!
    No member give thanks

  • AB__CD

    AB__CD

    26 Mar, 2018 01:48 am

    Is the trip all expenses paid? If so, by how much: as in all flights and hotels and bus fees and whatnot, or just the flight, hotel and schedule, and you're expected to find food, airport transfer etc by yourself?
    No member give thanks

  • David Flynn

    David

    26 Mar, 2018 07:52 am

    Now answered in the article, thanks for your question!
    No member give thanks

  • Trogdor

    Trogdor

    26 Mar, 2018 08:38 am

    ".. and a look at the finished product on the final assembly line, with two Singapore Airlines Boeing 787-10s, two Dreamliners for Scoot and one for ANA, plus one more whose tail we are not allowed to show."

    I hope you meant JAL instead of ANA, otherwise you just showed it :)
    No member give thanks

  • Yarki

    Yarki

    26 Mar, 2018 10:44 am

    David, if the already chosen seats are already by those 'in the know', and if the seats are staggered, then I would rethink that 12A decision. I see that both 14A and 14K have been taken which suggest those might be the 'true window' seats as opposed to the 'aisle window' seats; which might make 16A a better pick!
    No member give thanks

  • David Flynn

    David

    26 Mar, 2018 11:06 am

    Thanks Yarki - the seats are staggered but doesn’t matter much to me if I’m window or aisle on this flight, am told we will have ample opportunity to move around and try all seating positions if desired.

    No member give thanks

  • reeves35

    reeves35

    26 Mar, 2018 12:39 pm

    A lot of people criticise carpet in airport terminals these days and it is fair to say that it has been virtually eliminated from Australian airports. Whilst the "casino carpet" colors are always a matter of taste, there is no doubt it significantly contributes to the general quietness of Changi. There is no click-click as roller bags move over tiles that you hear everywhere else. Changi is well maintained so the carpet always looks fresh and clean.
    No member give thanks

  • Traveller14

    Traveller14

    27 Mar, 2018 12:23 pm

    If Australian airports brought good quality, hardwearing carpet back it would be a very positive step. It's at least 25 per cent of Changi's appeal. So much better than tiring, soulless hard surfaces. Perhaps I don't look closely enough but there do not seem to be stains on Changi's vast expanses of carpet. The cleaners must do a super job.

    Changi is a world leader in so many ways, except for being penned in gate 'lounges' prior to departure.
    No member give thanks

  • abtrav

    abtrav

    26 Mar, 2018 04:56 pm

    David What is the status of the problems they had a few years ago with the batteries catching fire? Has the underlying cause been addressed or do they still just enclose the batteries in a fire proof box with a vent to the outside air?
    No member give thanks

  • David Flynn

    David

    26 Mar, 2018 10:43 pm

    Hi abtrav, that's pretty much a thing of the past and has indeed been covered by aviation (and some mainstream) media in the past, however I'll ask a Boeing rep if we see them and have time with them today.
    No member give thanks

  • Steve Gerards

    Steve42act

    26 Mar, 2018 07:13 pm

    As a platinum frequent flyer ,however only all gained through domestic flights , and an aviation enthusiast all I can say is wow David I am so jealous, in my mind you got the best job in the world !
    No member give thanks

  • Traveller14

    Traveller14

    27 Mar, 2018 12:26 pm

    David, your photos are fantastic and the text (as usual) extremely well written.

    Once away from SQ and Boeing's clutches, a considered assessment of any 'negatives' would be useful to add some balance. It can't be perfect. Many of us love the fine details because it's often the 'small things' that one remembers (which seems counter-intuitive.)
    No member give thanks

  • David Flynn

    David

    27 Mar, 2018 12:45 pm

    I'm on this flight and in this seat for 20+ hours, so should have some good time to note some of the small details.
    No member give thanks

  • lafleche

    lafleche

    27 Mar, 2018 10:52 pm

    Thank David for this in-depth report. Enjoying discovering your journey as the updates unfold! Looking fwd to seeing the pix.
    No member give thanks

  • SeaVisionBurma

    SeaVisionBurma

    28 Mar, 2018 07:09 am

    I see the flight has landed at KIX. Is it an overnight stay there? Looking forward to hearing how the first leg went
    No member give thanks

  • Viscount2

    Viscount2

    29 Mar, 2018 12:56 pm

    What a fantastic well thought out article. Thanks
    No member give thanks

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24 Jul, 2019 07:23 pm

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