The Boeing 787 Dreamliner was like no other aircraft at the time – built from composites, the wide-body aircraft promised exceptional performance and operational economics to potential customers.

Yet the same customers were, rightfully so, annoyed with it. Boeing ran into severe delays with the 787 program – the Dreamliner was scheduled to make its maiden commercial flight in 2008 with All Nippon Airways (ANA) of Japan. Nevertheless, the day that ANA would fly the Boeing 787 Dreamliner only came on October 26, 2011.

Taking to the skies

A lot of attention followed the aircraft. So much so, that one person even reportedly paid $33,500 to be part of the flight. In total, 100 tickets were made available to the public – a queue of 25,000 people lined up for the chance of becoming the lucky ones to board Flight NH7871 from Narita International Airport (NRT) to Hong Kong International Airport (HKG).

The 100 passengers were joined by Boeing and ANA executives as well as media representatives to catch the event.

Shinichiro Ito, President and Chief Executive Officer of ANA, called the Dreamliner simply “a game-changer”. The $33,500 passenger, Gino Bertuccio, noted that he liked the windows – yet when asked about the price, he said that “I don’t have a wife that might say no”. In addition, the price was a typo, as Bertuccio meant to put in a maximum bid of $26,000. Yet he didn’t complain – “Just thinking I'm going to be part of aviation history is a dream”.

Noriyuki Kawano, who paid significantly less for three tickets, including boarding passes for his wife and a three-year-old daughter, could not hide his enthusiasm, as he has been “waiting for so long to do this, I can barely believe I'm here”.