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Taking a delivery flight is one of the most exciting aviation experiences out there. For those of you who aren’t #AvGeeks, a delivery flight is the first flight an aircraft makes from the factory where it was assembled to the main hub of its airline. For those of you who are #AvGeeks, I know you’ve probably already read all the details about when TPG Editor-at-Large Zach Honig and I flew the very first A350-1000 to check out the Qsuites, Qatar’s amazing business class, from the Airbus factory in Toulouse, France, to Doha.

 

We’ve already told you all about how amazing the aircraft was, but you may not know some of the reasons I think delivery flights are just awesome, so I detailed them out below.  Plus, I have a small confession to make: that was actually the first delivery flight I’ve ever been on! Thanks to scheduling and timing, many other TPG writers and editors have had the chance to fly a delivery flight, but until recently, I hadn’t. But now I can’t wait for my next one, and here’s why

The only way you can get on a delivery flight is by invitation from the airline. If you’re press, you may get invited to the events or ceremonies thrown by the airline manufacturer. But not all press gets to actually fly on delivery flight. It varies by airline but generally only top influencers/press will get to fly.

As you know our policy at TPG is to not take free flights from airlines when we review them, but since these delivery flights can’t be purchased and they give us a first look at the planes, we make an exception, allowing us to then create valuable content for you. After all, how else would you be the first to know the best places to sit on the plane?

However, you haven’t (and won’t ever) see an official TPG review from a delivery flight since the service isn’t what actual consumers can expect. For full flight reviews, we’ll buy a ticket, either with cash or points and miles, and show up unannounced.

As much as I’d hate to get stuck in a middle seat, it was fun to pretend!

Insider access

The flight (and pre-flight) experience on a delivery flight is completely different from your typical airport, boarding and flying experience. You won’t be walking from the lounge to the gate to the jetway and onto the plane. Instead, you get insider access at the factory, showing you key details related to the product and design. While the activities leading up to a delivery flight may vary, they typically include access to airplane production facilities.

You get to meet some very important people

I mean, I don’t usually get the chance to chat with an airline CEO at 39,000 feet, so being able to meet Akbar Al Baker, the boss of Qatar Airways, on board the first A350-1000 for the airline was pretty amazing. During delivery flights, it’s not uncommon to meet some key figures, like top executives from the manufacturer or even an airline’s CEO.

 

In-depth aircraft access, cockpit included!

One of the coolest things about a delivery flight is being able to check out all the areas of the plane. Though I spent more time in my Qsuite than in economy on the Qatar A350-1000 delivery (I mean, can you blame me?), it was also really exciting to get to see the cockpit. After all, it’s not every day you get access to the flight deck. I was like a giddy child, asking  Captain Konstantinos a number of silly questions — and he politely answered every single one. I was hoping he could show me an instrument to detect turbulence. Spoiler: There isn’t one.

Ultra-VIP welcome

Add one more reason a delivery flight really isn’t your average flight: On this recent one, we did a low pass over Doha and had a water cannon salute at the airport! Plus, I appreciated Qatar rolling out the red carpet for me. Okay, well, maybe it wasn’t just for me… and it wasn’t actually red, but rather the airline’s institutional maroon. Still, it looked great. and it felt great too!
They had the carpet rolled out to welcome us!
They had the carpet rolled out to welcome us!

Know before you go.

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Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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