On December 27, 2015, Kim, Lucas and I flew on Air China’s inaugural flight from Montreal, Canada to Havana, Cuba.
This was our first time flying an inaugural flight and I didn’t know what to expect. However, I did assume that some special events might take place at the airport and during the flight.
Here are some details of the festivities that took place during Air China’s inaugural Montreal- Havana flight (not of our experience flying in business class. I’ll save that for another post possibly…)
We headed to the airport a bit early and it was quite easy to find the Air China check-in counter. You could pretty much follow the music there…
A band could be heard playing Latin music just in front of the counters. The musicians were sporting floral shirts, playing bongos, guitar and a stand-up bass. it was a nice way to start off the festivities.
While checking-in, the Air China rep handed us each a key chain as a little gift from the airline. The key chain wasn’t specifically commemorating the flight and wasn’t even the plane we’d be flying but it was still a nice gesture.
The rep then pointed to a paper on the counter about getting a tourist card if we didn’t already have one. I had read that the cost for a tourist card is $25. After check-in we headed down to the special counter and were handed the tourist card. I then asked about the fee and was told that it was on the airline (or was it included in the price of our ticket). Either way, very cool.
We were also given a paper about an inaugural flight celebration. I thought there might be a ceremony of some sort etc…
We went over to the gate before checking out the lounge. Another small band was playing and a table was being set up with cupcakes and drinks. We came back a couple of times and nothing seemed to really be going on. I wouldn’t call this much of a celebration but it was still a nice touch.
Upon boarding, I noticed that the front galley was decorated with the Chinese and Cuban flags as well as some other pictures. There were also Air China stuffed toys to take photos with.
Later on a violinist walked around the plane playing some songs. There was also a cake and short ceremony although it seemed like photos were being taken for a long time. The area was crowded so I couldn’t really hear what was going on.
Soon after an inaugural flight banner was hung and people took turns signing it and writing short messages. I thanked Air China for the ride.
Flight attendants then passed out cake as well as ugly Air China inaugural flight Hawaiian style shirts. They came in one size, XXL which was a bit comical. The shirts were really small so I’d love to know where they’d be considered a XXL. I guess the shirt makes for a good souvenir not something I would ever wear unless it was used for a Halloween costume. We also got a commemorative postcard and China-Cuba flag pin.
When we landed in Havana. the media was waiting on the runway. Flowers were given out to some of the Air China crew. Once we got outside of the airport, more media were doing short interviews with passengers.
I have to say that it was interesting flying on an inaugural flight but not something that I’d go out of my way to do in the future.
(It just happened to be a coincidence that the inaugural was the day we were flying.)
Have you ever flown on an inaugural flight? If so, what was your experience like?