I was one of the lucky few to travel on board the first Boeing 787 delivery flight from Seattle to Doha, home of Qatar Airways, on Tuesday, and I can affirm that the carrier is taking this whole passenger experience thing to new levels.
Of course, we expect a certain level of service from Qatar Airways, including Michelin-quality food, wines that Jancis Robinson would approve of, and a level of service that would make a luxury hotel general manager weak at the knees. Qatar ticked all of these boxes, and topped them even further with the beyond-comfy pyjamas and Ferragamo amenity kit. Yes, it was uber-luxurious. Yes, I'm going to have trouble adjusting to the real world after a flight like this.
But ... even the 232 passengers at the back of the plane have something to do. Qatar is the first airline to offer wireless connectivity on a Boeing 787, made possible by OnAir and Thales hardware. Qatar hasn't yet disclosed its pricing structure for using the wifi -- on this delivery flight it was free and I used 400MB of data tweeting throughout the flight.
Even if you don't want to pay for connectivity there's other things to keep passengers amused. Thales' VP Engineering, Frederik Schreiner, was on this flight and showed me how passengers can plug in a USB device or cable and view an image slideshow on the screen.
Passengers can also plug their iPads, loaded with their own movies, into the Thales system and watch them on the big screen.
As Frederik says, it's cool stuff.