This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Up until this week, Oklahoma City’s Will Rogers Airport had never seen a Boeing Dreamliner. In fact, widebody passenger aircraft are an especially unusual sight here — OKC is a much more common destination for regional jets than large international planes.

Air Tahiti Nui decided to shake things up on Tuesday, though, making the Sooner State its very first 787-9 stop. I happened to be on board the airline’s delivery flight, and like Boeing’s Dreamliner, I also made my Oklahoma City debut.

Since a 787 pit stop is uncommon on such a short delivery flight — the plane’s 8,785-mile range can easily handle the 2,200-mile hop from Charleston, South Carolina (CHS) to Los Angeles (LAX) — I turned to Twitter and Instagram to see if TPG readers could solve the mystery of our aircraft’s peculiar detour.

Most were stumped. Was the plane dropping off (or picking up) parts? No. Did we divert due to weather? Nope, but a good guess, had there been some in the area. Taking advantage of cheap fuel prices at OKC? It’d have to be super duper cheap to make landing worthwhile, and I’m guessing Boeing doesn’t gouge its customers taking delivery of a nearly $300-million machine.

Getting some fresh air on a chilly pit stop at OKC. Photo by Ben Mutzabaugh/USA Today.
Getting some fresh air on a chilly pit stop at OKC. Photo by Ben Mutzabaugh/USA Today.

Turns out the explanation is entirely straightforward, but those of us on board didn’t even get the full scoop until we were ready to take off for LAX. The stop was coordinated roughly six months in advance — this was far from a diversion, or a last-minute decision to take advantage of cheap fuel.

So what’s the deal? While Air Tahiti Nui’s pilots have spent plenty of time in a Dreamliner simulator, this was their first time flying the carrier’s actual 787-9. The French airline is governed by the European Aviation Safety Agency, and the agency requires that the pilots scheduled to fly the Dreamliner across the Pacific to Tahiti in a few days have experience both flying the -9 as pilot in command, and serving as co-pilot.

Oklahoma City is roughly halfway between CHS and LAX, giving both pilots an opportunity to fly a takeoff and landing, plus about two hours en-route.

OKC ground staff stopped by to take some pics of the Dreamliner
OKC ground staff stopped by to take some pics of the Dreamliner, and its massive engines. Photo by Zach Honig/TPG

The stop also gave ground staff an opportunity to get up close and personal with their first Dreamliner — several walked around the aircraft, taking pictures and posing by the engines. There wasn’t an opportunity to come on board, but the OKC team snapped plenty of exterior photos, some of which made their way to Twitter.

Just a few minutes after landing, we were on our way back to the runway, and on to Los Angeles. And no, we didn’t take on any cheap OKC fuel.

Know before you go.

News and deals straight to your inbox every day.

The American Express® Business Platinum Card

The Business Platinum Card from American Express offers 40,000 bonus Membership Rewards® points as well as a slew of other valuable benefits like lounge access, hotel elite status and a digital subscription to The Times and The Sunday Times for Primary and Platinum Supplementary Cardmembers.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 40,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend £6k in your first 3 months of Card Membership
  • Up to 99 free Supplementary Cards - one complimentary Platinum Employee Cards and 98 Complimentary Gold Employee Cards
  • Global Lounge Collection - Access to more than 1,200 airport lounges across 130 countries, including The Centurion® Lounges and membership of Priority Pass™
  • Hotel Status at Hilton, Marriott Bonvoy™, Meliá Hotels International, Radisson Hotel Group, Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts – enjoy benefits such as complimentary upgrades, early check-in and late check-out, enhanced loyalty points, complimentary Wi-Fi and more
  • The Times and The Sunday Times annual digital subscription (£312 value per Card) – available for Primary and all Supplementary Cardmembers
  • Fine Hotels and Resorts – Enjoy a collection of over 1,000 hand-selected iconic 5-star properties worldwide. Receive complimentary benefits worth an average total value of £400 per stay.*
  • £150 statement credit for every booking with onefinestay (unlimited use)
  • Dedicated Account Management Team
Annual Fee
£595
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

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.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.