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October 20, 2001
Boeing has numerous signs leading from highway 526 to the tour center. We did not have any problems on the Boeing campus to the center as everything was well marked. The tour center opens at 8:30 with the option of purchasing tickets for that day's tours. The cost is $5 per person ($3 for seniors and children) and you must be at least 4'2" tall to be on the tour. During tourist season (which must end before October) advance tickets for a specific tour can be purchased for $10 if you don't want to take a chance.
The tour center has displays showing the history of Boeing, including the time periods where purchasing airplanes was low so the Boeing production crews made furniture instead. The gift shop is a separate building and the prices are pretty steep. Boeing employees can make purchases using payroll deductions according to the signs. I wonder if they got a discount too? Restrooms are also in an external building. The tour literature reminds everyone that restrooms are not available on the tour and to please use the facility before the tour begins. Additionally, nothing can be taken with you on the tour - no purse, cell phone, electronics etc.
The tour used to inlude a view of the manufacturing floor from a 75" catwalk, but that was not available while we were visiting in October. The tour guide stated that it will be available again in a few months.
We rode a bus over to the building and then took an elevator to a viewing area over the manufacturing floor. The guide identified the different planes on the floor and pointed out all the aspects of the building. There is not heating nor air conditioning. With all the heat from the lights, running equipment and people, there is no need. Air conditioning is done by opening up the big doors.
We boarded the bus again for a driving tour of the finished planes. It was a sunny morning and two of the planes had pilots ready to test out the newly manufactured aircraft. That would be a scary job, taking the plane up for the first time!
The tour guide was very knowledgeable, sharing information about the facility, the company, various airplanes and answering people's questions.
Hopefully the catwalk will be included in the tour again. I would have enjoyed that aspect. However, it was still worth the $5 cost.
From journal First Trip to Seattle
New York, New York
November 14, 2000
From journal Cool Seattle Experience