BOSTON -- Those passengers getting on JetBlue flight 2783 from Boston's Logan Airport to Raleigh/Durham Airport on Monday were met with a surprise at Gate C8.
The 12:55 p.m. flight had black-and-gold balloons at the gate and a new plane at the end of the jet bridge: Bear Force One.
JetBlue introduced the Boston Bruins-themed plane, the first to be tied in with an NHL team, and thought what better way to send it off on its first flight than from Boston to Raleigh, where the Bruins and Carolina Hurricanes will play Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final at PNC Arena on Tuesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS). The Bruins lead the best-of-7 series 2-0.
So it was a happy unveiling at C8 on Monday, a location that Bruins president Cam Neely noted with approval.
"I love it," Neely said of the plane. "It's great for the organization. It's great for the brand. It's great for our fans that are across the country. It's exciting. It looks sweet. The colors are nice."
The partnership, in the works for a couple of years with some stops and starts, resulted in a sleek-looking, black-painted plane with a yellow tail fin emblazoned with the Bruins' spoked-B logo. The name Bear Force One is stenciled on the cockpit.
"There was a number of different iterations of the paint scheme, but we landed on this one," Neely said. "Felt this was the best."
Each seat was covered with a gray T-shirt with "Bear Force" and No. 1 on the back. Even the Bruins' mascot, Blades, showed up for the event, riding out on a luggage cart to see the new plane.
Given that it took a few years to develop the plan, design the plane and make it happen, Neely said it came together at the best possible moment given the Bruins' deep run into the Stanley Cup Playoffs. With two more wins against the Hurricanes, the Bruins will reach the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 2013.
Boston last won the Cup in 2011.
"The timing couldn't be better," Neely said.