After a five-year delay, the first high-tech Dreamliner has left the Boeing factory in Seattle bound for Australia.

A short time before take-off, Qantas and Jetstar chief executives Alan Joyce and Jayne Hrdlicka cut an orange ribbon at an orange carpet ceremony.

Boeing's 787 Dreamliner was meant to have joined the Qantas group's fleet in 2008, but will instead be arriving in Melbourne on Wednesday to fanfare.

Accepting the first of 14 Dreamliners, Mr Joyce kept his remarks short, after a night of partying in downtown Seattle.

"I know it's very cold for everybody, so I'll keep this brief. It feels like I'm back in Ireland at the moment," he said to laughter as some rain drizzled.

Ms Hrdlicka, wearing the corporate orange look, said the journey to hold the keys to the first Dreamliner had been intense.

"It's been just an extraordinarily long journey and for many of you, it's just been one of the most emotionally charged and thrilling times in your career," she said.

"The last three weeks have been really intense and we're just ready now to bring them home."

Mr Joyce and Ms Hrdlicka have boarded the aircraft with a group of Australian journalists who will be stopping at Hawaii before landing in Melbourne on Wednesday afternoon.

US customs officials screened luggage at the Boeing headquarters as the passengers boarded the plane.

Touring the Boeing factory the day before, Mr Joyce promised that passengers would endure less jet lag.

Jetstar will be the first low-fare carrier in the south Pacific region to take delivery of a Dreamliner, which features larger, push-button dimming windows.

The Boeing 787 has had teething problems such as a now solved fire-prone lithium battery issue.