Jakeflyer From United States of America, joined Sep 2006, 46 posts, RR: 0 Posted (4 years 10 months 2 weeks 5 days 13 hours ago) and read 27423 times:
10 years ago I lived in Michigan and earned "Gold" status on Northwest Airlines. I moved to Pennsylvania where US Airways dominates the market. For the past eight years, I've either had "Gold" or "Chairman" status and so most all my travel and experience over the past decade has been on US Airways.
I recently moved to Kansas City where most all airlines are represented equally... and US Airways isn't as convenient. I've also noticed a continuing decline in service as US Airways has gone through bankruptcy (twice) and the merger with America West. Because of this, I decided to branch out to explore other options. Northwest offered me a status match with "Gold" status, so I took it. I've been flying more and more on Northwest and have been pleasantly surprised with my experience with them. I've also utilized the SkyTeam alliance with Delta and Continental which I have found to be more open and flexible than the Star Alliance with US Airways and United.
About a month ago I had a trip to Manchester, New Hampshire for business on Northwest airlines. The return trip was scheduled on a CRJ900. Here's the details of the trip.
Booking the Flight
I always book my flights online because I like to know all my options... time, connections (to optimize miles), aircraft, seat availability, etc. Traditionally, I have stayed away from flights that included regional jet service because my experience with US Airways has been that none of their regional jets offer first class (they joke that "every seat is on a regional jet is first class"). Further, I am not a fan of the regional jets because of the smaller seats, lack of overhead storage, and the windows are at shoulder height so you can't look out the window very easily. Reluctantly, I selected the return flight on a CRJ900 only because it had the best schedule available.
I checked in the night before my flight at the hotel business center. I like Northwest's boarding passes because they are a single sheet that lists the itinerary, departure times and gates, set assignments, etc. The gate agent simply scans the bar code and you keep the paper. Nothing to tear, fold, or multiple papers to manage. To my surprise, it said that I had been upgraded to first class. I checked again and saw that I was on a scheduled to be on a regional jet and so I thought maybe there was an error or an aircraft change.
I arrived at the airport about an hour early in anticipation of a long security line. There is a security line at the right end of the terminal that services Northwest and fortunately there were only a few people in the queue. Unfortunately there was a five-year-old that was having a meltdown. Apparently her father forgot to pack her beloved stuffed animal and she screaming at him and refusing to cooperate with any requests of her father. He had to physically pick her up to remove her shoes to go through the X-Ray. I presented my boarding pass to the security guard and quietly asked if the girl was on my flight. To my relief she wasn't! You could tell by the look on the faces of the others in the security line, they were asking themselves the same question!
At the Gate
I made my way to the gate and saw the plane waiting... and it was a regional jet. I asked the gate agent if there was first class on the plane, and she replied "yes". As the flight was to leave around the dinner hour and the flight was over two hours, I decided to tempt fate and ask if there was a meal being served on the flight. She replied that dinner was being served in First Class. It was like I was in another dimension... First Class on a regional jet, dinner being served, and the flight was on time!!!
The CRJ900 Cabin
We boarded about a half hour before the flight was to leave. First Class boarded first and then the rest were boarded by groups. The flight was about 70% full so the process went smoothly. This was my first time on a CRJ900 so I was anxious to see what it looked like. Here are a few shots of the cabin and first class.
Interior Shot (From Airliner.net library). Note that the bins on the right of the First Class cabin are much smaller than those on the left. I noticed that no one used these as they were much too small and the sliding door made in inconvenient to access
Fellow Passenger (Notice the headline in the article he is reading..."Packed Cabins Ramp Up Flier's Stress Levels". I didn't notice this until I was writing this report!)
Small storage bin in the seat armrest. I'm not sure what one would be stored here....?
The service in First Class on the CRJ900 was consistent with a larger plane. A few minutes after takeoff, the flight attendant came around the cabin, asking our choice of dinner. Chicken or mushroom ravioli? I decided to live on the edge and had the ravioli. Here is what was served...
On a scale from 1 to 10, I would give the meal a 7. It was served hot, good variety and portions, the ravioli was a bit dry, but the chocolate mouse cake made up for it.... At this point I'm not going to complain. After all I wasn't expecting First Class in the first place!
The rest of the flight was uneventful. I sat back and watched some TV programs I had recorded on my video device.
Our flight path took us over the Finger Lake region of upstate New York
We also passed over Niagara Falls. At 32,000 feet, it is still impressive
We landed on time in Minneapolis and I continued on to my connecting flight to Kansas City
Inside the C Concourse
Traveling on the transit train. (By the way, if you have ever been on this train, notice that the announcer has a British accent. I think it would be more appropriate for the announcer to have a Minnesota accent... don't ya know!)
Waiting for my connection
Countdown to departure
Overall, it was a very enjoyable trip. The unexpected surprise of First Class on a regional jet was a big part of it. I would give this trip a 9.5 out of 10 (if only the ravioli weren't so dry !) I will definitely look for more flights on Northwest CRJ900 jets.
Also, I can't help but compare my experience on this flight on Northwest to my past few years experience on US Airways. It seems like Northwest has invested more in their product--especially for their frequent fliers--and is more customer focused including the boarding pass, the boarding process, and inflight serice. I also want to say that US Airways flight attendants and customer service people do an excellent job with the resources they have. From a passenger perspective It seems like US Airways management sets their policy and manages by the bottom line, regardless of the impact to customers. I believe that If airlines will manage by the customer, the bottom line will take care of itself. My opinion...
Jakeflyer From United States of America, joined Sep 2006, 46 posts, RR: 0 Reply 10, posted (4 years 10 months 2 weeks 2 days 20 hours ago) and read 25422 times:
Thanks for your comments. Here's some responses...
Quoting Burnsie28 (Reply 3): Yes they serve hot meals on both, I personally like the E175 better then the CR9 but both are really great if you can't have mainline.
Given the choice between the two, I think I would choose the E175 as well because it seems slightly larger. I've flown it quite a bit with US Airways... but no F/C.
Quoting Transpac787 (Reply 1): The CRJ900 looks like a fine aircraft and the seats and service for NW/CR9 looks awesome!
The seats were leather and very comfortable... and as someone else noted nicer than the blue cloth mainline seats. The service was just like the mainline, which is what airlines should do. There shouldn't be any difference on service from commuter to mainline--especially on long-distance core destinations.
Quoting MANmatt (Reply 6): do us a favour and save us a piece of that chocolate cake! Looks like heaven at 39,000ft!
... I will email you a piece!
Quoting UAL757 (Reply 8): Those F seats look so much nicer than those on a normal NW plane. I think I would rather take a RJ F over a 757 or A319 F.
Me too. There are four fewer seats in F/C on the CRJ900 than most of the mainline planes but with a smaller plane you have a better chance of being upgraded. Also, you get better service since there is still one flight attendant service the F/C cabin.
Ansett767 From Australia, joined May 1999, 1021 posts, RR: 2 Reply 14, posted (4 years 10 months 22 hours ago) and read 24170 times:
Nice report! How long was your flight? I was on a 2 hour Delta flight and got upgraded to First which was happy about, also on a regional jet and all we got was a choice of a bag of chips or a candy bar! Your meal looked nice in comparison!
Burnsie28 From United States of America, joined Aug 2004, 7421 posts, RR: 9 Reply 15, posted (4 years 10 months 18 hours ago) and read 24057 times:
Quoting UAL757 (Reply 8): Those F seats look so much nicer than those on a normal NW plane
Thats because they are the standard Bombardier interior, they don't get a choice on the RJ's its those leather seats or nothing. Same with the EMB series. About all they can change is the color of the leather.
"Some People Just Know How To Fly"- Best slogan ever, RIP NW 1926-2009
Azjubilee From United States of America, joined Apr 2000, 3563 posts, RR: 29 Reply 16, posted (4 years 10 months 6 hours ago) and read 23886 times:
NWA has had first class in their large RJs since the late 90s. In fact, NWA and Mesaba were the first airlines to offer FC on a regional jet. Only cold meals were offered back then, because NWA didn't order the oven option on the avros. They certainly wised up and sprung for every option the CRJ900 has to offer!
Jakeflyer From United States of America, joined Sep 2006, 46 posts, RR: 0 Reply 17, posted (4 years 9 months 4 weeks 1 day 21 hours ago) and read 23742 times:
Quoting Ansett767 (Reply 14): How long was your flight? I was on a 2 hour Delta flight and got upgraded to First which was happy about, also on a regional jet and all we got was a choice of a bag of chips or a candy bar!
The listed flight time is 3 hours and 6 minutes which is within the window of offering a meal in F/C or a meal for purchase in coach.
Quoting Azjubilee (Reply 16): NWA has had first class in their large RJs since the late 90s. In fact, NWA and Mesaba were the first airlines to offer FC on a regional jet. Only cold meals were offered back then, because NWA didn't order the oven option on the avros. They certainly wised up and sprung for every option the CRJ900 has to offer!
It's been about ten years since I flew on Northwest so was unaware of them offering F/C on regional jets with the exception of the old AVROs. My frame of reference is US Airways which doesn't offer F/C on regional jets. I go back to my original comment... if airlines manage by the customer, the bottom line will take care of itself.
Nah, my guess is that there's still only two, but the FA assigned to F also assists the other FA in Y, once service is completed in F. Of course, if someone in F rings the call-button, the FA in Y is on their own .
jakeflyer From United States of America, joined Sep 2006, 46 posts, RR: 0 Reply 22, posted (3 years 3 weeks 3 days 12 hours ago) and read 13285 times:
I wrote this trip report almost two years ago--I can't believe it came back up with comments. Since then, Northwest has been absorbed into the "new Delta". I was in First Class on a Delta Connection CRJ900 flight two weeks ago where a meal was served. It was a cold plate... choice of a turkey wrap or a pasta salad--not to the extent or quality of what was offered on the Northwest flight. There were two flight attendants working the flight. One in first class, the other in coach. While the service was good... it wasn't as memorable as the flight I took almost two years ago. (In response to NASBWI's last comment... on the latest Delta flight, after the meal and drink service, the FAs hung out in the front galley talking... we were all on our own!)
NASBWI From Bahamas, joined Feb 2005, 1255 posts, RR: 0 Reply 23, posted (3 years 6 days 10 hours ago) and read 10504 times:
Quoting jakeflyer (Reply 22): (In response to NASBWI's last comment... on the latest Delta flight, after the meal and drink service, the FAs hung out in the front galley talking... we were all on our own!)
Yikes!! I'm sorry to hear that (and I don't even work for DL!). Were you in F? Y? Not that it matters, but if you're in F and that's the level of service you were receiving, then that's rather appalling.