IB6400 From Mexico, joined Jun 1999, 247 posts, RR: 3 Posted (13 years 11 months 6 days 6 hours ago) and read 5404 times:
Well... I´m finally back from two great weeks in Pittsburgh. I think it
is probably one of the best trips I ever had.
Here is my trip report:
Mexico City - Detroit
"Fly the Red Tails, Fly Northwest"
My first experience with Northwest Airlines. I found a really good fare
to Pittsburgh, that's why I was flying with them.
I arrived at the airport 3 hours prior my departure. I spent 45 minutes in the line,
I had a security scan, I checked in my bag all the way to Pittsburgh. I asked for a window seat (18A) and I got my boarding passes to Detroit and Pittsburgh. Finally I took some time to eat some fries at McDonald's
At the gate:
I got to the gate and I noticed the flight was full of mainly Canadians and U.S. people who
were going to make their connections to somewhere else. I think Detroit was not the final
destination for the 70% of the passangers on that flight. I had a second security scan, I took
off my shoes and the security officer checked my backpack. I showed my passport and finally get in to the plane. This was my first A-319 and I really liked it. A Northwest flight attendant was at the door of the plane with a nice smile and she offered me to look for my seat. The load factor on this flight was 80%.
I took my window seat, the seats next to me were empty so I was very glad to have a bed for a 4 hours flight. Seat-pitch was not that good. All the safety announcements were made in English. Prior to take off a man took one of the empty seats next to me (18C) and that was the end of my bed. I really didn't mind as I still had the next seat to me empty. (18B) No audio neither video, but I didn´t mind for that mainly because I never pay attention to that. The captain announced the route: Mexico City, Matamoros, Corpus Christi then Indianapolis and finally Detroit. He said the flight was going to take us 3 hours and 35 minutes. Flight attendants served drinks and peanuts and 25 minutes later they served the meal. Chicken or beef were the options, I had the chicken. It was really good, I am certainly not a special person in terms of airline food. I spent my time trying to read "La Fiesta del Chivo" of Vargas Llosa, listening to my CD player (Special CD selection included: "Anastacia-One Day In Your Life", "Westlife" and Spanish speaking singer Luis Miguel He,he... ) and writing a sort of journal for my trip. Flight attendants made another round handling U.S. customs forms and entrance forms for the foreign citizens. I filled out my forms, (I checked for any mistakes and I didn`t realize till we arrive to Detroit I was missing my U.S. address. That mistake became a pain in my neck for the next 4 hours in Detroit. I´ll tell you why in a moment) The captain announced we were ahead 25 minutes above schedule so the passangers and I included would have enough time to check out the new Detroit airport and it´s shopping stores. The approach to Detroit was beautiful. What a nice city from the sky! The captain showed us Canada in the approach to Detroit, I was really excited. We finally landed and let me tell you Detroit is a really nice airport.
Everything was ok until we were taxing to the gate, we got to the gate and next to our plane was a KLM MD-11 from Amsterdam, we didn´t get out of the plane because the captain explained us that some days before some guys reached the customs area without even showing passports or visas, so we needed to wait for the next immigration officer available. Only 4 officers were working at that time, and the 4 of them were in the KLM flight. Whose fault was that? I don´t know, the only thing I knewed is that I was going to take another flight to Pittsburgh. So we wait and wait for 35 minutes. They finally let us go out of the plane for the customs area. At the customs area I was stopped because obviously I was missing my address in the U.S. I had my address but It was not in my backpack it was in my bag at the baggage claim. The immigration officer asked me some stupid questions like "Are you planning to place some bombs in the states?" or "Do you have any connections with drug dealers in the states?" I answered her with a plain "No". She asked for my address and then I explained her my situation. She said: "Well we need to find your bag, so I can have your address, please follow me" I was so worried because I actually thought I was missing my plane to Pittsburgh. Then she asked me to take a seat and wait. I was like in an office of the U.S. Immigration Service next to customs full of persons with an irregular situation in the U.S. of the flight of KLM. There were tons of people of other countries, Nigeria, Croatia, Namibia etc... and none of them would speak English. The immigration officers were frustrated because they had to deal with persons who didn´t spoke any English at all. I was so mad, because my problem was not that big. I even tried to explain that to a Immigration Officer and with this attitude she told me: "You need to wait for your turn, and then we´ll see".
I had to wait there for about an hour and twenty minutes. Then finally I had my turn and the officer told me: "Oh, my God this is so easy!!! You´ve been here for about what? 2O minutes? I told her "About an hour and twenty minutes" Then she told me: "Whoa!, Thank for your patience, We are very sorry" She made her work stuff, stamped my passport and let me go. I placed my bag in the connection band and ran to my gate. I had another security checkpoint, I had like 5 minutes to get to the plane. I was rushing the security agent and one lady of Northwest was telling me that they had to do all of this because all the security stuff, she was really nice at me. They let me go and then I took the little train that goes all the way around the airport, I ran I reached my gate and my plane was not there. I was so freakin mad!!
Anyway I looked for a Northwest counter and they helped me a lot. They completely understand what I was explaining to them and they booked me on the next flight to Pittsburgh on Saturday June 8th at 6:45 AM. They found me a room in the Four Points right in front of the airport and they let me made a phone call to Pittsburgh. That was really good! Then I went to baggage services and they explained me, my bag was actually leaving with me in the next flight to Pittsburgh. I crashed in the hotel and wake up the next day at 4:50 AM.
Detroit - Pittsburgh
I arrived at the airport at 5:00 AM. There were tons of people travelling at that time in the morning, I was amazed. I checked in and I told the Northwest agent all my situation about my bags and my missconnection, she said everything was ok. I got my boarding pass and a window seat (5F). Again I had a random security scan. I checked out with calm the airport, I bought a lock for one of my bags, a bottle of water and a Northwest Airlines Guide Pocket Book.
At the gate:
I got to the gate and I saw my DC-9-32. There are screens at every single gate, with information about your flight, miles, in-flight services and weather stuff. There were only 20 or 25 persons at the gate. We started the boarding process, there were no passangers in Business and they didn´t ask to board the plane by groups, actually just one lady was in charge of the whole flight. For the first time I skipped the security scan at the gate, I was so glad.
I went to my seat, and the interiors of the plane looked almost new. I really like the DC-9. Meanwhile in my seat I found out that I am missing one of my bags with the stuff I just bought in the airport, I asked one of the flight attendants permission to go out and look for my bag, she told me that was ok, but the first thing I should do is to tell the lady at the counter what was going on. I found my stuff and then shen told me I needed to go thru the security checkpoint. I just can´t get rid of those!!
The flight was packed! No, just kidding... Actually there were 20 or 25 persons on board. The flight attendants did the security demonstrations and announcements so fast I didn´t notice them. We were taxing and I saw besides the red tails, a 737-800 with winglets of American Trans Air and a 767-300 of United Airlines. The flight attendants served coffee and orange juice with small packets of crackers and cheese. I had orange juice and coffee. In my itinerary it says that the flight was going to take me 1 hour and 5 minutes. We did 30 minutes. That was fast! I asked one of the flight attendants about the short flight time and he said they like to do that for the connections, so people would have enough time for their next flight. We landed and I saw US Airways planes most of the time. By the way, the approach to Pittsburgh it´s very very nice.
I liked the airport, it seems it´s new. I don´t know how many years it is, but believe me it´s great. I took the train to baggage claim and then I went to pick up my bag, just to find out, there was no bag, Northwest lost my bag. Could you imagine how I was by that time? I went to baggage services, explain the whole situation and the lady ("Glenda" was her name) really nice at me told me I was getting my bag by the afternoon. She was right, I got my bag by 5 or 6 in the afternoon.
I loved that city!! Specially the view from Mount Washington! Sewickley, Robinson all of them really great places!
NW 6879 CODE SHARE CO 3531
Pittsburgh - Newark
Continental Express ERJ 145
"You are not just a passanger, you are a priority"
Fast, I was the only person at the Continental´s counter. Nevertheless the agent with a very strong accent was not that nice at me. (Who knows where he was from) I didn´t care about that, I was so sad because I was leaving. I got a window seat again (4A) in the single seat row of the ERJ-145 and my boarding passes all the way down to Mexico City.
At the airport:
I went into the last minute shopping at the mall inside the airport. That´s really a good idea. I bought stuff for my mom and girlfriend, and stuff for me in GAP. I had some burritos at McDonald´s,
At the gate:
It seemed the flight was packed as there were to many persons at the gate. They announced the boarding process and I had another security checkpoint. Oh my God, I hate those!! Anyway I boarded the plane I took my seat.
The plane and the flight:
I was expecting a really tiny plane, actually it´s not that tiny, it´s small but you can hang around with that room. Seat pitch it´s ok. And there is only one flight attendant for the entire flight. The flight attendant, he was nice, he made jokes all the entire flight. This flight, despite what I thought, was not full, 70% of load factor. We had coffee and juice options, I had juice. I think the plane is kind of noisy because I was listening to my CD almost with all the volume up, and I could still listen the engines so loud. We fly for an hour and two minutes. We landed safely and on time in Newark.
At the airport:
I wouldn´t be honest if I say I liked Newark. It´s a big airport, but it seemed like a hospital, there are not too many stores and everything is white. What I liked there were the bilingual signs everywhere in English and Spanish. That´s important for people that don´t speak any English at all. Continental´s staff were always nice and polite at me and some of them speak Spanish. I think I didn´t like Newark, mainly because Pittsburgh and Detroit looked so new.
I didn´t have to do anything, just to wait for my next flight to Mexico City.
NW 7970 CODESHARE CO 1970
Newark - Mexico City
Continental Airlines Boeing 737-800
At the gate:
I wait there for the boarding process. Again I thought the flight was full, because there were to many people at the gate. All the announcements were made in English and Spanish. And we board in groups. I didn´t have a security scan for this time! I went to the counter to ask one of the agents if the flight was overbooked. He told me it wasn´t.
I loved the plane. It has screens that fall from the ceiling showing the "Airshow". The seats have those little "wings" for your head. And you have plenty of room for your legs. I thought the plane was full but it wasn´t. 75% of load factor. Again I had two free seats next to me. Flight attendants, they spoke Spanish at all times. Safety announcements were also bilingual and in video. We took off fast and 25 minutes later the flight attendants gave us hot towels, and minutes later the first round of beverages. The movie: "Bandits" in English and Spanish and the selection of 6 audio channels. CNN, CNN en Español, Third Rock From The Sun were also showed. We had two choices in terms of food: Chicken or Beef. I had the chicken. Flight Attendants made 4 or 5 rounds later to see if passangers need something. Later another round of cheese, crackers and beverages. The total flight time was 5 hours and 20 minutes. I couldn´t imagine how good the service is to Europe.
We landed on time, and I didn´t have any problems at all.
My best flight definetely was the last one. Cool stuff everywhere.
Northwest is good with their ground staff, excellent I would say, but they need to do something with in-flight service. The best airport by far is Detroit, but it´s immigration officers are not the best ones in the continent.
I hope you enjoyed reading this. This is my first trip report and I would appreciate any comments on this. Thanks in advance!
"Yo soy yo más mis circunstancias"
-Ortega y Gasset-
Yo soy yo más mis circunstancias - J. Ortega y Gasset
Pgh234 From United States of America, joined Jul 2001, 820 posts, RR: 1
Reply 2, posted (13 years 11 months 6 days 4 hours ago) and read 5347 times:
Excellent trip report! I am very glad you enjoyed PIT and everything we have here. You more than likely flew right over my house since I live under one of the main approach paths into PIT. I live only 5 minutes away from Robinson. As for the airport, it opened in October of 1992 I believe. It is still my favorite airport, however I cant believe it is almost 10 years old already! My...how time flys. lol If there is anything else ya wanna know about the PIT region I'd be happy to tell Otherwise, it was a good report.
CcrlR From United States of America, joined Aug 2001, 2334 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (13 years 11 months 6 days 3 hours ago) and read 5331 times:
That was a great trip report. I'm glad you liked Pittsburgh. Hey PGH, I was in PIT three months ago and I had a post about places to spot at PIT. If you have any more spotting areas let me know ok? when I was there I stayed at my cousin's house and he lived near PIT. You could go down to the bottom of the hill and see the planes come in.
"He was right, it is a screaming metal deathtrap!"-Cosmo (from the Fairly Oddparents)
NWA Man From United States of America, joined Jun 1999, 1828 posts, RR: 11
Reply 6, posted (13 years 11 months 5 days 10 hours ago) and read 5235 times:
UA763's are a pretty common sight at DTW- the loads from DTW to ORD are fairly high. Back when UA flew the DC-10s, those often made appearances at DTW, for the ORD flight.
I've heard a lot of rough stories about the immigrations officers in Detroit- the new facility is supposed to be able to process 1200 passengers per hour, but it's understaffed. Consequently, situations like yours occur. Luckily, Northwest was understanding and put you up in the DTW Four Points, not a bad hotel by any means. Glad you enjoyed your trip.
It's interesting that you flew on Northwest. Northwest isn't really too well known for flying to Mexico since they have a very small operation when compared to the giant network that Continental operates in the region. I've never flown Northwest, but it's well known that they need to enhance their inflight service because it's very basic. Continental on the other hand is well known for having friendly cabin crew and good inflight service.
You know, some U.S. airport immigration officers are sometimes real lazy (government worker) idiots. They have a very bad attitude. I have many words in my vocabulary to describe them.
I've never been to DTW, but I've seen pictures and the airport looks very state of the art. It's probably one of most important jewels on Northwest's crown. I've never been to Newark either, as I prefer JFK, but I believe that not too long ago Continental did give it a facelift. The terminal was originally aquired brand new when People Express went bankrupt sometime around 1986. Take care...
Cx340 From Mexico, joined Sep 2000, 609 posts, RR: 4
Reply 9, posted (13 years 11 months 5 days ago) and read 5175 times:
Grat trip report Joaquín, very detailed.
The last time I was in Pittsburgh (back in 1988) I arrived at the old terminal and I don't remember much but it looked old, and I only made a connection there as I lived in Philly (suburbs), but Pennsylvania in general is great. DTW and EWR I have never been too (I always go through JFK and once through LGA), but from your comments I understand they are good. Shame on NW about their service, though.
Anyway, it is nice to see reports from MEX. Keep them flowing!!
Azjubilee From United States of America, joined Apr 2000, 4364 posts, RR: 26
Reply 11, posted (13 years 11 months 4 days 23 hours ago) and read 5178 times:
The customs facility in DTW can process up to 3200 passengers an hour. Of coursae I would imagine that number is based on a full complement of employees. Sounds like he got great service on NW. It wasn't their fault that the customs staff was inadequate, yet the took care of their passenger anyway. Sounds like the NW I know...
IB6400 From Mexico, joined Jun 1999, 247 posts, RR: 3
Reply 13, posted (13 years 11 months 4 days 7 hours ago) and read 5154 times:
Thank you very much guys for all your opinions. I really appreciate any single comment on what I wrote.
Excuse my grammar mistakes please!
Yeap! I had a great time in Pittsburgh. I actually stayed in Robinson. What I loved there were the woods. There are woods everywhere!! Sewickey is a very special town I would love to live there.
No, on my first Northwest flight, Flight Attendants didn't speak any Spanish at all. All safety demonstrations and informative announcements were always in English. The signs inside the airplane were also in English.
I obviously didn't expect to listen or read Spanish on my flight to Pittsburgh. Nevertheless Continental has everything in both languages with the exception of my flight from Pittsburgh to Newark where they spoke English.
(I completely understand Northwest and Continental. How many people on those flights do you think they would speak Spanish? Maybe 1 or 2%?)
A couple of questions for all of you NW fans: Do Flight Attendants have a special uniform? Because some of them were wearing red sweaters and the rest of the crew were wearing blue ones. Or it's just a random thing? And... Do F/A's speak any other languages on flights to the Orient? Just wondering...
Thanks for your comments!
As DTW/ORD fan! pointed out. I think almost every NW agent or employee I treated were very nice at me. When I was with my immigration problem, I saw 3 or 4 times one agent who was asking me for my next flight and he wanted to be sure I was fine. Finally in Baggage Services and the NW counter, the ladies were very nice and always smiling at me. Even at the security checkpoint in Detroit, this nice lady of NW was helping me rushing the security officer. When I got to Baggage Claim in Pittsburgh, "Glenda" was very at me, she told me: "You are getting your bag by the afternoon". Well she was right. When they lost my bag I realized they lost it because all my troubles in Detroit. I know it wasn't their fault.
In my opinion I would try Northwest over and over again, because I had one of the best treatments ever, and a really good fare, but I would like to avoid customs at Detroit, certainly they were not the kind of persons I like. (And believe me, I´m not a very special person in terms of people, food or whatever...)
What Northwest needs to change is their inflight service. It would be really poor for persons like my brother who usually gets bored on airplanes. F/A's were nice but they made 3 rounds in the whole flight from MEX-DTW and they made that mainly because of beverages, food and customs forms, On Continental I think I missed the count. And they have a great inflight entertainment even for me. (Of course it was a 737-800, I wouldn´t expect that entertainment in a MD-80, but I would expect the same service of the F/A's)
If any of you guys have any other questions please feel free to ask!
Thanks in advance!
"Yo soy yo más mis circunstancias"
-Ortega y Gasset-
Yo soy yo más mis circunstancias - J. Ortega y Gasset
Cx340 From Mexico, joined Sep 2000, 609 posts, RR: 4
Reply 14, posted (13 years 10 months 4 weeks 2 hours ago) and read 5060 times:
Well. I probably misunderstood you then, so I take it back. As for the in-flight service, I guess it is the same in most US carriers, but I'm not going into that, it has been discussed endlessly on these forums.
Anyway, it's great to hear that you had a good time in Pennsylvania. I would by all means like to go back some day, but there are many places to see and travel through first!!
N766ua From United States of America, joined Jul 1999, 8730 posts, RR: 23
Reply 15, posted (13 years 10 months 3 weeks 4 days ago) and read 5029 times:
You say the CO agent at pitt had a strong accent? Let me ask you this- did he say "yuns", "dahntahn", or anything about pitt being the "arn city?" If so that accent you heard was pure pittsburghese. Otherwise, Can't help ya. Good report!
EddieDude From Mexico, joined Nov 2003, 8217 posts, RR: 42
Reply 18, posted (10 years 5 months 3 weeks 3 days 9 hours ago) and read 4006 times:
Cool report. So, why am I reading it three years after you wrote it? Well, I just flew NW to LGA and back from EWR (via DTW of course) and found it while writing my own trip report. Nice report IB6400! I liked it.