January 19th, 2004
DCA – MSP
Northwest Flight 1709
Scheduled Departure Time: 3:30pm
Actual Departure Time: 4:15pm
Scheduled Arrival Time: 5:22pm
Actual Arrival Time: 5:45m
We began the trip by driving to DCA from the RIC area. I had checked the weather prior to leaving and it called for a chance of snow later in the day. About half way to DCA, it began snowing. We arrived at the airport to the sound of a few departing flights, and the deicing of planes. When we got to the check in desk, the agent asked if we would like to take an earlier flight, we agreed, and were placed on Flight 1707 scheduled to depart at 2:20pm. Then we had to go thru security.
Due to the length and nature of the trip, I had packed plenty of electronics. I had a laptop, 2 voltage converters (220 to 110, and 12VDC to 120), 2 digital cameras (Sony DSC-F717, and a Canon 20D), 2 video cameras, an image tank, radio scanner, and a piece of medical equipment I use. It took 30 minutes for them to swab for explosive residue. I asked after the check, if they had anyone take any longer to check, and received no for an answer.
After security we arrived at the gate, and found no planes at Concourse A. They had all departed beating the closing of the airport. No planes were coming or going. The flight we were checked in on, kept getting delayed. I was worried that we had already a tight enough connection, that we would miss the next flight. 2:30 rolled around, and an announcement was made, saying that the airport was tentatively scheduled to reopen at 3:00pm. The plane to be used for Flight 1707 had yet to leave Detroit due to a ground stop. Gate agents made another announcement that they would transfer the people from flight 1707, to flight 1709 (the one we were originally scheduled to take). I stood in line for a while, and received my boarding passes for Flight 1709.
At 3pm, the salt and snow trucks rolled out to the runway. At 3:15, the plane to be used for Flight 1709 arrived at the gate. Boarding began at roughly 3:45. It was the most disorganized boarding I had seen (as of yet – FR & U2 are worse). At about 4:05 we began to taxi to runway 19. As we made the turn onto the runway, I looked over at Gravelly Point and saw a few people checking out the action.
Finally in the air, the pilot made up some time. The flight was pretty much uneventful. Over 2 hours later we touched down at MSP on runway 30R. We taxied to the gate, got off the plane, and did a fast walk from Gate C11(?) to Gate F10. Holy Crap, MSP is larger than I thought!
January 19th, 2005
MSP – LGW
Northwest Flight 44
McConnell Douglas DC10-30
Scheduled Departure Time: 6:50pm
Actual Departure Time: ~7:10pm
Scheduled Arrival Time: 8:55am
Actual Arrival Time: 8:00am
After arriving at the gate, and failing to find a place to grab a quick smoke before getting on the plane, they were already boarding. I had time to use the rest room before they called my seat group to board. After giving them my crumpled up boarding card and showing them my passport, we made our way to our seats. Boarding didn’t last to long, as the flight was a little over half full. Since the load was light, I convinced my sister to take the empty seat behind me. She obliged, and I enjoyed the extra room. When I booked the flight, I chose a seat I thought to be just behind the wing. I got one directly in the middle of the wing.
Most of the flight was uneventful; the in-flight movie was Princess Diaries 2 or something like that. I was more interested in the GPS / weather info shown before and after the movie. Tail winds must have been pretty good, as our ground speed reached 750mph at some points.
The last time I did this flight, it was on DL. They provided a dinner and a breakfast. This time was just dinner and snacks. I ordered the kosher meal on my reservations, and received and decent turkey and stuffing dinner. The only thing I didn’t eat was the yogurt. I hate yogurt.
We encountered pretty heavy turbulence about half way between Greenland and Iceland. It must have been pretty bad, as they made an announcement for all FAs to buckle up. After some shaking, and overhead bins falling open, we came out of it.
Touch down occurred an hour early, so we had to wait for a gate. I was surprised that we actually got a gate. The queue for immigration was non-existent. I walked right up to the immigration officer, he asked for the purpose of my visit, and stamped my passport. My sister had to undergo a few more questions than I did, and eventually got her stamp. After immigration we went to baggage claim, and immediately saw our bags, and grabbed them. We proceeded thru the nothing to declare line, and finally got a chance at that smoke on the other side.
February 2nd, 2005
LGW – MSP
Northwest Flight 44
McConnell Douglas DC10-30
Departure Time 12:05pm
We began today’s trip by getting up at 04:30Z or 11:30pm home time (EST). We had packed our bags the night before, so all we had to do was put them in the car. Now the car was the first leg of the trip to the airport. My friend was kind enough to take us to the Leagrave Train Station on his way to work. We shoehorned our bags into his tiny Renault Clio, and he took us to the train station. We boarded the 5:19 train to London St. Pancras, and arrived at St. Pancras approx 45 minutes later.
Now I’m sure some of you may be familiar with the Kings Cross / St. Pancras Station. It is 3 stations in the same GENERAL area. We had the 2 farthest apart from each other. The station we had to walk to – dragging heavily loaded bags was ¼ mile away. It was not fun at all. We got on the train to Gatwick and arrived at a little after 8am.
When we finally got inside the South Terminal, check in was about to start. We had a couple in front of us, waiting for the people to move the barricade thingy out of the way. At about 8:30, they moved the sign, and we proceeded to the check in desks, where we were asked multiple security questions. We received our boarding cards and made our way to the shopping mall / departures lounge. Since we had plenty of time to kill, my sister and I agreed to meet back at the smokers area at around 10:30. I smoked one cigarette, then made my way to the enclosed viewing area. The weather outside was crap, and the dirty glass made for taking poor pictures. I don’t think I will even put them up on the other site. I did take a few of the plane we were to be taking out – N225NW.
At 10:35, I made my way to the smokers area, and saw my sister chowing down some food. She had bought some things at the mall, err duty free shops, and was just about ready to go to the plane. I was not. I wolfed down a few smokes, and said I was ready. Then she remembers the postcards she forgot to post. We went downstairs to find a post box, and found one near the security station. She threw them in, and away we went to gate 31.
We made it to the gate in time to see that nothing was going on. We had plenty of more time to kill. She walked around the concourse to see if there was any last minute things she wanted. Nope. She came back, and I walked over to the bar to smoke one last time. I arrived in time for the boarding call, waited for my row, and got in line. Since there were plenty of people being searched, they had no time for me, and we made our way on to the plane.
Departure occurred a little before noon, and really nothing eventful happened. They handed out the food, I of course got my kosher meal, which was again, delicious. The movie du jour was Mr. 3000. This movie was a little more entertaining than the movie on the way over.
This time the plane was taking a more northerly route, as we were flying over Greenland. I would say, by the map, that we were at least 100 – 150 miles above the south tip. There was no turbulence, but some headwinds. The reported ground speed was below 500mph. This time the trip seemed to be taking forever. A snack was served over Canada somewhere. Most people got a little hot sandwich, I got what amounted to a full meal due to the ordering of the kosher meals. They messed up and gave me a hot sandwich as well.
We touched down in MSP sometime before 3pm. We deplaned and made our way to the customs and immigration area. This time, I walked right up again to the desk, handed the woman my passport and declaration form, and got my return stamp. We did have to wait for the bags though, as the ramp personnel were playing musical carousels. We did not know which one to go to, as they were all starting and stopping. We proceeded thru customs, and then checked our bags back in, and again, back thru security. My sister forgot to put her phone in her bag, and set the machine off. She had to go thru the pat down and wanding. We had some time to kill so off we went to find a restroom. She went first while I watched the bags, then I went, and stole a few drags off of a smoke in a smoke free airport. We looked at the screens and they showed our next segment departing from gate C3 or C4.
February 2nd, 2005
MSP - DCA
Northwest Flight 1156
Departure Time 4:5something
We boarded the plane, took off, and flew right over Chicago. Now I had been to Chicago many times by roads. It is pretty much a dump (IMO – let the flames begin). Now – from the air – at dusk – it was beautiful. Not too long after, the Captain announced that we were 30 minutes away from touchdown, and NO ONE was to get up from their seats. Fortunately no one got up, and we touched down on Runway 1 at DCA. We deplaned, made our way to the front of the airport to collect our bags, and proceeded outside so I can get a smoke. While I was outside smoking, a gentleman walked up wearing a uniform with 4 stripes on the sleeves and asked if I had an extra cigarette. I obliged and gave him one with a warning. The ones I had were from the EU. They did not taste like ones made here. He asked if they had the wacky tobacky in them, and I said no. I get random drug tests, just like you. After talking a few minutes, he noticed my shirt, which was a DCA/IAD shirt, that was handed out at last years meet. I told him what it was, and we got into further conversation regarding spotting, and he asked if I was familiar with how they do it in Europe. I told him I was returning from there, and had spent 3 days in Amsterdam, and took about 8000 picture while I was there. He asked for my name and address and said he would send some NW stuff to me. As it turns out, he was the captain of the flight we had just taken. I did not catch his name, but he was a real nice guy. He mentioned that if I had asked, he would have allowed me to take a few pictures of the cockpit! Doh! Then his shuttle bus came, and we said goodbye. We got our shuttle bus, and made our way to the economy lot. Our parking fee was $130! Not so economical I think.
Hope you enjoyed my rant!