Well, like most of you out here I have an interest in aviation, but also for automobiles. This week the North American International AutoShow (NAIAS) was held in Detroit. The perfect opportunity to combine the 2 "passions"!.
Here is a report about my experience with Northwest Airlines.
Departure: Saturday 17th Jan., NW39 AMS-DTW std 08.00am Aircraft A330
Since this was going to be a short trip I decided to take the early departure from AMS. In the winter NWA operates 3 daily non-stop flights to DTW and the NW39 arrives DTW around 11.00am, so you have the whole afternoon in Detroit.
I arrived at the airport around 06.15am. Check in was a breeze with the use of the SSCI machines. I love those things! Off to gate E24 (!! yes, almost in RTM !!) I arrived at the gate at 06.45am and they started the profile check already. The line was quite long but moved surprisingly fast. After answering the usual questions ("did you pack your bags yourself" etc.), it was another 20 minutes before boarding started.
The load was about 90% but boarding went rather smooth, although there are always passengers ignoring the announcement and just board the plane whenever they feel like . Oh well....
I was seated in WBC seat 6c. At the boarding door I was sort of "greeted" by a NW FA. She didn't say anything except "to the left" and pointed her finger towards the business class section. Bad mood???
As soon as I sat down I was offered champagne, OJ or water, this FA did say "goodmorning" and was smiling .
We left AMS about 10 minutes late because of some late incoming connecting pax and their bags. After deicing we were airborne around 08.40am.
About 1 hour after take-off breakfast was served. It was tastful. They offered 3 choices: Omelet, Cranberry crepes and cereal. I choose the crepes and it was just GREAT.
The flight was about 8hrs40min. After breakfast waterbottles were handed out and that was all for the next 6 hrs! OK, there was this "skybreak" basket in the pantry, but the FAs didnot walk around to ask if passengers would like something to drink (yes, yes, I know ring the call buton...). For WBC it would be nice to ask once and a while if you would like something!
For some reason it was freezing cold on board. After about 4 hrs it finally heated up a bit after several pax made a complaint about it.
About an hour before arrival we were offered some kind of sandwich. I don't know exactly what was but certainly not my taste. I didn't like it.
Arrival was about 20 minutes late (11.15am), but since I didnot have a connecting flight to catch, that was no problem for me. Immigration was fast! We were the only international flight arriving at that moment and since WBC pax can deboard first I was 1 of the first pax at the immigration. At 11.35am I was ready to go and of to Alamo to pick up my car.
*** The NAIAS was great, nice conceptcars, beautiful 2006 cars, it was worth the trip! ***
After 3 days in Detroit, I flew to MSP to check out the Mall of America. I flew with NW747 (that's the flight#, not the a/c) to MSP on Tuesday 17th Jan.
Departure: NW747 DTW-MSP std 12.21pm Aircraft B757
I arrived at DTW at 09.45am, although it was quite busy, check in was fast. Once again thanks to the SSCI machines. Went through security and had about 2hrs to enjoy DTW. This is IMO one of the best airports in the world. Clean, bright, all kinds of services and beautiful!
I never understand why US airlines have such weird departure times. Our std was 12.21pm, why not 12.20pm or 12.25pm?? Oh well, not something to bother about too much. Boarding was at 11.50am. I had a windowseat in Y-class, 20F. The flight had a loadfactor of appr. 70% and I had the luck of an empty seat next to me. The FA at the boarding door had no time greeting the pax 'cause she was chatting with a fellow FA. Once inside the a/c I was a bit shocked how dirty it was. In row 19 there were olives on the floor, underneath my seat there was a Starbucks cup, a lot of crums on the floor, several straws. Disgusting. I can understand that the aircraft is not cleaned when there is a short turn around, but this plane arrived at 10.45am from TPA, so IMO NW had enough time to at least clean up a the cups/olives.
I was surprised with the number of NW staff travelling on this plane. I don't know if they were positioning crew or just going home after a days work. There were about 10 non working crew -in uniform- onboard. All with HUGE carry on bags.
The flight left on-time. Service onboard was beverage only. FAs were grumpy and they gave you (or me) the feeling that they rather be doing something else. For the rest very uneventful with an ontime arrival in MSP.
***After one night in Bloomington (MOA Country Inn & Suites) it was time to go home.***
Departure Wednesday 18th Jan. NW56 MSP-AMS 09.15pm A330
Well same a s with the other flights: check in with SSCI, so FAST .
Unfortunately I was seated in Y for this red-eye flight to AMS. A windowseat on row 30. The flight was almost full, I guess about 85%. The staff at the gate (5 x ) was VERY unfriendly. I am a gate agent myself and I have to be honest and tell you that I am not always the friendliest person around, but than there is always someone else around who is in a good mood, but at this gate ALL 5 were grumpy and yelling at passengers and -even worse- at eachother!
Boarding was about 50 minutes before departure and was smooth. The FA at the door pointed me to the correct aisle (and said goodevening!). It looked like the aircraft just came in from the Airbus factory because it was SO CLEAN, what a difference compared to the B757 the day before.
Departure was 10 minutes early (wow!) at 09.05pm. After 1 hour dinner was served. Once again the FAs didn't seem to enjoy their job. "Chicken or Veg. curry", followed by "Drink". No "what would you like to drink" or something like that. I choose the chicken. It was served with green beans, potatoes, breadroll, cheese and a brownie. I didn't eat much of it, because I had dinner at the airports TGIFridays. What I eat was good though.
The rest of the flight was (again) nothing special. I couldn't get a comfortable position in my seat, also because the IFE box underneath the seat in front of me, so I couldn't stretch my legs. I played a bit with the AVOD, but the program was the same as on the wayover to DTW, so nothing exiting. As it was freezing on the AMS-DTW flight, it was too warm on this stretch.
The FAs walked through the aisle with cups of water about every hour and 1 hour before arrival we had breakfast. An eggmuffin with cheese, fruitcup and yoghurt. Nothing special. In between the 2 meals only the watercups were offered. They use to give you a small sandwich or icecream half way the flight, but not this time.
Arrival was 1 hour early (!), with touchdown at 11.35am. Unfortunately at the Polderbaan, so add another 15 minutes taxi time and we were at the gate at 11.50am, 45 minutes early.
Check-in: 10/10 SSCI, fast and easy on all 3 airports (AMS/DTW/MSP)
FA's: 5/10 in wbc they were friendly, the other flights rude and grumpy
Food: 6/10 on the international flights the quality was good, quantity is someting NW needs to improve, the domestic flight:
IFE: 8/10 AVOD is great, too bad that inbound and outbound choices are the same. I will say nothing about IFE for the domestic flight....
Punctuality: 9/10 Perfect, no further comments
A/C condition: 7/10 A330s were in perfect shape (of course), B757 terrible.*
*From a passenger point of view, I obviously say nothing about the technical status.
Would I fly NW again? Sure. NW flew me where I needed to be. Save and on-time. But they will not be my first choice.
I know NW is in a difficult situation nowadays, maybe that has an effect on the FAs and groundstaff and their attitude. Maybe when the labour issue is solved it hopefully will be better.
p.s. It takes more than a state-of-the-art aircraft to be a good airline. NW flies brand new A330 a/c across the Atlantic. With good seats in both classes and a great AVOD system, but this trip made it clear to me that it's all about the people. If the staff were just (a bit more) friendly and caring I'm sure it was a completely different experience.
[Edited 2006-01-22 15:16:21]