NW 102 PHX-MSP-BOS
I checked in about an hour early for my first flight on NW and probably my last on a DC-10. The check in line was short, and it took less than 5 minutes to check my one bag and get my seat assignment, 23j. The DC-10 was already there, and i was surprised how clean and new it looked considering the aircraft is nearing its 30th birthday. Boarding started nearly 30 minutes before scheduled push, but it still took almost all that time for all the passengers to get on the plane. The interior of the aircraft looked as good as the exterior; either the interior was replaced fairly recently or NW takes excellent care of their fleet. The seats had a little bit of wear on them, but otherwise they were the average domestic U.S. fare. Legroom was a bit below average. After an on-time push and a long taxi to runway 7L, we were on our way. Takeoff and climb were a bit lackluster compared to the narrowbodies i'm more accustomed to, but that wasn't much of a surprise. At the end of our climbout, the FA's served lunch: a choice between a turkey or corned beef sandwich. I chose the corned beef, and it was decent, but still nothing i'd go to a resturaunt and pay for. The FA's on the PHX-MSP leg were excellent, all smiles and friendly. NW's variety show was the only entertainment provided on the 2.5 hour flight. The flight was smooth with exception to some bumps on final to MSP. The landing on 12R at MSP was smooth, and it only took a minute or two to taxi to gate F14 for an on-time arrival. The turn at MSP was 2 hours, so i burned some time in MSP's observation tower. Don't think i've ever seen so many DC-10's in one place. The second leg to flight 102 also pushed on time, but had to wait 15 minutes for takeoff on runway 12L because of the line of red tails already in front of us. After the climbout, the FA's served dinner: A ham and cheese sandwich and some other kind of sandwich in a basket, similar to the lunch. I chose the ham and cheese sandwich, which was actually pretty good, getting closer to food i'd pay for. The flight was less than half full, so the FA's didn't spend more than a few minutes passing out dinner. One of the FA's said it's really uncommon to see that flight so empty. After 2 hours and 15 minutes, the pilots made a smooth landing on 4R and taxied to terminal E for another on time arrival.
NW 847 BOS-MSP
I again arrived about an hour early for my return trip. I was first in line at the check-in, and i had to wait about 10 minutes for a NW employee to show up. The employee had a strong foreign accent and i could barely discern what she was saying. The security also had strong accents. The A320 was already there, and it was a clean as the DC-10. Again, boarding started about 30 minutes ahead of time, and most of the passengers were in their seats 15 minutes prior to push. The interior was also in good shape, and the legroom was excellent. It was a good 2 inches extra over what the DC-10 had and more than I've ever seen on a domestic carrier. After an on-time push, the A320 taxied to runway 9. The engines at idle made a high-pitch hum which i found somewhat annoying, but it went away after we took off with no delay. After a sweeping left turn to the west and climbout, the FA's served dinner which was a choice between a chicken calzone or a roast beef sandwich. I chose the calzone, which was very good, food i would actually pay for. The FA's service was about average. The weather in MSP was IMC and the pilots made a long final to runway 12R. The taxi to gate G17 was less than a minute and the flight got in a few minutes ahead of time.
NW 107 MSP-PHX
My layover was a little over an hour, and getting to the gate was no problem since it was next door at G18. This A320 was in a little worse shape than the previous one. The paint showed a few chips here and there, but otherwise still above average. The interior was the same as the other A320, but the seats were a little more worn. Boarding again started quite early, and the aircraft pushed on time. This A320 didn't make the same annoying whine as the other one, but this one was also considerably older than the first one. The FA's acted like they were being forced to do their job. A snack of peanuts and a beverage service was all that was offered, but then again the flight was in the late evening so it wasn't too surprising. There was a fair bit of turbulence flying over a line of thunderstorms, and the lightning below put on a pretty good show. The aircraft landed long on 25L and the the crew took it's time on the long taxi back to terminal 3, but the aircraft still arrived on time. It took about 25 minutes for my bag to show up at the carousel.
Altogether, I was impressed with NW's service. The service i recieved was equal to or better than any other domestic carrier I have ever traveled on. To be honest, i was expecting something similar to the old CO. All of the aircraft i traveled on were in good to excellent condition. NW may have a good share of old aircraft, but it the rest are anything like the DC-10 I traveled on, I certainly don't see any problem with it. The fare was very affordable, however, with that said a passenger who sat next to me who lived in MSP said NW's prices out of MSP were "sky-robbery".
I would definetly choose NW again, but unfortunetely most of my traveling is done in the southwest so I probably won't be flying them again anytime soon.