ORD-DTW, NW176, 8E, DC9
DTW-NRT, NW11, 22A, 747-400
NRT-SIN, NW19, 35A, 747-200
I reluctantly dragged my bags filled with 2 weeks worth of shopping down Broadway St in Chicago to flag a cab to the train stn at Addison which takes you straight to O'Hare. It was pretty early in the day so there wasn't much people. Northwest Airlines operated out of Terminal 2 and I found that with no difficulty. I had my bags tagged all the way to Singapore.
Walking past security, I proceeded to the departure gate areas but not before doing some spotting. O'Hare is big... Since I was in Terminal 2, I walked over to the F councourse and took many photographs of AA jets. There were many AA Eagle commuter jets too docked at the aerobridges. Walking back to E concourse, I sat there waiting for my DC9 to arrive while watching another NW DC9 taxi for takeoff. Air Canada ERJs were visible taxiing on the tarmac while further out was a stand alone terminal, concourse C, accessible via an underpass. It was dominated by UA and that terminal indeed looked busy without a single empty aerobridge in sight!
Photo © AirNikon
My DC9 arrived at its gate. Looking old and weather beatened, I hope this jet would get me safely to Detroit! NW176 operated this sector to DTW with a continuing service to Greenville/Spartanburg. Scheduled departure time was 1045H and boarding commenced 20mins before that. I settled nicely into 8E, a window seat on the starboard side. Tow trucks were used to push the DC9 back on time, unlike the reverse thrust used in MSP. I couldn't help but feel sad that my holiday had come to an end as I said goodbye to Chicago outside my window . We thundered down Rwy 09R which gave us a direct heading towards Lake Michigan.
The Chicago skyline loomed hazily in the horizon as we climbed to our cruising altitude. With a flight time of 50mins, our flight took us across Lake Michigan and coasting in before landing in Detroit. A relatively short flight, pretzels were handed out but there was hardly any time to time to experience any form of service.
Thumping down hard onto the runway in Detroit, I could see that the airport was another NW hub. I saw nothing but NW aircraft parked at all the aerobridges. But I did see one, just one US Airways 737-300 parked at Councourse E though
NW176 docked at councourse C, just my luck that NW11 was departing from councourse F, which was at the other end of the airport! DTW was very messy, people everywhere! JM Davey Terminal was run down and the cermamic tiles on the floor gave the main terminal a very dated look. There wasn't a lot of windows for you to look at planes too.
I wanted to fill my stomach before my long-long flight so I headed for Burger King. NW11 was scheduled to depart at 1525H so I had a lot of time to waste. Unfortunately, DTW doesn't offer much for a transit passenger like me. I do not wish to return to DTW again if I can help it - not for a transit at least!
After what seemed like eternity, it was time to board the aircraft and I walked towards F11. Built like a satellite, it was a mess! A sea of people milled around waiting to board their flights and it looked like a weekend bazaar! Two int'l flights (all NW 744s) were departing within minutes of each other, one flight to Nagoya and Manila, and the other one to Tokyo/Narita. So you had two 747s-worth of passengers waiting in the small satellite area waiting to board!
Photo © Chris Jacobs
A call for World Business Class pax on NW11 to board came over the PA. But despite this, many crowded the entrance to the aerobridge - seems like I wasn't the only one desperate to get the hell out of DTW!
I observed that the 744 flying to NGO-MNL had the "SPIRIT OF ASIA" slogan on its fuselage.
Once inside the cabin, I found my seat window seat 22A. A chatty blonde attendant dressed in pants welcomed me to the cabin, hmm... she was dressed differently from the rest who wore skirts! One member of the crew was Japanese, and once again, her personal presentation outranked the rest of the American crew, who looked like they just got out of bed. With the exception of one African-American attendant, her hair was nicely tied up and she reminded me of Angela Bassett.
Another attendant was hardly made up at all! She even had a pimple on her cheek. She looked no more that twenty years of age because she didn't even know how to greet properly! There was hardly any greetings at all , for that matter, except for that chatty blonde.
We finally pushed back and was on our way towards the runway. We were pushed back pretty far from our gate until I saw M Berry terminal outside. Several NW 744s and DC10s were seen there and many more small little Saab turboprops in NW Airlink colours.
Photo © Matthew Lee
We powered off into the skies and it was amazing watching the wings flex, taking the weight of the fully laden a/c. Our total flight time to Narita was 11.30hrs.
The drink service commenced as soon we were stable on our cruising altitude. The African-American flt attendant and the young pimply girl served my aisle. As I was collecting mimiature whisky bottles for a friend, I asked for whisky and coke. The African-American lady raised an eyebrow and asked...
"Boy, you sure you're legal?"
Man... I didn't know what to say...
"I am only kidding... take it as a compliment. You have good genes! Here you go. Hahahaha..." she guffawed
And with that, she moved on to the row behind me. Now she was a chatty one too, other than that blonde lady in the cabin ahead. Lunch consisted of beef curry with rice. It was surprisingly delicious! Looks like food on int'l routes are far better than domestic routes.
The cabin crew did their disappearing act as usual after the meal service. Although Miss Pimply did appear once to give out cookies...
I couldn't sleep so I watched Miss Congeniality on the main screen. I laughed a little too loudly and woke my neighbour up. She looked rather peeved because she couldn't get back to sleep after that . Hehehehe...
The shades were drawn throughout most of the 11hr flight. Just before coasting into Japanese landfall, breakfast was served (eggs and sausages again!). Huh? But it's in the late afternoon already, breakfast?
Descend into Narita was smooth. I was finally back on my side of the globe after a two-week holiday! The inexperienced Miss Pimply was still walking down the aisle checking on pax when we were on short finals. The African-American attendant shouted across the aisle at her to sit down... now that was embarassing! I thought I heard someone puke in the middle row too...
We disembarked at Satellite 4 and I walked into chaos! A small area, Satellite 4 was used by NW. This was how Narita looked like when I saw it many years ago and it still looks the same today. No proper boarding procedures, just two lines, one for J Class and the other for Y. Very disorganised. There weren't a lot of seats so there were groups of people sitting on the floor.
My flight to Singapore NW19 departed at 1830H. Thank God my transit was only an hour. In no time, I was at my departure gate waiting to board, still within Satellite 4. The gate agents looked ill prepared to handle such a large influx of passengers. There were no boarding announcements, just them shouting at the top of their voices... Imagine this scenario happening at all the gates! There were at least 3 NW flights departing for their Asian destinations that evening.
"Boosinezz Krras onree prreeze! (Business Class only please!) Ah-konomee ziz wayee prease, sank kew! (Economy this way please, thank you)" The ticket agents were just shouting at the top of their voices that in the end, they just gave up. I just wanted to be home... fatigue was creeping up on me. Yawn!
I slept blissfully on NW19. I sat in 35A which was an emergency exit row so I had all the legroom in the world. Two meals were served, fried noodles when we left Narita and I slept through the second meal. Singaporean crew was on board this flight and their supervisor was a Caucasian woman. I did not remember much of this flight because I was so tired from the journey by this time. When the cabin crew strapped themselves in for the landing in front of me, the two girls were chewing gum which I thought was a no-no . This you will not see on an Asian carrier - or on SQ at least!
We landed in Singapore at 1.15am. See what kind of timings I have to deal with when I fly NW? But my biological clock was already screwed from the different timezones that it didn't make a difference anyway!