Posts: 1826
Joined: Sat Feb 28, 2004 10:56 am


Wed Feb 19, 2003 1:02 pm

This is not my report, yet my buddy Jeremy's, any views expressed here as his and his alone. Thank you.

My old college roommate is teaching in France. When I heard that he got a
long break in February, I knew I'd have to pay him a visit. And when I
saw NW's you've-got-to-be-kidding-me fare of $169 ($251 including taxes),
that sealed the deal. Since this trip will give me more Midwest Express
miles than it takes to purchase an Amtrak ticket, it's an absolute steal.

Friday, February 7
Washington National (DCA) - Detroit (DTW)
Northwest flight 237
Seat 10F
Scheduled departure 5:59 pm
Actual departure 5:59 pm
Scheduled arrival 7:38 pm
Actual arrival 7:29 pm

The night before, half a foot of snow had fallen on the DC area. I was
very happy to be getting out of town. I had planned to leave work early
for my 6 pm flight, but things were getting quite hectic. I checked in
online, taking seat 10F. I ended up leaving at 5, and thanks to the Metro
I was at DCA by 5:30. I asked the agent at the counter if it was too late
to check my bag, and surprisingly he took it. It took 5 minutes to get
through security, and they were boarding our DC9 when I got to the gate.

I took my seat, and two attractive young ladies took the seats next to
me. They were part of a group of business travellers returning to Detroit
from a meeting. And they apologized to me in advance for how they were
going to spend the entire flight chatting loudly. I told them hey, at
least you're not with me on my next flight. And I didn't really
mind...after all, it's people like them that allow people like me to get
cheap fares to Paris. The flight was absolutely full, since several
earlier flights to DTW had been cancelled due to the snow.

We pushed back on time and headed right out to runway 1. My right side
window gave me the usual beautiful view of DC. Even though I live here, I
still gawk at it like a tourist. I could easily pick out my office
building as we passed over Georgetown (much more fun than looking up at
planes from the office). We continued up the Potomac and into the
clouds. Snacks were served (pretzels) and I got a water. One of the
women next to me made a point of getting beers for all five of them and
charging their company. She even offered me one, but I politely
declined. So some company in Detroit can thank me for saving them 4
bucks. As we descended out of the clouds I could see that unlike DC, the
Detroit area had no snow on the ground. We got to the gate a few minutes
early which gave me plenty of time at DTW.

Last time I had been here was three years ago, so this was my first look
at the new terminal. In terms of looks and cleanliness it's an amazing
improvement. The combination of a really long terminal and a train seems
like a good idea. And let me go ahead and say that it's a nice short walk
from the terminal entrance to the gates. Now there's no reason a transit
passenger such as myself would care about that, but more on that
later. After grabbing two delicious scoops of Edy's ice cream, I headed
over to gate A64.

DTW - Paris Charles De Gaulle (CDG)
Northwest flight 50
Seat 20J
Scheduled departure 9:20 pm
Actual departure 9:20 pm
Scheduled arrival 11:10 am +1
Actual arrival 11:26 am

We boarded the plane and the door was closed for an on-time
departure. 20J is in the last row of the first Y cabin. I had picked
this seat because the aisle next to it appeared to be empty. And this was
indeed the case. The flight wasn't very full, as many people had entire
middle rows of 5 to themselves. We quickly taxied, took off and reached
the clouds. I love the huge windows on the DC-10, but on this flight I
wouldn't get to see much. When I asked for red wine with my pretzels, the
FA said "Ok, if that's what you really want" in a somewhat smartass
fashion. Dinner was pasta or chicken. I ordered white wine and chose the
chicken, which had rice and what they called Hawaiian sauce. Along with
it there was a salad, roll, cheese, crackers and a brownie. The meal
wasn't bad but wasn't great either. After dinner I curled up in my two
seats. With no PTV to distract me and a little alcohol flowing through my
veins, I fell asleep quickly. For me this was quite an accomplishment...I
had never before slept on a plane, and this was my fifth time crossing the

When I woke up, we were circling a foggy Paris waiting for clearance to
land. The fog was so thick that the first thing I saw on the ground was
the runway. We taxied by a Star Airlines A330 and 744's of Thai and
Qantas and arrived only slightly late due to the fog. From other reports
I've read, people seem to think Terminal 1 at CDG sucks. Perhaps they're
being a bit harsh...other than being extremely ugly and confusing, it's
great. Immigration was easy, but it took forever for our luggage to show
up. When I picked up my bag it was covered in some black powder that got
all over my hands. I wouldn't have minded a phone in the baggage claim
area. As it was I had to wait for my bag and make my way to the terminal
exit before I could call my friend. It was maybe 12:15 when I jumped on
the RER to meet him.

Monday, February 17
Northwest flight 49
DC10-30 N236NW
Seat 25A
Scheduled departure 2:15 pm
Actual departure 2:25 pm
Scheduled arrival 5:25 pm
Actual arrival 5:19 pm

After a wonderful week backpacking in Spain, and a couple days in Paris,
it was time to head back to the States. My friend still had another week
of vacation, and had to catch an early train to Nice. So I had gotten up
at 6 am, which was midnight where I was headed. The RER got me to the
airport at 11 for my 2:15 flight. I first stopped at a KLM counter that
also had NW symbols on it, but the woman there rudely sent me to another
part of the ticketing area. There was a security checkpoint before the
actual NW desks. Since I had an E-ticket the security agent disappeared
with my passport for a while. I checked my bag and received my boarding
pass on KLM paper (the boarding time was listed as 12:45, which seems a
bit early). I still had some time to wander and do a little shopping.

The plane that sat at the gate was delivered in 1975, making it nearly
three years older than me (this was the only reg I got on the trip). We
boarded on time with business class through 1L and everybody else through
2L. I got a USA Today, which talked about the 2 feet of snow about to hit
Washington. Eep. In fact, the US flight to PHL and UA to IAD had both
been cancelled. As a result our flight to Detroit was 100% full. The guy
next to me in 25B was friendly yet quiet, the best kind of single serving
friend. He would be going on to Seattle. I envied him. We closed the
doors on time but had to wait a while to push back. A couple security
guys came through the plane during the delay. Finally we left the gate
and after another long taxi we were off into the clouds.

Before too long, an announcement was made asking any doctors or nurses on
board to ring their call button. You really hate to hear that, but it
turns out a woman several rows back was sick and it wasn't too
serious. 25B and I both got cranapple with our pretzels. Various
programming came on the main cabin screen: An episode of Just Shoot Me, a
show about the making of Sweet Home Alabama, a feature on jazz and a
cartoony nature show. I have to point out a bit of dialogue they featured
in the movie documentary:

"You're ing me!"
"I've never understood that expression, but no, I'm not ing you."

The reason I'm mentioning this is that when they actually showed the
movie, these lines were hilariously censored in a different way. Dinner
again was chicken or pasta. The FA said the pasta was delicious, so I
went with that. And she was right. It was an absolutely delicious
lasagna with mushrooms and olives. Salad, roll, cheese, crackers and a
little apple pie were also good. CDG catering gets a big thumbs up. More
cranapple flowed. After dinner they showed Sweet Home Alabama. Including

"You're shining me!"
"I've never understood that expression, but no, I'm not shining you."

The next movie was Simone. I wasn't nuts about either of these, but at
least they kept my interest. I was quite happy when they put on the
airshow after the second movie ended. We were at 28,000 feet and were a
little more than an hour northeast of Detroit. Even at this late stage in
the flight Godthab, Greenland still appeared on the map. Does anybody
know why this place is featured so prominently? Does the city pay the
airshow people or something? We got a snack consisting of a
strange-tasting pizza and a cup of rock-hard vanilla ice cream. My
seatmate and I had apparently consumed the plane's entire supply of
cranapple, so I settled for some red wine.

From the cockpit we hear the local weather. Wind out of the north, 28
degrees and snowing. Ugh. We crossed the end of Lake Huron, then began
our descent, passing north and then west of DTW. Finally we made a big
left turn for an approach to runway 4R. The landing gear came down but I
still couldn't see the ground. I wasn't able to see anything through the
falling snow until we were about 200 feet up. Just above the runway the
pilot cut the engines and completed an incredibly smooth landing. After
yet another long taxi we pull up to the gate. With the early arrival, I
could easily make my connection to...

Northwest flight 1603
Seat 8F
Scheduled departure 7:22 pm
Scheduled arrival 8:43 pm
Actual departure can:celled pm

Immigration was very quick. And then the fun began! For some reason our
bags were coming out on two different carosels. After spending 20 minutes
shuttling between them I grabbed mine. Customs was also easy. But beyond
customs, things were a total mess. A massive line had formed. Was this
the luggage re-check line? Nope, it was the re-book line. All the
flights to the East Coast had been cancelled. Anybody heading to Boston,
New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore or Washington was being pointed to this
line. While I waited I called up NW on my cell phone. I got through on
the phone after some time. The best they can do for me is a 7 am flight,
not tomorrow but Wednesday. So I'm faced with two nights in Detroit,
where I don't know anybody. I found myself wondering if Eminem had any
spare rooms.

Having no further need for the re-book line, I headed onward. A TSA guy
was directing traffic, and asked me where I was headed. I told him I was
going to book a hotel. He took a look at me (rumpled clothes, beard,
backpack) and suggested that I camp out in the terminal instead and save
some money. Was this what they had in mind when they created the
TSA? After finding a random gate agent and putting myself on the standby
list for Tuesday morning's flight, I booked a room at the nearby Comfort

After a wonderful night's sleep (worth every penny of the $59 "distressed
traveller" rate I paid) I found myself back at the airport at 6:15,
attempting to stand by on a 7:05 departure. After a ten minute wait for
security I made it up to the person whose job it is to verify that only
ticketed passengers make it through. This woman, a NW employee named
Teresa, refused to let me enter security. Why? Because I didn't have a
ticket for the current day's flight! My ticket, of course, was for the
previous day. She told me to go up to ticketing. I said I didn't have
time to wait in that line and still make the flight. I was more than a
bit annoyed at this point. Now I have too much respect for FA's to ever
be guilty of air rage, but apparently I can be subject to ground rage. I
asked to see her supervisor. She said the supervisor is up at ticketing,
but that I could talk to a cop. I said yes, please. So she summoned a
policeman, who was very friendly (I wasn't the "unruly passenger" he had
expected). The bottom line was, I'd have to go up to ticketing.

I managed to convince the people upstairs to let me use an empty line
intended for people who checked in online. I was quickly issued my
standby ticket (with the correct date this time) and I marched back down
to Teresa. She grudgingly accepted my ticket, then selected me for a
"random" search. Looking back as I write this, I suppose I deserved
it. But that wasn't my feeling at the time. After waiting a couple
minutes for my shoes and dirty laundry to be inspected I strapped on my
pack and sprinted to gate A20 in full gear. Oof. Remind me not to join
the Marines any time soon.

The confirmed passengers were still boarding when I reached the gate. I
was thrilled to see a 757 at the gate, as I'd have a better chance of
getting on a bigger plane. The agent began to call standby pax. One
woman was panicking because she and her mother had been put on the list
separately. Her mother, who didn't speak English, was already on the
plane. After maybe 20 people had been called the guy turned to me and
asked if I was on the standby list. I said yes, and he gave me exit row
33D, the roomiest seat on the plane. After gate-checking my bag I
boarded, and I was followed by a couple more standbys.

Tuesday, February 18
Northwest flight 364
Seat 33F
Scheduled departure 7:05 am
Scheduled arrival 8:29 am
Actual departure 7:24 am
Actual arrival 9:13 am

The captain got on the PA, explaining that DCA has just opened 10 minutes
ago, and we'll be one of the first planes there. The woman in 33F asked
if I wanted to trade seats, and I was more than happy to. Because of the
full flight the 757's takeoff wasn't the most powerful ever, but still
impressive. In a matter of seconds I could see clouds below and the sun
above. My cranapple came with a granola bar this time. Before long we're
descending through the clouds and heading up the Potomac. The area was
unbelievably white. I don't think I ever saw this much snow when I lived
in Wisconsin. As we landed on runway 1 the trip ended as it began, with
me gawking at the monuments of DC.

In all the times I've been at DCA, I've never seen it quite like
this. There was snow everywhere. I counted 4 Continental 735's at the
terminal, which doesn't usually happen. As I left the plane I heard the
captain mutter that he didn't think they'd be able to get it back
out. The terminal was packed with people, no doubt stranded here for the
last couple days. I knew all too well how they must have felt. Who cares
if people were nervously buying every last roll of duct tape at Home
Depot...I had made it home!

All things considered it was a great trip. Given what I paid it was
awesome. All NW employees not named Teresa did a wonderful job. I was
also glad to get one last chance to fly the DC-10. And by the way, NW
saved me a little bit of work by never once offering me the can.

Any comments will be forwarded to him.
"Traveling light is the only way to fly" - Eric Clapton
Posts: 1315
Joined: Sat Apr 07, 2001 1:41 am


Wed Feb 19, 2003 1:35 pm

Jeremy you wrote a great report. Too bad you did not get stuck in a warm weather city. God bless.

God bless through Jesus, Jeff
SR 103
Posts: 1620
Joined: Sun Oct 01, 2000 6:19 am


Wed Feb 19, 2003 3:29 pm

Excellent trip report Charles.

Glad you had a nice time with NW. Good to know I am not the only one who enjoys NW.  Big grin After reading your trip report, I really want to fly across the Atlantic this Spring Break, but have decided to head to the West Coast instead.
I love the huge windows on the DC-10 Me too!!!  Big thumbs up

What did you think of the new DTW airport? I thought it was a big improvement over the old one.

SR 103
Posts: 1826
Joined: Sat Feb 28, 2004 10:56 am


Thu Feb 20, 2003 11:54 am

SR 103,
It wasnt my report, rather a buddy of mine named Jeffery who emailed me this report, I wish I could have gotten some NW in, but no time with trying to requalify with AA and all.
DC-10's Forever
"Traveling light is the only way to fly" - Eric Clapton
Stretch 8
Posts: 2468
Joined: Fri May 28, 1999 4:00 am


Wed Feb 26, 2003 4:35 am

A good report by your friend Jeff. It amazes me that NW is STILL flying those old rust-bucket D10s across the pond. The poor schumcks who live in the Detroit area (where I grew up) have little choice, unless going to LHR (BA), or FRA (LH).
Maggs swings, it's a drive deep to left! The Tigers are going to the World Series!!!
Posts: 1038
Joined: Mon Oct 29, 2001 2:13 am


Thu Feb 27, 2003 1:17 am

Tell Jeff that it was an excellent report!

When are NW retiring their DC-10s?
Posts: 3503
Joined: Sat Apr 29, 2000 5:26 am


Tue Mar 04, 2003 3:02 am

Tel your friend Teresa was just doing her job. YOu must have a boarding pass or a verification card for the current date of travel to enter security. Tell him also that Teresa wasn't an FA, but a CSA.

The first of the 330s are arriving this summer for their fall trans atlantic debut and then the DC10-30s will start to be retired. The Dc10-40s, are already gone from pax service and were the older ones of the fleet. Most of the current DC10-30s are from the late 70s and even some from the late 80s and were the last one soff the assembly line. With new interiors, they're hardly rust bucket.


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