KLM had suspended flights to Kuwait due to the Iraq war and I knew that this would cause problems when trying to book my flights in advance. Despite the flight being so far in advance I decided to just book it and hope nothing changes. Originally I was booked to fly from Orlando on July 3rd as the KLM AMS-KWI flight was operating on July 4th. I spent some time on the phone with Northwest’s Elite reservations line doing my route and my seats. On May 15th, I received a voicemail from Northwest’s Elite reservations stating that there was no AMS-KWI flight operating on July 4th, so I had been moved to the July 3rd flight via Memphis. I did not like this new itinerary, as I wanted to try out the 747-200’s before they disappear later this year. I called back and thankfully was able to make a new itinerary flying through MSP on a 742, albeit after a good hour on the phone with the elite agent who was very courteous and helpful in getting me alternative flights though Minneapolis/St. Paul.
Orlando - Minneapolis/St. Paul
Airbus A320 (N371NW)
Scheduled Departure Time: 17:00
Scheduled Arrival Time: 19:27
Actual Departure Time: 16:45
Actual Arrival Time: 19:00
Photo © Michael Arcellana
Photo © Sanjiv Kapoor
Check In: I arrived at Orlando International at around 15:15 and was dropped off curbside by my roommate. There is a separate line for First and World Business Class passengers travelling Internationally. It proved useful today as the First Class line was long and the Economy one was even bigger. I would have thought it would have been easier these days with the electronic check in machines, but I guess it was just one of those days. Anyway, after the people in front of me were done, I was checked in. The agent asked for my passport and my Kuwaiti visa. As usual he was flabbergasted that it was all in Arabic and asked me how he was suppose to know if this was a Kuwaiti visa and not any other Arabic speaking nation? Once I convinced him that I fly to Kuwait every 6 months and that this was a Kuwaiti visa, he proceeded to check me in. My bags were tagged all the way to Kuwait with Priority tags stuck on them, a good thing as sometimes they miss putting them on. All the while he did his job with a robotic smile, not as friendly as some of the other NW personnel I have encountered here. I then headed over with my bags to the screening area and stood there till my bags were checked. One of my bags was opened and swabbed for explosive devices. They then locked both of them and told me I was good to go. I strolled over to security, which was relatively fast and painless, as it normally is at Orlando. I headed over to Gate 38 and sat down near gate 34, which had some empty seats. I saw our plane come in and dock at its gate and watch all the passengers from DTW disembark. Soon there was an announcement that boarding would begin early as there was some bad weather moving in and Northwest would like to get us out of here early to avoid any problems.
Boarding: We started boarding at 16:15 and as usual, people needing assistance, passengers traveling with small children were allowed to board first, along with World Perks Elite members and First Class. My boarding pass was scanned and I was by the front door within seconds and was greeted by a smiling flight attendant who made sure to say "Welcome onboard" to everyone entering the plane. One look at my boarding pass which had my elite status written on it, and without a second thought she went, "Welcome onboard Mr. Tamboowala. Nice to see you again." I took my bulkhead seat and was promptly asked if I would like a drink. My glass of water was brought to me within a minute. As boarding was going on, the Flight Attendant at the door was greeting every passenger that walked through the door and greeted each child individually, all the while smiling and making small talk with the passengers when the line was backed up. Boarding was done by 16:35 and the jetway was pulled back at 16:40. Push back occurred at 16:45 while the safety demonstration was being performed. Outside I could see the clouds building up at which point the pilot came on in his thick Southern accent. "Ladies and Gentlemen, just to let you know we departed early due to two reasons. One being the weather over here getting bad and the second is the traffic congestion in Minneapolis. I will ask the flight attendants to remain seated for the beginning part of the flight, as we shall be experiencing some turbulence. Our flying time will be extended to two hours and 30 minutes and we shall be doing some maneuvering around to give you an as smooth as possible flight." We taxied to the runway and waited for an American 737-800 to take off before us. After that a Frontier A319 landed followed by a good old Continental 767-400. I never really noticed how good the CO 764 looked, it seems as if I focused more on the interior when I flew them rather than the exterior, exceptional aircraft really now that I think about it. We rocketed down the runway, A320's are definitely more powerful than the 737NG's in my opinion. Haven't felt thrust like this since my last 777 flight.
The Flight: The plane thundered through the thick layers of clouds, bouncing all over the place. The typical Airbus buzzsaw sound died down as we reached a higher altitude, far away from the stormy clouds. An announcement was made over the PA to welcome us onboard and give us a few details about the flight. Also they informed us that the buy onboard meal service was in place for coach passengers. Today’s option was a Chicken Caesar salad with a few sides for $10.00. “Exact change is appreciated.” Soon the Flight Attendant was up and serving the drink of our choice while handing a basket to us, which contained pretzels and cheese crackers. I had a packet of spinzels, which I enjoy for some reason along with my full can of Pepsi. Soon the drinks were cleared and she came around with the trolley. "Mr. Tamboowala, what would you like to eat today? For dinner we have two choices. Chicken with Caramelized Onions or Lasagna with Carrots on the side." I decided to have the chicken. "Would you like a French roll or a potato bun?" I took the French and the tray was laid down in front of me with the following contents.
Salad with Peppercorn Dressing
Chicken with Caramelized Onions on a bed of string beans and stuffing
As far as the salad goes it was nice and fresh. I did not eat all of it as I did not want to over eat having a few more meals on the way in the next few hours. The chicken was excellent as was the chocolate cake and the bread was piping hot. The food was far better than a certain COde share partner, who I have flown with a lot recently. The flight attendants name was Karen and seemed to be in her late 30's. She was excellent. Always going around to fill up people’s glasses even came out a few minutes before landing with a tray of drinks for passengers to take. If a certain passenger said no to something, she would ask if they would like anything else. All the while being courteous and smiling her way through the job. Her performance as a Flight Attendant was magnificent, the best I have ever experienced on any domestic US flight to date.
As far as the cabin appearance goes, it was spotless. Everything was clean and the aircraft looked like it had been maintained well. The seats had the normal blue fabric and were comfortable. I was kind of glad they were not leather like almost every other airline out there, as I am not a big fan of leather. The legroom was adequate, enough to stretch my legs, but a little close to the bulkhead. I only wish the seats had headrests, otherwise it would have been comparable to the competition. Now to the entertainment side, what can I say but this is the worst aspect of any domestic NW flight. All right I understand it exists for cost cutting purposes, even though I really can't imagine it being too much of a save. Either way, I do not necessarily want movies or short videos; music is all I think is necessary for the short flights. They have some excellent selections on their international runs in terms of music and I would have loved to plug some headphones in to listen to some music on the way to MSP. Yes, yes, I know, bring some of my own entertainment like a book or CD player or something! I may just have to when I do longer runs with them. We began our descent into MSP around 18:45.
Arrival & Transit: As we lined up to our runway, I saw a NW A319 come towards us in the new colors. It turns out we did a simultaneous landing with the Northeast...uh...I mean Northwest A319. We landed and taxied towards Gate G14. We were off the plane and I headed over to check a board for the connecting flight to Amsterdam. My gate was listed as G4. Since I had about an hour till boarding, I decided to head over to the World Club lounge. I reached the entrance and it was closed. There was a sign stating that due to construction World Club users needed to use the other entrance on the other side near Chilies. I then took the walk around to the other side.
I walked in and gave the lady behind the desk my boarding pass. She put her hand out with a curt, "I.D.!"
I handed her my passport and she intently looked at it for about a minute.
"I can't let you in. You’re not 21. We have an open bar here and we do not allow minors in. Bye!"
She then slams the passport back on the counter. Fine, I did not feel like arguing because it looked pointless. Plus with the rude tone she was talking to me with, I decided it was just not worth annoying her. I was allowed in the Memphis and Detroit World Club lounges when I flew WBC out of those airports. What makes MSP so special? I mean I paid just as much as every other WBC passenger so I would think I would be able to have the same perks as every other WBC passenger. Oh well, I turn 21 towards the end of the year, I'll just use my elite discount and join World Clubs and avoid this in the future.
So I just headed over to Gate G4. It was nice to see the jetway at gate G3 pulling away from a Icelandair 757 in the new colors, a very nice livery in my opinion. This is the first time I have seen it this plane up close, and it looked really good. I made a few calls on my cellphone to pass the time. I found MSP to be a nice airport, though I still prefer Detroit's new terminal over this one, it was still better than Memphis though.
Northwest 56 (KLM 6056)
Minneapolis/St. Paul - Amsterdam
Boeing 747-200 (N633NW)
Seat: 86A (Moved to 86K)
Scheduled Departure Time: 20:55
Scheduled Arrival Time: 12:15
Actual Departure Time: 21:00
Actual Arrival Time: 12:05
Photo © Torsten Maiwald
Photo © Nicholas P. Augusta
Photo © Sanjiv Kapoor
Photo © Sanjiv Kapoor
Boarding: Around 20:15 they announced boarding for World Business Class and Wold Perks Elite members through Gate G5 which was hooked up to door 1L. This is the first time I have had a separate jetway for WBC on any KL/NW flight departing the US. I reached the door where a flight attendant was looking at everyone’s boarding pass. Once again after a quick look at my boarding pass with my status on it, "Welcome onboard Mr. Tamboowala. Nice to see you again. Your seat is up the stairs. Have a pleasant flight." Ok, I guess this elite stuff does work! The stairs on this 747-200 were not circular like I have seen in the past on other airlines. Instead they were in an L shape. Quite ingenious as I remember quite a few people loosing their balance on those circular stairs. Once I got upstairs there was a flight attendant waiting for us. I swear the upper deck felt like a freezer! The woman that got up the stairs before me said the same thing. The Flight Attendant said that she thought it was the same and would change the settings. I put my bag in those nice little side bins between the seats and the window panel. I sat down, and wow! The legroom was incredible, I mean it has to be one of the most spacious Business Class seats anywhere, 70 inches and it felt fantastic. Soon the flight attendant came by with a tray of drinks, and I had a glass of OJ. Soon my seatmate came by and sat down, oh well I guess no empty seat next to me on this flight.
When the doors were closed around 20:45 I saw three empty seats on the upper deck. At this moment I checked the interior of this magnificent museum piece out. Excellent, everything was clean and well maintained. Normally you can see the wall panels turn a different color as the years go by, the upper deck here was white as anything and looked like it had been refurbished a while back. The flight attendant kept coming around to make sure we didn't need anything else to drink. Soon she came around with the menus and a basket. The basket contained a toothbrush & toothpaste set, eye-shades, earplugs, lip balm, socks, and a bag. We selected what we wanted and put it all in the bag. The bag was not made of cheap material either. For anyone interested, it resembled a mini version of the Lufthansa Business Class bags. A nice change from the last NW flight I took when there was no bag offered and a limited selection of toiletries offered. Once that was done she came around to take our orders and I selected the beef. The safety demo was shown and we pushed back at 21:00. We waited in line for about 10 minutes and then started our long and slow take off roll. I really don't remember the 742's being this slow, guess I have had too many 757 and 777 flights since then. Anyway we lifted off and it took a long time to reach 15,000 feet. Close to 30 minutes.
The Flight: Soon the announcement that the entertainment was going to be turned on for WBC so I took my PTV out. Guess what? It was not turning on! The audio channels were not functioning either. Actually, nothing electronic was working, no light, no FA call button; nothing. Nothing was working for the guy next to me either. The other passengers seemed to be able to atleast get their map displays on their PTV's. I went up to the F/A and told her than the both of us were not getting anything. She said she would re-set the system and that she would be back to check on us. She did as I saw everyone’s PTV's start over again, but nothing happened to ours. She said, there was really nothing else she could do. She offered to move us and I accepted. I moved to 86K and the guy next to me moved to 85J. Thankfully this was not a full flight, otherwise we would have been in trouble. Anyway soon enough I got settled and the movies started. I selected "Bring Down the House" on the comedy channel. Hot towels were passed around which was nice and refreshing for me. Soon the bowl of mixed salted nuts was brought around and she asked what I would like to drink. I selected a Pepsi and got the whole can once again. Soon the nuts were collected and table clothes were laid down. The menu for dinner was as follows.
Shrimp and smoked scallops
with Peppered Polenta and Horseradish cream
Iceberg lettuce wedge and filed greens
with tomatoes and Kalamata olives
Bacon and Onion Crusted Beef Tenderloin
with au gratin Potatoes and carrots
Shiitake Mushroom and Basil Lasagna
Our cold Champagne Supper is served all at once.
Balsamic Marinated Beef Tenderloin and Smoked Trout
with Pepperjack Cheese and grapes
Selection of Fresh Fruit and Cheese
Italian Almond Cake
Gourmet Coffee or Tea
2000 Clos Du Val Carneros Chadonnay
2000 Wente Riva Ranch Reserve Chardonnay
2000 Frei Brothers Reserve Russian River Valley Chardonnay
2001 Chateau Ste Michelle Columbia Valley Chardonnay
2000 Beringer Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc
2000 Murriets’s Well Livermore Valley Vendimia
2000 Murphy-Goode Alexander Valley Reserve Fume Blanc
2000 King Estate Oregon Pinot Gris
2000 Rosemount Diamond Merlot
2000 Rosemount Estate Cabernet Sauvignon
1998 Gallo of Sonoma Dry Creek Frei Vineyard Zinfandel
2000 Rodney Strong Knotty Vines Zinfandel
1999 Amiral De Beychevelle St-Julien
2000 Chateau Vernous Medoc Cru Bourgeois
1999 Chateau Beau Site Saint-Estephe Cru Bourgeois
Fonseca Bin No.27 Port
The flight attendant came around with the tray and asked if I wanted Balsamic Vinaigrette or Ranch Dressing. I decided on the ranch and the tray was laid in front of me. She then asked if I wanted a dark or white roll, I selected the white roll. The tray had the appetizer laid out on the side with the salad on the top left of the tray and a glass of water on the top right with a small packet of Land-O-Lakes butter. The shrimp were excellent with the normal American cocktail sauce and the one lone smoked scallop was nice. The polenta could have used more taste, but I know they tend to be tasteless anyway. The bread was nice and hot and the butter added some nice taste to it. About 15 minutes later she came back with all our orders. She put the hot plate down on my tray and I swear the steak was still sizzling. The steak was not over cooked and was tender and soft. The vegetables were as good as vegetables could get, though the potatoes could have used more sauce. Nonetheless I cleaned my plate off. The flight attendant came by and collected the trays. A short while later she returned with a tray with the cheese and cake. She asked if I wanted any coffee, tea or liquors? I decided on a coffee with Baileys, or rather the other way around with the pitiful amount of coffee that fits in those tiny cups. I did not eat the cheese but had the grapes and apples from the plate. Then I switched to the cake, which had almond essence instead of actual almonds, just the way I like it. It was really good and came with a huge strawberry and whipped cream. Washed it all down with the coffee and Baileys. Great meal, I really enjoyed it. All my meals on KL/NW out of the U.S. have always been good. Good to know the food is consistently good from all three Northwest hubs, but Memphis would have to be the best in my opinion.
Soon the movie was over and I headed to the bathroom, which was very spacious, atleast for me. It was full of the normal toiletries such as refreshing facial mist, hydrating hand cream and fragrance. No, I didn't check for tampons and other stuff like a certain other member here does everytime he flies a certain Asian Airline. I got back to my seat and just before I put my seat down, the flight attendant came by with bottles of water and put them on our armrests. I put the seat in a fully flat position and the leg-rest up all the way. Oh boy, this feels so good. I swear the seat reclined a full 180 degrees, perfect. I swear the upper decks on these 742’s are one of Northwest's best kept secrets. I put my big pillow behind my head and spread the thick blanket over me. I put my headphones on thinking I would listen to some music. Um, just one problem, there was no music. I could not be bothered to call the flight attendant about this. I checked with the guy sitting next to me, same problem with him. Fine then, just put the noise canceling headsets on and closed my eyes. The usual sporadic naps, waking up every so often as is the case with me as I am never able to sleep on planes. No matter how comfortable these seats are; I just could no get into a deep sleep. Also I really wish these seats had adjustable headrests. It is annoying when you tilt your head and end up falling off the side of the seat. This never happens to me on KLM or any other airline with headrests.
Once we were over Manchester I decided to wake up and just as I did that, the lights came on for breakfast. I turned the PTV on and saw an episode of Friends followed by a documentary on Berlin. The flight attendant came around with hot towels, which was a nice and refreshing. Soon she came by and asked if I wanted to have breakfast, I accepted and she laid the tablecloth down and handed me a tray. The menu had the following written for breakfast:
A light breakfast with seasonal fresh fruit
and warmed breakfast breads will be served prior to arrival.
The tray consisted of the following: a chilled peach yogurt, a croissant I had selected with a packet of butter and a small bowl of strawberry jam. The fruit today consisted of a slice of melon, a slice of pineapple and a few blueberries. The croissant was nice and hot and the fruit yogurt was chilled and nice. The fruits were good, but I am not a blueberry person so I just left them. I had a cup of tea with breakfast and was offered with real milk instead of the cream stuff in those airtight containers. Once the flight attendant was reassured that I did not need anything more, she took the tray. I headed to the bathroom and brushed my teeth and was thankful for all the space provided. Soon descent started around 11:30. It was one of the windiest approaches I have ever had, especially for Amsterdam. This approach could give some of my windy Hong Kong landings a run for their money. I never knew AMS was capable of such strong gusts of wind. Or who knows, maybe the pilot was just having fun with us?
Arrival & Transit: We touched down hard around 12:05 and had a long taxi to gate E19. Wow, does AMS look different without all those Northwest planes. I swear there was us and one other DC-10, I believe the one that came from Memphis. I decided to take a walk before heading to the lounge, so I headed over to the money exchange area just after the immigration area for F & G. Changed some US Dollars to Euro's and headed over to Concourse G to look around. First I bought the latest Airliner World magazine and walked down the concourse and saw the usual plethora of aircraft that I normally see.
Continental 762 to Houston
Continental 764 to Newark
United 772 to Washington DC
United 763 to Chicago
USAirways 762 to Philadelphia
Garuda to Singapore and Jakarta
Eritrean Airways 763
Photo © Miguel Snoep
I then got to the KLM Crown Lounge near the F Pier. Thankfully it was not as crowded at this time of day. The agent behind the counter greeted me, scanned my boarding pass in the computer and welcomed me to the lounge. I sat down with a nice refreshing cup of Cappuccino in hand and did some spotting. Why is there always a China Airlines at Gate F2? Doesn't anything else ever park there? I mean it is a nice plane and all, but I would rather see some variety there. I saw a KLM 744 in the new colors. I like the new livery but I think they could have done something more radical, rather than trying to make themselves look like Korean Air’s twin. I saw a Martinair A320 land followed by a BMI 320. In the distance near the KLM hangar I could see a Virgin Atlantic 747-400. Nothing exotic about that, I see them all the time in Orlando, even flown a couple, but it was a nice surprise to see one there.
Now about the Lounge, as most of you know I am not a big fan of KLM's lounges. I believe they could use a lot of improving and have written some recommendations in my previous trip reports. It seems as if they tried to fix one of them, the food items. They never had anything but those awful puff pasty things. Today I noticed they put a Soup dispenser, packets of Lays chips, along with a machine with salsa and tortilla chips. Those big slices of cake have been replaced by mini cup cakes. While I only had the mini cup cakes as I was trying to save room for the meal on the plane, I was impressed with this new layout. I saw a lot of people take the soup cups and the chips seemed to be a big hit with the passengers. I was impressed with the effort on KLM's part here. While it is no Cathay Wing or a British Clubhouse, it is a great place to relax and view aircraft. I also believe the other lounge is being renovated and will have showers added. It is a step in the right direction and I want to say thank you to KLM for finally realizing how important the small touches are to us frequent flyers.
KLM 457 (Northwest 8419 & Continental 9759)
Amsterdam - Kuwait
Boeing 767-300 (PH-BZO -Karmsund Bridge)
Scheduled Departure Time: 16:15
Scheduled Arrival Time: 23:20
Actual Departure Time: 16:20
Actual Arrival Time: 23:10
Photo © Jos van der Kolk
Photo © George Polfliet
Boarding: Around 15:30 I went over to the monitor and saw that the Kuwait flight was boarding at gate E2. So I grabbed my bag and headed on down. Just as I was walking out of the lounge the staff at the counter said, "have a nice flight sir." They have never done that before, must have caught them on a good day. Got to E2 after a five minute stroll and my passport was checked and my Kuwaiti visa scrutinized by the KLM Arabic speaking staff. Once that was done I was wished a pleasant flight and let into the gate area. The area was full of American passengers, presumably military staff heading to Iraq. A lot of us in the gate area were holding Northwest and Continental issued boarding passes. Boarding commenced five minutes later for World Business Class passengers. I walked onto the jetway and was greeting by a gorgeous young Dutch female with a huge smile on her face. I said, "How are you doing today." and she said "Vunderful. Velkome anboard KLM." I took my seat in 2A and was immediately offered a drink. Had a glass of OJ and sat down and looked at the entertainment guide. Soon the crew came around with the usual headphones, tin amenity case, sock kit, and menus. Soon the door was closed and there were a few empty seats in World Business Class and thankfully one of them was next to me. Finally KLM has decided to put noise canceling headsets on their 767, about time in my opinion too. The safety demo was shown and I plugged in into Channel 9, so nice to hear European music, I really do miss this, now that I live in the US. We lined up with the runway and were rocketing down the runway a short while later.
The Flight: Our flying time today would be a short 5 hours and 33 minutes. The reason I mention this is that we took a different route than normal. Usually the Kuwait flights fly south of Iraq into Saudi Arabia and then up to Kuwait. Today we took a northern route over Iran and down into Kuwait. This is the sixth time I am taking this flight in 18 months and this is the first time the flight is flying North of Iraq. Anyway, hot towels were passed out a short while later. Then the flight attendant came over to take our meal requests. "Velkom, Mr. Tamboovale. Vhat vold you lik to eat today?" I selected the beef. Soon the entertainment started and I opted for the Comedy channel. Some of the shows on the channel were Will & Grace, Dharma and Greg, and Everybody Loves Raymond. The usual bowl of mixed nuts came by with my glass of coke. Table linens were laid down a short while later as the flight attendant collected the empty bowls of nuts. Today’s menu was as follows.
Smoked Salmon with crab mayonnaise
Lightly smoked salmon filled with crab mayonnaise
served with a mushroom and octopus sauce
Beef with Soubise sauce
Braised fillet of beef in herbed red onion sauce
served with risotto ai porcini and carmalised onions
garnished with olives, artichokes and Parmesan
Navarin of Lamb
Lamb stew served with herbed gravy,
summer vegetables and saffron basmati rice
Catch of the Day
Hake with red cep sauce
Seared hake fillet with red cep sauce served with a
hotchpotch of spring onion and carrots,
garlic mushrooms and red skin horseradish potato mash
We invite you to select your choice of tart,
cheese or fresh fruit from our dessert trolley
KLM’s Wine Cellar in the Sky
Chablis Saint Martin 2001 – Domaine Laroche
Albarino 2002, Martin Codax – Rias Baixas, Spain
L’Enclose de Lezongars 2000 – Premieres Cote de Bordeaux
Legaris 2000 Crianza – Ribera del Duero, Spain
Piper Heidsieck – Champagne Brut
Noval 1997 – Late Bottled Vintage Port
Kaisergarten Beerenauslese – Neusiedlersee, Austria
KLM Special Wines
Capitel Croce, Veneto, Italy 2000
Anselmi Capitel Croce, Veneto, Italy 2000
Everything was handed to me on one tray. What happened here? I remember that earlier this year KLM started serving three-course meals individually. Why did they revert back to everything on one tray? The main dish is not as hot as I would like it to be by the time I am done with my appetizer. The smoked salmon with crab mayonnaise was excellent. The beef was nice and tender and cooked the way I like it. The risotto on the other hand was not that good, I just seem to have horrible luck when it comes to risotto on planes. The dessert today was an apricot tart with fresh cream. It was up to the usual standard of KLM's desserts, excellent! I had a nice glass of Baileys with ice to wash that down with. The crew were constantly on their heals checking if we needed anything during the meal. My glass of coke and water was filled without asking during the meal.
Once the sit-coms were over I reclined the seat all the way and put channel 9 on and went into a snooze. The adjustable headrests were great and did their job of keeping my head in place. Unfortunately the plane looked a little worn down, it does not seem as if KLM is taking care of them. I realize the A330's are coming to replace them soon, but I mean they still have a while to go. Anyway, I put the pillow behind my head and spread the same thick blanket over me, except this time it had KLM instead of Northwest written on it. When I woke up, I found a bottle of Vittel placed on my armrest. I clearly saw the crew walk around making sure everyone who was awake had everything they wanted. I eventually smelled some food being heated up and decided it was time to wake up. Hot towels were passed out and then the table linens were laid down. I took a look in at menu,
Light hot snack
Shortly before arrival we will be serving a light snack with a choice of vegetarian or non-vegetarian club sandwich and an Indonesian pastry
The tray was presented to me with a gracious smile that I become accustomed to on all KLM. Once the tray was placed on my table, a basket was presented to me with a choice of sandwiches. I was told that the choice of sandwiches today was a cheese or a chicken one. I picked up one chicken sandwich and the flight attendant told me to take a second one if I wished. I told her one was fine, but she said she would be back later to offer me seconds. I thanked her and started eating the sandwich. It had one layer of a thinly sliced chicken and a cucumber paste on the other side, quite nice actually. Then I tried the Indonesian pastry, it was just a glorified spring roll really with sliced carrots, glass noodles and string beans. Then it was my favorite part of the meal, the Raspberry Mousse and boy did it exceed my expectations. It was excellent, though I am a die hard mousse fan so it does not take much to win me over when it comes to any type of mousse. The tray was cleared and a short while later the flight attendant came around with those Delft Blue Houses, not full of alcohol, this being a Middle Eastern flight and all. I had to stare at the tray for a few seconds before smiling and picking one out. "If you have got that one you already have, just tell me and I'll come back with a new batch for you." That was nice of her. I guess you know you fly KLM too much when you have to make sure you don't pick the house you already have. Thankfully I selected one that I did not have, number 48. Too bad it did not contain alcohol, it was a nice big one. Descent started a short while later into a very sandy Kuwait. It looked like we were flying through fog, but it turns out it was just sand flying through the air.
Arrival: We touched down smoothly onto the runway, unfortunately the braking was not as smooth, if we were not strapped in we would have flown out of our seats the way the plane braked today. We eventually taxied to the gate passing an Indian Airlines A320 and MEA A320. We turned into gate 5, the area that was re-constructed earlier this year due to a fire last year. We docked and the jetway hocked up to door 1L. The ground personnel immediately wanted to talk to the in-flight supervisor before letting us of the plane. So all us WBC passengers had to step aside so that she could walk to the front. I believe he asked her if we had filled out the new health form that had been in place due to SARS. Once she said yes, we were allowed to disembark. "Thank you for flying vit us Mr. Tamboovale. Ve look forward to zeeing you zoon." I wished them a pleasant stay in Kuwait and started the long trek towards immigration. It was surprising to see an Egyptair 777 parked next to us. I did not know they flew them here, otherwise that was one mighty upgrade from a 320/321. I was the second person down the escalator and met my dad who was waiting for me with a customs officer. He proceeded to walk me through customs and I was out in 30 seconds! Never had that one happen to me before. Got to baggage claim 3 and, it was the smallest carousel in the airport. I have no idea why they were not using their regular carousel 5. I knew this would cause problems as the flight was pretty much full. My bag came out eventually after 5 minutes. Then we had to wait for the other containers to be unloaded. Looks like the priority tags did not work. My first bag had my NW elite tag on it, but unfortunately NW only gives one. Would it kill you to give atleast two tags NW? The military personnel bags started coming out and they were coming out rather fast. Eventually two airport personnel had to run over as the bags were falling off the side. There was not enough room for all the bags coming out. We passengers ended up lifting bags that fell in front of us and trying to put them on top of the other bags on the carousel. It was complete chaos, but it was amusing to watch to say the least. Eventually I spotted my bag come out and I leaped over the overflowing bags and grabbed it. Unlocked them threw them onto the x-ray machine in the customs area. That took 15 seconds and I was out with my dad towards the car park.
KLM: Impeccable as usual, KLM’s crews are always fantastic and this flight was no exception. The food was excellent as always and the service to match. Too bad the aircraft is showing signs of its age. Hopefully they will not be too run down by the time the A330’s come. Thanks for the lounge improvements, much appreciated, now only if you could add showers and free internet access, it would be a pleasure. KLM is still one of the most comfortable ways to get to Kuwait, KLM is definitely The Reliable Airline for me.
Northwest: Why are they impressing me more and more each time I fly them? I have started to enjoy flying Northwest now, and will probably try to fly them more in the future. It is a shame about the entertainment domestically. I can understand why they have none, but I sincerely hope Richard Anderson looks into atleast putting music in if nothing else. The food was excellent on the domestic leg and I was impressed. Two months ago I flew to Los Angeles in First Class on one of Northwest’s COde share partners and never received a hot meal, let alone two hot choices. The service on both NW flights was excellent and that is a huge improvement. Northwest seems to have made a 180 in terms of in-flight service and I certainly have noticed it. I never thought I would ever say that I enjoy flying Northwest. Can someone remind me why I used to hate this airline so much? I honestly can not remember any more.
This time I decided to give points to each flight. Let me know if you like this, otherwise I can omit it in my future reports.
Check In: 8
Seating: 8 (Minus for the missing adjustable headrests)
Entertainment: 0 (None what so ever)
Seating: 9 (Minus for no adjustable headrests)
Entertainment: 4 (Non functioning. Plus not enough variety, just 6 channels with 5 movies)
Aircraft: 7 (Showing signs of age)
Seating: 9 (Minus for lacking in legroom)
Arrival: 6 (Small carousel and priority tags ignored)
Total for this trip: 169 points out of a possible 200 = .845
Northwest/KLM get an 85% for this trip. The reason I did not break it up between the two airlines is because they like to act like they are one airline, so I am going to score them as one airline. I don't know if that is a good or a bad thing.