N961N **NEW LIVERY**
Photo © Michael F. McLaughlin
SCHED/LANDED/AT GATE: 2:11P/1:45P/1:52P
Checked in at the IAD ticket counter at around 11:30A. The agent asked me if I wanted my bags checked all the way to GUM or just to NRT because I had an overnight in NRT. I decided to get them in NRT incase I needed anything out of them during the night. The line for check-in was pretty short for both economy and first. I was in the first class line because of the WBC (World Business Class) ticket I had for the international legs and there was only one person in front of me. I headed out to the gate and boarded the airplane at about 12:15P. It was nice to ride on the new livery aircraft, even though the interior has not changed at all. Pre-departure drinks and coat hanging service was provided. This flight was 100% full, yet as I have come to expect for Northwest we still left the gate early. I am one of the few people who actually like row 1 on the DC9 series. There is nowhere to stow your bags because of the bulkhead wall, but I don’t mind putting them overhead and if you need them you can just get them down after takeoff. Plus in row 1 you get your drinks and/or meal first and that gives you more time to sleep or work or whatever. We headed out to the runway and flying time was announced as 59mins “takeoff to touchdown.” It amazes me how quiet the DC9 is towards the front of the cabin considering how loud they are from the outside. Takeoff was very smooth and seemed pretty quick for this full bird on a hot summer day. The pilot gave us some route information, DTW weather information, and our planned arrival gate as we made our way to our cruising altitude. Drink service was quick and efficient and the flight attendant was smiling and seemed friendly enough. There was a basket of “goodies” offered and you could take whatever you wanted. There was granola bars, pretzels, trail mix, and peanuts(I think). The flight attendant did a nice job offering refills and making sure everyone was taken care off. I did notice that she also went and helped the other flight attendant with the main cabin service because there are only 2 flight attendants on most DC9-30 flights these days. However, she returned to check on the first class cabin frequently. I am sure most people didn’t even notice that she was gone. The pilot came on and gave us updated DTW weather (mentioned some incoming thunderstorms) as we started our descent. Soon enough we were on the ground and we headed right into our gate.
Photo © Miguel Snoep
SCHED/LANDED/AT GATE: 5:35P/5:30P/5:35P
Boarded this flight at about 3:10P and was greeted by the purser at the door. “Welcome Aboard Mr. XXX. 72A is upstairs sir. Glad to have you with us today” I headed upstairs and found that I had the best seat in the house. 72A is a bulkhead seat with tons of legroom in front if you, simply amazing! About 10seconds after I sat down the flight attendant came and offered me a choice of “Heineken, champagne, or orange juice, or I can run and get you something else if you’d like.” I took the champagne. The captain came on at 3:35P and let us know that all the doors and cargo bins were “buttoned up” and we should be “ready to go on time and “hopefully ahead of the thunderstorms.” Sure enough we left the gate right at scheduled departure time. It was nice to see a NW safety demo done over the video monitors because I think only the 747s and DC10s still do it this way because all the narrow bodies no longer have IFE (even for safety demos). One thing I noticed is that the safety demo video showed the old paint job on the airplane while the intro to the IFE later in the flight showed the 747 in the new paint job (kind if neat to see that they are starting to switch things over gradually). The takeoff in the 747 was awesome! We thundered down the runway and finally lifted off. The upper deck is very quiet and I much prefer it to the main deck. Shortly after takeoff the interpreter came around to take meal orders “Good afternoon Mr. XXX. Welcome Aboard. What would you like for dinner?” I chose from the “Western Style” stuffed chicken breast after some deliberation about whether or not to try the “Japanese style” offering. About 10mins later we were offered hot towels (a recent service enhancement because they were taken away due to SARS concerns for a little while). The captain came on and gave us nice message about our route, flying time, arrival time, and some other general info about the flight. The beverage service started and this was accompanied by a dish of mixed nuts. Next came the first tray which included a salad with a choice of Italian or “Asian” dressing, a plate of shrimp and cocktail sauce, and a dinner roll. The flight attendant came around and offered more bread and a wine top-up. Next she took away the appetizer plate and replaced it with the main course plate. The chicken was absolutely delicious! She came around and offered more bread and still another wine top-up. Next she took the tray away and replaced it with another tray that had two plates. One plate was cheese, crackers, and grapes, the other plate was cake. There was also a coffee/tee cup, which was promptly filled by another flight attendant with some hot tea. When this tray was cleared the flight attendant offered “after dinner drink…bailey, port, some more tea” I went ahead and had a bailey on the rocks that came in a nice little port style sipping glass. After dinner the purser announced that the IFE would be started and requested that all window shades be closed (which EVERYONE on the upper deck quickly did!!) It makes it so much easier to sleep when everyone shuts the window shades and that is one more nice thing about the upper deck, it seems that everyone up there usually does shut the window shades. I watched “The Recruit” on my PTV and the fell asleep. When I awoke I noticed a bottle of water had been place on each armrest. About mid way through the flight we were offered some instant noodles and some ice cream. I tried both, and they were okay, but I was still pretty full from the first meal service. A little more PTV watching, some audio entertainment, and then I was back to sleep again until about 90mins out from landing. The lights were turned onto a dim setting (they had been off since we pushed back from the gate as is standard on NW). And the flight attendants came around with hot towels and shortly after they offered a choice of meals. It was kind of strange, but they offered breakfast options even though it was 4:00P local time in NRT, but it kind of felt like breakfast time so this was actually good because I wanted some eggs and sausage. Breakfast was pretty similar to the standard NW First Class domestic breakfast I think. Anyway, it was plenty of food to tie you over for the arrival into NRT. As we started our approach the Purser (who had been working downstairs throughout the flight) came around to every passenger on the upper deck and thanked them by name. “Mr. XXX I hope you have enjoyed the flight today. I just wanted to let you know that I really appreciate you flying NW, and I hope to see you again soon!” That was a nice touch and I know that it is not “standard operating procedure” for NW pursers to do this, so it made it really special. We landed in NRT right on time and pulled into gate 24 in the newer concourse that NW just moved into. I headed to immigration and then straight to the Holiday Inn for the night.
Photo © Chris Coduto
SCHED/LANDED/AT GATE: 2:15P/1:45P/1:50P
I arrived at NRT airport at approximately 8:00A and was pleased that the line was nice and short. About 10 mins later I was all checked in. The agent at checkin was very friendly and polite and offered to check my bags all the way to CNS (Cairns, Australia) (the GUM-CNS portion was operated by Continental Micronesia and I will post a separate trip report). I headed to the WorldClub and was shocked to see the new “nwa” logo all over everything at the club. I guess this is because this is such a new WorldClub that it was made after the change of the logo, anyway the “nwa” looked really great in the high polished silver finish that they so the WorldClub signs in. The WorldClub at NRT is quite large, yet still very peaceful and relaxing. It is on the upper level, so you get great views of the gates and the arriving/departing aircraft. I headed down to the gate for boarding and once onboard I realized this was going to be a very full flight. The international A320 is slightly different than the domestic A320. The older style domestic first class seat (the one with the tables in the armrest) is used and there are 3 rows instead of 4. The seat pitch looked decent for the short hauls this aircraft is flying. I was seated in the first row of the main cabin (5F) and noticed that there is slightly less room in this configuration than in the domestic version. There is still no wall, just a drop down curtain (which is great for bag stowage because you just go right under the WBC seat in front) and even though there is a little less room than I am used to in row 5, it was still a great seat. There was no IFE used on this aircraft, although there was a place for headset plug in and audio and volume controls. We pushed back about 15mins early and the FAs did the demo live in the aisles. I was pleased to learn that NW had put in lifevests under each seat because in the domestic version it is “in the unlikely event of a water landing, your seat cushion may be used as a floatation device.” Well I guess the “event of a water landing” is a little more likely on this flight! There was nobody in line for takeoff and the roll was pretty long as this aircraft was 100% full. All announcements were in English first, then Japanese. I noticed 3 “American based” flight attendants and one “NRT based” were onboard. You can tell because the “NRT based” flight attendant wears a slightly different jacket (it has a large red lapel) and they also have the title “inflight service representative” under their name on their badge. The service on this flight was very attentive and rather different than a US domestic flight of comparable length (3hrs flying time). I didn’t really notice what WBC was offered, but the main cabin service was pretty nice. We had a round of free drinks and Spinzels first. Next, they came around with the meal cart (I had some curried chicken that was actually very good) and then one more round with the drinks cart. Tee and coffee was offered several times later during the flight. I had some white wine before dinner and then a coke with the meal. The FA apologized that she could not offer the whole can because “they only give us a couple of cans for the whole aircraft because its mostly Pepsi” but I was very surprised when she came back after the meal service just to bring me the rest of the can. “nobody else wanted Coke, so I thought you might like this” I thought that was very nice of her. The captain made some great announcements informing us about the little islands we passed over from time to time and then the interpreter would make them in Japanese too. We arrived in GUM about 30mins early and taxied into the gate. I was very impressed with NWA, even though I couldn’t get the upgrade on this leg, the service was wonderful.
On Time Performance:10/10
Service (ground): 10/10
Service (flight): 10/10
Seat Comfort: 9/10 (5F on the international A320 is a little close to the last row of WBC)
IFE (while not that important to me, I figured I had better comment on this): 8/10 (WBC was great, the A320 had none to speak of)
ONCE AGAIN NORTHWEST PROVIDED ME WITH A GREAT TRIP! I will post another trip report for my return trip because I am sure you have read enough for one day!
FLY THE RED TAIL!!!