FLIGHT: Northwest Airlines NW27
ROUTE: Tokyo-Narita (NRT) --> Manila-Ninoy Aquino (MNL)
AIRCRAFT: Boeing 747-400
DEPART: July 25, 2003 19:10
ARRIVE: July 25, 2003 22:25
I had just finished up my employment in Japan, and it was time to return home. Since the prices of one-way tickets back to the USA from Tokyo are sky-high, I thought I would travel back to the USA by heading west. In any case, the first part of my trip would take me to a country that I have not seen in 12 years. I had always wanted to see my relatives there and this would be a perfect time to do it.
Anyway, after a night full of meetings in Tokyo, I headed to the Tokyo Narita International Airport via JR Narita Express train. Arrived at the airport around 1300, and went through the ID check before reaching the check-in counters of Terminal 1.
As this ticket had been purchased at a discount travel agency, I first had to go to the designated group tours desk to pick up the ticket and check-in for the flight. In my previous experience, you could both pick up your ticket and check-in at the same counter, at the same time. Apparently not this time. While checking my passport and onward flight details, the counter staff did weigh my bags - so I thought I would be checked in then and there. Then they told me to go to the NW counter to complete the check-in process.
I dragged my bag over there, where upon weighing the bag told me I was 10kg overweight. So I had to take out the computer I was carrying to Manila for a friend, and asked them for a box so I could carry it on. The NW staff said they would charge me for a new box, but was nice enough to check if there was a used box lying around. Luckily, there was, and taking out the computer brought the bag back down to the 20kg limit.
All of these events meant that the hour flew by and before I knew it it was 18:00. Said goodbye to my friend, then cleared the checkpoint. As I was leaving my residence in Japan, I had to turn in my alien registration card at the desk, and it was time to look for gate 26.
Interestingly, last year I also used this gate for a UA flight to SFO. Recently NW moved in to the old UA gate areas at NRT, when UA moved to their new areas. This flight did look full - judging by all the people waiting in the area. Boarding commenced around 18:15, with the plane being loaded from the back. There were representatives holding up signs that denoted which seat rows would board.
The flight left the gate a few minutes after 19:00. Taxi took a while because of the rush of flights departing Narita at that time. Takeoff was a bit slow and we used up almost all the runway. A full plane does make things rather sluggish at times, but we did take off.
This flight was fully booked, and I was not able to change the assigned seat of 40B. Even so, when I found the seat, it turned to be not so bad. While the man to the left of me slept most of the time, I had a nice conversation with the lady taking 40C. She was coming back from a nutrition conference in Nevada, and wanted to get home to her house in Manila - she was dead tired from two plane changes (this was her last flight of the day).
I was surprised to see JetBlue tags on the blanket in my seat. I showed the woman my discovery, and she checked her blanket. That blanket said Northwest. Probably these two airlines use the same style of blue blanket.
For a flight that departed from Japan, there was surprisingly little Japanese used. Flight announcements were made mostly in English and Tagalog. However, for the inflight movie, it was English with Chinese subtitles. About the only Japanese you saw were the voices during the safety video.
An initial drinks service was done shortly after takeoff. Since it was a full plane I only got my requested drink and not the whole can, along with the Spinzels. After reaching cruising altitude the crew gave out the dinner service. Choices were curry rice or seafood noodles. Unlike other airlines I have previously flown out of Narita, there were no pre-meal hot towel or napkin service.
Inflight entertainment was very basic. In the main cabin, "Maid in Manhattan" was shown. However, for my seat, the audio entertainment did not work at all. As it was a short flight and I was sleepy, I didn't mind it too much. But it would not be acceptable for a transpacific flight to the USA.
The flight arrived in Manila shortly after 22:00 Philippine time. We arrived at the gate a few minutes before the scheduled arrival time of 22:25. When I got out of the jetway, the heat reminded me of my last trip to the Philippines 12 years ago.
I was met by a PNP (Philippine National Police) official, who happened to be a friend of my uncle. He helped me sweep by the immigration and customs formalities, and I soon became reacquainted with my relatives. Thus began my week-long stay in the Philippines. My cousins joked that the coup the next day was 'my welcome party.'
Next leg - Manila to Singapore - coming soon!