Airbus A320-211 (N369NW)
Scheduled Departure Time: 13:20
Actual Departure Time: 13:20
Scheduled Arrival Time: 15:55
Actual Arrival Time: 15:15 (at the gate 15:40)
Photo © James Richard Covington, Jr
Photo © Art Brett
Check In: After a long drive on a very soaked I-4, we got to Orlando, parked the car and I was in the First Class line by 11:30. The agent checking me in, Kim, was very cheerful and friendly; we had a brief chat about how I do this flight often and how familiar I was with this process. She smiled the entire time and did her job as if she enjoyed it. She had some issues printing my AMS-KWI boarding pass. “I guess you should just give it a try in Detroit. Sorry about that.” I then took my bag over to the TSA for screening. It quite some time there, we waited for close to 30 minutes as I had my bag locked and I needed to be present with the key if it needed to be opened up.
Once that was done it was close to 12:05 and both of us, Phatfarmlines and myself, headed to the new food court at the airport. I was very impressed at first sight. There still seems to be construction going on but it looks like the airport has done a good job in improving this area so far. We both walked around and he finally decided on a place called “Zyng’s Noodlery.” He got his order of Thai chicken coconut curry with Ubo noodles and we sat down for a few minutes. Around 12:35, I decided to say bye to Phatfarmlines and head over to security as boarding was suppose to begin at 12:50.
Security took no more than five minutes today, much better than compared to last month when we waited over 30 minutes get in (read Phatfarmlines trip report coming January 2004). I got on the tram and headed on over to the gate.
Boarding: I got to the gate at 12:50. Just as I approached the gate, “Ladies and Gentlemen, we would like to begin boarding with our First Class and World Perks Elite members only please.” I walked right up to the podium, my boarding pass was scanned and I was in my seat in no time. A flight attendant came over asked if I would like anything to drink. My glass of water was brought over a minute later. Soon the aircraft filled up and it looked like a 100% load factor today. We pushed back on time exactly at 13:20 with the safety feature being performed.
The Flight: We lined up with the runway and in no time were rocketing down on our way to Detroit. As everyone in the Florida area knows, Sunday the 14th had awful weather, thus we got thrown about quite a bit. The pilot had asked the cabin crew to remain seated for well over 30 minutes after take off. Thus most of the announcements were made during this point. Economy class had the “buy onboard” system in place on this flight. “We shall be offering our coach class passengers a buy onboard meal service today. The options today are a chicken pesto sandwich or a southwestern Caesar salad. These can be purchased for $10. Also for $5 we offer a snack of turkey in a pretzel bun. All of these come with side items. Exact change is appreciated.”
Once we were out of the bad weather the crew commended service. The drink cart was rolled around and he started with our row. I asked for a Pepsi and his response was, “do you want the whole can?” I said, “Yes please.” He handed me an opened can and glass full of ice. I said, “thank you” and he said “uh huh” while turning away at the same time. Then he offered a basket with almonds or Spinzels and naturally I took the Spinzels. Within 30 minutes the cart was rolled around and we were offered a choice between a cheery chicken pasta salad and a three-meat sandwich. I opted for the pasta salad. The tray consisted of the following:
Salad with a Greek vinaigrette dressing
Tri Colored Cherry Chicken Pasta Salad on a bed of lettuce leaves
Warm bread with Land-O-Lakes butter
Chocolate Cheesecake with cream and white and dark chocolate sprinkles
I dug into the pasta salad which consisted of green, white and black pasta. The pasta along with the cherries and chicken were mixed together in a mild cream sauce and I have to say was excellent. The taste was flavorful which cannot be said for many domestic meals these days. The bread was hot and soft from the middle, just the way I like it. The Greek salad dressing was unusual but I am a sucker for anything Greek so it went down well. Then to the highlight of the meal, the chocolate cheesecake, it was excellent. The cream and the chocolate sprinkles that accompanied it were excellent as well. Once that was done the tray was collected and I was asked if I wanted anything else to which I replied with a glass of water. That was brought to me a few seconds later. After that, the crew spent the rest of the time in the galley.
This entire time I never saw the ground; there was no break in the clouds all the way from Orlando to Detroit making it a very boring flight. I decided to look through the World Traveler magazine to get acquainted with the A330 system. Within no time we began our decent into a cold Detroit. According to our pilot it had just stopped snowing and the temperature was a chilly negative one degree Celsius.
Arrival & Transit: We touched down nearly 30 minutes early onto a very wet runway surrounded by snow. We taxied towards the terminal but stopped short of the main taxiway.
“Folks we are in something called a penalty box. This normally happens when we arrive early. There is still an aircraft in our gate and it shall be vacating the gate soon, but until then we shall have to stay here.”
While we here the cabin crew made an announcement for passengers continuing on this flight to Chicago O’Hare.
“Just to let you know, there will be an aircraft change. We shall be arriving at gate A72 and the flight shall be departing from gate A2.”
At that moment the entire plane turned into a roar of laughter.
“Could it be any longer of a walk?” & “What a walk, jeez!”
As I was in row 1, I distinctly heard the intercom phone go on and the male flight attendant say, “Oh, my mistake captain, sorry.”
”Ladies and Gentlemen, sorry about the mix up, the flight to Chicago O’Hare shall be leaving from A72, it is the same aircraft. The crew has to go to A2 for their flight, sorry about that once again.”
We were all in stitches at this point. Around this time I was still looking out my window as I was mesmerized by the sight. There were four NWA A330’s lined up together at the terminal. I thought wow, what a great way to start my time in Detroit.
About 20 minutes later an A320 pulled out of gate A72 and we did not even wait for it to back out all the way. Our pilot basically revved the engines up and we shot right into gate A72. A minute or two later I was off the plane into the magnificent terminal that is Northwest’s World Gateway in Detroit. I decided to try one of the outer lounges since the last two times I had been here I had done the large one in the center. The closest one was near gate A68 next to the tram station. I headed up and walked in. I presented my boarding pass and asked if they could try printing the boarding pass for my KLM flight to Kuwait. The Asian attendant tried her hardest, but told me the computer was not letting her as the flight was still too far out. I said I’d try it in Amsterdam if it was causing her problems.
I went on out and sat down directly in front of A68. I was literally 20 feet from the NW 757-200 if not closer. It was an excellent view all round, it just took my breath away. I went on over to the bar and got a small carton of Orange Juice. I sat down and made a few phone calls. Soon the sunset started and people were calling me. I was on the phone as the first A330 left for Amsterdam, soon the second for Frankfurt taxied by. The sun started setting at this point and it looked great, living in Daytona Beach I do not get a view of anything bigger than a MD-80 of that Georgian carrier so this was great. Soon the third one taxied out heading for the second flight to Amsterdam. Around 17:45 I decided to head on out to the gate as boarding was supposed to commence at 18:00. I headed on out to the tram and took it over to the second station. At this point the excitement was building up as I just realized what adventure I was about to embark on, I was going to fly Northwest’s new WBC on their latest A330.
Airbus A330-300 (N805NW)
Scheduled Departure Time: 19:00
Actual Departure Time: 19:05
Scheduled Arrival Time: 8:45
Actual Arrival Time: 8:55
Photo © Florian Kondziela
Photo © Josep Manchado - IBERIAN SPOTTERS
Photo © Vasco Garcia
Photo © Vasco Garcia
There she was in the window. N805NW, the latest A330 to be added to their fleet. She looked in excellent condition, simply outstanding. I waited about five minutes and they announced boarding for World Business Class passengers at 19:05. I was the third person in line and I walked down the cold jet way and was greeted at the door. One look at my boarding pass and it was all smiles. “Welcome onboard Mr. Tamboowala, nice to see you again. Your seat is the first row on the left. Have a nice flight.” Once again, I think this elite stuff actually works on NW, at least this was a good start for the flight.
I approached the seat and wow! What a difference from the old ones. I stowed my luggage and sat down, almost immediately I felt the hardness of the seat. The cushion really is not that soft. No matter though, the seat still looked impressive. The controls for the seat were the one touch electronic buttons similar to what CX and SQ have. What I found interesting is that there are two options for sleeping, one with a slight bit of a curve at the neck and knees (Optimal sleep position), and one with a full flat recline (Full Recline). Soon my neighbor showed up, an Indian lady traveling to Bombay with her multitude of luggage with “World Perks Platinum” tags all of them. She sat down with her Financial Times and stuffed it into the seat pocket never to look at it again. On the other side was the lead Flight Attendant talking to one of the technicians. They were both trying to fix “issues” with the entertainment system; but it was obvious that he could not answer some of her concerns. The program is still new and has a lot of glitches and she seemed concerned that too many things would malfunction again. “Could you go get me some vouchers in case something happens again. The crew used them all on the last flight.” Soon another flight attendant popped by with a tray of orange juice, champagne, and Heineken. I asked her if she could get me a glass of water and she said, “No problem hon, would you like flat or fizzy?” “Flat” was my response with smile on my face.
By this time two flight attendants were surrounding the entertainment controls. They were turning the overhead monitors on and off and on again. She walks over to us to see if the monitor in front of us was on or not. I smile and she smiles back with, “Don’t you just love computers!” I laughed and she laughed while walking back to the computer in front of 1H. I quickly called one of my friends who really wanted to hear about the new WBC seat, so I did. I gave him a quick summary of the seat so far and basically he ended up saying “You lucky (explicit)!” Once that was over, I started talking to my seatmate. We were chatting and she mentioned how she had a friend in the back and was hoping to get her upgraded with her miles. I told her it would be best to request this right now as the flight looked like it was getting filled. She approached the crew, who told her to talk to the handling agent. He was all smiles as he walked by and told her, “Ma’am, I am afraid the flight is completely full in WBC. One of our Newark flights was canceled and we had to re-route many of our connecting passengers onto this flight. Sorry about that.” Soon the aircraft door was closed and the crew handed out a sock kit, amenity bag, noise canceling headsets and a menu. I had the menu for a mere few seconds when the flight attendant appeared to take our order and I opted for the Chicken.
We eventually pushed back at 19:00. Once we moved back a bit further I noticed another A330 in the gate next to us, which meant I had now seen all of Northwest’s A330’s. They really are excellent planes. Once we pushed back I saw four flight attendants standing around the main computer system again. Something was definitely wrong. Then the lead flight attendant went huffing off into the galley within an instant, “Cabin crew, commence positions, we are going manual, I repeat, we are going manual.” We started taxing towards the runway and the crew commenced the manual safety demonstration.
“It doesn’t work?” I asked.
“It never works. I can’t tell you how many times we have done this.”
“You really do not need to do this; everyone here knows what to do.” Was the statement from my seatmate with a chuckle.
“I know, but it is a FAA rule. If we don’t do this, we get fined.” Was her response while laughing.
Once that was done the captain welcomed us onboard and told us we were going to be number 15 for take off. We would also be de-iced prior to take off and thus passengers should not worry about the “trucks with lights” outside. We stopped a short while later and the de-icing trucks began their process. It is a very rare occasion for my flights to be de-iced, this was the first time in like five years. It was also snowing at this point and heavily too. We lined up on the runway and the engines started spooling up at 20:50. We rocketed down the runway and lifted up a few seconds later. I have never been in the front row of an A330 before and it certainly was quiet.
The Flight: We climbed and soon the seatbelt sign was off. The crew came round with some hot towels which was refreshing after a nice long day. The menu for today looked like this.
Cocktail or beverage of choice served with assorted appetizers and mixed nuts
Mixed seasonal fresh greens with garnish of the day
Roast Chicken Stuffed with mushroom Gratin on a bed of steamed rice
Black Cod in Malaysian Lime Sauce with asparagus and rice with mangos and raisins
Mediterranean Lasagna with eggplant, wild mushrooms and roasted vegetables
Desert A La Carte
Gourmet Coffee or Tea
PERRIER JOUET BRUT NV CHAMPAGNE
2000 FREI BROTHERS RESERVE RUSSIAN RIVER VALLEY CHARDONNAY
2001 CHATEAU STE MICHELLE COLUMBIA VALLEY CHARDONNAY
2001 BENZIGER SONOMA COUNTY CHARDONNAY
2001 WENTE RIVA RANCH RESERVE CHARDONNAY
2000 BERINGER NAPA VALLEY SAUVIGON BLANC
2000 MURRIETA’S WELL LIVERMORE VALLEY VENDIMIA
2000 MURPHY-GOODE ALEXANDER VALLEY RESERVE FUME BLANC
2000 KING ESTATE OREGON PINOT GRIS
1998 GALLO OF SONOMA DRY CREEK FREI VINEYARD ZINFADEL
2000 RODNEY STRONG KNOTTY VINES ZINFADEL
2000 FETZER FIVE RIVERS RANCH CABERNET SAUVIGNON
2000 COLUMBIA CREST GRAND ESTATE SYRAH
1999 CHATEAU BEAU SITE SAINT-ESTEPHE CRU BOURGEOIS
1999 CHATEAU ARNAULD HAUT-MEDOC CRU BOURGEOIS
1998 CHATEAU SOUDARAS HAUT-MEDOC CRU BOURGEOIS
FONSECA BIN NO.27 PORT
Soon the flight attendant turned on the entertainment system. The first thing to pop up was the safety feature. As the flight attendant walk by with a smile on her face, “Your going to have to watch the safety feature now whether you like it or not.” I smiled and she went back to galley and re-appeared with the cart a few minutes later.
“What would you like to drink Mr. Tamboowala?”
“Can I have a Pepsi please?”
“It would be my pleasure Mr. Tamboowala!”
She poured the can into the glass and said “If you need any more, just let me know.”
She then took a plate of canapés out and placed them on my half open tray. The plate consisted of the following:
(1) A big piece of chicken tikka on a plastic toothpick with a slice of red paprika
(2) Green chutney in a pie crust shaped like a boat with fish eggs sprinkled on top
(3) A small bowl of salted cashews
The chicken tikka was nice, but being Indian myself, it was not “true” Indian style. The green chutney thing was awful, it had a strong smell of fish and after one bite, I left it. The cashews were a nice change from those mixed nuts they used to serve. I believe this was nice and simple. Once the flight attendant finished serving everyone she came back with a big bowl of cashews and a spoon asking if anyone wanted refills for their bowl.
Once that plate was collected she came around with table cloths. I pulled my tray table out all the way and was a little shocked to see that it fell short about half an inch off the opposite armrest. I put my hands on the tray table and it wobbled, that’s not a good sign. The tray appeared shortly there after with a salad on it.
“Mr. Tamboowala, would you like Vinaigrette salad dressing or parmesan dressing?”
A small bottle of Vinaigrette was handed to me. It was a mixture of dark and light vinaigrette. A bread basket was then put in front of me to take, it looked like three types of rolls, dark, white and wheat, I opted for the white. Once again there was a packet of Land-O-Lakes butter on the tray. Now in my opinion this could be improved, no airline should be offering butter in a small square packet in a premium business class like WBC. It just comes across tacky and cheap, at least from my experience. The “garnish of the day” today was artichokes, which I do not like so left them on the side. The dressing was excellent as was the salad which seemed freshly prepared. The bread was hot and perfectly done. A few minutes later after she had finished serving the entire isle; she came back to check on everyone’s drinks. I got a refill on my Pepsi. As soon as was done she came around with the cart again and took the salad plate and handed me a chicken plate. As far as the meal goes, the quantity has not changed, but I did find the quality to be a little bit better. No idea if I was just lucky this time. A year ago when I flew KLM on this exact route I found the meal to be better even though I know it is the same catering company. For some reason the main dishes always seem better on KLM, anyone else have this feeling? Yes IP, I know it’s the same catering company, but what can I say? The chicken was cooked perfectly and was stuffed with some mushrooms. The metal knife was nice to have again. The rice was a bit chewy but very palatable.
Once that was done the tray was collected individually from everyone and taken to the galley, no cart. There was never any pressure on anyone to finish since there was no cart, it was a nice small touch I thought. Once everyone was done and all the trays were collected the desert cart came rolling by.
“Mr. Tamboowala, what would you like? Today we have chocolate ice cream, fresh fruits and cheese with crackers. You may have all three if you wish.” She had a nice little smirk on her face when she said the last bit. What do I look that fat? Anyway I selected the ice cream and a glass of Bailey’s on the rocks. The ice cream consisted of a large scoop of chocolate ice cream in a waffle covered in chocolate sauce carved into a star shape. Along with that was a chocolate covered cookie that reminded me of what I used to get from the supermarket in Germany when I used to live there. All of it was excellent. The Baileys finished this excellent meal off nicely. The tray was cleared and I put my seat back a bit.
Now a little bit about the PTV and the AVOD. Once the safety feature was done and the exercise video showed, it was time to test the program out. Here are the selections that were available for the month of December.
The Santa Clause 2
The Secret Lives of Dentists
My Boss’s Daughter
Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star
Discovery – Trading Spaces
Discovery – Golf the World
Tech TV – Fresh Gear
Discovery – Lonely Planet Treks
VH1 Music Video
Classical I and II
Bebop And Beyond I and II
Northwest FM I and II
Right Here, Right Now I and II
Business and Technology
Rhythm and Blues
Stage and Screen
Reversi – (Single and multiplayer game)
Bejeweled - (Single player game)
In flight Trivia Challenge - (Single and multiplayer game)
First when I tried to start the PTV and get to the main menu I had to select a few things from a menu such as English and whether I wanted get some help first. Every input I put came up a minute later. Thus it caused a massive delay as I had pressed the arrow button about 10 times now and the thing flew all over the place and I had to wait for it re-set itself. The same thing was happening with my seatmates, hers was jumping all over the place as well. I thought, ok, let me wait. Turns out it was a good choice. This is when the canapés were served and the flight attendants asked, “So is it working? Thank god because it was not on the last flight.”
Eventually I selected “My Boss’s Daughter” and watched it through out the dinner service. It has been so long since I used AVOD, I had forgotten what a pleasure it was to be able to pause the movie while the flight attendants served us. Once the movie was finished I headed towards the bathroom to check it out. It was occupied so I waited for the bathroom here as there was a line forming for the one near door 2R. The flight attendant saw me smiled and said,
“If you stand there any longer, I’m going to have to start teaching you how everything works here.”
“You would be surprised how much I already know.” Was my response.
She looked at me puzzled and we started talking, I stated I was a student studying Airline Management at Embry Riddle. Instantly she said,
“No kidding! I am Orlando based. I know all about ERAU, my cousin graduated from there a few years ago. It’s an amazing school isn’t it?”
After talking for a few more minutes the captain came on to tell everyone about some unexpected bumps that we would be encountering over the North Atlantic. The moment he came on, she smiled and said,
“That’s my husband.”
“Wow, so what does he think of the Airbus?”
“Well he is a Boeing man, but he thinks this plane is perfectly fine. We both prefer it though, cause he was Anchorage based and it was a long commute to ANC from Orlando. This is just the way we like it.”
The bathroom was nothing special; it had some hand cream and so on forth. It looked in excellent condition though. Sorry, I did not look for any tampons and nor did I see the need to test them out like a certain member on these forums. I am sure some female out there can let him know if Northwest scores better in this category than Singapore Airlines. Though I am sure Singapore Airlines-A Star Alliance member, The Network for Earth, blah, blah, blah will have to be better than this “no good American carrier.”
I got back to the seat, first I put it into the recline position and thought it was too big for me, so I switched it to the “optimal sleep position” and found that much more comfortable. I put the headphones on and choose “Right Here, Right Now I” and out the pillow behind my head and dozed off for a while. I kept waking up sporadically to take a few sips of water from the bottle that had been left on my armrest by the crew. I continuously saw the crew walk around the cabin to see if any passengers needed anything. Eventually around Iceland I gave up on sleeping and decided to watch another movie, this time I selected “Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star.”
Towards the end of the movie the cabin crew started on breakfast and the smell of fresh bread was radiating through the cabin. Soon the flight attendant appeared with hot towels for us. I splashed it on my face and boy did it feel refreshing. As most passengers were still snoozing the crew opted to turn only a few lights on as the sunrise outside was already providing enough light. The breakfast menu today was the following:
A light breakfast with seasonal fresh fruit and warmed breakfast breads will be served prior to arrival.
First table linens were placed followed by the breakfast cart rolling down the isle. The tray was given to me oh so graciously.
“Anosh, today we have a croissant or a banana nut muffin. Which one would you like? You may have both if you wish.”
“I’ll just have the croissant please.”
“No problem; coffee or tea?”
A plate was handed to me with a croissant on it. And the tea poured into those huge mugs NW uses for their domestic services. I poured cream and took two packets of sugar from the tray. In my opinion, this is much better than what was offered before by NW in those tiny cups in the old WBC. The tray today had a bowl of fruit, which had two circular orange slices, half a strawberry, a slice of papaya, and three slices of grapefruit. There was a rectangular bowl with Greek yogurt and a small bowl of honey nut oats on the side. I ate the croissant with the butter (once again, Land-O-Lakes) and the strawberry jam provided in a small jar. The croissant was hot and seemed like it had spent too much time in the oven, it was kind of black round some areas. The yogurt was excellent, not too sweet and the honey nut oats were a great garnish. The fruits were fresh and not dried out like most times. During the breakfast service I decided to play an episode of “Friends” on my PTV. Seconds were offered on both the drinks and the food; but I declined.
Once the trays were collected our decent started immediately. I decided to head to the bathroom and when I headed back to my seat and the headphones were collected and the flight was nearing its end. I talked to my seat mate all the way through decent. I had a few quick glances out of the window, and I cannot tell you how happy I was to see Europe, I miss this place.
Arrival & Transit: We touched down at Schiphol exactly at 8:45, about 10 minutes early on the new runway. As usual, a long taxi to the terminal only to be stopped for a minute or two as our gate still had an aircraft in it. After a two-minute stop, we taxied to gate E-19. As everyone was getting up and getting their bags, the F/A and I struck up another conversation about homecoming at ERAU last month and how the air show was canceled on Sunday and so forth. Before I knew it almost everyone had deplaned and I was the only one left.
“Bye. Thanks for a great flight!”
“Anosh, it was a pleasure serving you. I wish all passengers were like you. Have a nice holiday in Kuwait.”
“You too, look forward to seeing you on another flight.”
With that I walked off this magnificent plane. I still could not believe I had just walked off a Northwest flight. How can Northwest be this great?
Off to the KLM Crown lounge around Pier E. I got up and was greeted with that beautiful Dutch accent I have come to love.
“Velkom. Vat kan I do fur ya?”
“Good morning. I was wondering if you could please print my boarding pass for my flight to Kuwait as Northwest was not able to print it in the US.”
“Notz a problem. You are a Nordvest Elite yes?”
“Yes I am. You need the card?”
“No zir. Just vanted to make zure. Iz 2A alright fur ya?”
“It certainly is. 1A or 2G is not available by any chance is it?”
“Unfortunately it iz not.”
“That’s all right. 2A sounds great then.”
“Mr. Tamboovale, yar flight departz at 4:10. Boardzing vill begin at 3:30. You have a long vait vit us. Please enjoy yourself. Have a nise flight.”
“Thanks. Have a nice day.”
So to all you naysayer KLM is very capable of having excellent staff at their lounges in Amsterdam. I sat down at one of the tables with a cappuccino in hand and my camera in the other, snapped a few pictures of the multitude of Northwest planes out there.
A while later I decided to head on out for my usual walk towards Pier G for something other than Northwest and KLM planes. I saw a number of planes.
United 767-300 to Chicago O’Hare
United 777-200 to Washington Dulles
Continental 767-400 to Houston
Continental 777-200 to Newark (more about this later)
USAirways 767-200 to Philadelphia
Singapore Airlines 747-400 from Newark to Singapore
Ethiopian Airways (new colors that look like EK) 767-300 from Addis Abba
EL AL 767-200 from Tel Aviv
I sat down by the Singapore Airlines plane and watched it board and push back, brought back some old memories. The first time I flew into Amsterdam back in June 1994 was on good old Singapore Airlines. I was flying Manila-Singapore-Amsterdam-JFK-Boston. I remember AMS-JFK being one of the best flights I have ever had. How things change in 10 years, now all I fly is NW/KL. Who would have ever guessed.
I got back to the Crown Lounge and hung around till 15:00. Went down and did some shopping and proceeded to my gate, E3, at around 15:15.
Boeing 767-300 (PH-BZB)
Scheduled Departure Time: 16:10
Actual Departure Time: 16:05
Scheduled Arrival Time: 23:50
Actual Arrival Time: 23:20
Photo © Garry Lewis
Photo © Ivan Coninx
Photo © Andy Smulders
Photo © Adrian Raths
Boarding: I went to the gate which had no security personal. I just walked straight through and saw some people heading through onto the jetway. I decided to just go for it and head on over, a smiling agent ripped my boarding pass and I was on the jetway in no-time. I entered the first Boeing jetliner of the trip and was greeted with a large smile, unfortunately her teeth were not the prettiest sight, but nonetheless a smile is more than welcome. I walked over to my seat and I was like, Oh no! This plane had not been updated in quite sometime, it looked really worn down. I stowed my bags and sat down next to an American who immediately said “Howdy, you headin to Kuwait?” I nodded and we struck up a conversation about how he was headed to Iraq and so on. The flight attendant appeared a short while later with the usual tray of drinks consisting of champagne, sparkling water, and orange juice.
The door was closed a short while after and I looked around, it was a full flight. This is the first time this flight has been full in both classes after flying it for 3 years! The flight attendant came around with the cart and handed me the usual, metal amenity box, sock kit, noise canceling headsets, and a menu. Five minutes later they also came around to check on what we wanted to eat; I decided on the chicken. We pushed back a few minutes early with the safety feature showing, which I can recite with my eyes closed. Yes, I know, its too much KLM! I plugged in my headphones and turned on my favorite channel 9, “KLM Hitline.” We took off a short while later into a cloudy and rainy sky.
The Flight: Once the seatbelt sign was off, the flight attendants came around with hot towels. Soon the trolley appeared with the drinks and a bowl of nuts. I opted for a coke and the usual square bowl of mixed nuts appeared. I have never been a fan of these nuts, so I just picked the cashews out. Soon the tablecloths appeared and we were ready for the dinner service. The menu for today was as follows.
Quail and asparagus salad
Strips of fried fillet of quail served with green asparagus, truffle mayonnaise and walnuts garnished with black pepper.
Chicken in mustard sauce
Smoked chicken breast in mustard sauce served with green asparagus, tomoatoes, and creamy risotto with porcini
Monkfish and jumbo shrimps
Sautéed monkfish and jumbo shrimps with a shrimp and coconut sauce served with a medley or spring onions, shitake, sugar snap peas and cashew nuts with basmati rice
Venison served with wild mushroom ragout, sauerkraut cake, cranberry compote, potato, puree with spring onion and caramelized onion.
We invite you to select your choice of tart, cheese, or fresh fruit from our dessert trolley
KLM’s Wine cellar in the sky
Chardonnay 2001, Tintara (South Australia)
Chardonnay Sauvignon Blanc 2003, Norton (Mendoza, Argentina)
Cabernet Sauvignon 2000, Max Reserva (Errazuriz, Chile)
Shiraz 2001, Hoopenburg (Stellenbosch, South Africa)
Piper-Heidsieck (Champagne Brut)
Noval 1997 (Late Bottle Vintage Port)
Kaisergarten Beerenauslese (Neusiedlersee, Austria)
KLM’s Special Wine
Pinot Noir 2002 Piedra Feliz
The tray was handed to me with a smile and I was asked if I wanted a re-fill on my drink. Everything was on the tray, the appetizer plate, the salad bowl, and the main dish. I was offered some bread, which I gladly accepted. The quail was nice, a change from the usual smoked chicken they normally serve on this route. The bowl of salad today contained different types of lettuce with mushrooms. The dressing was a lemon vinaigrette which was unique but very flavorful none the less which accompanied the fresh salad leaves. The main course was nice, though not up to the usual standard I am used to from KLM out of Amsterdam. The risotto was actually edible this time and the mustard sauce was excellent. I finished the chicken and risotto off and did not touch the rest, as it did not look very appealing to the eye. The tray was collected with another beautiful smile and the dessert cart appeared a shot while thereafter.
“Today ve hav cheeze und breatt or frez fruitz or cake. Vich one vould ya lik?
I opted for the cake with some fresh whipped cream and as usual, KLM did not disappoint me. It was a dark and white chocolate mousse cake that melted in my mouth, it was exquisite. Unfortunately this was the first time that a KLM flight attendant did not offer me seconds. This may have been the first time I would have taken the offer. Instead she just smiled, and took the empty plate that I had virtually licked clean.
Throughout the meal service I was watching the comedy channel on the PTV. First when I took the PTV out earlier on in the flight, it was a disaster. It had fingerprints all over it and it looked like it had not been cleaned in three months. I had to use my hot towel to clean it! Worse was the fact that the square TV portion was loose. It did not stay; it kept flopping back, same with my seatmates. No matter how hard we tried, it would not stay, so both of us ended up watching the TV at an angle. Worse was once the meal was done, the comedy channel cut off in the middle of a “Friends” episode. By that point I was fed up. I plugged into “KLM Hitline” and decided to take a nap. Anyway, what was on offer today as far as entertainment goes was the following:
Channel 1: BBC News
Channel 2: Comedy: My Hero/Becker/Taxi/Friends/Everybody Loves Raymond
Channel 3: Travel: Mystery of Easter Island/Montreal/South Korea
Channel 4: Seabiscuit
Channel 5: Open Range
Channel 6: The Spirit of St. Louis
Channel 7: Flight Tracking
Channel 1: BBC News
Channel 2: Exclusive: Christmas in Tinseltown/Escape/Conquering The Skies
Channel 3: Sport: Futbol Mundial/Real Madrid vs. Barcelona/Golf at Wentworth
Channel 4: Scorched
Channel 5: The Medallion
Channel 6: Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star
Channel 7: Flight Tracking
I woke up while we were flying over Iraq. I looked out the window to see if there was anything down there. Unfortunately it looked like we were above a solid layer of clouds. I continued talking to my neighbor for a while and I heard some silverwear claming in the galley indicating it was time for the snack. This is what the menu listed:
Light hot snack
Shortly before arrival we will be serving a light snack with a choice of a vegetarian or non-vegetarian club sandwich and a quiche filled with mushroom and truffle
Now that does sound interesting right? I have always loved quiche and have found the ones that KLM offers to be of excellent quality. I would love to tell you how it tasted this time except for the fact that it was never served! That’s right, NEVER. The flight attendant came around with a tray consisting of two types of sandwiches, one being a cheese and the other a turkey. These were no special sandwiches either; these were the kind that KLM offers in-between meals on their long haul flights. This was certainly an unexpected item that I did not think would ever replace a snack in business class. If this is what we received in WBC, what did the passengers in economy receive? Regardless, the sandwich really had no taste; it was just plain turkey in a bun with a measly spread of butter. Best of all, no drink service was made with this sandwich. We were supposed to rely on the bottle of water that had been placed on our armrest earlier.
The flight attendants then came around with the normal Delft Blue houses without the liqueur this being the Kuwait flight and all. Descent started moments later and the crew collected the headsets.
Arrival: We touched down at 23:20, thirty minuets ahead of schedule. We taxied right past a World DC-10 and towards the terminal, which had a few Kuwait Airways planes along with an Indian Airlines A320 and a MEA A321. The jetway docked with door 1L and we were off within a minute. Got down to immigration where my dad was waiting with my visa, which sped up the process except for the fact that there was still a line from the MEA passengers. Got out to the baggage carousel and my bags appeared after 10 minutes of waiting. Put the bag through the x-ray machine which was a zip and we were headed towards the car at around 23:55. One of the easiest arrivals I have had into Kuwait with the thought that in 10 days, I would be back heading to India.
Run of the mill Northwest domestic flight in First Class. I have come to the conclusion that Northwest crews who operate domestic flights to and from Detroit are not the happiest bunch of people. The service lacks some charm and happiness that is very present in the MSP and MEM based ones. The attitude of the crew on this particular flight was, “what do I have to do for you today?” They did not seem to be too happy to be at work. But overall they were fine, not bad, but not excellent like so many other NW crew I have encountered. The snack was nice and I appreciate the fact that there was a choice and that the meal had quantity.
Northwest: WOW! Are the Northwest A330’s worth all the hype? In my opinion, absolutely! The seats are a great improvement, some of the best around, very comparable to CX and BA. The entertainment is out of this world, I think it surpasses all the other US airlines and even some European airlines. Northwest is truly on its way up with these new planes and the new World Business Class. Their employees can certainly be proud of this magnificent aircraft and all the amenities it offers to its passengers. Do I recommend Northwest’s new business class? Without a shadow of a doubt, go for it. It will probably be one of the best decisions you have ever made when it comes to flying.
KLM what happened? I have never seen an aircraft so run down in the KLM fleet. It certainly does not leave a good impression boarding the aircraft. To top it off, the crew were not up to the usual KLM standard. They were good, but that is not what I expect from KLM where the crew has normally surpassed my expectations. This crew never once addressed me by name, never walked around the cabin during the flight to check up on passengers, and they did not answer any call buttons. To top it all off, the snack before landing, not WBC quality at all. Why did the menu have something different? I would have accepted it had the crew told us a reason, but they never did. They just handed out the sandwiched like it was a normal part of the flight. I guess I finally experienced what everyone has been talking about, that KLM has become very sub-par. I refuse to believe this though, I’m sure it was just a one-time thing.
Check In: 10 (Kim was excellent)
Seat: 8 (No adjustable headrest)
Aircraft: 10 (In perfect condition)
Crew: 7 (Efficient, but no special touch)
Meal: 10 (Perfectly acceptable for such a flight)
Entertainment: 0 (None what so ever)
Detroit World Clubs: 9 (Excellent place, just wish they had more snacks)
Seat: 10 (As perfect as it gets)
Aircraft: 10 (Brand new Airbus. What else can I possibly say?)
Crew: 9 (Some of the best around, especially the one I struck up a conversation with)
Entertainment: 10 (I could not ask for anything more)
Amsterdam KLM Royal Crown Lounge: 9 (Perfect place to spend sometime)
Seat: 6 (Very run down!)
Aircraft: 6 (Needs to be cleaned and updated)
Crew: 8 (Good, but fell short of the regular KLM crew I encounter)
Meal: 7 (Brought down by the snack before landing)
Entertainment: 8 (Limited choice, but still available)
Arrival: 10 (Very happy that “Priority" tags were not ignored)
Total Score: 158/210 = 0.75
For this trip KLM/NWA scored a 75%. 10% lower than my MCO-KWI trip in July.
I hope this answers some of the questions you guys have on the Northwest A330. Please feel free to criticize or comment on this trip report. I apologize for the length and hope you found it a good read. If you have any tips for my future trip reports, please let me know. Thanks.