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Joined: Wed Jan 30, 2002 1:57 pm

7 Days, Two WBC Trips To London!

Fri Jan 02, 2004 3:53 pm

[Note: The English majors will notice that tense shifts back and forth from past to present at times -- it depends on if I was typing in real time, of catching up on past events. Bear with me. ]

No, indeed, I typed the title correctly. Through a bit of circumstance, I really am doing SFO-AMS-LHR-AMS-SFO and SJC-MSP-LGW-MSP-SJC all in a week's time. My wife needed a few miles to maintain her NW Gold status, so we decided to take advantage of the NW WBC companion fares to do a quick mileage run to London, and stop at the Imperial War Museum in Duxford so I could look at airplanes. What a woman!

Then an end of the year business trip came up, to London as well. Normally, for company business we are only allowed coach travel, but since the companion WBC fares were actually 700 dollars per person less, we were able to book WBC -- if I could get those fares! That lead to having to book the trip so as to depart the very day after returning from London!

And let's face it. Like I would turn down the extra flying and miles, especially in business class! I figured this was odd enough and interesting enough to justify a trip report.

So to start, I am typing this on my older Treo 270, since the company has Orange SIM cards for our use, and work perfectly in the 270.

KL606 SFO-AMS, MD-11
Seat 2E, World Business Class

Because of the higher alert status, I had a friend drop us off 2 hours early. Surprisingly, while there were big signs advising "vehicle searches in progress" there was not even anyone around performing them. Inside the International terminal, we had but a 2 minute wait to check in at the Elite/WBC line. There looked to be about 25 people in the regular line.

Boarding passes in hand, we headed to security, where, again, nothing special seemed to be happening and there was no line at all. One smart thing the TSA was doing was having someone with a hand wand check your shoes before directing you to a security line. It appeared they were using the two security lines as "shoe" and "no shoe." again, smart thinking that hopefully spreads!

Now having two hours to kill, we headed into the WorldClub. Nice, spiffy, with good views, it is, sadly, no different than the regular domestic club for food. I was hoping it might be a little nicer.

We headed down to the gate a few minutes after 3pm, getting to the gate just after the WBC boarding had been called. Down the jetway we went, and got to turn left into the forward WBC cabin, which is 2-2-2, unlike the second WBC cabin, which is 2-3-2. I'll have to check that out later.

While there are no center overheads, perhaps the small size of the cabin itself (two rows) keep it from feeling super roomy. The seats themselves seem comfy so far, although they aren't especially wide - I find that my legs contact both sides of the seat. I suspect that's how KL gets the three seats in the middle row farther back.

We get our amenity kits in a nice tin box, and are asked to fill out our breakfast menu selections so we don't need to be woken up until the last minute. So far, with 10 minutes left, 8 of the 12 seats are occupied.

We are offered champagne as well as orange juice as we finish getting organized. I wish there was a good place to stash my pillow and blanket, though.

At 3:50, ten minutes after our scheduled departure time, the Captain made a PA saying that we were just waiting for some final paperwork before departing. At 4:00, we finally push back without any signficant ceremony. A nice long announcement in Dutch was followed by a much shorter version in English  Smile
Our flight time was announced at 9:30, which would make up for our late departure.

Taxi to 24R was uneventful, and after waiting for a United 757 to take off, we moved to the centerline and roared into the sky. A few early bumps, but some great views of the Bay and Golden Gate Bridges. Not surprisingly, just as we crossed the 10,000 foot level, the seatbelt sign came off.

As we all settled in, Hans, the purser, came to each person and introduced himself. When we told him this was the first time we were flying KLM, he quickly ran through the controls for the IFE for us. Decided to watch Matchstick Men.

The first pass through by the FA's was to serve nuts and beverage from the cart. Beings adventourous, I went with Pepsi blue. After all, this IS KLM!

Then our dinner orders were taken, followed by another beverage and nut service. The overhead maps show us cruising at FL330, which seems kinda low, but hey, the ride is smooth and the movie isn't bad, yet! Linens are brought out and, being hungry...I wait...

I was a bit surprised that dinner was served off carts as well. Somewhere, I was expecting a service that was a lot nicer than domestic transcon first, but it hasn't been so far. Still, better than being in back! As far as food, I went with the fish. Fish good, but the lemon rice with it wasn't very appealing. Dessert was a choice of cheesecake, fruit, or cheese.

After the movie (which I shall spare you the details of), I decided to settle in for a bit and see if I could sleep. After about 40 minutes, curiosity got the better of me so I decided to check out the rear of the aircraft. With all the curtains drawn, I wasn't bold enough to venture into the coach section, but just walked through the center galley to the rear business class section. One interesting thing is that there's a dedicated "crossover" walkway for each section - a narrow little hallwayjust wide enough for a cart, if need be. These are in addition to the actual crossover for the galley and 2L entryway.

We started picking up some light chop over the Hudson bay, and, unsurprisingly, the seatbealt light stayed off. This has always been something I've noticed about foreign airlines; they use the seatbelt light far more sparingly, but people respect it more. On domestic flights the seatbelt light hardly ever seems to go out, but people just get up anyway and do their business.

About two hours out, the cabin light were brought up about halfway, and a round of fresh orange juice and hot towels brought around. Through some of the open windows dawn could be seen. Now, with just an hour and fourty minutes left, only a couple of people in our private little forward cabin remain asleep. Soon, I expect, will be food.

With 1:23 left, out come the breakfast carts. Milk for the cereal is poured from a large container, rather than giving each person an individual container. The fruit plate was interesting in that, rather than sliced cantaloupe, is was one large hunk of cantaloupe in with a slice of lime, grapefruit, and a whole strawberry.

After breakfast was cleared away, out came the Delft houses! Some people really deliberated on them, but I took a quick look, and made my choice quickly, to the surprise of the flight attendant.

As we passed over Scotland, I took a minute to look outside (nothing but clouds) and gather my things up, and put my shoes back on. One thing that did seem sub-par was not being offered more to drink. At this point, I would compare the service directly to AA's flagship transcon service -- no better, no worse. Nothing like Aer Lingus' Premiere service that we experiemced ORD-DUB-ORD. It will ne interesting to compare NW's WBC between MSP and LGW in a few days.

Now, with about 30 minutes left, the power comes back significantly, and we start our descent (quick enough to make me clear my ears several times), and the Captain gives a PA with a quick rundown of the weather at AMS and the time remaining on our flight.

Fourty miles out, it's time to ready up the cabin. What I assume are the spoilers being extended seems to add a rumble, although it seems to be going for a long time now. But we descending quickly towards the cloud deck!

Approach and landing were uneventful. No thrust reverse on touchdown, just heavy braking. During the long taxi I spotted the new 777, which looks great in KLM colors! Also here was one of the NW A330's, as well as a DC-10. An Onur Air A320 ranked as the most exotic unseen machine for me.

Now we've moved to the Crown Lounge to kill a couple of hours before our next flight to Heathrow.

737-800, Seat 2A, Europe Select

We left the crown lounge about an hour before departure, so I could check out more of the airport than we could see from the lounge. I've know added Air Alps and Maersk to my "seen in real life list." Surprisingly, when we arrived at the gate 35 minutes before departure, boarding had already started with quite a line.

The boarding process was interesting; security people checked your boarding pass and ID then you walked three steps to the KLM gate agent who took your boarding pass, and THEN you headed down the jetway.

This 737 is still configured with 2-3 seating in the forward few rows, then 3-3. The moable curtain is only at row 3, though, so I assume that's as far as real "business" goes today. The seats themselves are nothing special -- they look just like the coach seats, just about ab inch wider. I can see why KLM is moving to an all-Y product where Business is just a forward section where they don't book the middle seat. Seat pitch looks to be about 34", although in a bulkhead we might have an extra inch.

The jetway was pulled back 10 minutes early -- everyone was onboard. Those of us in "Europe Select" were offered newspapers prior to pushback. The taxi out wasn't hugely exciting, although I did get to see an Air Holland 767 take off in front of us. Takeoff itself was bumpy and continues to be choppy to this point (I would guess around FL200).

The curtains are now drawn, so we'll see what the food is like on this 60 minutes flight. Not bad at all. Not a full size domestic first meal, but nicer than most coach meals -- when you get them. Which isn't on a 60 minute flight! Actually, upon further thought, the meal is exactly like a domestic first meal on NW, only without the entree, just the appetizer (meat and cheese) and the dessert (yummy chocolate mousse!).

And just that quick, we started our descent. As we lowered into the clouds, the ride roughened up. At one point we were between cloud layer for a minute, but, aside from that, it was hard to even see the wingtips until we broke out at about 1800' to a very gusty Heathrow. On taxi I spotted a some AA 777's, some UA aircraft, a Royal Jordanian A340, some VS birds, and, well more than a couple BA aircraft.  Smile

Getting off the 737 was simple enough, except for a couple of gentleman from "behind the curtain" barging forward and making it difficult to get our carryons from the overhead. Immigration and customs took but moments, and then we were off to pick up our rental car!

Imperial War Museum, Duxford.

I've been every major air museum in the US (including the new Udvar-Hazy wing at IAD), so I can be a bit jaded - not that I don't enjoy them!

But Duxford is outstanding! Not only can you see lots of vintage English military jet aircraft, there a lot of civilian aircraft as well, a given number of which are open to walk through each day. For today, it was Concorde G-AXDN, a VC-10, and a BAC 1-11. Other aicraft include a Viscount, Britannia, a Trident and others.

I look forward to coming during the summer months when more of the aircraft are pulled outside for better viewing!

Seat 5A, "Europe Select"

We left our hotel (just north of Cambridge) at 2:30am for the 95 mile drive back to Heathrow. Whilst we arrived at the car rental location at 4:15am, we had to wait until 5:00am for the first shuttle to Terminal 4. We arrived to find significant, massive line for KLM checkin, which seemed odd given the flight is only a 737! But it turns out that KLM checks in for a few other airlines as well. Fortunately, the elite/business line was short, and after 20 minutes, we had our tickets. We were invited to use FastTrack for security, except that it wasn't open yet. Another 20 minutes and we were through security, and over to the gate, where we only had to wait a couple of minutes before boarding started.

Then it was down what seemed like the world's longest zig-zag path to finally arrive at the jetway, to board our 737 (old colors). For this flight, the "business divider" was set after row 7, leaving only three 2-3 rows behind the divider. These are the same basic seats we had on the flight in, except, since we're not in a bulkhead, the tray tables drop down from the seat in front of us, so the armrest is a bit thinner. Pitch, however, seems to be maybe 33" -- definitely tighter than, say NW domestic F.

As the boarding flow dropped to a trickle, newspapers we offered. Pushback was about 15 minutes late. Then we had to wait for a 747 to be towed into its gate in front of us. Then we had to start engines and taxi. Finally at 7:10am we take to the air. The most interesting thing, I thoughtv was that I spotted a total of four South African 747's!

Shortly after takeoff the seatbelt light went off and preparations for our food service began.

If anything, I was even more impressed with the food on this flight than the AMS-LHR leg. While cold, it was still a decent breakfast meal for a one hour flight!

Our descent was through the clouds without much to see, not breaking out of the clouds at AMS until I'd guess 1,200'. Our taxi was uneventful, but to my surprise and joy, I spotted my first-ever Yak-42! (not sure what livery it was, though)

Upon checking the monitors, we found that our flight was now listed as being 90 minutes late, so we meandered up to the E/F lounge to wait (and charge my Treo so I could type this up). While waiting, I spotted a Tu-154 - another first for me. Again, couldn't figure out the livery, but that's ok.

MD-11, Seat 2F

At noon we left the lounge and headed for the gate, where found a long line queued up for the secondary security screening required for US travel. Differences were that you didn't need to pull out your laptop, and if you set off the metal detector, you were swiftly and effeciently frisked, then sent along your way.

Inside the airplane, there was some commotion from the last of the catering going on, and a bit of cleanup. Both bathrooms, as we boarded,were if pretty rough shape. But drinks and amenity kits were handed out with a smile, and refills offered.

We pushed about 20 minutes past the planned time -- not too bad, all things considered. And man, do those Schipol tug driver move you around! None of this dainty 5 miles per hour stuuf for them! They whip us back, then pull us up the opposite leg of the "V" formed between E anf F piers, and then we fire up and begin to taxi. And taxi. And taxi. And taxi. And I start wondering if maybe KLM has decided to enter the cruise ship business! About five minutes after that we end up on a runway that I suspect must be closer to London than Amsterdam, and finally take off.

This time, the crew waits quite a while before turning off the seat belt sign. Fairly quickly, menus are distributed and the IFE is fired up, only to discover that it's all messed up, and will be inop. Figures. The fist time there's two movies I'd really like to see, and kapow!

The menu's not all that impressive, either. I'm going with the monkfish, so we'll see how that turns out.

As on the trip out, the meal service is nothing fancy. Linen is brought out to cover the tray table, but otherwise, you are then served off the cart. The appetizer includes a salad with that fancy schmancy funky lettuce I dislike, and the appetizer itself, a quail and asparagus dish, isn't particularly riveting. Neither the quality nor the presentation bespeak fancy. And about here I realize my lumbar support is inop as well. Blech.

One look at the entree tells me I'm not going to like it, and I decide to let exhaustion have it's head. I have the FA take the tray back, and lean myself back to get some sleep. A couple of hours I awake to a semi dark cabin. The good news? The crew pulled a pair of interlocking curtains between the galley and the forward cabin, which the crew had not used on the SFO-AMS leg (and I wish they had, the light from the galley is pretty harsh.

The bad news (which may be related to the IFE issues) is that the front TV screens mounted on the forward bulkhead are blazing away with Airshow, so the cabin is well-lit anyway. A couple of hours later, the forward monitors finally go dark.

A couple of minor differenced between this leg and the outbound one are that the "snack buffet" in the galley more extensive, with sandwiches and ice cream to complement the Rolos and crackers. Also, the aft walkway, as well as the area around the 2R door are curtained off for crew rest.

Our route of flight is extremely far north on this flight, obviously, the jet stream is farther north than usual and forcing us even farther north to avoid it. We flew north of Iceland, well over the center of Greenland, and, as breakfast is being served with 90 minutes to go, we find ourselves over Vancouver! And with that, over the shoreline of the Pacific, we started picking up some chop, and the seatbelt light goes on.

As we pass over the California/Oregon border, things smmoth up and the seatbelt light is turned off, giving people the fo a quick makeup or other personal abloutions. I'm hoping that we are the only international flight arriving in our time slot so we get through immigation quickly. Business clss or no, it's been nearly 24 hours since we left the hotel, and I didnlt get much sleep in the hotel, either.

As we descend through 12000', we pick up some very light chop, but, amazingly (for someone who flies primarily domestic US legs), the seatbelt light still isn't on...but at this point, as we are manuvering around, no one's really up, except for the flight attendants offering us our delft houses...  Smile

With the seatbelt sign still off, there is a rush to the left side windows where a PA is made that the Golden Gate bridge can be seen. Airshow is showing us down to 6,000' and still no seatbelt light as we descend, and arc around the south bay to line up for landing.

The landing itself is uneventful -- this time *with* thrust reversers, of course. Then it's the taxi to the gate, and one other odditiy -- a seeming relutance to turn off the seatbelt light at the gate as the FA's prepare to open the door.
Topic Author
Posts: 3314
Joined: Wed Jan 30, 2002 1:57 pm

RE: 7 Days, Two WBC Trips To London!

Fri Jan 02, 2004 3:55 pm

This from a crew that didn't turn ON the seatbelt light until short final? Everyone got up anyway.  Smile

Then it was a fight to get off the plane, as many people shouldered their way forward from the back. It would actually be nice if KLM made an effort to get the WBC folks off first an unmolested.

And the process of getting back into the country had plenty of redundancy -- one person checks the form, hands it back to you, and then three steps later there's someone to make sure the first person did their job. Oh well. Now it's time to unpack, repack, and get ready for tomorrow's flight back to London!
Seat 3A, A319, first class

Because of the rain, the traffic within all the construction at the terminal took longer to wade through than the drive to the airport itself! Upon checkin, we discovered that, due to high winds, our flight was delayed by 30 minutes. "No problem," I was told when asking about our connection, "the same wind will let you make up the time on the way back"

Well, that didn't sound so bad. Except that at 12:15 there was no plane arriving to be turned in 30 minutes. While the gate agents kept us updated, which was good, the bad part was the plane didn't arrive at the gate until 12:49, and we were not wheels up until 1:30. Since we've only got 55 minutes to make our connection (which might be the last way to get to LGW tonight), things may get interesting. We'll have to wait and see.

Takeoff was uneventful, althoguh into cloud cove. The first 10 minutes were a bit bumpy, and the flight attendants stayed seated, but now, 15 minutes into the flight, they have started moving about and preparing for the meal service.

One definite comment about seat pitch. KLM's Europe Select seating does definitely not have the same pitch as NW's domestic F product. I wasn't positive before, but I am now  Smile

Airborne, the Captain made his PA, and let us know that our scheduled arrival the the gate will be 6:45pm, which will give us 10 minutes to make our flight to Gatwick. We should be okay -- if we don't get held up any additional time they should hold the plane for us.

Meal service is standard NW domestic fare - nice an simple. I actually called NW last night and ordered kosher meals in hopes of getting something less schmancy than the last flights. Well, it's all an adventure!

Well, now I know. The kosher meal wasn't bad at all, although it does come all double sealed and geared so it's edible for the Orthodox (which I'm not). The seatbelt light has been on and off at times as we have hit light chop (which would not have brought on the light at KLM!), but still no update from the flight deck on arrival time yet. Many people on this flight are connecting, and for many destinations, the flights out are the last of the day. I'm still betting they'll hold planes. This is one of those gray areas of "weather" -- after all, while weather legitmately delayed the flight from MSP-SJC, we haven't been delayed by weather on this flight. This is just a delay caused by NW's operational decisions.

That said, I'd rather make the next flight than be put up in a hotel tonight, on my dime OR Northwest's. We're just about an hour from our scheduled time of arrival, so I'm hoping for an update soon.

Well, no update specifically, but an FA made an announcement that MSP was aware of our delay. Yeah..

6:20 and qe start our decent. Thus the race begins...

We got into the gate right at 6:50pm. We ran over to G8, and found our plane still there, although we were the last people on board. That said, it was still15 minutes until we pushed back...then we had to deice...then wait in a long line of planes...and it was 8:05pm before we were wheels up.

Well, that part out of the way, let's talk about cabin. The DC-10 feels older because, well, the seats &re older in both styling (very square) and features (a/v controls in side of seat and no adjustable neckrest). The seats themselves are slightly wider and look more comfy, though. I'll update that later.

The menu, by the way, is indeed identical to the KLM menu to AMS. Lokks like in fact service will be the same, just with less sleep time. Amenity kits some in a little bag - not as fancy as KLM's. But not far different.

But what's this? Holy moly, the appetizer is different - some cashews, some chicken, and some other thing, served on a small appetizer plate. I tried, I liked! Yummy!

Okay, a complaint about the seat. The armrests are low enough that the table is touching the tops of my legs -- something that doesn't normally happen to me. The nuts are all cashews, which is good, and as soon as everyone had their beverage service and cashew refills were offered.

Oh, I did recline the seat briefly, and it is indeed comfy. Kind of like a big old recliner. Ugly, but so doggone good you just can't bring yourself to throw it out.

A PA from from Captain gives us our basic crossing details - a standard transatlantic routing. Looks like we're going to end up about 30 minutes late into Gatwick. Still, not bad.

Turns out they didn't board our Kosher meals after all, so it'll be the lasagna for me. Dinner is served off the cart, but I can see already that they are hand pouring the salad dressing. Salad is being served on it's own platter, much like domestic F. Plastic knives, though. Interesting. The salad had a lot of that fancy leafy stuff, but, being in the much larger plate, it was easier to pick through and eat the more lettuce-like parts. Butter was served in a chilled bowl, rather than a small plastic container.

The entree itself looked exactly like the KL entree. But dessert..ah, instead of pre-plated choices, they made up a plate with whichever things you wanted - fruit, cheese, chocolate ice cream.

One thing that's very noticable between the DC-10 and the MD-11 is the nose high pitch attitude. When the DC-10 was originally designed, gas was cheap and airlines flew fast, because the savings in time was greater than the savings in fuel. Then, when the price of fuel skyrocketed in the 1970s, airlines started flying slower, because the fuel became worth more than the time.

But flying slower involves about three degrees more nose up on the DC-10, and while that does sound like much, it leads to a very pronounced nose up within the cabin. When the MD-11 was designed, the wing box was modified to increase the wing's angle of incidence 2.5 degrees, which I can now attest leads to a much "flatter" ride.

As the night wears on, one oy my pet peeves raises its head - the seatbelt light. We've been in smooth air for well over 90 minutes and it's still on. So people just ignore it. Oh well. Less than three hours left, assuming our projected ETA hasn't changed.

Business class or not, this is still a ton of flying. I am sure that by the time I get home in three days, I won't want to see the inside of a plane again -- except that I'm supposed to leave for Singapore four days after I get home - in coach, no less.

Oh, and vetween the two trips, I've got to drive five hours each way for my Dad's birthday party. Doesn't sound quite so glamourous now, does it?  Smile

And with 100 minutes to go (assuming our 9:30am ETA is still valid), on go the cabin lights. Good morning, as we pass the coast of Ireland. 10 minutes later, down come the breakfast carts. Breakfast is different than on KLM - which explains why we didn't have order beforehand. Instead, everyone gets some fruit, some yoghurt, muesli, and then a choice of a banana bread loaf (yum!) or a croissant. With seconds of everything freely available.

Now, if only they'd put the airshow up on the front screens as we begin our descent! Eventually, as we could begin to make out the foggy terrain of England, the airshow appeared on the main screens.

A few manuvers on approach - fairly sharp banks - were surprising, but nothing particularly scary. The we dropped into the low level fog in the final approach above the runway. On the way in, there were the claasic liveries of BA, VS and American carriers, but also several Monarch (both new and old), air2000, more Thomas Cook than you could shake a stick at, and an Emirates A330.

On this flight (perhaps aided by the fact that the entire WBC cabin is in front of the 2L door), the coach passengers were held until the front cabin had been cleared. Then it was the long walk, the tram, and three seconds at passport control before heading to Hertz to get our rental car.

DC-10, Seat 2C

The drive into Gatwick wasn't bad, although it does spend a lot of time on city streets before getting to the motorway, so even with no traffic, the drive takes a good hour. Checkin at the NW gates (surprisingly not handled by NW themselves) was smooth, and while we used the fasttrack line for security, it wasn't all that fast (looked a little shorter than the regular line but that's all).

The President's Club lounge here at Gatwick has ourstanding views of the runway and gates. And lots of the tiny 150ml soda cans. Speaking of food, I did cancel our Kosher meal request for this trip, so we'll see how the food goes!

At around 10:45am we headed over to the gate, again riding the little tram to the gate area. Not much of interest, except for a US A330 being boarded by stairs, even though there a jetway right there. Perhaps the jetway was having a bad day.

Our boarding was straightforward -- they were conducting random searches of folks, but had no metal detectors or anything. Just rummage through one's bag and frisk you. Once on board, I grabbed a paper from the front of the cabin and stowed my gear. Unlike our half-empty trip out, this is going to be full up, at least in WBC. Odd, really, I think. I expected this to be the "ghost flight" it being New Years Day and a Thursday to boot.

Drinks were offered (although no refills) and the rather sad little NW amenity kits were passed out, but no socks! Perhaps it's because this flight operates entirely in daylight?

Pushback was five minutes early? And added one new livery to my spotting - Aurigny's, with their Saab 340. Overall, I was surprised that while I was their there were so few easyjet movements, considering the 3-5 aircraft they had on the ground. But after taxiing past an AA 777, we took the centerline and lifted off.

Once airborne, the first round of beverage service, with appetisers, commenced. These were again different from the KL appetisers (although dinner looks to be the same entree), and were small and dainty like one would expect appetizers to be!

Salad is next, again with a choice of dressings hand applied. But it's the leafy lettuce again (bah).

But now I just finished the chicken, and it was outstanding! Now it's time for dessert! Turned out to be fruit and cheese, butterscotch ice cream, and cookies. Now it's time to clean up, then have a little multiplayer flight simulator!

There hasn't been a lot to report lately, we've just been pounding out the miles against about 4 hours of chop that finally stopped over eastern Canada. Our groundspeed has fallen dramatically, though, to only around 460mph. So it has been that the closer we get to MSP, the longer it's taking to get there!

I know I haven't had a lot to say about IFE. Primarily, it's unremarkable. Maybe I'd be more impressed if it was AVOD, but then again, maybe not, as I'm just not a diehard IFE fan who finds flights without IFE to be like days without, I'm happy when they leave the airshow on the main screens all flight so I don't have to pull my PTV out.

To be honest, I fell sound asleep just as they started the final meal service of small sandwiches. The next thing I knew, they were asking me to straighten up my recliner--err, my WBC seat -- for landing. Touchdown was routine, and we actually ended up right near our gate at G. Immigration and customs were not overly redundant like at SFO, and, being one of the first off the plane and one of the few with only carryon luggage, I was off the plane, through immigration and customs, and the security recheck into MSP airside in eight (yes, eight) minutes. Now just kill a couple of hours and catch flight 195 home...

A320, Seat 2A

We headed over to the gate about 40 minutes before depature, just in time to catch the "we will now board first class only, rows 1-4" announcement. Outstanding! Boarding went smoothly, and we actually pulled back 3 minutes early - only to be number 893,456 for takeoff. Okay, not quite that bad, but we didn't get in the air for 35 minutes.

Once airborne, it was a straightforward domestic flight, with the usual baked ziti or chicken entrees. Then in back, someone not feeling so well had what my co-worker euphemistically called a "containment loss" which impacted folks both in his row as well as the row in front of him. So cleanup gear was brought forth for the plane and impacted passengers, and all seemed to be okay.

Then there was a surge of the two rear FAs to the front, to grab more stuff and rush back to the back again. A few minutes after that, the poor gentleman, wrapped in a sheet, came forward and took residency in the forward lav. Appears there was another form of "containment loss" in back. I don't know the details, but my co-worker and I were both asked if we had any spare pants we could sell the FA. Not a good sign.

Now that is under control, I know what you're thinking. All this babbling, and I have yet to talk about my comparative feelings of KLM and NW business class (given that they are both supposed to yield the same "experience" and the airlines work cooperatively and don't compete on any routes).

Well, for the largest part, nitpicking aside, tthey do an admirable job of providing the same experience. Not a mirror image, but close enough that you have to work to look at differences. The average non-aviation traveler wouldn't know the difference -- kinda like KLM's new livery, you can tell it's different but if you're thinking about other things you don't notice it.

I have no issues flying either airline. From a service perspective, I'd pick NW if the choice was exactly equal. But for a London trip, I'd much rather have that last leg be AMS-SFO because I'm tired and would rather be laying in the WBC seat right now (in other words, get the plane change done early in the trip).

Of course, the odds are that next time I'll be flying in coach, which means I'll want to fly NW so I can at least be upgraded on the domestic portions of the trip.

And that, with tired eyes and fingers, is that!

Posts: 1579
Joined: Tue Aug 02, 2005 10:23 pm

RE: 7 Days, Two WBC Trips To London!

Fri Jan 02, 2004 9:18 pm


Thanks for flying with NWA and KLM. Your business is appriciated today more than ever. The next time you go to Europe try an easy connection via the new World Gateway DTW terminal. If you fly to AMS or FRA from DTW it will be onboard the new A330. If you MUST fly coach across the pond, try to get row 10 seat AB or GH. They are exit rows in the first row of coach. Or if you are in just the first cabin of coach you have a couple of more inches of leg room then the last cabin and have power ports if you are flying with a computer. Again Many Thanks !

Safe Flying  Smile
Florida Express, Braniff II and ......
Posts: 3532
Joined: Wed Jul 04, 2001 12:57 am

RE: 7 Days, Two WBC Trips To London!

Fri Jan 02, 2004 11:45 pm

Ahhhh..The friendliness of NW staff on  Big grin.
I'm surprised KLM is not as "luxurious" as some other J products....I read somewhere they were brading them selves as a "cheaper J product" but the prices are just as high  Laugh out loud unless you can get a "Z" fare
What now?
nwa man
Posts: 1752
Joined: Mon Jun 07, 1999 3:24 am

RE: 7 Days, Two WBC Trips To London!

Sat Jan 03, 2004 6:41 am


Looks like I just missed you at MSP yesterday (the 1st)... I got in from my short trip to MKE around 2pm.

Glad you enjoyed your trips to Europe (from a non-NW employee  Smile/happy/getting dizzy)

Create your own luck.
Posts: 8201
Joined: Sat Jan 13, 2001 1:27 pm

RE: 7 Days, Two WBC Trips To London!

Sun Jan 04, 2004 10:49 pm


Long report,but nice to read,kind of like a good book.



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