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Domestic Travels On NW, AA, UA, And WN

Tue Apr 27, 2004 10:24 am

April 16, 2004
NW 261 LGA-DTW Lv1614 Arr1807 Boeing 757-200 N520US/”5520” with new livery
Here is the beginning of my mileage runs on Northwest (I got the promotions of flying 8 NW segments for Silver elite status) and I chose to buy this U2B $354OW discounted first class ticket. I used the online check in functions due to a tight schedule this afternoon. I arrived at LGA about an hour prior to arrival and the check in line was not busy, especially there was a premium line.

Boarding began at 3:42pm and our flight was 100% full this afternoon. A very friendly purser welcomes us on board, and coats were immediately hung, followed by pre-takeoff beverages. Indeed on all the four segments, the flight attendants were friendly and wasted no time in hanging jackets and serving pre-takeoff beverage. Door was closed at 4:14pm and we pushed back at 4:19pm. Following a United’s Boeing 737-300 N304UA at the queue for Runway 31, we took off at 4:34pm. Flying time was an hour and twenty-two minutes.

Seat belt sign was on for the whole flight, and beverage was offered shortly after takeoff, and a snack basket of Sprintzels and Fisher’s almonds was our “meals.” Beverage was refilled a number of times, as the purser was pretty good in checking on us. Descent began at 5:32pm and we landed on Runway 21L at 5:56pm, and parked at gate A30 a few minutes later. I was definitely impressed with the new Detroit World Port. It was beautiful and the architecture is amazing. The terminal is million times better than old Detroit station. I went to the World Club South Station, and the lounge had a cozy interior, with a nice open bar and snacks such as cheese, Milano and Brussels cookies, and biscotts were offered. I took a seat by the window, and enjoyed an hour in the lounge.

NW 1189 DTW-LAS Lv1925 Arr2053 Boeing 757-200 N535US with new interior “5635”
Boarding began at 6:45pm at gate A24, and our flight was not too full this evening. I also noticed the slightly more dated interior and the smaller overhead bin. Jackets were hung and I had a glass of water. Door was closed five minutes early and we pushed back in two minutes. There was a queue of Northwest planes, but we took off at 7:45pm from R/W22L. Flying time was four hours and six minutes, with a cruising attitude of 35,000feet.

Dinner service began with beverage and your choice of Sprintzels or Fishers’ almonds. For coach, purchased dinner were available and the choices were TGI Friday’s Chicken Caesar Salad, Red Chili chicken sandwich on a bagel ($10 each) and a snack box with Turkey & Cheddar on a white roll with Goldfish crackers, Oreo cookies, and chips for $5. For first class, a regional style dinner was served, which was slightly downgraded from the West Coast to hub dinner – without appetizer. For entrées, there was a choice of Baked Ziti Pasta with spicy sausage, red peppers, onions, cheese, and white sauce, or Grilled chicken, accompanied by a green salad with cucumbers and tomatoes and Balsamic Vinaigrette dressing, a choice of sourdough or whole grain rolls, and a chocolate torte with whipped cream. I had the ziti again, which was tasteless, but decent for my taste. The dessert was still the best part. After dinner, there was a tea and coffee service, and I took a nap. Descent began at 11:20pmEST, and we landed on R/W25L at 8:51pmPST. We arrived at gate D12 five minutes later.

WN 924 LAS-OAK Lv2200 Arr2325 Boeing 737-300 N611SW
Well, I had more than enough time to go to the C Concourse, which was very simple from Concourse D – no need to pass through security. I had the online boarding pass – group A, and headed to gate C12. Of course, the flight was late for ten minutes, according to WN clock due to late arrival from the LA Basin area. The flight was pretty full this evening. I was disappointed to see the last minute swap from –700 to –300. Boarding began at 9:57pm and this particular aircraft has the lounge area and the traditional seating arrangement. I got seat 5A and settled for the short flight. Door was closed at 10:12pm and we pushed back a few minutes later. We took off from Runway 25R at 10:22pm. Flying time was an hour and four minutes. Service was typical Southwest style with honey roasted “byte” peanuts and a cup of beverage. Descent began at 11pm and we landed on R/W29 at 11:26pm.

After a wonderful weekend at Oakland, it was time to head home via the same routing, but more delays.

April 18, 2004
WN 1240 OAK-LAS Lv2110 Arr2230 Boeing 737-300 N686SW
The flight was late from Sacramento, and boarding began at 9:20pm. The flight was nearly 100% full and I got a seat at 13A. The interior had the updated orange and blue leather seats and without the traditional lounge seating. However Row 1 got tons of legroom. The seats are slightly more comfortable and look cleaner. Boarding began at 9:20pm at Gate 10 at Terminal One. Door was closed at 9:38pm and pushed back in a few minutes. We took off from R/W29 at 9:51pm. Honey roasted peanuts were served with our choice of beverage, and descent began at 10:34pm and we landed at R/W19R at 10:50pm. We were at Gate C2 in no times and were shocked at the large amount of onward passengers to Phoenix. Passengers were warned that the next flight would be 100% full. I was just glad that the trip was over and my impression of Southwest remains “avoid them as much as possible.” The boarding experience remains annoying at best.

April 19, 2004
NW 774 LAS-MSP Lv0115 Arr0605 Boeing 757-300 N584NW “5804”
The fun of the night began with my first glimpse of the monitor board at Las Vegas airport. The inbound flight was delayed till 1:54am, and the scheduled departure time was 2:44am. Of course, that means I am likely to miss my connection flight to La Guardia. I checked in with the gate agent at D9, our original gate. First, I got all my boarding passes and was told that I would possibly catch the flight. If not, the next flight was wide opened in Y, but full in first class. Throughout the evening, there were lines of people seeking connection information. However, the gate agent did not rebook everyone and just told them they would be taken care at Minneapolis. The agent was polite and informative, but was not in a good mood, due to the overnight duties. The night got a bit longer, as the delays were further than expected, and our new arrival time was 7:30am. Still the gate agent would not rebook anyone or provided new boarding passes. It was obvious that I would miss my onward flight to La Guardia, but was told that MSP would take care of us. Sometimes airline operations did not have logic. Since folks had tons of times at hand, it would be easier to issue new boarding passes and reduced our hassles. The inbound flight finally landed at 1:54pm and was parked at gate around 2am. We began boarding at 2:14am, despite caterings were still going on. Boarding was stopped a little bit, but soon we were ready. The flight attendants were caught in surprise and we were told that the weather at MSP was nasty and the flight was held for more than two hours. For some reasons, a new set of pilots had to be called and they arrived around 2:45am and the gate agent could not wait to close the door at 2:50am. We pushed back at 3am and headed to Runway 25R immediately. With no plane on line, we took off from a quiet Las Vegas airport at 3:07am. Flying time was two hours and twenty-one minutes.

Flight service was minimal and there was no announcement. The F/A made her beverage run at 3:26am and a basket of snacks with Quaker’s Oatmeal Raisin bars and bananas was passed, and our choice of beverage. Only two takers this evening, as most passengers went to sleep. The cabin was very quiet for the rest of evening. Descent began at 5:07am PST, and we landed at Runway 30L at 7:28amCST. I had to say the gate agents were ready. I went to the gate counter, and boarding passes were printed out with our new itinerary and a NW apology package, which consists of $5 calling card, a discount coupon for future travel, and an amenity coupon (choice of $5 food or inflight service coupon or 250 miles. I was impressed with the care pack but the gate agent was rather rude. Just handed you the coupon… since I had access to the World Club with my Platinum AE card, I headed there to resolve my situation. I was rebooked on the 9:27am flight but was in a middle seat in coach. That was not acceptable for a full fare Y and A fare passengers. I went to the ticket counters, and the agent was not familiar with my ticket code. F class was booked to full and I told her that I had no possibility in getting into F. I asked her to check when the next flight with first class was. Thank god! The next flight with first class was the 10:35am flight, and I told her that it was fine. I had to wait anyway. An extra hour did not bother me at all. The world club was fine and I had a muffin and some orange juice and tea. I was shocked at the bar, which was opened and there were many takers. It was definitely too early for anything other than a mimosa or bloody Mary. For snacks, there were bagels, muffins and apples.

NW 1234 MSP-LGA Lv1035 Arr1408 Airbus A319-100 N307NB with new livery.
Boarding began at 10:06am at gate C14. A very friendly set of F/As, who wasted no time in hanging jackets and taking pre-takeoff beverage orders, was in charge today. I immediately noticed that the extra width on the Baby Airbuses. Northwest uses the same seats for all the planes, so you noticed the wide corridor. Door was closed at 10:27am and we pushed back thirteen minutes later, due to late bags. F was full but coach was 50%full. Following a RJ85, we took off from R/W30R at 10:52am. Flying time was two hours and eighteen minutes, with a cruising attitude of 27,000ft.

The flight began with beverage and the usual sprintzels and almonds snack. Lunch was served in first class – a cold lunch. Entrée choices were Ham & cheese sandwich, accompanied by lettuce, tomato, and a fruit plate with grapes, pineapples and strawberry, or Pasta salad (over-marinated with mayonnaise) with chicken chunks, mandarin orange segments, chopped snow peas, and twisted pasta, accompanied by a bowl of mixed greens with tomato and cucumber and balsamic vinaigrette dressing, a French roll, and a Key lime pie. I was at row 4 so there was no choice. The chicken salad was pretty bad, especially too much mayonnaise and not enough chicken. I had better version of the chicken salad. I don’t think Asian style chicken pasta salad goes well with mayonnaise. Tea and coffee was served after lunch. I went to sleep after lunch and had a very nice nap. Descent began at 12:31pmCST, but we were in a holding pattern over New York State due to high winds at LGA and the usual traffic problem. We had a great view of Manhattan this afternoon. We finally landed at R/W22 at 2:10pm EST and parked at gate 8 a few minutes later. It was a nice flight and I was soon backed into the very warm city. Nevertheless, due to a situation at home, I had to return to Los Angeles the next morning. Well I was still managed to fetch a $300RT on an AA flight to SFO, but an expensive $200RT from SFO to LAX on UA with one-week notice. Oh, I decided to fly through SFO for the doubles miles on AA.

April 20, 2004
AA 59 JFK-SFO Lv0730 Arr1045 Boeing 767-200 N321AA/”321”
Check in was very smooth and efficient. The AA agent was in a good mood and my bags were tagged with the premium priority red tags, which were a surprise and happened more often from New York lately. The most amazing part was that the bags actually came out first at SFO, which was the better part. I went to the gate around 7am and boarding was just about to start. Orange juice and water were passed out, as long as printed menus. The pilots came on line around 7:20am and informed us that the maintenance had to perform a test on the generator, and it would mean a thirty minutes delay. The F/As immediately took order for pre-takeoff beverage and headsets were passed out for free in coach cabin. The “Everybody Loves Raymond” marathon was shown and it was a new marathon with the pre-Robert wedding episodes. Door was closed at 8am and we pushed back at 8:14am. There was a line of Jetblue planes in front of us (four to be exact with an AA MD-80 on front). We took off from Runway 31L at 8:45am. Flying time was a long six hours and five minutes, due to the strong headwind. We climbed initially to 31,000feet, before reaching a higher 35,000feet when we got a bit lighter. The load in F and J was full, but Y saw a 60% load.

Service began with a nice round of morning beverages, and then breakfast was served with two separate courses. The fruit tray came first with three slices of melon and four half strawberries on the transparent plate, accompanied by the breakfast bread basket with bagels and slices of lemon and cranberry pound cakes. I had the pound cakes because I had the smoked salmon bagel plate for main courses. They were delicious. Then entrée was served. The smoked salmon plate was a first I had on American Airlines’ breakfast flight – at least eight slices of smoked salmon with the accompaniments on the side and freshly warmed bagels. I like it. The following was the menu transcript:

Fresh seasonal fruit

Cheese Omelette
Fluffy Omelet filled with Asiago Cheese, accompanied by Hash brown potatoes and a Yucatan Turkey sausage
Smoked Salmon Plate
Smoked Salmon accompanied by capers, onions, sliced cucumbers and tomatoes, served with a warm bagel and a spread of cream cheese and chives
Cereal and Yogurt

Breakfast Breads Basket

Movie, “Paycheck,” starring Ben Affleck was shown next, followed by CBS Eyes on American and more Raymond. I went to sleep after breakfast and had a nice long nap before light refreshment served at 1:08pm EST. Instead of cheese or cookies, we were offer both choices, and the snack was more generous than the normal transcontinental first class flight. The tray came with two slices of American cheese and a slice of Swiss cheese, accompanied by grapes, cantaloupes and Carr’s crackers. There was a choice of multigrain or sourdough rolls. For cookies, we had a choice of chocolate chip or oatmeal raisin cookies. I enjoy this cheese service much.

Light Refreshment
Cheese Plate
A sampler of fine cheese served with crackers
Freshly basked on board cookies

Hot towels were handed out at 2:03pm and descent soon began. We landed on Runway 28R at 11:50amPST and parked at gate 67 a few minutes later. As of this point, I was running late, and I only had thirty-five minutes to check in for my flights with United – not to mention my two bags. Let see what happened next!

UA 989 SFO-LAX Lv1245 Arr1403 Boeing 737-300 N371UA’9871 with United Shuttle/Original United livery and Shuttle interior

Well the United Premier line was not terribly long and everyone was in a hurry to catch the 12pm bank of flight to Las Vegas and various West coast cities. Matthew Tang, the super nice Asian agent, called the runners immediately and notified them of my two bags. My bags were checked at 12:15pm to be exact and I rushed them to the TSA security line. Matthew gave me my boarding pass and asked me to head to the gate, and instructed the security guys to send them to the runners. I used the priority check points to get into security, which took five minutes. United seems to have a major change since I last flew them last year. The agents were more helpful and I was impressed with this experience.

Well, boarding time was 12:15pm from gate 74. The flight was very light in Y and due to a check for oil leak, we did not push back till 12:45pm, which possibly was a good sign for me, as the bags had times to arrive at the plane. We headed to Runway 1L for takeoff at 12:56pm. It was a fifty-one minutes flight, with a cruising attitude of 33,000feet. No audio was available so no channel nine! The service was the typical beverage with a pack of Gourmet party mix, which is a premium blend of cashews, honey roasted sesame sticks and mini pretzels. The flight attendants were friendly and we got two bags of party mix. Descent began at 1:28pm and we landed on Runway 25L at 1:47pm and parked at gate 70A a few minutes later. Miraculously, the bags came out ten minutes after landing. United definitely impresses me.

Carfield  Smile
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RE: Domestic Travels On NW, AA, UA, And WN

Tue Apr 27, 2004 12:17 pm

A great trip report Carfield! Very good to hear of all of your travels. I flew WN this past weekend and it is obvious why you personally (no offense) would avoid them as you seem to have status on other airlines for lounge clubs and first class. For what WN offers they are an excellent value, especially with the new interiors, very comfortable compared to other airlines in coach. The agent in LAS did seem a bit rude and should have reassigned passengers who would miss their connecting flights.
The views expressed do not necessarily represent those of Southwest Airlines its Directors or its Employees
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RE: Domestic Travels On NW, AA, UA, And WN

Wed Apr 28, 2004 5:57 am

Great report. Sorry to hear about your delayed flight out of LAS.
Continental Micronesia: "Fly With The Warmth Of Paradise"
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RE: Domestic Travels On NW, AA, UA, And WN

Wed Apr 28, 2004 12:54 pm

I can see how somwone would think that the agent was rude for not rebooking people. But with a weather delay like that, no one knows the exact arrival time until the aircraft takes off. Once that happens the agents at the arrival city can execute a precise plan as to what flights the passengers will make, instead of a chance of a second rebooking if the ETA changes.
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RE: Domestic Travels On NW, AA, UA, And WN

Wed Apr 28, 2004 1:40 pm

Well, I think the agent got a pretty good idea, since the inbound flight took off from MSP, as the delays were announced. I thought it would actually save the agents time by reissuing the boarding passes. It was obvious that we will all miss the 7am bank of flight. Will it be easier for us to get the boarding passes, instead of lining up at MSP? Since the LAS agent had to wait around and answered the questions on every single passenger, when the next available flight was! I think it makes better sense.

The "rude" comment has nothing to do with rebooking... it just has to do with the poor customer service skill the MSP agents have -- not even an eye contact... just threw the package at you! It is just so different from the agents at the World Club.


[Edited 2004-04-28 06:45:38]

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