June 13, 2006
NW 6 SIN-NRT Lv0600 Arr1425 Airbus A330-200 N853NW/3353
About flying Northwest, my attitude is that I paid $1500RT for this ticket, so I need to adjust my attitude accordingly. I think NW actually offers a decent World Business Class product and the seat is fine with me. The AVOD is cool, but I still think that it can used more programs. Foodwise – it is okay, except the brand new decision to serve a continental breakfast, instead of a full hot breakfast on NRT to SEA/PDX/SFO flight. Other than that, NW service is okay. Nothing out of the world, but also a very consistent and decent product!
After a restful evening at the brand new Le Meridien Changi Village, I took the 4am shuttle bus back to the airport, and to no surprise, most folks were heading to NW and/or UA counters. Before entering check-in, you have to be interviewed by security agency, including those heading to NRT. There were Japanese-speaking security agents available. Since I had a paper ticket, I headed back to WBC check-in counters, and an agent made sure that I was checked in quickly. With bags tagged to SFO, I was given two boarding passes, as long as a lounge invitation to Thai Airways Royal Orchid Lounge, which was okay. I tried to access the wifi, but to no avail. Food included warmed breakfast bread, sandwiches, and cookies (Chinese and Sinagporean). The airport was relatively quiet at these ungodly early morning hours, but the airport was getting busy as the first wave of morning arrivals landed.
We used gate D44, and boarding really began at 5am, as advertised, but due to the long line at check-in, door did not close till 5:50am. Well once I was seated, a pre-takeoff beverage was immediately offered, and real water glasses were used. I had a glass of water with a lemon slice. The crews on this flight were almost all Asian, and the service is definitely very different from the next leg. They were more attentive but service was similar. However, they are definitely quieter during the rest time and no loud chatters during any stage of the flight. I think the NRT-SFO crew was okay but I think their loud chats in the galley were a bit inappropriate. The difference is quite remarkable, especially there is no longer curtain divider. Menus, amenity kits (which was a surprise), slipper or socks, and headsets were passed out as well. Newspapers include mostly local Singaporean and Japanese newspapers. Menus also feature a new design – no longer a booklet but a basic white folded cardboard menu with a white covering featured a spoon with cherry, and the menus are larger in size but much lighter.
We took off from R/W20C after a few SQ Boeing 777s landed at 6:07am. The routing was mostly overwater until hitting Okinawa/Naha, and then along the coast towards Tokyo. We cruised along 38,000, 39,000, and 41,000feet. Two meals were served during these six hours and forty-six minutes only.
In order to maximize rest time, the crews are very efficient when it came to serving the meal. They were both typical one-tray service featured on most NW flight. Trolleys were used at all beverage and meal flights. Hot towels were passed out before each flight, and Evian water bottles were passed out mid-flight, which was definitely a class above AA’s Danon and UA’s Aquafina. Here is the wine list and menu transcript:
Perrier Jouet Brut NV Champagne
2002 Chateau Peymouton Saint-Emilion Grand Cru
2000 Chateau St. Jean Cabernet Sauvignon Cinq Cepages
2002 Stags Leap Syrah Napa Valley
2000 Rodney Strong Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Sonoma
2001 Sebastiani Merlot Sonoma Valley
2002 Rutherford Ranch Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
2004 Sacred Hill, Whitecliff, Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand
2003 Beringer Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc
2004 Sileni Semillion Sauvignon Blanc
2002 Mer Soleil Central Coast Chardonnay
2003 Wente Riva Ranch Reserve Chardonnay
2002 Murphy-Goode Sonoma County Chardonnay
Mushroom Omelet with pan-fried chicken sausage
Roast duck in oyster sauce with braised rice vermicelli
Coffee or tea
Seafood Tom Yam Soup
Open-faced petit sandwiches
For breakfast, fruit plate featured watermelon, melon, cantaloupe, and strawberry, and there is a tub of peach yogurt. The breadbasket has croissants, cinnamon rolls and regular soft rolls. For entrée, I has the roast duck/Asian entrée, which is excellent. The breakfast was completed within an hour, and I went to read and rest for the rest of the flight. Around Noon (Tokyo) time, lights were turned on again, and the light meal began with the beverage trolley, and then trays of meal passed out. The sandwiches were turkey & tomato on walnut bread, and smoked salmon & red onion on rye bread, and the soup was nice. The dessert today was a Pistachio flavored panna cotta, and diced strawberries on the side. Descent began around 1:18pm, and then we landed on R/W16R at 1:53pm and parked at Bay 204, which was a bus gate.
NW 28 NRT-SFO Lv1615 Arr0955 Airbus A330-200 N851NW/3351
During transit, I walked around a bit and headed towards the new Star Alliance wing, and I enjoyed the brand new food court, which featured some famous street stalls. I had a nice bowl of Chinese noodles with an interesting interpretation of shrimp dumpling. The new wing was nice and the shops were more interesting. The NWA lounge was crowded as expected, but still lots of open seats. The snacks had improved a bit with some sandwiches and more food, and some noodle cups and fresh fruits.
Boarding began at 3:21pm at gate 21, and I was among the first few passengers entering the plane. I sort of wanted to get in the plane and took a few cabin pictures, but of course, I was being stopped for secondary screening, which took a long, long time. Once I came on board, I headed towards my seat, and the F/As immediately asked me what I want to drink, and then after all the J passengers seated, amenity kits, socks/slippers, headsets and menus were passed out. Trolley was used. The crews were in good mood, but a bit loud during the chat sessions in takeoff and landing. Anyway, due to turbulence, the crews had to be seated longer before the first service could commence. Entrée orders were taken prior to departure, and for some reasons, the F/A skipped me and of course, I did not get the Japanese meal. I was disappointed, despite the F/A was apologetic. I just think that NW needs to load more Japanese meals, but for the return in July, I am going to pre-order it.
Warmed nuts were served with first round of beverage, and then the dinner cart rolled out with salad, appetizer, and bread. The appetizer features a skewer of Chicken Yakitori, shrimp and fish roe sushi, ginger, and cauliflower. Salad features Mesclun, lettuce, shredded carrots, and yellow cherry tomato, and I have the Shiso vinaigrette dressing. Bread rolls are garlic bread or brown rolls. I had the chicken entrée, which was average. Then the new cheese/dessert trolley rolled out, which featured pre-packaged cheese, Carr’s crackers, grapes, and a choice of Chocolate Mousse cake or lemon tart. No more ice cream and fresh fruit skewer! The cakes were nice, but I miss the ice cream and Godiva cookies. Evian water bottles were passed out next and then I went to sleep.
Salad of mixed greens
Beef BBQ in Honey Sauce with steamed rice and vegetables
Braised Chicken Breast in Madeira Wine Sauce with cabbage sprouts and potatoes
Rigatoni gratin and mushroom medley
Sashimi of tuna, salmon rolled fish cake, crabmeat and sea urchin
Simmered Pork (Kakuni), shrimp, squid and shiitake mushroom
Red Cheddar and camembert cheese
Gourmet Cake and cookies
Coffee or Tea
Light snacks also available from Skybreak Basket in the galley. Please help yourself!
Fresh Fruit and warm breads
Coffee or Tea
Flying time was a quick eight hours and twenty-seven minutes, and the routing was over-water. We climbed from 35,000feet, to 36,000feet, and then onto 39,000feet and 41,000feet. Skybasket featured the regular junk food, as well as some apples and bananas and cup noodles, and another enhancement was the cancellation of full breakfast to continental breakfast. At 7:21am SFO time, time was turned back on and hot towels and juices were passed out. Then the trolley was rolled out. The tray featured fruit plate (pineapple, kiwi, melon, grapes, 2 grapefruit segments, and strawberry), a tub of Strawberry yogurt, and a choice of Apple Danish or croissants. After breakfast, there was tea/coffee, and then descent began at 8:20am. We landed on R/W28R at 8:50am, and parked at gate A9 seven minutes later.
There was no line at immigration, as we were the first flight on the Concourse A (non-UA/Star Alliance part), and the bags came out very quickly with priority bags coming out first. NO problem with custom and off I go!
In general, I am very satisfied with NW, and the thing that bugs me the most is the continental breakfast prior to arrival. A hot breakfast should be offered, on these above seven hours flight. But you know what, I am glad that amenity kits were passed out even on the SIN-NRT flights, and the black colors were pretty classy.
I hope you enjoy this series of report, and the next one won’t be till July on my return trip, which includes my first Emirates First flight from DXB to KIX.