ChrisI1024
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RT On Northwest's Last MSP-LGW DC-10

Thu Nov 02, 2006 9:03 am

I always wanted to take a ride on a DC-10, so I bought a ticket on Northwest's last MSP-LGW route. I'd leave on October 28, cool my heels in London for a few hours, and then head back. I'd originally intended to spend a few days in London, but decided to turn this flight into the highlight of a planespotting vacation and ride on jetliners other than the AA ERJs that service PHL-STL, which is the route I most often fly.

I arrived at MSP via ATL on AirTran (wanted to ride a Boeing 717) and checked in. Due to the time difference, I was also able to check in for my return flight. I got to the gate area and saw N225NW being readied for its last trip to Amsterdam.

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N225NW at MSP for its last flight to AMS


After a bit, N240NW showed up.

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N240NW arrives at MSP to be turned around for its final run to LGW


We boarded (full flight) and I was in seat 26B. It's probably been fifteen years since I've been on a flight over six hours and since most of the flight would be in the dark over the ocean, I assumed that a window seat wouldn't be all that desirable. Wrong. The moment I glanced out the window and saw the DC-10's massive wing, I knew I should have gotten the A seat. Fortunately, my seatmate didn't mind my reaching over her to snap photographs when there was something worth looking at.

The takeoff was simply amazing. I don't know if the DC-10 actually climbs appreciably faster or more steeply than other jetliners, but it was quite a rush.

It's probably been fifteen years since I crossed one of the oceans and given some of the venom I've seen directed at Northwest Airlines, I was expecting eight hours of hell. Instead, I had a really great time. The (economy) seats were comfortable, the food was palatable, the flight attendants were friendly and helpful, and the cabin interior looked to be in good shape.

About two hours into the flight, it was announced over the PA that the northern lights were visible on the left side of the plane. What ensued was a massive rush as people who appeared to be asleep suddenly snapped awake and scrambled towards a window.

Most people slept. I'm a night person, so I stayed awake and worked on a paper for school and didn't pay attention to whatever was being shown on the screen.

We landed and the captain announced that next time an Airbus would be flying the route and that was really all of the recognition that the plane's retirement got on this leg.

Then it was time for Stump the Stern British Immigration Officer:
SBIO: Where are you flying in from?
Me: Minneapolis.
SBIO: Are you traveling with anyone?
Me: No, just me.
SBIO: And what is the purpose of your visit?
Me: I'm in transit. Just passing through.
SBIO: Where to?
Me: Ah, Minneapolis.
SBIO: Very good-wait a minute! (Suspiciously) Where did you fly in from?
Me: Minneapolis.
SBIO: And you're flying back to Minneapolis.
Me: Yes, that's right.
SBIO (long pause, looks confused): Why?
Me: I like planes and the flight I was on was the last DC-10 flight on that route.
SBIO: Was anyone else on the plane doing that?
Me: Probably, but I don't know if anyone was.
SBIO (by now more amused than confused): So you like planes?
Me: Oh, yeah.
SBIO: Was that the last DC-10 flight ever?
Me: No, just on that route with that airline.
SBIO: Do you have your return ticket? May I see it? (checks ticket) So you flew in from Minneapolis and now you're flying from Gatwick back to Minneapolis in a few hours. I guess you could go have some breakfast or something. You really should stay longer next time. (shrugs and stamps passport) Very good! Thank you!

Time for breakfast, a temptation to buy cartons of duty-free cigarettes because I could, and then through security where I learned that the British don't care if your 3 oz. liquid toiletries are in a resealable one-quart freezer bag, they're not getting on board. Tossed a bunch of stuff, went through security, went to the market and repurchased everything I'd tossed.

I went down to the gate where I'd been a few hours before and I learned another thing about British airport security: since I'd checked in for this flight at a kiosk a few thousand miles away from Gatwick, I hadn't been asked the proper questions or had the proper sticker applied to my passport. I was pulled aside, they called my name in, and I was allowed to board.

I slept most of the way back. We got a good view of the tip of Greenland and about an hour before landing, the flight attendants came around with ice cream, which was a great way to end the flight.

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Ice cream for breakfast on NW LGW-MSP


After we landed in Minneapolis and the passengers disembarked, I snapped a photo of the economy cabin. I told the purser that I'd picked that flight to get a ride on a DC-10 and asked if I could look at the cabin up front (meaning the business class cabin). He enthusiastically called up to the captain who let me look in the cockpit.

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Cockpit after N240NW's last flight for Northwest


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Flight engineer's station after N240NW's last flight for Northwest


The entire flight crew seemed very proud of their aircraft and I was grateful that after all the time they'd spent on the plane that they were willing to take a few more minutes to humor me.

Got shooed off the plane and headed off to the folks at Homeland Security who, though they didn't resort to alternative interrogation techniques, took a somewhat dim view of what I'd done and we had a chat filled with exchanges like:
Officer: "So you took this flight just to ride on an airplane?"
Me: "Well, to ride on *that* airplane."
Officer: "So you like planes?"
Me: "Yes."
(pause)
Officer: "So you flew to London and back just to ride on a DC-10?"
Me: "Yep."
Officer: "Are you a pilot?"
Me: "No, I just think planes are pretty neat."

Repeat for about ten minutes.

The next day I was in Mexico City (via Miami on AA and AM) and the day after that I was in Los Angeles (via Guadalajara). After what I received when I returned from LGW, I expected a cavity search, but apparently flying one-way from Miami to LA with a single night in Mexico and only one small piece of luggage doesn't arouse any suspicion. Whatever.

Anyway, the DC-10 flights were amazing and I had a great time.
 
jakeflyer
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RE: RT On Northwest's Last MSP-LGW DC-10

Thu Nov 02, 2006 11:16 am

It sounded like the trip was worth it just to see the reaction from the immigration officers.  Smile I am glad you had a good experience with NWA and enjoyed the last DC-10 flight to LGW, although you must have been exhausted when you got back!
 
NZ8800
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RE: RT On Northwest's Last MSP-LGW DC-10

Thu Nov 02, 2006 11:47 am

Sounds like great fun!
And fun with those bemused Immigration Officers too!

I found British Immigration an absolute breeze after tackling the Department Of Homeland Security at Los Angeles...

What did they give you to eat on the flights?

Great photos of the flight deck too, I forgot that DC-10s needed a Flight Engineer.

If you do not mind me asking, did the flight cost very much?
MDZWTA ~ Mobile Disaster Zone When Travelling Abroad
 
PlymSpotter
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RE: RT On Northwest's Last MSP-LGW DC-10

Thu Nov 02, 2006 11:54 am

Great report there, loved it!

Quoting ChrisI1024 (Thread starter):
About two hours into the flight, it was announced over the PA that the northern lights were visible on the left side of the plane. What ensued was a massive rush as people who appeared to be asleep suddenly snapped awake and scrambled towards a window.

Well they weren't visible the following night  Sad

Quoting ChrisI1024 (Thread starter):
SBIO: Do you have your return ticket? May I see it? (checks ticket) So you flew in from Minneapolis and now you're flying from Gatwick back to Minneapolis in a few hours. I guess you could go have some breakfast or something. You really should stay longer next time. (shrugs and stamps passport) Very good! Thank you!



Quoting ChrisI1024 (Thread starter):
Repeat for about ten minutes.

Tell me about it! I was doing roughly the same thing last weekend, it took me over half an hour to get into the USA, they had me questioned about all the places I had ever been to, and why I have been to the USA several times for just a day or two. The "I like planes and flying" answer didn't wash well, I really thought I was about to get refused entry!

Dan Smile
...love is just a camouflage for what resembles rage again...
 
Mexicana757
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RE: RT On Northwest's Last MSP-LGW DC-10

Thu Nov 02, 2006 1:19 pm

Good trip report and pictures.  laughing  @ conversation you had with the customs officers.

The DC 10 is a great aicraft I got to fly on it last year on NW from LGW-DTW. And I also got ice cream an hour before landing.  spin 
 
UK_Dispatcher
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RE: RT On Northwest's Last MSP-LGW DC-10

Thu Nov 02, 2006 1:54 pm

Great report.

I also took the DC10 before it was too late recently, flying MEM-AMS with NW as part of a round the world trip. There will be a trip report coming, but it might be a while as I'm pretty busy.

Nice to know there are several of us with the same idea.
 
MSYtristar
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RE: RT On Northwest's Last MSP-LGW DC-10

Thu Nov 02, 2006 4:23 pm

Chris, sort of the same thing happened to me in London back in June.

I flew there from IAH on a CO 777 to have breakfast, and flew back a couple of hours later on the same plane.

The passport control guys were like "hmm, ok, and why exactly did you fly all the way to London only to return the same day?"
 
ChrisI1024
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RE: RT On Northwest's Last MSP-LGW DC-10

Thu Nov 02, 2006 5:11 pm

Quoting NZ8800 (Reply 2):
If you do not mind me asking, did the flight cost very much?


It cost around $740 plus the cost of getting to Minneapolis. I think the best price I was able to find if I didn't care how I got to London that weekend was around $550.

Dinner on the way out was chicken on a bed of pasta and I think that's what was for lunch on the way back to the US. For the return I was more interested in sleeping than eating, but remember the flight attendant asking "Chicken or pasta?" to which I half-opened my eyes and waved her off.

For more photos, I put up a set on Flickr.
 
Daleaholic
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RE: RT On Northwest's Last MSP-LGW DC-10

Fri Nov 03, 2006 5:36 am

Quoting ChrisI1024 (Thread starter):
but apparently flying one-way from Miami to LA with a single night in Mexico and only one small piece of luggage doesn't arouse any suspicion. Whatever.

 rotfl 

Fantastic report! Thanks for sharing.
Religion is an illusion of childhood... Outgrown under proper education.
 
atrude777
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RE: RT On Northwest's Last MSP-LGW DC-10

Fri Nov 03, 2006 6:31 am

Quoting ChrisI1024 (Thread starter):
Officer: "Are you a pilot?"
Me: "No, I just think planes are pretty neat."

Were just a weird bunch of people ain't we?  Silly

Good Report!

Alex
Good things come to those who wait, better things come to those who go AFTER it!
 
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treebeard787
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RE: RT On Northwest's Last MSP-LGW DC-10

Fri Nov 03, 2006 9:46 am

Great TR!! and photos! I wish I could have ridden on a NW DC-10 one more time...The last time I flew on a DC-10 was on NW100 PHX-MSP back in "00" on a DC-10-40.
Allons-y!
 
ba319-131
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RE: RT On Northwest's Last MSP-LGW DC-10

Thu Nov 09, 2006 5:20 am

Great report and a good idea, I'd have done the same myself if i'd been free.

Regards

Mark
111,732,3,4,5,7,8,BBJ,741,742,743,744,752,762,763,764,772,77L,773,77W,L15,D10,30,40,AB3,AB6,A312.313,319,320,321,332,333
 
SeaMeFly
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RE: RT On Northwest's Last MSP-LGW DC-10

Mon Nov 27, 2006 5:47 pm

I'm a NW FA... Of all planes, you chose this to do a mileage run (I guess this was a farewell run to the old maid, DC-10)!!! I really can't believe that!

I couldn't even enjoy having seat 19A/B or 20A/B for the crew rest for when we had it in Seattle!!....

You know there's a doctor for this kind of addictions  Smile ...

Well, thanks for sharing, I really enjoyed your report!
 
b737100
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RE: RT On Northwest's Last MSP-LGW DC-10

Tue Nov 28, 2006 7:48 pm

If I can share a similar experience..many moons ago, I woke up early one morning and had some time off and an MX pass LAX/MEX/ACA/MEX/LAX burning a hole in my pocket. Off to the aerodrome I went, took a DL L1011 SAN/LAX then connected to MX and flew LAX/MEX/ACA. When I got there, it was raining cats and dogs, didn't look like it was going to get better, so I said, the heck with this, I'm outta here. So, took the next flight out (2 hrs later) and flew reverse course, ACA/MEX/LAX. Well, when I got back to LAX that night and cleared customs and was asked where I'd been and for how long. When asked why did I fly to ACA and come back the same day, I said because it was raining. My reply earned me the cavity search...LOL

Thanks for a nice trip report!

Regards,

Will
Boeing 737 sunjet service
 
MCOflyer
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RE: RT On Northwest's Last MSP-LGW DC-10

Wed Nov 29, 2006 11:39 am

Thanks for good TR.

MCOflyer
Never be afraid to stand up for who you are.
 
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KaiGywer
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RE: RT On Northwest's Last MSP-LGW DC-10

Thu Nov 30, 2006 12:52 am

Quoting B737100 (Reply 13):
If I can share a similar experience..many moons ago, I woke up early one morning and had some time off and an MX pass LAX/MEX/ACA/MEX/LAX burning a hole in my pocket. Off to the aerodrome I went, took a DL L1011 SAN/LAX then connected to MX and flew LAX/MEX/ACA. When I got there, it was raining cats and dogs, didn't look like it was going to get better, so I said, the heck with this, I'm outta here. So, took the next flight out (2 hrs later) and flew reverse course, ACA/MEX/LAX. Well, when I got back to LAX that night and cleared customs and was asked where I'd been and for how long. When asked why did I fly to ACA and come back the same day, I said because it was raining. My reply earned me the cavity search...LOL

 rotfl 

That's an even better response than liking planes. Big grin
“Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, an
 
PlaneHunter
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RE: RT On Northwest's Last MSP-LGW DC-10

Sat Dec 02, 2006 1:55 am

Very nice report, brings back memories of my NWA DC-10 trips some years ago.

Btw - which particular DC-10 did you get? N225NW or N240NW or both?

Quoting ChrisI1024 (Thread starter):
Then it was time for Stump the Stern British Immigration Officer:
SBIO: Where are you flying in from?
Me: Minneapolis.
SBIO: Are you traveling with anyone?
Me: No, just me.
SBIO: And what is the purpose of your visit?
Me: I'm in transit. Just passing through.
SBIO: Where to?
Me: Ah, Minneapolis.
SBIO: Very good-wait a minute! (Suspiciously) Where did you fly in from?
Me: Minneapolis.
SBIO: And you're flying back to Minneapolis.
Me: Yes, that's right.
SBIO (long pause, looks confused): Why?
Me: I like planes and the flight I was on was the last DC-10 flight on that route.
SBIO: Was anyone else on the plane doing that?
Me: Probably, but I don't know if anyone was.
SBIO (by now more amused than confused): So you like planes?
Me: Oh, yeah.
SBIO: Was that the last DC-10 flight ever?
Me: No, just on that route with that airline.
SBIO: Do you have your return ticket? May I see it? (checks ticket) So you flew in from Minneapolis and now you're flying from Gatwick back to Minneapolis in a few hours. I guess you could go have some breakfast or something. You really should stay longer next time. (shrugs and stamps passport) Very good! Thank you!



Quoting ChrisI1024 (Thread starter):
Got shooed off the plane and headed off to the folks at Homeland Security who, though they didn't resort to alternative interrogation techniques, took a somewhat dim view of what I'd done and we had a chat filled with exchanges like:
Officer: "So you took this flight just to ride on an airplane?"
Me: "Well, to ride on *that* airplane."
Officer: "So you like planes?"
Me: "Yes."
(pause)
Officer: "So you flew to London and back just to ride on a DC-10?"
Me: "Yep."
Officer: "Are you a pilot?"
Me: "No, I just think planes are pretty neat."

Repeat for about ten minutes.

Priceless!  bigthumbsup 


PH
Nothing's worse than flying the same reg twice!
 
ArcticBlast
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RE: RT On Northwest's Last MSP-LGW DC-10

Sat Dec 02, 2006 2:56 am

Very amusing recap, Chris, of your "chat" with with the SBIO at LGW. My wife and I had a good laugh. I would think customs agents and such should be at least somewhat used to folks' making such trips as mileage runs, no?

I wonder if I will get a reception like yours at ADK when I do a similar, albeit not international, turnaround flight next month on an AS B732c, as it makes one of its last-ever sojourns thru the Aleutians, ANC-AKN-ADK and back the same day. Well, at least it is scheduled to make that r/t in one day. In the Aleutians, in January, I suppose one should probably add, "wx permitting".

//Paul in Seattle

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