NW 1652 KMSN-KMSP-CYVR
10 June 2008
After a hiatus from flying NW
, I booked with them for my trip from Madison to Vancouver. I'd been mostly sticking with Midwest and CO
, my favorites in terms of cabin service, especially after a string of NW
flights with cabin service that was mediocre at best. Unfortunately, from Madison, WI
, our options can be somewhat limited, especially if wishing to avoid the frequent delays at ORD
, so NW
was the best bet. I'm happy to say that I was pleasantly surprised.
The trip was a one-stop itinerary, with the same aircraft, cabin crew and cockpit crew from KMSN all the way to CYVR.
Boarding in Madison began about 20 minutes pre-departure, and although the plane was nearly full, we departed on-time for our 44-min flight to KMSP. Pre-departure drinks were served in F (using disposable cups), and the cabin crew were upbeat and polite. They were willing to pour anything for a pre-departure drink, which was a surprise, as they often just offer water or OJ on early-morning flights. Once airborne, they came back through the cabin with beverages again (this time with real glasses and mugs), which took the entire cruise time to drink. We made a scenic descent over western Wisconsin and eastern Minnesota, and made a very smooth crosswind landing at KMSP. We had nearly 2 hours before the departure to CYVR, so the crew asked the few of us continuing on the flight to deplane in order to clean the aircraft, but they allowed us to leave our carryons on board.
KMSP is a pleasant airport. Architecturally, it's nothing special, but it's uncongested, seldom-delayed, and easy to connect through. In my case, it was just a short walk to the nearest WorldClub, then back to the same plane. The WorldClub was attractive, with a northwoods slate and wood theme to the decor. They had coffee, juices, yogurt and bagels...not a lavish spread, but it certainly did the job. The club had an excellent view of the planes.
Boarding for continuation of NW1652 began about 15min before departure, with the preboard and F together, then "all seats, all rows." I was surprised until I saw that while F was full, Y was only about 50%. The FA
later told me that coach loads are light early in the week but pick up later in the week, when the majority of the Alaska cruises depart Vancouver.
Pre-departure drinks were again served with disposable drinkware, and then we departed on-time. Flying time was just 3:20. We had a smooth, powerful takeoff from KMSP (I love that "tractor" sound from the A320 with takeoff power). We throttled back to climb power pretty soon afterward, made a couple of turns for ATC vectoring, and were on our way west. I had a wonderful seatmate, a retired NW
manager (and her miniature poodle, who didn't make a peep the entire flight), and all the FA
's knew her. Needless to say, row 3 got the service, since at any given time, there were 1-3 FA
's chatting with her. She and I also chatted ourselves all the way to Vancouver, so the flight went by very fast.
Meal sevice began about 20min after takeoff. Cabin crew came through F with coffee and beverages and took our breakfast order, cereal or eggs. NW
has done the same egg breakfast since I started flying with them, but the presentation seems better now, and less "mushed together" than before. It consisted of a cheese omelet with sausage, potatoes, and a plate of fruit and yogurt. In addition, we had a choice of a croissant and warm roll. It was way more than I could eat, esp after a bagel in the lounge, but the half of the omelet I ate was actually quite good, and the potatoes were wonderful. The fruit was fresh and flavorful (so much fruit sourced to caterers isn't).
Coach seems to have some better BOB options nowadays, including fruit and a vegetable plate.
The FAs were very attentive. The one dedicated to our cabin, a very sweet middle-aged female, only took a "time-out" to eat breakfast herself about mid-flight, but was otherwise on her feet and looking after us the entire time. The two coach FAs always checked on the F passengers and offered to take service items or bring more drinks whenever they passed through the F cabin to the forward galley. A younger female was very energetic, and an older male had a more sedate personality but was polite and attentive. Fortunately, we had none of the surly older or bratty younger FAs that over the previous few years made me a loyal Midwest and Continental customer! I realize that not all NW
FAs are that way, and that I've encountered the occasional bozo on YX
, but anyone who flies NW
much knows exactly what I mean.
Snacks and drinks were again served about 1 hour before arrival, and I requested a glass of red wine "ONLY if you have it open already." She said, "Of course I do." I then saw her back in the galley uncorking a new bottle of merlot. I jokingly scolded her for opening a whole bottle of wine just for me, and she said, "Oh, don't worry about it. I'll either sell some of it in coach or else just give the coach passengers some free wine and help our ratings go up!"
We made an incredibly smooth landing in foggy YVR
, with ceilings at 900'. Our on-time departure and short flying time got us in just before all the big transpacific flights, so customs & immigration was a breeze.
This was definitely a pleasant surprise, compared to my previous NW
experiences. If the return flight is consistent, I may become more of a NW