Sorry folks - no pictures - my D70s was all packed up and the fiancee gives me grief for taking pictures on the aircraft.
1532 - MSP
- December 27 - Boeing 757-300
D - 3:15P
A - 6:04P
Duration - 1 hour 49 minutes.
is a functional, though somewhat scattered and frumpy airport.
Check in was very scattered. A steward led us to a kiosk which turned out to still be in use, when it was finally vacant we checked in and waited nearly 10 minutes for the staff behind the counter to take our check luggage (though in their defense they were arguing with a couple about whether or not their baby (who did not have a seat) got their own allowance of check luggage (they don't). We finally got our boarding passes and moved into a very long security line. Security at MSP
is par for the course for anywhere in the states - potentially less polite than other places, but unremarkable.
We took the somewhat long walk down to our gate, which had roughly a quarter as many seats as there were passengers on this full flight.
Boarding on NW
is very disorganized - boarding 224 people in a small gate area by saying "everyone please board now" leads to a jetway full of people waiting to get on - in sub zero weather. It took about 35 minutes from the start of boarding until everyone was settled into the very long aircraft. We pushed back about 20 minutes late.
In flight the pilot announced that turbulence was expected and that there would be no cabin service on the flight. As it turned out there was very little on the flight, but I guess better to be safe. While the aircraft might be newish, the seats are not and the interior doesn't look very new. Northwest's seats are God-awful - hard as rock, not nearly tall enough, and fixed headrest. The seating is in sore shape. I hope Delta addresses this issue in short order.
As with all NW
domestic flights - no IFE of any kind.
With some additional air traffic delays arriving into DTW
, we were a bit more than half an hour delayed - an then we had to wait for the 43 rows ahead of us to deboard from a single aisle.
In short - flight was late, plane wasn't very clean, seats were poor, no drinks, no IFE, but it was a short flight, so it wasn't terrible.
Aircraft: 4/10 - the bins looked fine, carpets were dirty, seats were awful, room was acceptable for a short flight.
Service: 5/10 - Wasn't good, wasn't bad. No service during the flight due to potential turbulence.
Ground Service: 3/10 - We pushed late, it was disorganized boarding, and there was only one gate agent servicing the flight.
Flight 50 - DTW
- December 27 - Airbus A330-300
Duration: 8 hours
The Detroit NWA World Gateway is a beautiful facility - a real joy to change planes at- beautiful new, and nice. Bathrooms are large and clean, gate areas are large, modern, and comfortable, and the train makes it easy to cover a lot of ground. We had a nice dinner (there are numerous restaurants). This facility is easily the nicest of the new Delta empire.
Boarding commenced on time, instructions in both English and French, though the scattered "everyone may board now" method doesn't work well when there are 290 people boarding the flight. I really prefer airlines that board from the rear forward - it makes getting to your seat much faster.
We were a little more than 20 minutes late again to push back as we waited for some late cargo to be loaded onto the aircraft.
Facility: 9/10 - I can't much think of how DTW
could be any nicer.
Boarding: 5/10 - disorganized and late, again. Good language abilities and fairly quick.
The A330 is the flagship of the NW
fleet and offers a decent Y product. The pitch, at 31" is not the best, but the slim-line seats make it feel not unbearable. The seats are, however uncomfortably hard and unsupportive. The adjustable headrest is a great feature for the longer flights. I was again surprised by how torn up the edges of the carpets were and how beaten up the upholstery was on the seats and seatbacks. The aircraft looked like they would benefit from a good thorough cleaning and some touch ups on the details. On the whole though, they were very nice, pleasant aircraft to fly on. Perhaps it was where we were seated, but all of the members of the party in which I was traveling commented how loud they thought the aircraft was - not entirely typical of an A330, but that sort of stuff is subjective.
Aircraft: 7/10 - Comfortable, modern, could stand to be cleaned, softer seats
In concept, the NW
AVOD system is top-notch. Numerous movies to chose from, relatively easy to use, a great map feature. The screen size is not as large as some newer offerings from competitors (but it is more than usable), the picture quality is strong though. The downside - the NW
system is extremely slow. Even waiting for each command to process through, mine restarted unexpectedly several times. My finacee's screen shut off if it was pivoted out at all, making it impossible to view once the person in front of her reclined their seats.
IFE: 6/10 - Great concept, terrific in theory, but buggy and not in good working order is a problem.
I have heard the NW
transatlantic flight attendants referred to as the "hags of the Atlantic" before. It's not entirely unearned. The flight had one Francophone FA
in Y. The flight attendants were loud and not entirely polite. "Ya want somethin to drink?" said without making eye contact was not impressive at all. Aside from the two meal services and the outrageously loud duty free announcement, they were essentially absent.
One of the FA
's told a couple they had to deplane during boarding because Y was booked full and they brought their child on in a bassinet without buying a seat and the child was too large. She said that children 25lbs and over were required to have a seat, the couple whose child it was said the child was 10kg. Apparently neither the parents nor the FA
understood the measurement systems of the other - since the child at 10kg/22lbs was within the limit. A somewhat loud altercation between the two parties took place (the FA
thought by speaking louder she could get the parents - not native English speakers - to understand).
At another point another FA
- who told us she usually did flights to Asia (she had a Japanese accent) was giving fairly good service - started a final coffee/tea service during initial descent into CDG
- and another FA
shouted at her from the other aisle "What are you thinking? We're landing! Get back in the galley!" The FA
that had just done the shouting then turned to another FA
coming back from the forward Y cabin to get something or other and pointed to the FA
serving coffee and said quite loudly "Is she stupid or something?" It was all kinds of unprofessional. It reminded me why I avoid NW
We arrived into CDG
about 40 minutes later than schedule. It didn't thrill me, since we had a connection, but it could have been worse.
Service: 3/10 - They did serve us food, no one spilled anything on me.
Yeah - not much good to say here. Sorry. Dinner was, and I quote "Pasta or meat." Meat being a little too broad for my liking (it's like Spam..., who knows what it will be), all in my party went with pasta. It was two ricotta stuffed shells. It wasn't the worst meal I have ever eaten, but using the test of whether I would pay to eat it or not, I wouldn't not. It was tolerable though, worse could happen.
Breakfast was memorably bad. I had no idea it was possible to make an Egg McMuffin worse, but NW
has managed to do it. Why they couldn't offer a bagel, muffic, croissant, yogurt, or even cereal instead of the awful egg mcmuffin-like abomination they tried to feed us, I don't know, but it was bad. Really bad.
The flight had a fairly long and smooth takeoff. We didn't make tremendous speed over the Atlantic (winds might not have been the strongest). We had almost no turbulence across the pond and as we crossed over the Scottish coast we climbed up to an altitude of 42,000ft, the highest I've been on a flight in a while.
Air France 508 - CDG
-CAI - Dec 28 - Boeing 777-200ER
Duration: 4h 25m
Paris was less painful than I had anticipated. We fairly swiftly transferred from 2F to 2E via the new train. Security was slow and took maybe 30-35 minutes. We settled in at our bright, airy, and roomy gate. 2E is beautiful and the way more airports should be. Multilingual shop staff, great language skills for check-in. The boarding process was less than orderly, but the long queue setup made it actually a bit less hectic than with NW
. We made an on-time departure and everything seemed very efficient.
Facility: 9/10 - perfect, beautiful, just slow security.
Boarding: 6/10 - disorganized, but it worked pretty well.
I am a known lover of the 777. The paint job on this 777 was truly abominable. The nose had large sections paint missing - my fiancee said it looked like it was crying. The interior was doing a bit better. The cabin looked slightly worn - but generally very clean and in good shape. The pitch and seat width were acceptable in all ways - slightly better than the NW
A330. The seats were well padded, excluding the very lower back and the base of the bottom cushion, which tended to oddly give all of us sore tailbones. The 777 Boeing Signature bins are delightful. The boarding music was nice - not quite United and their Frank Sinatra classy, but nice. The underseat IFE boxes seemed larger than usual, but that aside, it was nice. The lavatories were uniquely small, however - bizarrely so.
Aircraft: 7/10 - A bit worn, tiny lavs, but otherwise in great shape.
AVOD was nice, the system was delightful. Not as many selections and options as some of their competitors, the screen was smallish and not as sharp as the NW
offering, but was still good. What really set it apart was that it A: worked absolutely flawlessly and B: offered functional remote-control and touch-screen inputs, which seemed to offer the ideal combination. I missed the conventional headphone jack (didn't bring the adapter for my noise canceling headset).
IFE: 7/10 - Could have had more choices and a bigger, sharper display, but otherwise it was perfect.
I was genuinely impressed by Air France service. The cabin crew spoke good English, Spanish, of course French (though conspicuously not Arabic). The cabin crew was polite, efficient, worked quickly, and was impeccably dressed and put together. There was a drink service at first. I got a nice Chilean red wine with a very mediocre beef and rice dish that was badly over-seasoned. There were at least three drink services throughout the flight as well as the nice "self-service" station in the galleys. We arrived into Cairo on time. The ground service in Cairo was the best that I have experienced from that airport - nicest set of air stairs. There were numerous buses waiting and we weren't packed in too entirely tightly. On the whole, for a fairly short flight, they did a top-notch job.
Took off on time, landed on time. Cruised at 39,000 feet - over France, Switzerland, Italy, over the Adriatic, the Eastern Adriatic Coast - over Greece and then on to Egypt. A few bumps over the Alps and again over the Adriatic. We flew in right over the Nile and the thick of downtown Cairo giving delightful views. Our bags made it out quickly. The takeoff from Charles DeGaulle was impressively forceful.