Well, first TR of 2009 for me. Given the seemingly really light transpac loads from the US in January I figured it was time for the first trip of the year. My M.O. seems to usually be the international 'quick turn' but the loads to MNL were really light, a flight that most typically runs at 100% load-factors, more than nearly any other flight in the NW NRT hub. So I figured it was best to stay a couple days. I also was able to successfully talk a.net member KingAir200 into going along too after quite a few rounds of browbeating and convincing.
23 January 2009
Block Time: 13 hours, 30 minutes
747-451, N676NW, Ship# 6316
Seat: 77K, Top Deck World Business Class
Photo © Snorre - VAP
The trip started out pretty hectic. My original plan was to fly LAX-NRT on NW1, continuing on NRT-MNL on NW1. However, at the last second a ton of nonrevs listed on NRT-MNL, a flight which was rather full anyway. Then when I saw that ship 6305 (N665US), the Delta-painted 747-400 would be operating NW1 on LAX-NRT, that sealed the deal for me to find another route to MNL as I most definitely want to avoid getting on that plane at all costs, haha.
So, my final itinerary for the trip ended up being:
DEN-MSP: NW 320
MSP-DTW: NW D93
DTW-NGO: NW 744
NGO-MNL: NW 744
MNL-NGO: NW 744
NGO-NRT: NW 757
NRT-DTW: NW 744
DTW-ORD: NW D95
ORD-DEN: AA S80
Given the relatively light winter load factors I got to DTW really easy with plenty of time before the long flight to NGO. Unfortunately I didn't take any pictures inside the terminal of the Detroit World Gateway, but it is easily one of the finest terminal buildings there is. Well.... save for those dots on all the windows preventing you from taking any half-decent pictures outside. *grumbles*
Anyhow, prior to boarding my and KingAir200's names were called to get our seats. 77J and 77K on the top deck, the exit row. While the legroom on the top deck exit row is huge, a major downside is a pretty poor view of the outside as you only have one window.
Looking forward toward the cockpit from 77K
Looking out the window before pushback. A330-300 ship# 3309 (N809NW) next door.
The FA's handed out menu's, amenity kits, and headsets on the ground prior to takeoff. As I typically do, I chose the chicken entree. Unfortunately, I don't have the exact menu description of that as I forgot/lost my menus in the hotel in MNL
Anyhow, while I really like NW's IFE system overall, I hate the intro thing they do after takeoff. The "airobics" followed by a bunch of other commercials like duty free home delivery.
Moving map, taken immediately after takeoff
Salad & bread. I don't have pics of the entree for this flight, unfortunately.
The meal was quite good, followed by a great dessert of an ice cream cake. They must have been kept ultra-chilled in the galley as it was impossible to eat with a spoon, almost requiring a fork & knife.
After the meal service was over, I tried to go to sleep as soon as possible. However, I was a bit perplexed by the peculiar sunrise/sunset that happened mid-flight. I took a picture of the global moving map to help me describe:
Globe view, route of flight, and day/night plot
Soon after takeoff it began to get rather dark outside. Soon after though, it became more light again, almost a 'twilight', which we seemed to fly at for several hours. Finally though night caught up to us and we were in the pitch dark, but for awhile the twilight outside was pretty cool.
Twilight, enroute DTW-NGO. Approx 3 hours into the 13:30 blocktime flight.
Arrival in NGO went smoothly. Upon landing when I was looking outside, I was extremely surprised to have seen the Dreamlifter sitting on a remote ramp. It must have been ready to depart in a few hours as the tail was open and it was being loaded with what I guess were 787 components. Unfortunately I don't have any pictures of it as it was pitch dark outside and the camera was unable to get any good shots of it.
24 January 2009
Block Time: 04 hours, 15 minutes
747-451, N676NW, Ship# 6316
Seat: 77J, Top Deck World Business Class
Photo © Mario Aurich - AirTeamImages
Given the extreme headwinds across the Pacific for our transpac flight - sometimes in excess of 100+ knots - we arrived a few minutes late into NGO, about 10-15. Since we were continuing on NW71 to MNL we had to clear security in NGO, which went fairly smoothly but not as easy or efficiently as the security checkpoints in NRT.
For a relatively short 1.5 hour layover, my first impression of NGO was quite good, I liked it more than KIX. I suppose it makes sense in the current economy, but too bad NW/DL is reducing service to NGO to 4x weekly.
Our gate for NW71 continuing onto MNL. Sorry about the blur.
Terminal of NGO. Somewhat a ghost town at this hour, only a few flights left to depart for the night. CO to GUM, NW to MNL, and 2-3 others.
KingAir200 and myself got the exact same seats again, 77J and 77K on the top deck. As we got to board early, we went up and talked with the pilots for a bit before departure. Very nice crew, both cockpit and cabin. The cabin crew was comprised of the two US-based FA's, the purser and the "chaser". In addition to them were 12x MNL-based FA's.
Globe view of our route of flight.
Dinner orders were taken on the ground again, and again I ordered the chicken entree. On the NW "south" flights out of NRT, NGO, and KIX, the appetizer, salad, entree, and dessert are all served on the same tray given the rather limited time for service as compared to the full transpac flights.
Dinner, enroute NGO-MNL
After dinner I fell asleep for the duration of the flight as our scheduled arrival was 1155p and I didn't want to feel too jetlagged in the morning.
Despite the short stay in MNL, it is a very cool place to visit. Even in January it was 80-85 degrees (25-30 celsius). I can't imagine what that place is like in July or August. Here are a couple pictures of the stay:
Our hotel, the InterContinental.
Havana Club. A popular NW crew hangout while on layover. While we didn't stay for it I'm told it's quite the popular night club as well.
Greenbelt mall. A half-indoor / half-outdoor mall. Reminded me a lot of the HNL airport in that regard.
On Corregidor, the site of several battles during WW2. To history buffs like me it was a very cool place to visit. In the background are several islands at the mouth of Manila Bay.
27 January 2009
Block Time: 03 hours, 35 minutes
747-451, N676NW, Ship# 6316
Seat: 12B, Main Deck World Business Class
Photo © Matthew I. Smith
While I had a great time in MNL, it was time to head back.... the hotel and food bills add up pretty quickly!! We had to get up extremely early, about 300a so we could get to the airport by 400a. Both the NW flights to NGO and NRT depart fairly close to eachother so we wanted to try to beat huge check-in lines by arriving 2.5 hours early. Check-in went very smoothly, and we were immediately given seats in J-class, even as nonrevs.
MNL terminal. Our plane, ship# 6316, seen in the background out the window.
I was somewhat disappointed to get on ship# 6316 again as I had been on the plane 3 times previously - twice just a few days prior on NW71 DTW-NGO-MNL. But hey, at least it wasn't the DL 744
Aft main deck World Business Class cabin, just forward of doors 2L/R
Looking aft toward the top deck staircase and the coach cabin.
World Business Class seats rows 1-4, forward of doors 1L/R
The boarding process took quite awhile as the coach cabin was at near 100% load-factor. Once the doors were shut, we were on our way. As we taxied out I was able to get a picture of the 744 bound to NRT on NW2:
Ship 6303 (N663US) operating NW2, MNL-NRT.
The takeoff was quite strong and fast, given our short duration of flight, at least compared to the transpac flights. I'm not sure about MNL departure procedures, but we maneuvered around quite a bit - either because of the SID or ATC vectors, I guess.
Steep turn on climbout from MNL. Already at flaps 1 (outboard slats retracted).
Flaps up, climbing to cruise.
After takeoff and climb, the breakfast service began. While the 'traditional' options of eggs, cereal, and other western meals were available, I decided to try the shrimp and seafood over japanese noodles. Ended up being a fantastic choice, it was great food!!
Japanese breakfast. Never have I had better mango, offered with the fruit dish.
After the breakfast, KingAir200 and myself decided to try our hand at the trivia game offered in the NW IFE. For the purposes of the TR we decided to use some ridiculous pseudonyms.
I started out winning but lost in the end (note humiliatingly low scores )
Globe view of MNL-NGO. Actually got to see where we were going this time!!
Compared to our other flights, MNL-NGO seemed to go quite fast. Approach into NGO had very cool scenery that we didn't see on our DTW-NGO flight. Quite the mountainous terrain.
Initial descent into NGO.
Ship 6316 at the gate in NGO. Have been on that plane 4 times to date, now.
27 January 2009
Block Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes
757-251, N543US, Ship# 5643
Seat: 4B, World Business Class
Photo © Matt Cawley
In order to get a flight on one of NW's 75X's - the NRT-based 757 - we decided to fly NGO-NRT, and then NRT-DTW back across the Pacific. Our connection time in NGO was not very long, just slightly over an hour. When we deplaned the 744 on arrival in NGO, we heard our names paged saying we need to see the agents at the connection counter. To our extreme surprised, the agents gave us boarding passes for the NGO-NRT flight prior to the gate, as well as bringing us to the employee security checkpoint for expedited connection screening. What a huge help!!
Our 757 for the short flight to NRT, ship# 5643 (N543US).
Boarding began a short 25 minutes prior to departure given the atypical low load factor for the flight.
One last picture of ship 6316, taken from the jetbridge for our NGO-NRT flight.
Doors closed in NGO about 5 minutes early and we were off for our short flight to NRT.
View out the window during pushback.
Takeoff out of NGO was very impressively strong and quick. 757's have a ton of power anyway, and when the total load is about 80 people, it's even more impressive. Climbout was very fast too, allowing us a bird's eye view of the NGO airport as we turned back towards NRT:
Nagoya Chubu. Nice airport, I like it better than Osaka Kansai.
Given the very short duration of the flight, only a drink service was offered in both cabins.
World Business Class cabin on the beach-market 75X. South routes to PUS, CAN, and TPE use the 75A in the 16J/144Y configuration, while beach-market flights to GUM and SPN use the 20J/162Y configuration 75X.
NW is able to use several 757's out of NRT without slot restrictions as they are able to use the shorter runway 34R/16L. NW77/78 must be one of these flights as we did land on the short runway, 34R. One of the major down-sides to using this runway, it seems, is a very long taxi time - at least to the NW terminal.
Ship 5643 (N543US) at the gate after arrival in NRT from NGO.
27 January 2009
Block Time: 11 hours, 40 minutes
747-451, N672US, Ship# 6312
Seat: 10A, Main Deck World Business Class
Photo © EDDL Photography
Well, time for the final flight of the trip. I was excited to see we were on ship# 6312 as I had not yet been on that plane. And for anyone who may have seen the short move "Tokyo Run" about a NW 744 captain's final flight, it's the same plane from that movie.
Again, we had a relatively short layover in NRT, just under two hours if my memory serves correctly. So, to kill the time, we walked around NRT and took some pictures of what was once the red-tail empire, soon to become DL's. I'll be genuinely sad when the day comes that I go to NRT and there will no longer be any NW red-tails among the lineup.
Ship 6311 (N671US) to LAX as NW2. Flight went at 100% LF in both cabins.
The gate sign for our flight NW26 to DTW. On the current schedule, NW26 is the 2nd of 2x daily NRT-DTW flights.
Given another atypically light load factor for a transpac flight, we were given seats long before boarding, 10A and 10B. These seats are usually untouchable to nonrevs given the extreme legroom at the bulkhead and the elites always pre-reserving them. But somehow we had a stroke of good luck and were able to get both together.
View out the window just prior to pushback. Ship 6311 to LAX as NW2 taxiing behind us.
We departed NRT about 15 minutes early because of the low load-factor and completion of boarding in an extremely fast time.
Sharp turn to the east after departing runway 34L.
Feet wet, coast of Japan below.
After takeoff, a great dinner service began. Starter of nuts and round 1 of drinks, followed by the salad & appetizer, the entree, then dessert of a tart with cheese, crackers, and fruit.
PTV just after takeoff. The "Airobics" video playing.
Very soon after takeoff, maybe only an hour, we were already flying into the sunset. I always love the view out the window at that time:
Sunset over the Pacific. While overcast, nothing but water below.
As usual, I chose the chicken entree for dinner. The whole service was remarkably good, I loved the appetizer.
Oriental salad, wheat bread, and seafood appetizer.
Main course with California white wine.
Dessert. Raspberry tart with fruit, cheese, and crackers.
After dinner I decided to sleep for the rest of the flight. Given my three previous flights on NW in the preceding few days, I had explored just about everything on the AVOD so I figured I wasn't missing anything in just sleeping for the duration - waking up only for the breakfast service.
Globe view of NRT-DTW at night.
The crew of NW26 NRT-DTW was absolutely fantastic. Very nice and very talkative. When we said that we were collectors of aviation memorabilia, they gave us tons of stuff to take home. Dinner menu & breakfast menu (yes, NW gives out two separate menus on transpac flights), wine lists, safety cards, and playing cards. Just overall a great crew and made for a very enjoyable final flight for the trip.
Pre-arrival breakfast. Hot meal options were available but I decided to get the cereal, fruit, and yogurt.
Initial descent down into DTW. The cold & winter of Michigan seen below, in sharp contrast to the tropical heat of MNL.
For the flights home I had planned on flying DTW-MSP-DEN as the DTW-DEN nonstop was full. However, after clearing customs I saw that my DTW-MSP had canceled. So in some last-second planning I decided to fly DTW-ORD on a NW D95 and then ORD-DEN on an AA S80. Despite an hour departure delay out of ORD I got home fine.
All the collectables obtained over the trip. Arrival menu, dinner menu, red wine & white wine lists, 747-400 safety card, 757-200 (5600 series) Overwater safety card, and four packs of unopened playing cards. Thanks to all the FA's who were extremely nice & generous in getting everything for me!!
In a final self-gloss moment, after having flown DTW-NGO I've now flown every current NW transpac city pair, DTW-NRT, DTW-NGO, DTW-KIX, SEA-NRT, PDX-NRT, SFO-NRT, and LAX-NRT.
Well, thanks for reading!! All comments & feedback appreciated!!