Sunday, March 08, 2009

Northwest Airlines

I have been to the US mainland thrice in my life. The first in 2004 (Michigan, Chicago, Virginia, Washington DC), the second in 2008 (Atlanta, San Francisco), and the third this month (New Jersey and New York). In all those 3 trips, I took Northwest Airlines only. Two years ago, I also went to Honolulu, Hawaii, but I took Philippine Airlines, the only airline that has direct monopoly route between Manila and Honolulu (being a monopoly, the fare is about similar to Manila-LA or SFO despite shorter distance for Honolulu).

Northwest is a big airline, and it has grown bigger with its merger with Delta Air only recently. The travel time to US east coast area though, is long because from Manila, it stops first at either Narita-Tokyo or Nagoya in Japan. Then stop at Detroit airport, one of its main hubs in the US. Passengers from Manila and Japan go through immigration and customs procedures, then take a domestic flight to anywhere in the eastern side of the US. I remember my trip last year, from the time I checked-in at NAIA-Manila airport, to the time I got out of Atlanta airport, was 25 hours! On this trip, from the time I checked-in at NAIA-Manila airport till I got out of Newark, NJ airport, was 26 hours because of more than an hour flight delay from Detroit..

A Northwest flight from Manila to either Narita or Nagoya (and vice-versa) has an all-Filipino stewards and stewardesses. From Japan to Detroit, it’s an American and some Japanese crew.

Most NWest planes that fly from Manila to Detroit don’t have individualized screens for passengers. Only wide screens in the middle and small monitors on both left and right alleys of the plane. Thus, passengers cannot choose a movie or documentary to watch, only those short films or programs shown by the plane’s crew, or the plane’s tracking system (location, speed, altitude, temperature outside, distance traveled, remaining travel time, etc.).

Passengers can choose some audio programs (music and an audio documentary program) through with their headphones, but there are only 8 or 9 audio programs to choose. I was searching for a rock n roll audio channel, there was none or their rock music collection was not my type. In instances like this, the best thing to do is to remove the headphones and either sleep or read something.

I remember my flight last year from San Francisco to Manila, the NWest plane has individualized screens. I wasn’t able to rest well because there were many movies or programs to watch (from comedy to sports to travel and documentaries), or many music programs to listen to (from rock to classical to jazz). So I arrived home groggy and sleepy 

Food at NW was just fine. For instance, from Nagoya to Detroit in this trip, choice for dinner was (a) Korean style chicken with mixed veggies and steamed rice, or (b) beef BBQ sauce with mashed potatoes.

A number of Filipinos I know who live in the US East coast fly via Asian airlines – China airlines and Eva Air (via Taipei), Korean Air, Cathay Pacific, etc. I hope to fly with one of these Asian airlines someday to the US.

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