When I received a message from Aaron on Saturday ( 9-8 ) saying that I might be able to get a seat on the last 747-200 at NWA, I immediately jumped into action looking for ways to make it happen. Eventually I settled on buying 5,000 miles for $165 to bring my mileage balance to 51,000 miles, just enough to take the trip. I booked the ticket and received Y class tickets which gave me the choice of any seat I wanted.
Photos : http://www.andersonaviation.net/aa/Seattle.html
Northwest Airlines 152
Newark EWR to Minneapolis / St. Paul MSP
Scheduled Departure Time : 0620
Actual Departure Time : 0628
Departure Gate : B42
Scheduled Arrival Time : 0818
Actual Arrival Time : 0820
Arrival Gate : G11
Seat : 5A
Aircraft : N368NB
Wednesday, September 12th, 2007
A few days later on Tuesday night, I went to bed early so I could get up at 0430 to start the 4,800 mile journey. Alarm buzzing at 0430, I got up and got ready for the trip, already tired. My dad drove me to EWR and I arrived at 0512. Having checked in online the night before, I walked straight through security and took a seat at gate B42.
Boarding was called at 0550 and the few that had to be up that early boarded the A319. I took my seat at the bulkhead, 5A and started taking photos of the surrounding aircraft. Just before the door was closed the gate agent come over to talk to me, basically telling me photos aren't allowed. Ah, well so I can't use the good camera, I pulled out my iPhone and kept going.
We pushed back just a few minutes late and taxied over to 22R for departure. A short taxi and no delay, we pulled onto 22R and after waiting for a Continental Express ERJ to clear the power was pushed to full and we quickly took to the skies.
With the normal left, right departure we climbed out over New Jersey and headed for Minneapolis.
The climb was slow but we eventually reached FL340 and the service was started. I bought a $2 bag of trail mix as I usually do, asked for a Ginger Ail and was given the whole can with a smile from the flight attendants. ( So far so good ! ) After setting up my "meal" I pulled out my phone and watched a movie. This was certainly a good way to travel and the 3 hour flight passed quickly.
After a few winding turns on approach we beautifully touched down on 30R, the reversers were put into action and we pulled off onto runway 4-22, taxiing to gate G11. We pulled into the gate 2 minutes late and I headed off the aircraft for my A330 !
Northwest Airlines 171
Minneapolis / St. Paul MSP to Seattle Tacoma SEA
Scheduled Departure Time : 0920
Actual Departure Time : 0923
Departure Gate : G4
Scheduled Arrival Time : 1106
Actual Arrival Time : 1101
Arrival Gate : S9
Seat : 11A
Aircraft : N819NW
Wednesday, September 12th, 2007
After a short wait at G4 boarding was started and the line stretched through the terminal. Eventually I got on and took my seat in the 2nd row of coach and listened to the flight attendant Rita talking to a retired 747 pilot seated in 10B. I head them mention that this A330, N819NW was brand new and this was confirmed by the pilots a few minutes later. It turns out that 819 was delivered on September 5th and this was going to be it's first flight with passengers at Northwest. Lucky me !
Now I'm not a fan of Airbus but this A330 was fabulous, good leg room, decent space, nice PTV and the best smell ever. It was like new car smell but 100x better !
Everything was spotlessly clean and she was in perfect condition. We pushed back 3 minutes late and the PW4168s slowly revved into life. The A330 has the strangest engine sounds I've ever heard, a short of roar / whine / screaming. Nevertheless it sounded great and it was surprisingly loud for a new airplane.
We taxied over to runway 35 and after a few departures and arrivals pulled onto the runway for an immediate departure, engines already revving up as we pulled on. The A330 might have the loudest engines I've heard on a wing mounted aircraft, the revving is incredible !
A long takeoff roll and a smooth rotation, wings flexing like mad we lifted into the air and within a few seconds, turned West climbing quickly. The aircraft flies beautifully and is extremely comfortable, I was very impressed. We eventually leveled off at FL400, service started and I had my usual trail mix and this time a Pepsi.
Once the PTV AVOD system was turned on I played with it for a while again very impressed. The new PTVs have excellent picture quality and a nice selection of entertainment. I haven't seen Pirates of the Caribbean 3 yet so I watched it all the way to Seattle, taking photos when something good came along.
The flight attendants were very nice and friendly, service with a smile. So far this has been an excellent trip ! As we passed over the Rocky Mountains I was awed by the scenes below, it was beautiful !! As we begun our decent the flight attendants served water to anyone who wanted it, a nice touch.
The lower we flew the more spectacular the slights became until we passed into the clouds on approach to Seattle. We broke out of the clouds a minute later over Boeing Field and I got a nice look at various Boeing aircraft parked around the field.
Over the trees and ILS lighting rigs we smoothly touched down on runway 16C, reversers roaring like mad we eventually slowed down and crossed 16L before pulling into gate S9 right next to the Queen parked at S8. As I was in the second row, de-planing didn't take long and I was soon checking in at S8 for the return.
Northwest Airlines 170
Seattle Tacoma SEA to Minneapolis / St. Paul MSP
Scheduled Departure Time : 1215
Actual Departure Time : 1254
Departure Gate : S8
Scheduled Arrival Time : 1739
Actual Arrival Time : 1803
Arrival Gate : F14
Seat : 51K
Aircraft : N624US
Wednesday, September 12th, 2007
After a quick lunch and some spotting around Seattle I took a seat at S8 where there were balloons, banners and cake being served to celebrate the 747-200s. I didn't take any cake but it was a nice way to celebrate ! At 1145 boarding was called and I got in line as I was in the Emergency Exit Row.
Walking up the jetway to the 747 was amazing, as I arrived at the aircraft you couldn't even see the aircraft it was SO big. I greeted the flight attendants who were surprised to see me again as they too had just gotten off the A330 and were taking the 747 back to MSP. It took minutes to walk all the way down the 747 to 51K where I was just behind the wing with a great view !
I took my seat, snatching some safety cards and the Japanese versions of World Traveler which are really neat. My seat mate arrived after a few minutes and we got to talking. He's a robotics engineer for Boeing on the 787 project !! and we had a long chat about the 787.
After waiting about an hour after scheduled departure time everyone was on and we pushed back late because of long security lines in Seattle. The JT9Ds whined into life, smoke and heat blasting the ramp. We slowly taxied out to runway 16L and pulled onto the runway. After a few seconds the engines roared into life and the brakes being held, revved up.
Brakes released we leapt forward and after the longest takeoff roll in my life, wings flexing to the extreme we barely made it into the air. Definitely the slowest climb ever as we turned East back towards Minneapolis. A long climb later we leveled off at FL390, service was started and I had the same snack and Pepsi as the last flight.
A few hours later we begun our decent into MSP and entered a quick holding pattern. After a 360 we turned a few more times for final runway 17. Flaps extending, jet blast blurring the view, engines roaring we SLAMMED into runway 17. This was the hardest landing I've ever been in !! Reversers kicked into action and we roared down the runway slowing down. We exited with just about 1,000 feet left and taxied over to gate F14. De-planing took forever with 430 people to get off but I managed to run upstairs to get some shots of the cockpit ( WOW !! ) and it's beautiful. The spiral staircase is really sweet but a little tight ! In short.. the 747-200 is AMAZING. I deplaned and who was waiting.. ? Aaron !!
Northwest Airlines 610
Minneapolis / St. Paul MSP to Newark EWR
Scheduled Departure Time : 1904
Actual Departure Time : 1954
Departure Gate : D2
Scheduled Arrival Time : 2241
Actual Arrival Time : 2332
Arrival Gate : B42
Seat : 10A
Aircraft : N344NW
Wednesday, September 12th, 2007
Meeting Aaron was the cherry on top of an awesome cake ! For those of you wondering, he's really cool and very nice. We walked together to my gate for EWR, D2 picking up a sandwich on the way. We sat down at D2 and talked about Northwest until the final boarding call. A great experience !!
I was one of the last on-board and really looked like a business guy as I was in my suit, on the phone and looking smug. LOL ! Took my exit row seat and had the row to myself but it went down hill from there....
A few minutes later the pilots informed us that the A320 was having issues with the fuel transfer pumps so our weight and balance was off. 50 !! minutes later we pushed back and taxied to runway 12L for takeoff but again it went down hill... We pulled off to the side and the pilots told us we were still off balance and we need 10 people to move to the back of the aircraft.
A few minutes later and 10 people moved we took off sluggishly on 12L. The climb was quick though and we leveled off at FL390, service was started but this time I just had water. Watching a movie on my laptop and looking over some stuff Aaron had given me made the time go pretty quick.
We were soon descending fast towards EWR and turned sharply for 22L. A smooth touchdown, reversers roaring, the A320 seems to struggle to slow down. We exited with 1,000 feet left and held short of 22R for a FedEx Feeder Caravan. Crossed the runway and parked at B42, the same gate I'd left from so many hours and miles ago.
In the end I flew 4,817 miles in 9 hours 41 minutes of flight time, crossing the entire country twice in a single day.
All in all an amazing trip, everything went well, the employees were great and meeting Aaron was fantastic.
Photos are coming as soon as I get my camera issues fixed.