Friday, March 10, 2006

West By Northwest

Next Monday I'll make my return trip to Virginia aboard Northwest Airlines. It may very well be my last with this airline. Although my elite status with Delta, one of Northwest's partner airlines, enabled me to grab bulkhead seats on both flights between DTW and SFO, the extra legroom did not compensate for the lack of on-board amenities and the less than friendly flight attendants I encountered.

Granted, my negative experience was in part a function of weather. An ice storm afflicted Detroit on the day of my travel, and although it didn't prevent my turboprop flight from landing on time, it managed to stall my flight to SFO--before departing the gate and then again while waiting for and undergoing de-icing.

The flight from Charlottesville to Detroit aboard the Saab Turboprop was barely bearable. I had selected seat 1A for the extra legroom (what little is to be found aboard this barebones bird) but the computer moved me to 7A for "weight and balance" purposes. Had I known this was a possibility, I would have selected an exit row, but once I was made aware, all exit row seats were taken. Smooth save a few bumps during descent, the flight passed muster, but I can't say much for spending over two hours in a cramped turboprop.

The flight from DTW to SFO was CROWDED. Not an empty seat to be found. The plane smelled like an armpit-outhouse hybrid and the flight attendants appeared as displeased and as inconvenienced as I felt. I wasn't expecting a meal onboard--almost all domestic airlines have phased out meal service except in first class (even certain first class flights now lack meal service!)--but a complimentary snackbox, like the one served by Delta, would have been nice. Instead I was asked to pay 3 bucks for a box consisting of some cheese, crackers and other low-grade items--and in case that was too much food for my gluttonous palate, they also offered some "premium" trail mix for a dollar a bag. As John Stossel, whom I despise, would say, "Gimme a Break!"

My bulkhead perch (hardly "elite"--I sat in the middle and the woman to my left slept the entire way, mouth open, bad breath streaming out) offered me a view of first class, and I must compliment Northwest for using actual glassware. Unfortunately, I heard some frequent Northwest flyers complaining that it's almost impossible to get an upgrade. With the plane filled to the brim, I'm not surprised.

Like John, I enjoyed the Detroit airport and wish I could relocate it to Atlanta. But so long as DTW remains Northwest's hub, and not a different airline's, I'll be steering clear of the Motor City.


Blogger Evan said...

It was aboard a Saab Turboprop from Laguardia to CHO that a queeny hispanic flight attendant served me a Heineken on the rocks. Yum. Still, the Saab is much quieter than any Dash 8 I have ever been on (not to mention about 15 years newer).

8:51 PM  

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