Trip Report: SAN-MSP-FNT-DTW-SAN on Northwest Airlines

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This being my first FF award on any airline, I was a bit nervous just prior to this trip. Because I was on a ‘free’ ticket, I had visions of being the first to be bumped on an overcrowded flight, low priority in seat selection, etc. But I have to say that this ‘free’ ticket was one of the best experiences I’ve had on this airline. I haven’t been too fond of Northwest up to this point…in my 60k + miles that I’ve flown with them, they never seemed to go above and beyond to make the customer happy (dirty aircraft, uninterested flight attendants, etc.). I’m not saying they are bad…it’s just that (in my opinion) there are better airline out there. I do have to mention though, that reserving this award itinerary on their website was very convenient. I wish AA and DL would offer something like that…

NW198
San Diego, CA (SAN) – Minneapolis, MN (MSP)
Friday August 6, 1999
Aircraft: A320
Seat: 7A (economy)

I arrived at the airport about 45 minutes prior to departure to this 6:30am flight, and walked straight to the gate to check in (I only had one small carry on with me). Since NW only has 3 gates at SAN, I didn’t even check the boards on my way in the terminal…I just headed straight to gate 24. There was a small line at the counter, and I didn’t have to wait long. One interesting note about check-in: I wasn’t asked to present a photo ID. Nor was I asked those standard “bags in your possession at all times?” questions. Hmm. Interesting. Oh well. I boarded the plane at 6:10 (seat 7A), and was in the air right on time. It was a completely uneventful flight, made even more dull by the lack of in flight entertainment (just like all NW domestic flights). But at least the scenery out the window was nice:

grand canyon from the air

Overflying the Grand Canyon on NW198 from SAN to MSP

After a quick bagel and banana for breakfast, I slept for the duration of the flight. We ended up arriving in MSP 20 minutes early, though it didn’t really matter to me as I already had a 3 hour layover ahead of me. Ultimately, I spent that time just wandering around and taking pictures.

NW 747-200

Northwest Airlines 757-200

NW3626
Minneapolis, MN (MSP) – Flint, MI (FNT)
Friday August 6, 1999
Aircraft: RJ85
Seat: 10A (economy)

I hate to admit it, but I’m really starting to like these regional jets. Fast, quick to load and unload, and not too cramped. My favorite of them all is the Canadair RJ, but this RJ85 was nice too. I’ve only been on one of these once before, but having a nasty flu at the time, I couldn’t really enjoy it. Anyway, I had seat 10A on this 1 hour flight to Flint.

Just as we were about to push back (on time, no less) a NW 742 pulled up beside us…wow! I’ve never seen a 747 from a perspective like this.

Close up view of a Northwest Airlines 747-200

Close up view of a Northwest Airlines 747-200 from the window of the tiny little RJ85 I was sitting in.

That was an impressive sight, but we were quickly out of there and on our way headed to Michigan. Again an uneventful flight – except for the approach into Flint. I don’t think I’ve ever been in an aircraft that banked that hard and fast as we turned final into the airport.

This was the first time I’ve flown into FNT in over 10 years (I grew up in the area), and this was my first time in the new airport. Nice, though it’s a shame that there isn’t more traffic going through there. Well, when the alternatives such as DTW and LAN are usually $100’s cheaper, it makes a little more sense.

NW285
Detroit, MI (DTW) – San Diego, CA (SAN)
Monday August 9, 1999
Aircraft: 757-200
Seat: 31F (economy)

Since this was a WorldPerks ticket, there weren’t any fight’s available out of FNT for the times I needed to get back to San Diego. There were a few available out of DTW, so I chose the 08:30 flight which would put me into SAN at about 10:30. It was a 45-minute drive down to DTW (thanks pa!), and I made it to the gate about 45 minutes before the flight. Check in was quick, and I made a quick tour of terminal E to find a quick bite to eat. Let’s just say I was a little disappointed about what I found.

The flight boarded right on time, and as usual, EVERYONE rushed the gate on first call. WHY do people do this? Since I was one of the first groups to board, I ended up having to climb over everyone crowding the entrance to our gate 15. I’ll probably never understand why…

If I thought the boarding process was frustrating, I had no idea what was in store for me once I found my seat (31F). Just as I was getting situated, an older lady and her husband found their seats next to mine. We exchanged quick hellos and small talk, and then all was quiet – for a minute. I soon realized that I was sitting next to the seatmate from hell. This woman started right back into a conversation with me, and it was sounding like she was trying to grill me for personal info (education, job, family, income, etc). Why was she sizing me up? Well, she eventually came out and said she had a ‘business deal’ for me. Ugh. And so for the next three hours, she sat next to me (with charts and graphs spread out in front of me on my tray table) trying to sell me on one of those ‘get rich quick’ pyramid schemes. No matter how politely I told her I wasn’t interested, she insisted that I was and continued on. I think she got the hint as she would start asking me questions, and I wouldn’t be able to reply due to the fact that my mind was somewhere else. Ugh. Anyway, she shut up for the last hour as I forced myself to fall into a deep sleep.

We arrived in San Diego on time and I was happy as heck to get off that airplane.

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