Advantages Good route network, comfortable seating
Disadvantages Food poor in domestic economy, staff not always great, safety concerns
---Introduction---The title of this review "Possibly America's best airline" is meant to be slightly tongue-in-cheek. I have to date flown with several American carriers, including Delta, American Airlines and Northwest and to be honest none of them were really shining stars in the firmament of airlines. This review is based on my experiences flying with Northwest, both on their international and domestic networks.
My flight was booked via a high street travel agent and was a one-way economy ticket from London Gatwick (LGW) to Great Falls (GTF), a mid-sized town in north central Montana. This routing meant I had to change 'planes in Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP) with a layover of about 5 hours. Cost of the ticket was GBP 280 and the relevant flight numbers are NW43 (London to Minneapolis) and NW709 (Minneapolis to Great Falls). I should point out at this point that I had originally intended to stay in Montana for some time but due to unforeseen circumstances had to return to the UK just a week later. I was able to arrange this by calling the US offices of Northwest and must say that all the staff I spoke to were extremely helpful and courteous. I could have returned on the same day I 'phoned if I was willing to part with an extra GBP 700 (!), but choosing to wait a few days was able to get a return flight by paying an extra GBP 320, which wasn't too outrageous.
Check in at Gatwick (not my favourite airport) was speedy as was progression through customs and immigration. Unfortunately the gate my aircraft was leaving from was some distance away and necessitated a train ride to get there. Onced there, boarding commenced smoothly and we departed on time in one of the wide-body DC-10s that Northwest use on this route. I have to say that the 7-8 hour flight was fairly uneventful. The lunch we were served was quite pleasant (lamb casserole, rice, dessert) and drinks were free. Although lacking the seat back TVs common to many airlines now my seat was comfortable and I was lucky that the one adjacent to me was empty. Cabin crew were friendly and attentive but not overly so and the flight passed quite quickly. In fact I have no real complaints about this service and it was one of the fastest transatlantic crossings I have had.
On arrival at Minneapolis I transferred to my domestic connection for Great Falls. Unfortunately, due to intense storm activity in the area (a warning for those who visit the Great Plains in summer: you may see electrical storms the like of which you didn't think possible) the flight was delayed by about 4 hours. When we did take off (with lightning flashing all around us) it was in one of the smaller MD-80 airliners frequently used on US domestic routes. My concern here was really whether it was safe to take off- we encountered heavy turbulence and all told I found it quite a scary experience (other passengers seemed more comfortable however, so perhaps I was overreacting).
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