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Worst business class ever by Northwest Airline

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Worst business class ever by Northwest Airline

This comment is pertain to flight NW25, flying from NRT to BKK on Sep 1st, 2009. The plan we flew from NRT to BKK was an old domestic plan (a 757 instead of an Airbus, stated in the itinerary when we purchased)! The business class seat has very little recline, no leg rest and no TV! Even the wine served with the meal did not have all that listed on the menu. This, to me, is considered to be unacceptable. NWA took advantage of customers and we had no way of knowing it before hand.

We (my wife and I) chose NW over EVAR to fly from BKK to SFO via NRT because we were reassured that the seat is a new capsule seat already, for all flights now from BKK to SFO. The airefare is of course more expensive with NW. And we ran into this. It is totally unacceptable. One of the flight attendance tried to offer me a bottle of wine as an apology gift, but to me, that was not enough an apology NW should do.

There were more stories that actually began before NRT. The flight from SFO to NRT was to be 5 hours delay in departure so we were told to fly JAL instead. That was after we carried all 4 checked luggage down from the carriages. Your NW staff gave us vouchers and asked us to walk to JAL counter which was 4 aisles away. We did, and when greeted by JAL staff, we again unloaded our luggage and even weight them all. Then JAL staff informed us that the vouchers given by NW staff were not correct and we had to walk all the way back to NW counter again! (no other way, she said). When I walked back to NW counter (with some sweating now) to meet with the same staff who gave me those vouchers earlier, she whispered to her colleagues "I screwed up". One of the NW senior staff came to help issuing new vouchers and again ask us to walk back all the way to JAL counter. We got the boarding pass finally, but only from SFO to NRT. We had to go get a Boarding pass from NRT to BKK at NRT.

JAL flight was very pleasant. The seats were new capsule seats and flat with all the gears you supposed to have in a business class. The food and wine were also excellent.

Hell began again when we landed in NRT. There was on NW staff (woman, Japanese) who stood just outside the tunnel when we walked out the plan and asked that anyone who will connect NW flight to wait there with her, that she will escort us to a different terminal (Terminal 1). We had to wait for almost 30 minutes before all (or most) NW passenger to come out, from all classes. When she started to lead all of us (about 40-50 of us) to the shuttle, she realized (by way of one of the security staff stopped her) that all of us had to go through security check which located right there where we were standing and waiting for all customers. By that time, the security check point was full with passengers and all 50 of us had to go stand in line to go through security check at that gate! Hell didn't stop here, after we got through security, that same woman asked us to wait for everyone AGAIN! Another 30 minutes have passed and not all of the NW passengers came through security yet. Many of the passengers who already gone through and have been waiting for a while began to get annoyed and angry. At the end I saw her trying to negotiate with one passenger to come through security and that conversation went on for a long time so I walked to her and said that if we didn't get to go now, I would suit you and your company. So then we went onto the shuttle. When we arrived at the connection counter at Terminal 1, there were 3 staffs on duty and already being occupied by other customers. So all 50 of us had to wait in line.

I didn't understand why we had to wait for the whole group. This is not a "group tour". Why can't each of the passenger be informed to take shuttle to Terminal 1 and redeem the boarding pass, so whoever come out first or be ready first can gradually head over there and get it done and over with.

All these pathetic stories together with an unacceptable change of plan from NRT to BKK are horrible experiences for us. The plan issue is more than just horrible. It is not right by any mean.

I have a medical condition called chronic perineal pain which made me unable to withstand prolonged upright sitting. It causes severe pain. So any flight longer than 2 hours, I would have to fly business class, and will always make sure that the seat can be reclined flat or almost flat. I was willing to pay more (had to) to make sure I can fly without my medical condition being affected.

Here I was, was forced to sit for 6 hours in the seat we did not expect to be in, certainly not the ones we were paying for, and it caused severe pain to me all the way.

This story will not stop here. Every traveler should know and be aware of this.

Vancouver, Canada
Destination Expert
for London
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1. Re: Worst business class ever by Northwest Airline

Although most pax would like it, there are no guarantees in place that any airline will be able to fly the aeroplane scheduled for a sector if something goes wrong with the aircraft.

If your flight from NRT to BKK was on a 757 instead of an Airbus, then it was very likely not because NW had taken a dislike to any of the pax, but rather that something was wrong with the Airbus that was to have flown that day. Would you have preferred to fly in an Airbus that had not been thoroughly safety-checked and approved for travel? Shouldn't think so.

No IFE and an inaccurate wine list for a three hour flight are minor aggravations. NW did not take advantage of customers, NW ensured you travelled safely from NRT to BKK - do keep that in mind.

I have no idea what happened at NRT as the story rambles a bit, but it sounds as if the NRT ground agent wanted to have pax for the NRT-SFO sector together in order to complete the check in process.

If you had needed to sit down whilst waiting, did you ask for or look for a chair? If not, why not?

If the substitution of a 757 for an Airbus from NRT to BKK was 'a horrible experience' then you must have lived a very lucky life. Once again NW made the change to ensure your safety, it was not done as an affront to you and your wife. Uncomfortable it may have been but horrible may be a bit strong.

And you may want to discuss the merits of a pudendal nerve root block with your physician.

Arcadia, California
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2. Re: Worst business class ever by Northwest Airline

Aircraft substitutions do happen and sometimes you do get disappointed when the product is not as good as what is expected. I personally have been in the experience before and yes, I was disappointed after waiting an entire morning to see the plane come from Ft. Lauderdale to LAX so then they could fly us to IAD, and then finding out what was on the airline's website was not at all what the aircraft was inside. Airlines do not do aircraft substitution to hurt passengers to make you angry (that makes them lose your business when they make you angry to the fact you say you will "never" fly them again and they and you can get into a problematic situation); instead there are factors like loads or maintenance which can cause an aircraft substitution at the last minute.

As for the "group" thing, think about how when people board and deboard from aircraft that is parked in a remote parking spot. The shuttle buses try to leave the aircraft with as many people as they can. Yes, it may be horrible waiting for other passengers, but it makes it more organized too so that everyone can leave and board at approximately the same time. When there is a limited amount of shuttles, if one shuttle leaves with a few people, the rest who could have gone on the shuttle have to wait for another shuttle to come or for the shuttle that previously went away to come back again.

As for your medical condition, next time make sure before you go to the airport to tell the airline you are traveling on about your condition. It is very important for them to know so that they can accommodate you properly. This way, you will be taken care of properly and not need to suffer the pain (or as much of it).

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3. Re: Worst business class ever by Northwest Airline

With all due respect, here are some information that might have been left out of my already long story.

The flight attendant(s) told us that they took the airbus to re-paint the plane and that is why it became 757. The crews also encouraged all the unsatizfied customers to write the formal complaint to the airline, at which I did. And they said it will be like this for the next few months until the painting is all done.

If it was for technical reasons, I would totally understand. I've been flying long enough to have met all these incidences. But if the ailrline decided to redecorate its planes, shouldn't a relatively similar configuration airplanes be substituted, at least, thinking about those pax who spent their fortune on the business class fare and ended up having to sit in a seat much worse than the modern economy seat.

You might have no idea how expensive business class is, especially whan it's your own money, not the company's.

And btw, I am a doctor and have consulted many experts in the field, including the possibility of the pudendal nerve block. But nothing seems to help.

This is the first time I wrote something for others to read on the web because I really feel bad about the whole situation. Of all the 20 years I've been flying, I might have lived a lucky or lime life in flying, but this is unacceptable, to me.

Destination Expert
for Bangkok, Air Travel, Thailand
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4. Re: Worst business class ever by Northwest Airline


The change in equipment from an A332 to a 757 was in fact published in NW's timetables. An excerpt from the 8/18 to 8/31 edition is below for the flight in question:

Tokyo, Japan (Narita) NRT Res: (03) 3533-6000

BKK 700p 1150p 25 332 2887

Above Disc. 08/31

BKK 700p 1205a 25 757 2887

Above Eff. 09/01

Full text here: nwa.com/travel/timetable/effective_081809.pdf

While I would write to NW to express your dissatisfaction, I would probably not use language to the effect of "Northwest took advantage of customers.." as NW does have the right to substitute equipment at their sole discretion with or without notice.

It may be unfortunate, but when any fleet is being merged into anothers' livery or there is a fleet upgrade underway, these issue can and do occur. As to why another A332 was not used is a valid question for NW. I would suspect that the answer has two parts: a) another A332 that could fly a closed-loop route in Asia was not available and that b) the change from an A332 to a B757 also served to reduce excess seat capacity system-wide.

Speaking to the wine (as minor as that may be) did the menu in fact state that list all the wines on the menu would be available on your flight? I ask this because in many cases airlines publish a full list of wines (by class) and note that a "selection" would be available from the full list on your specific flight.

Travel Safe,

Garden Bay, Canada
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for Air Travel, Business Travel
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5. Re: Worst business class ever by Northwest Airline


Thanks for coming back with more information. Many times people just show up here, write a tirade and then disappear forever.

Welcome to TA and the AT forum by the way.

I'm with you on the 757 issue. I've posted my dislike for business class on that plane several times, and I change airlines even at inconvenience to me when that plane is offered. While, it could be considered a minor annoyance by many, and safety is always the primary concern (main reason why I do not fly SQ), the most significant complaints usually arise due to the difference between product expectation and product delivery. If I pay for xyz service and receive xy service, that is a problem. When I fly, or I pay for my guys to fly business class, it isn't an elitist move. It is to provide a restful travel experience so that we can be as productive as possible at the destination.

As you may know, NW is repainting their planes post merger with Delta. I'm sure that they want as little disruption as possible, but it looks like you got stuck with the raw end. It needs to be brought to their attention that you did not receive the quality of product you were expecting, and that I'm sure they would like to be delivering. As for the ground mess, clearly, that seems to have been carried out by a person with little thought to customer service, and little ability to think ahead.

New York City, New...
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for Air Travel
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6. Re: Worst business class ever by Northwest Airline

You might have no idea how expensive business class is, especially whan it's your own money, not the company's.


Right, because you are the only person on the planet who pays for business class out of their own pocket.

Judging by your posts you are extremely self centred. OK, so it was NW's fault the aircraft was subbed to a 757. That's crappy but you let that taint your entire view of the process. The fact they put you on JAL instead of having to wait 5hrs was completely up to them and something you should be thankful of, not angry that you had to walk a whole THREE aisles of check-in desks because someone screwed up your vouchers.

Threatening to sue the airline because an employee forced you to wait a few minutes for the shuttle. Come on! If this your idea of hell you haven't travelled much at all or are very lucky.

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7. Re: Worst business class ever by Northwest Airline

Let's not be unfair Speedbird, it was four whole aisles.

In summary

Plane goes tech, instead of a 5 hour wait, you were re-routed on another airline - this is good news, no?

Bit of a faff on disembarkation, to which, instead of quietly saying to the staff member "We would quite like to make my own way rather than waiting, could you possibly give you directions?", you responded by threatening to sue!

The only bit where you really have a case is on the substitution of an inferior product for your last leg. Whilst I'm sure NW are within their legal rights to do so, there is a reasonable case (if made in a reasonable way) that you haven't received what you paid for.

Have to agree with earlier poster - by all means present your case to NW, but for your own sake, please try and make it a bit more coherent.

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8. Re: Worst business class ever by Northwest Airline

Dear all

Thanks for all the view points made. I have to agree with some of your comments (such as NW did a great job putting us in JAL instead of having to wait 5 hrs and their effort to make all the re-routed passengers to move to a far awat terminal together), but I do want to make it clear that I was just disatisfied with some of the things that happened.

If you think I am the only one on the planet who pays for businss class by myself, may be you don't get to know this world enough. I normally flew economy until I have this medical condition that is not curable and I have to live with it. I stopped flying for a while, then began some short hual. When I learned to live with this chronic pain thing, I began to fly long hual, but I could only do that with the help of the reclining seat. I only travel when it is absolutely necessary.

This trip was not for pleasure, and I had to pay by myself. I don't think it is unreasnable to be disappointed and upset when you paid for what you hoped to be XYZ but got X instead.

BTW, with regards to te NW staff who tried to organize the group to go together, I did try to talk to her and KINDLY asked if we could head off by ourselves and also KINDLY suggested her that it might be ok to let some passengers to go ahead. But she insisted that all of us to stay together and gave no clear explanation as to why. So that made us uncertain of why we should not go ourselves, hence we decided to follow her instruction until almost an hour was wasted and many passengers began to get upset as well. That's when I went to talk to her more aggressively.

We normally chose the airlines that are Asia-based when travel to the US and that is because for many years we have used American-based airline, we felt that the segment between BKK and one of the connecting cities (tokyo, taipei, seoul) has usually been ignored. The plans were usuauly old, with older configuration when compared with the Asia-based airline. I don't know if any one experienced that same way I did. We have flied Thai airway when they gradually upgraded their business class seats to the capsule/flat seat type and it was unpredictable which flight I would get to old seat or the newer one (although the fare was the same). But that was ok because the 2 kinds of seats were just one generation up from the other. The one we experienced in the old domestic 757 was far different from the current seats we are hoping to see (for what we paid).

Anyway, enough to say, my life is probably differed from many other in this planet. But I believe I still should give NW the feedback from the customer satisfatory point of view. To share this in public is also interesting and I am truly thankful for all the comments that some, have changed my attitude towards this event a little.


Melbourne, Australia
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9. Re: Worst business class ever by Northwest Airline

If this was your worst experience in 20 years of flying, I think you are doing quite well. By all means, write to the company and complain, I think you should. But, as far as bad flights go, yours is at the "not too bad" end.

Nairobi, Kenya
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10. Re: Worst business class ever by Northwest Airline

"The flight attendant(s) told us that they took the airbus to re-paint the plane and that is why it became 757."

Yeah, right.