were we unlucky with NWA?

Jun 3rd, 2003, 12:17 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 7
were we unlucky with NWA?

May 11th - London Gatwick-Detroit flight NW31
Due to depart at 1350h.
We were at the gate at about 1300h, ready and eager to leave for our holiday (by the way, a trip of a lifetime for us). At 1345h when our flight should have just about been pushing back, we were still waiting to board. No announcement had been made at the gate as to why we were not boarding, so my husband approached the gate staff and was told that the reason the flight was delayed was because the crew hadn't arrived. We were finally boarded and pushed back about 1530h, although while waiting in the aircraft for clearance from ATC, the air conditioning wasn't working and people became very uncomfortable. The crew even opened the back door to let in some air for a while. We had a connecting flight from Detroit to New Orleans and were concerned that we would miss our connection. I approached the crew supervisor (Maria Green) and she promised to try and get some weather info.from Detroit to see if our onward connection was on time as there was bad weather there. In a joke I asked if the crew had overslept and perhaps that was why we were delayed for takeoff? She assured me there had been a technical problem with the aircraft and the crew were advised not to get to the airport on time. The cabin crewmember that was serving us was asleep on the back row of the aircraft for most of the time. Perhaps she was not well, but if not able to work fully, surely she shouldn't have been working at all. To see a member of the crew sprawled out asleep on the back row for several hours was not a great impression.
On arrival at Detroit, having cleared customs, we were dashing in the hope that we might just catch our flight, and two young NWA staff members were 'herding' people to find out where they were going onto. We were told, in no uncertain terms "Too late". Then told to go to a desk and get a hotel booking. The lady at the desk took our details, handed us a voucher and told us to arrive at the GATE the next morning for our onward flight. Still no one had apologised to us, and in fact didn't really show any empathy to our situation. I remarked to this employee that we had bags to check in the next morning, and should we really go to the gate? "Yes," she said, "here are your boarding passes, go to the gate, your bags will be re-tagged at the gate." An apology would have been nice from someone, I said. And then finally NWA apologised for us missing our connection. By this time we had been travelling for 14 hours
May12th - Detroit-New Orleans flight NW ?
Arrived at airport with about 90 minutes before we were due to fly out, and were told, 'Join the queue, you have to check your bags, you can't take your bags to the gate without them being checked in.' I queried this and was told that I could to check our bags with the kerbside check-in. The man we handed our boarding passes to accepted our bags and checked them. Another employee of yours told another passenger who had also missed his onward connection from London, and who had also been pre-boarded the night before that he would have to join the queue inside and not check his bags at the kerbside. What a debacle. As a result he nearly missed his flight for a second time.
May25th - Atlanta-Detroit flight NW472
American-Asian cabin crew member rushed through the safety procedures, and finished demonstrating about 10 seconds before the other crew member and before the audio instructions were completed. The intercom message from the Captain was inaudible.
May25th - Detroit-London Gatwick flight NW32
Arrived at gate A54 in good time for boarding. Boarding commenced on time. We approached the gate staff to hand in our boarding pass. I thanked the lady as she handed me the stub, but my thanks was not returned. My husband did exactly the same and still no word, smile or acknowledgement offered back. I said to my husband 'That lady is so rude'. She turned and stared at my husband and I with a look that was pure hostility, and continued staring at us for some moments. Take off was a few minutes early, and Maria Green was again cabin supervisor. There was a problem with the video and no headphone sets had been handed out after 90 minutes of flight. We were told that the aerobics video would be shown (it wasn't,) then the main feature also had a problem and a further delay to viewing.
This si the first time we have flown with NWA, and regrettably our impression has not been a good one compared to BA, Virgin, KLM or Continental. Maria Green,and the Captains were the only personnel who showed any professionalism or real interest in their customers. We experienced delays, technical faults, misinformation and were treated discourteously on several occasions. You may not be able to help having older aircraft owing to the current state of the airline industry but a more friendly and helpful staff would be a positive step toward "building together the first choice airline and global alliance network with the best people; each committed to exceeding our customers' expectations every day"
sophiejane is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2003, 12:25 PM
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Unfortunately, your story echos most carriers these days.
JJason is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2003, 12:50 PM
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Send this story to NWA customer service. They should be able to do something to atone for their mess.

jnn1964 is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2003, 01:08 PM
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I have emailed my story to NWA customer services TWICE and sadly no reply. Maybe a reflection of the general standard there.
sophiejane is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2003, 01:35 PM
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It sounds like the person on your flight out was not, in fact working that flight but deadheading the flight (either worked a flight and was going home or on the flight to connect elsewhere).

As far as the other complaints go, it sounds like normal air travel these days. I learned a long time ago just to try and roll with the punches.
Jun 3rd, 2003, 01:37 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 226
While I have never flown NWA internat'l, I have been very happy with the service I've had within the US. We did have a flight cancelled and had a hassle rescheduling but that was just after the war in Iraq had begun and most airlines were cancelling and consolidating flights. That was a solvency issue for them and I know it is just something travellers must deal with these days. However, impolite and poor service is not something we should have to accept, IMO.
SaraLou is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2003, 02:15 PM
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Our experience with NW on longhaul flights, and especially flights connecting through Detroit, is not quite as bad but certainly not worthy of praise. I think it might have something to do with "hub-itis," that is, having your flights route through one of the carrier's principal hubs (in the case of NW that would be Detroit, Minneapolis or Memphis, Atlanta or Salt Lake for Delta, etc.) Since their whole system hinges on the timely arrival/departure of planes from these hubs, they seem to have less flexibility in holding flights for late-arriving ones, since so many onward connections would be affected by one late arrival.

It's one reason that we try to fly foreign flag carriers for overseas flights. They don't have US hubs or internal routes, so that crazy juggling is less likely to occur. The bad side is that you have to look for carriers that serve your ultimate destination or as close as you can get to it.

Gardyloo is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2003, 02:31 PM
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Go to www.planetfeedback.com and file the same letter. You will get a response.
dfotravels is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2003, 03:37 PM
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While I certainly agree they could have apologized a little more, your own story shows the plane was late for better reason than just some people didn't show up. Mechanical difficulties are just unlucky.

"if not able to work fully, surely she shouldn't have been working at all" - just because she's on the plane doesn't mean she's working. Besides flying back as someone else suggested - remember that the trans atlantic flights need two full sets of crew. They are not allowed to work the full flight - that may well have been one of the crew for the second part of the flight.

Inaudible crew, "herding", "too late" - alot of this sounds like negativism based on the mechanical difficulties. Yes, you could have gotten more service with a smile. But some of this seems like it's nit picking.

sneezey is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2003, 04:18 PM
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Posts: 482
Not sure when you sent the letter but you will probably get a response... it just takes them time. I emailed Continental about a couple of things and it took a little over a week for the first reply. Not great, but at least they were looking into what I was asking.
puddy is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2003, 04:34 PM
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I can sympathize with sophiejane, sneezey (and with you or your name as I've got a godzilla of a cold at the moment ), but I think you may have been a bit hard on her. We really don't know if there was a problem with the plane or one of the crew not showing.

If there was negativism in her note, (and I'd have been plenty negative too if I'd missed a connecting flight and a day of my vacation) I think it has more to do with human error, than mechanical error! A smile, a polite thank you, a bit of empathy after a long transatlantic flight to now find yourself in Detroit for the night rather than New Orleans, attentive FAs, and ground crew, all might have worked wonders in negating every one of the other difficulties encountered. My husband runs a hotel and swears that a guest's front desk experience can make or break that guest's entire stay, and that goes for frontline personnel in airlines as well. You get a snarly front desk clerk who doesn't greet you, snatches a credit card, curtly dismisses your request for an upgrade, never smiles, never makes eye contact, smacks a room key in your hand then turns his/her back etc, ANYTHING, no matter how slight, that happens after that point is magnified 10 times over until that guest has a slew of escalated complaints. What a difference a different attitude may have made in the hotel stay and in the airline travel experience. People arrive at your hotel tired and grumpy from travel. People arrive in airports often the same way and you'd better know how to handle a cantankerous guest/passenger or not be in the business because you only create problems for your hotel or airline.

More importantly, frontline personnel cannot forget common courtesies, ordinary good manners, and you see that happening more and more today *everywhere*, not just the travel industry, for whatever reason. "Thank you" with no returned "your welcome". "How are you" without a "fine thank you, how are you". I can't imagine omitting these responses--they are absolutely ingrained in me and should be in everyone but I hear it all the time! False politeness? No, common courtesy. It certainly fixes a heck of a lot of wrongs, and could have in sophiejane's tale of woe as well.
Jun 3rd, 2003, 04:57 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 499
I use to always fly NWA. Had many miles and would go out of my way to use them. In the last year and 1/2 that has changed as their employees have really been nothing but rude and un helpful. It's so astonishing! On my last flight last month I got so mad that I told them to replace my ff # with my Alaska Air one as I no longer wished to earn any milage with them. I will now go out of my way NOT to fly NWA. I hope you get your apology (and they'll probably throw in 5000 miles that you will never be able to use because their policy is so strict!)

Wendy is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2003, 10:10 PM
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We fly on NWA a lot and have found them no better,no worse than the rest. They all seem to have their bad days and they all have some good days. I do think some routes are worse than others as weather makes a difference more times, etc. I must say that we do prefer NWA out of Mpls. if possible rather than Detroit. Hope you hear back from them. If not, print a copy of your e-mail and mail to the corporate offices in Eagan, MN. I have complained in the past and have heard back and I have also complimented (several airlines) when treatment was good and have been surprised to hear from them in all cases. It does pay to praise them once in a while (hotels too) if you are pleased as they only seem to hear all the bad and it does make for bad morale.
Cali is offline  
Jun 4th, 2003, 01:58 AM
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Emailed this again to NWA and maybe the Fodor's web site was the key, but I had an answer almost immediately. Investigations will be carried out and they will reply via a letter not email. Sneezy has a point I suppose, but at no time were we hostile or rude to any NWA staff, like Oliveoyl says and its true of us too, OUR good manners are inbred and being English we keep a 'stiff upper lip' and didn't create a fuss. Thanks for everyones interest and information and stories, its the first time I've ever used a message board and its been great.
sophiejane is offline  
Jun 4th, 2003, 04:51 AM
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Sorry you had such a run of bad luck on your trip, sophiejane! We live in Detroit and NWA is our biggest carrier, so we use that airline almost exclusively. I must say in all the years we have been using them (3 times this year so far) I have never had the experience you spoke of. Also, we have never had trouble redeeming our FF miles where and when we wanted to go. That said, I hope you are well compensated for your trouble!
Maggi is offline  
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