By David Dekel
It was years ago, but I remember it as if it was yesterday.
Nadia, my ex and I were invited to a secret wedding in New York. Secret due to the fact that some people get married prior getting parents’ endorsement. Long story.
Five days in NYC, company apartment in the middle of Manhattan and one wedding. Who needs more?
We bought tickets for KLM, Royal Dutch Airlines and found ourselves boarding a Northwest flight, MD11. On boarding, the purser has suddenly asked us if we were working for airlines. I wasn’t anymore, but Nadia was a flight attendant at Transavia Airlines at the time.
At door closing, that purser came down the aisle and asked if were to follow him as he had seats at the front. I asked Nadia if she minded and of course she didn’t, knowing this is the airlines code for upgrading.
The purser passed the front coach seats, didn’t even slow down at the Business class and aimed straight for the first two seats on Red Tails Northwest’s first class. On a transatlantic flight, this is one hell of a treat. Needless to say it was an amazing flight. Buying a first class ticket is one thing but when you get it for no reason, it somehow feels much better. Pampered at 30,000 ft. we felt on top of the world by all means.
I believe it was about eight hours’ flight and we were served the finest food and beverages. The crew was genuinely friendly and everyone wanted to know the story about the secret wedding, which was about to become not secret at all I suspected. I remember reading one of John Grisham’s novels and Nadia experimenting with all the champagnes they had onboard. “Bubbles class” as Nadia would coin the phrase, staring at the glass in her hand.
To top it up, upon landing, we were informed that there was a bomb threat on the gate we were taxing to, so we had to wait another hour onboard. Out of 200 passengers, two at the front row, could not care less. For all we cared at the time, they could make another round around the airport.
Five amazing days in the Big Apple, one wedding, lots of parties and one lonely thought at the back of the mind: How the hell do we do that again… you see, if you fly coach and being upgraded on the way back it is just perfect. However, what do you do if you fly first class and need to go back in coach? That is something that kept waiting to be resolved.
And that is how we boarded the flight back. With no useful idea on how to hint the crew there was a legacy involved. Our favorite purser was not there, but to our surprise, most of the familiar crew, was. They were happy to see us.
Right after takeoff, one of the crew came and apologized for not having a single seat on any other class to upgrade us. As a token of their apology, they gave us a superb bottle of wine.
We were genuinely amazed. This crew was so nice to us on both flight legs and made our time abroad so much nicer, even magical. At times when airlines were cutting expenses and no frills flight carriers dominating, it was refreshing to experience true interest in us as people and enjoy the luxury and hospitality.
At the time, I had no idea if that crew followed any NWA policy or actually bend the rules, but I do know this: they made our trip and we remember them.
They say that a happy customer shares his experience with five people whereas an unhappy one tells twenty people. I told this story to many more and spoke highly of NWA in every occasion and Nadia did the same. I am a little late with writing about it, as Northwest Airlines (NWA) merged with Delta Airlines couple of years ago, formulating the world’s largest carrier. You may see a Red Tail aircraft with tail logo of NWA, a mirage, only in museums, but not flying, unfortunately.
Looking at all the YouTube movies about NWA’s legacy, I know it was a unique company that managed to motivate their people to meet or exceed passenger’s’ expectations and not only as a mission statement but on a daily basis at work.
Writing this blog post, I looked at some videos NWA employees made. What was just a feeling up there is clearly visible on the YouTube movie I posted here. It was the human factor that made the difference at NWA.
These lines are written with gratitude to that Northwest Airlines crew that is undoubtedly keeping flying up there. And if under the heavy blue color, a red tail still exists somewhere, then we know that the spirit is still up there.
All the best and Godspeed.
#nwa, #klm, #NYC, #Northwest