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Let’s Burn Some Miles: Trip Report to Lyon, France in Northwest Airlines World Business Class and Air France L’espace Premier

May 23, 2009

As some of you may remember, I was mid-way through a narrative journey of my adventures to Lyon, France on Northwest Airlines and Air France in February. We return to the story at the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport, where I managed to slowly return my hearing abilities to normal after a flight on a Mesaba Saab 340.

Now that my body was free and clear from the barrage of “WAAHWAAAHWAAAHS” from the Saab, I made my way to unwind and relax in the Northwest WorldClub on Concourse C. This is, in my opinion, the nicer of the two WorldClubs in Minneapolis. It is smaller, quieter, and the staff always seems more helpful than those in the bigger F/G club. After helping myself to a soda, some cheese and snack mix and a quick e-mail check, I relocated to the F/G club, with a quick stop at a shop the Northstar Crossing to buy a Euro plug adapter. Once entrenched in the F/G club, I took a moment to enjoy a staple of any Northwest WorldClub lounge experience: overcharged Heineken. I’m not sure what they do to the kegs there, but even with plenty of bartending experience, I cannot pour anything more than a half glass of beer and a half glass of foam.

Northwest WorldClub MSP\
Hey…it’s an old picture I took of the F/G WorldClub!

Boarding time neared, and I made my way to the departure gate. When I arrived, I observed approximately a dozen cases of middle-aged male gate lice hanging around waiting for boarding. I credit this to Northwest’s highly inefficient cattle-call boarding (rest in peace…not!), as none of the men crowding the area around the gate sat in WBC. Also present at the gate (and on our flight) was a man being deported to China, which brings up a strange point about how efficient it might be to send someone to Asia via Amsterdam, especially considering there were two flights to Tokyo that left earlier in the day.

Boarding for World Business Class was called, and I jumped at the opportunity to be amongst the first people on-board the airplane. Once entrenched in my seat (5C, a middle-aisle seat), a flight attendant whisked my coat away and brought forth a can of Heineken for me to enjoy while I made friends with the seating controls, carefully taking the time to piss off the person next to me by reclining the seat back and forth while simultaneously giggling like a school girl and pretending I was Captain Kirk.

As the common folk boarded behind me, the Purser and an assistant handed out menus, amenity kits and took dinner orders. I don’t have the menus with me, but here’s what I ordered:
STARTER:
Salmon and lemon-chive crostini, Asian beef tenderloin skewer, mixed nuts.
SALAD:
Caesar salad with Romaine, shaved parmesan, Roma tomatoes and toasted pine nuts
MAIN COURSE:
Beef tenderloin with blue cheese crust, roasted carrots, Tuscan potato wedges and broccolini
DESSERT:
Cherry Ice Cream Sunday, Assorted collection of cheeses and liquors.
I paired the meal with a delicious Chilean red wine suggested by the Purser whose name escaped me.

After some time boarding, the doors were closed and we were ready to depart. Minneapolis is a fairly easy airport to taxi around, and we made quick time to the runway. Soon, we were off toward Europe, on time, three Heinekens in.

When safe, the flight attendants began the Appetizer service for those of us in WBC:
World Business Class appetizer
Salmon and lemon-chive crostini, Asian beef tenderloin skewer, mixed nuts. Everything tasted good, but it was just…small.

From this point on, my wine glass never got below half empty through dessert. This would be good preparation for the festivities that awaited in France.

Next up, the salad course and another TWO refills of wine.
World Business Class salad
Caesar salad with Romaine, shaved parmesan, Roma tomatoes and toasted pine nuts. Good dressing, dished right from the jar.

I took some time to begin watching Little Miss Sunshine on the AVOD while waiting for the main course. Soon enough, my salad plate was cleared, my wine glass refilled twice, and I was presented with the main course:
World Business Class Main Course
Beef tenderloin with blue cheese crust, roasted carrots, Tuscan potato wedges and broccolini. This was much better than steaks I’ve had on Continental and Delta. Yum!

By this point, I had consumed the approximate weekly volume of wine for a normal Frenchman and was beginning to feel incredibly lethargic from the food and alcohol…but Northwest was not eager to stop the torture: Dessert.
While serving dessert, the Purser also offered an after-dinner apertif. I asked for my usual (scotch on the rocks) and was presented with a glass of port and scotch. When queried as to why MORE alcohol was being pushed on my already well-lubricated liver, she only said “I poured it already…just drink both!” with a wry smile.

I poked at the sundae and cheese, drank the scotch and part of the port, and then made my way to the bathroom to take out my contacts and prepare for what ended up being a very nice 5 hour sleep/pass out. I’ve read many complaints about the angled seat in World Business Class, but I found that I slept really well. I’m a side sleeper, so I had no complaints about fitting in the seat.

I awoke to the sun rising through someone’s open window. Still in a Chilean-induced stupor, I walked forward to the galley for water and chocolate. Soon, it was time for breakfast:
World Business Class Breakfast
Fresh fruit and warm breads. The cranberry scone was excellent, and didn’t even require butter. I’ve learned to avoid airplane fruit over the years, and this case was no different. It was soggy and slightly disgusting.

We landed in Amsterdam a few minutes early, and thankfully, not on the Polderbaan. This meant that we were in for an easy taxi and arrival at the normal Northwest pier (E…also known as Minneapolis East). I gathered my things, and made my way past the F/As who were blocking the exit from the plebeians so we upper crust, still in a Chilean haze, business class passengers to exit.

END OF PART TWO

Part three: “Is this really my meal?”: An American in Euro Business.

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