We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Northwest Airlines vs. British Airways

Seattle, Washington
Level Contributor
382 posts
20 reviews
Save Topic
Northwest Airlines vs. British Airways

OK, here are the choices. Trans-atlantic, non-stop flight. Which would you choose?

Northwest Airlines, Airbus a330-200

Leaves 10:55pm your time, Arrives Heathrow 5:05 pm London time. More time to sleep on plane, less time in London on arrival date. 10 hour flight.

British Airways, Boeing 747

Leaves 6:45 pm your time, arrives London 11:45 am London time. Not much time to sleep on plane (due to the time of departure and arrival) but a whole day in London, however could be on very little to no sleep. 9 hour flight.

NW about $200 less than BA. Have never flown either airline, so I have nothing to compare them to. Probably only going to have one carry-on, (going over at least), so no checked baggage. Probably only going to be able to afford coach no matter which I chose.

Thoughts? Suggestions? Advice? So, so appreciated :)

New York City, New...
Destination Expert
for Air Travel
Level Contributor
9,166 posts
48 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Northwest Airlines vs. British Airways

I've not flown SEA-LHR on BA but I've done flights from SFO-LHR and LAX-LHR on many, many occassions which leave around the same time and have found the timing to be just fine. You get onboard, meal service whip round, then lights out for sleepybyes. I next woke up somewhere over Ireland.

The length of flight from the west coast means you can get a better length of sleep unlike the eastbound ones where you really have to hit the hay once onboard and skip any of the meal service, if there is any! Then you have to try and fit 12hrs of time into only 6hrs of flying. Much tougher than getting fifteen hours into nine hours of flying.

I don't get jet lag by my wife is more susceptible and she finds US West Coast flights to London much easier than East Coast ones.

As for onboard, despite NW being the Walmart of the air within the US apparently their A330 product is alright. I believe they have an AVOD (you can pause, stop, rewind etc) entertainment system, as do BA on their 747 aircraft. BA will have free alcohol and I don't think NW do.

toronto
Level Contributor
113 posts
41 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Northwest Airlines vs. British Airways

Some other points to consider:

1) Do you collect airmiles? NWA is affiliated with Delta and Continental, BA with AA.

2) Look at http://www.seatguru.com to see what the aircraft seats are like. NWA has a longer pitch (more leg room.)

3) Timing of return flights.

4) If you work, the later flight may be more convenient.

Have flown NWA to London and had no complaints. My wife has flown BA (to South Africa via London) and she was quite happy.

London, United...
Destination Expert
for London
Level Contributor
55,143 posts
15 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Northwest Airlines vs. British Airways

BA's usual flight ex-YVR is BA84, scheduled to depart at 2035, arriving at LHR at 1350. From late May through September, BA86 departs at 1745, arriving LHR 1050.

I am no fan of BA84, although I've taken it more times than I care to remember. In October, a delay of the flight from LHR meant that boarding started at 2130 .... durr ... dinner at 2300, but with a bit of catching up en route meant an arrival at 1410. I had a few brief periods of rest, but nothing even near sleep, although I've managed a bit at other times (I usually fly WT+) on 84. Looked and felt craptacular on disembarking.

Taking BA86 is much more to my liking - have a bit of a meal, watch a bit of a film, and not fret that if I don't get some rest Right Now I will look and feel less than fab for 36h after arrival.

Fly out earlier, OLCI and try for 29A or 29K and enjoy the journey.

Detroit, MI
Destination Expert
for Detroit, Travel Gadgets and Gear
Level Contributor
6,709 posts
Save Reply
4. Re: Northwest Airlines vs. British Airways

Go with NW on the later flight and go a day early if you need to with that extra $200. If you get in around noon you will probably be exhausted and will have to use all your willpower to stay up to adjust to jet lag. If you arrive later you won't have to fight to stay up so long and can probably adjust faster. By the time you land, get to your hotel and have dinner it will be close to bedtime so you will be on London time faster.

The NW A330-200s are brand new. I have not flown it, but it is the same as the -300s I have been on many times, just a bit shorter. Each seat has a personal on-demand video screen along with games and the map info. The front part of coach has an extra couple of inches of legroom and standard 110 volt outlets at each seat. You might have a hard time getting one of these in advance unless you have elite status (sounds like not), but I think they open them up at 24 hour online check-in.

If catering is the same as DTW-AMS, you will get drink service followed by dinner shortly after takeoff. Usually chicken with rice or a veggie pasta choice, roll, cheese/crackers, dessert (brownie or ice cream). It is not bad, but nothing special. Alcohol is still free trans-Atlantic. Normally about an hour from landing you get breakfast - egg biscuit (nasty IMO), yogurt and fruit cup. With your later arrival you may get a sandwich or something for lunch/dinner.

If you are going carry on only (I always do), the bins are pretty big. I've never seen major issues with them trying to find overhead space for late arriving passengers, even on a 100% full flight.

Philadelphia
Level Contributor
1,324 posts
38 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Northwest Airlines vs. British Airways

Let me tell you about the experience I had on 1 of these airlines just a few days ago. I won't mention the name of the guilty party, but it rhymes with "Skittish Mare Haze". I was returning from Rome, connecting at Heathrow with a flight back to US. Because of bad weather in London, flights were backed up & we wound up leaving Rome almost 2 hours late. But when we got to Heathrow we learned that our next flight had not left yet. We hurried over to the Flight Connection Center, where there was a long line. I noticed that there was a counter dedicated to travellers with special needs - my wife has a medical condition & I thought she qualified for that. We got a "Skittish Mare Haze" rep to agree to let us go to that counter, but there was no one covering it at the time. She told us that as soon as her colleague returned, he would attend to us. He reappeared a few minutes later, but paid no attention to us. The female rep said that as soon as he was finished doing whatever he was doing, we could approach him (I'm surprised that we didn't have to bring him the broom of the Wicked Witch of the West first). Well, it took him about 20 minutes to get to us, & by that time our flight had left. END of CHAPTER ONE

After spending the night at the Heathrow Hilton, we returned to the airport for our rescheduled flight home. While airborne, we learned that the order for a special meal for my wife had not been transferred to our new flight. On arriving in the US, we claimed our baggage. Our 2 large suitcases were both covered in a sticky substance, which soaked through & got all over our clothes & other possessions. We hustled over to Customer Service to file a complaint. It's a good thing we got there first, because there was soon a line out the door of people whose luggage never got there.

So that's my first & last experience with this particular airline, whose name rhymes with "Yiddish Staircase". I hope this helps you avoid a similar situation.

New York City, New...
Destination Expert
for Air Travel
Level Contributor
9,166 posts
48 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Northwest Airlines vs. British Airways

Well, it took him about 20 minutes to get to us, & by that time our flight had left. END of CHAPTER ONE

___________

Presuming you were flying to LHR-PHL if you were in the FCC and after 20mins the flight had gone you'd have had zero chance of making it even if the guy served you right away. Why didn't you just go to another counter? Fine your wife had a medical condition but if the desk isn't staffed go find another one.

One other thing to note, someone mentioned AA and BA are affiliated. That is true, they are both oneworld partners, however anti-trust agreement means that you cannot earn AA miles on BA flights between the US and London. The same goes for BA miles earning on AA flights across the pond to/from London.

Detroit, MI
Destination Expert
for Detroit, Travel Gadgets and Gear
Level Contributor
6,709 posts
Save Reply
7. Re: Northwest Airlines vs. British Airways

Making decisions based on one incident is just not smart. I've had one mechanical diversion in my life and it happend to be on an A330 - does that mean I should never fly on an Airbus again? That would really limit how i get around the world.

Personally I go by mileage program, price, time, aircraft and routing - pretty much in that order.

Seattle, Washington
Level Contributor
382 posts
20 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Northwest Airlines vs. British Airways

Thanks everyone for your comments and advice!

tev9999 - I agree with your thinking. I will lose most of Saturday by arriving at 5pm, but it will get me on London time much faster and I don't think I would enjoy my day much anyhow being extremely tired and struggling to stay awake for hours. I will have 9 days, (well 10 including departure day), so I think I can sacrifice that Saturday.

Everyone has a horror story about every airline, so I really wouldn't base my decision on that. It was more trying to decide between arriving early or later and which flight I might be most comfortable on. Well, as comfortable as one can be in coach on a long-haul flight : /

Luton, United...
Level Contributor
999 posts
21 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: Northwest Airlines vs. British Airways

My twopennyworth...

I've flown NW twice, the second time against my wishes.

BA about 20 times, and will again..not saying they are perfect, far from it, but NW is $200 cheaper for a reason....

Seattle, Washington
Level Contributor
382 posts
20 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: Northwest Airlines vs. British Airways

"BA about 20 times, and will again..not saying they are perfect, far from it, but NW is $200 cheaper for a reason...."

Actually, I think that difference in price is because the NW non-stop service between Seattle and London is a new service starting June 1st. Personally, I just saw it as a ploy to gain customers, not because their service was inferior.

Truthfully, I have never had poor service from any flight I have ever taken, (knock wood). The time I flew to Hawaii on Hawaiian airlines, I had some of the best food ever. So, again, my decision really is going to be based on whether I want to arrive at noon or 5pm.

;)