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NW 98 DC-10 Retirement 2007-01-07 Trip Report Thread

NW 98 DC-10 Retirement 2007-01-07 Trip Report Thread

Old Jan 8, 07, 11:12 am
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NW 98 DC-10 Retirement 2007-01-07 Trip Report Thread

I was the "sendoff photographer" so I won't be filing a report on the whole trip, but I wanted to get the thread open, per suggestion. My report will follow this post, and I hope everyone else involved will post theirs as well!

Last edited by DanTravels; Jan 8, 07 at 3:41 pm
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Old Jan 8, 07, 11:51 am
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My not-exactly-a-trip report.

Yes, I know. I was the one who suggested a party... but I wound up not attending. Isn't that always the way? Not that I would have really minded, but I was ready for a bit more of a break after flying over 60,000 miles in the last three months - more than half of that in December alone! And that December had included a rather exciting round-trip with flights 98 (in F) and 99 (in Y), so I had my chance to bid the DC-10 farewell.

But... I couldn't just sit over on the Big Island and ignore it, so I booked a RT on HA (in F), ran off fifty-some glossies of a the photo I took of Northwest's last 2 remaining DC-10-30s on my trip last month, and spent an extremely fun several hours at the Honolulu International Airport.

My flight from Hilo landed around 12:30, and I quickly checked in on FlyerTalk from a kiosk. Then I walked the length of the airport to see whether any NW DC-10s were on the ground. None. There had been rumors of both remaining aircraft coming out, just in case they needed a spare for some reason... but nope!

After grabbing a tiny bit to eat and sending a postcard to a friend, I headed out past security to the NWA check-in area, where I found a growing mob decked out in matching t-shirts reading "I frequent the Northwest Flying Museum of Classic Jetliners" and "DC-10 Average Age: 26 years" on the front, with "NWA DC-10 Last Flight: 1/7/07 Retired: 1/8/07" and the flyertalk.com logo on the back. I quickly spotted rtarbuck who I'd met some time ago thanks to the WorldClub Meeting Thread, and was promptly introduced to theZipper, SchmutzigMSP, MikeMpls and WifeMpls, steve64, BondAir007, N751PR and maybe... james318 and ORDguy? Alpha Golf and redtailshark showed up shortly thereafter and I said hi to them too. I gave everyone photos, also gave them to all the staff working the NWA checkins.

Next thing I knew, David Curtis, maintenance chief for the DC-10s, showed up and regaled us with tales of everything that could possibly go wrong on the final flight...

Then it was time for the Tour des Lounges. We all swarmed through security without difficulty, and marched into the NW WorldClub. The ladies there were very friendly and much picture-taking occurred. I gave them a 5x7 for the WC and apologized for not having a frame for it... and 4x6's for the staff. We all sat around and chatted and generally did our best to make a dent in their supply of Milanos, Knott's Berry Farm Cookies, Tillamook Cheese and all manner of liquid refreshments. Radiocycle finally showed up, too! I forget whether this was when I met N24SW and his wife or not, but they were definitely around throughout the event.

After spending a fair bit of time there, we went next door to the CO President's Club. Fresh pineapple! Yummy! Different "ambiance" than the WC. Hung out there for a while, until someone pointed out that NW99 was due in any minute now... er, wait, there it was coming off the taxiway! So we all ran to various photo vantage points (I personally ran to at least five) and took pictures. I wonder what the "mundane" travelers thought of this... and the folks getting off the flight, finding themselves coming out the end of a jetway flanked by camera-wielding loonies in matching t-shirts...

We were supposed to go to the Delta club next, but one of the ground staff asked why I wasn't in the boarding gate area, since the crew for NW 98 were there. So a bunch of us dashed over there to meet such interesting folks as NW DC-10 fleet Chief Pilot Rod Stewart (whose name I may have misspelled), the head of DC-10 fleet training at NW, and Dale Richardson, Manager, DC-10 Flight Procedures at NW. Incidentally, for each of those gentlemen, I believe you can scratch out "DC-10" as of today... and write in "B787." I know that's the case for Dale, and pretty sure it is for the training pilot as well. A non-FT passenger walked in and found himself in the midst of a frenzied impromptu photo shoot. I asked him, "You didn't know there was a party?" He seemed very confused, almost as if he had found himself in the midst of an Improv Everywhere "flash mob" or something.

After a whole bunch more pictures with flight crew (who all wanted t-shirts like ours), cabin crew (who all wanted t-shirts like ours), and the rapidly growing number (who all wanted t-shirts like ours) of NW ground staff (usually you have what, 3-5 ground staff seeing a flight off? This one had 10-15 at the gate, and another 7-8 on the tarmac...) we did all finally make it down to the Delta club, where one of the nice counter ladies looked a little bewildered and slightly alarmed at the invaders who pretty much took over the place for a little while, drinking anything they could find and even making impolite remarks about the mustard-powdered spinzels...

Then it was back up to the gate, where the atmosphere was totally festive. Honolulu ground staff supervisor Anna was there, along with Maria and Todd and just about every imaginable person. Photos, video, hugs, kisses, bewildered non-FlyerTalk passengers... one Japanese fellow who I think was in First Class asked me (and I think a few other people) what on earth the deal with the t-shirts was!

At the appointed hour, Todd read the best boarding announcement ever, welcoming everyone to the boarding process, and explaining that this was a truly historic flight, as it was the last DC-10 flight on Northwest, and that everyone would get all kinds of special stuff on the plane (there was a cake for FC, and I think he said something about special final-flight certificates, but people who were on the flight will, I'm sure, have much more to say!)... and then the moment I don't think anyone had expected:

"We'd like to begin the pre-boarding process with our FlyerTalk members."

I kid you not, folks. I am not sh*ttin' you. Final flight of a aircraft type - and a widebody at that, not some little RJ - on one of the 4 or 5 biggest airlines on the planet, and they pulled that out. Unbelievable.

So I ran all over again, got photos of people boarding, got photos of the pushback, got photos of it taxiing, ran back over to Interisland, flew back to Hilo, got home, edited photos, put 'em up on the web, fell asleep before I could post a link to 'em, then woke up and told everyone where they were, stuck some of 'em on my blog for my Dad (a redtail flyer back in the 70s!) to see, and saw that NWA had put 'em up on their Flickr photostream super-quickly...

So all told, I made it for 21-22 hours with no sleep on little more than lounge snacks, and had a really great time with a bunch of wonderful people from FT and the airline.

Now I have to start saving up for years from now when they retire the 744s... if that ever happens!

Last edited by DanTravels; Jan 8, 07 at 3:40 pm Reason: Added link to NWA photostream...
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Old Jan 8, 07, 12:41 pm
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An excellent overview of the happenings on the ground prior to flight 98!
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Old Jan 8, 07, 10:30 pm
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Location: Tucson, AZ, USA. UA 1K, reluctant but * best in class * DL FO/MM. Former BA jumpseat rider and scourge of Dilbertian management and apologists. As LX might - and do - say: "....an experienced frequent flyer of international airlines"
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Trip report: D10 retirement flight/mini-MR 1/4-1/8/07

Outbound in a one-way car rental to SAN through the Imperial Sand Dunes on I-8. Overnight in SAN, then AS to SeaTac. The 73G and a successful certificate upgrade, my first ever. The AS service was good and the air was smooth. A six hour layover at the SEA WC followed. I was hoping for a chance at a bump SEA-OGG but [email protected] had computed the loads accurately and NW95 went out with no empty seats, although I saw at least three ISA folks ushered onboard at the very end. SEA-OGG on the 753 is hardly worth a trip report. There were periods of moderate chop as usual but nothing awful. Then we experienced moderate turb on final to OGG, not unusual but it woke me up just as I started to doze off. The flight crew were jazzed with my "Flying museum of classic jetliners" hoodie. They told me they had heard about a group of NW FF coming for the flight but didn't know we were FT folks.

An overnight on Maui, there were almost no hotel rooms. I took a chance on this, not booking a hotel room in the hope of standby on the later NW OGG-HNL flight on 1/4. But I didn't count on the unhelpful HA agents at this location. The loungedragons at Schiphol are easier to reason with than these guys. See the Chaos at OGG thread for a description of poor on the ground service there. No dice for standby, or I discovered the next evening, not even much chance of efficient checkin for my scheduled departure.

After the chaos at OGG we had another great flight on 800, this one lasting all of 26 minutes. Which is about how long all scheduled 753 services should last, IMHO. I was in 14B and the flight crew told me they'd heard a bunch of NW fliers were coming to ride 98. They also admired the hoodie sweatshirt, just like their colleagues the previous day.

I had to run from the terminal to rent my car before retrieving my luggage since they closed at midnight and we weren't on the ground until 11.45pm. I rented and returned to the terminal. Once in HNL I discovered one of my checked bags wasn't there. I reported this to the basement NW luggage office crew and obtained my lost luggage receipt. Note: free parking at HNL for less than 30mins! Nice.

Following that, I visited with my friends in HNL and hung out for the day on 1/5. At lunch I visited luggage services in the basement at HNL in search of the missing bag. No dice but at least they tracked it to flight 800, i.e. it had remained on the 753 and headed to ANC after I disembarked at HNL.

During the evening of 1/5 I met the FT crew at Brew Moon at Ward Center. We had a great time, getting to know who we were, sharing MR strategies and paying respects to the unrivalled talents of Maurice in this area. The party didn't break up until they threw us out at 12.30am.

On the big day I collected a couple of FT folks from their hotel in Waikiki and we headed to HNL. After dropping the rental I went down to the basement once more and we repeated the process of searching for my bag in the NWA system. It still hadn't appeared but they were hopeful it would show that night. That was too late for me, so I told them thanks but I'd see it at home.

At HNL checkin the NWA staff were very receptive and some were downright excited by the event. I took the staff some Leonards malasadas.

Just after 2.30 we all moved through security and into the WC. The lounge tour was a lot of fun. First the WC, then the PC, then the CR. rtarbuck knew where the DL lounge was which was a good thing, because our group was wandering around the Japanese garden area in some confusion at one stage. This lounge is not easy to find if you haven't been there before. After 30 mins in each club, we went back to the WC and then to the gate.

The atmosphere in the gate area, as described earlier, was wonderful during the predeparture festivities. The highlight was the flight announcement and then the preboard for Flyertalk folks. We raised a loud cheer for ourselves.

Once onboard some of us attemped to distribute the T-shirts. Although the crew loved the design, we didn't have the right mix of sizes between us. Other arrangements were made for the crew who preferred different sizes.

I was seated in 22J in the D10 (for the fourth time during this the last year). AlphaGolf in 22A and I got great value in the Y cabin. All of the NWA staff except the purser were very enthused by the event but I heard that the ambience in F wasn't quite as open to the party hearty folks. Things were more relaxed in Y, especially in the rear galley where we hung out with the flight attendants. They were truly a great bunch of senior NWA people. They're one of the reasons we drink so much of the red kool aid. Some of the F folks came back and we hung out in the galley.

About F and Y. I'm sure the seats were more comfortable but I was very happy with the value of my paid Q ticket on this flight.

Moreover in the Y cabin AlphaGolf did a masterful job of recruiting new FT members, talking with them in the exit area. As one finished, another appeared and started asking him WP questions. It was like a priest with his confessionals.. the sinners confessing things like "I wasn't able to make GE last year but..." There were a surprising number of people on this flight who were most interested in the habits of the FT crowd.

Another plus was that the air was uncharacteristically smooth - or maybe the D10 rides better than the 753 in the same conditions The crew put the SB light on once we made landfall so we returned to our seats for the remainder of the flight. I slept for about an hour and then pre-arrival water was served. We arrived 20 mins ahead of sched, and the Captain executed a beautiful landing. It was a perfect HNL-MSP flight.

At the MSP WC we met a couple of NW execs, and they generously spent over an hour of their time listening to us and talking with us. RC and thezipper went over some of the issues dear to the WP faithful. While I'm not sure that the outstanding favors and requests will all be granted, at least the management listened to us in person. I also discovered that a CO EUA had processed for my 739 IAH-PHX while I was on NW98.

The real downside of travel in Y was that by this time I was hungry. I ate breakfast with RC outside the WC during which he showed me his EQM statements. All domestic, 180-200+K EQMs during the previous few years.

Most of us had 9am flights for other locations. I said goodbye to the FT crowd and headed to my MSP-IAH flight. This one was a little rocky for the first 30 minutes but by this time the fatigue had really caught up with me. I didn't even eat the hot breakfast served on 1153, something I hardly ever refuse in the air on the grounds we don't see enough of it and should take advantage.

Owing to my split itin, I had to retrieve my luggage at IAH and check in again on CO, however, this process was very fast at IAH T-B. Then I hung out the PC for a few hours, and experienced a nice smooth ride on the CO739 with some good food.

I'm on the ground @ PHX T2 now. There are no one-way cars available tonight so MsShark and SharkJr are coming to collect me.

The whole trip was a great experience and a notable occasion. I enjoyed meeting FT members, and the NWA staff, crew and management. The historic flight was the icing on this cake.

Meantime, in a fitting end to this trip, my nondelivered checked bag is still circulating the NWA system - recently on NW801 according to the tracker. I'll tidy this loose end up a little later because there's one more thing that would complete my retirement flight experience...

See you guys in the redtails or on the blue demons soon.

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Old Jan 9, 07, 12:07 am
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Thanks Redtailshark. Great report!
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Old Jan 9, 07, 2:34 am
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Great reports Dan and rts! It was also great meeting you guys in the flesh as well! I'll hopefully have mine in this week esp. for those hungry A.net TR readers. BTW Dan, is it ok if I can use your pics in my TR? As expected, the quality of mine was left to be desired. :/
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Old Jan 9, 07, 5:44 am
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Thanks for the reports on this historic flight ^
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Old Jan 9, 07, 1:04 pm
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A couple of things to add to Redtailsharks report:

NW didnt do much special. The crew had been instructed to report an hour early for food and festivities at the gate, which of course didnt really occur (other than a rowdy group of FTers and staff). Headsets were comped in Y, however, and after the lights were turned on all pax were given a certificate signed by cockpit crew and purser (Ill try take a pic and upload it to the NW account), as well as a small card with DC-10 facts. The purser also read out a long statement about the -10, most of it from the back of the certificate.

Ill second what RTS said about being in Y. Im pretty sure the rear galley was the most fun place on the aircraft, certainly to judge from the number of FTers who violated cabin integrity by coming back there. We spent most of the flight there, and it was really a small (and slightly rowdy) party. As RTS said, the F/As were really fantastic and added tremendously to the fun. A couple of other pax joined at times, and I think we did an excellent job of serving the regular pax who came back for something. (What would you like? Water One water Gets passed along). At least one pax complained about the volume, but oh well...

A few pax were interested in what we were about one asked an F/A, who sent me over, saying I could explain better. And as RTS said, some were really interested and seemed like potential FTrs.

Just a really fun flight. And 1237 was a champ.
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Old Jan 9, 07, 1:06 pm
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Thanks to all for the reports. ^

Now how about a report from someone who was in F?
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Old Jan 9, 07, 1:54 pm
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So what happened to the aircraft? Cargo company, charter company?????????
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Old Jan 9, 07, 1:54 pm
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Here's my crack at a trip report… I am sorry it is so long, but I am long winded.

To preface, I almost didn’t do the flight. I was originally booked in Y on 98, but in F on my outbound Jan 1st on 99. I decided I couldn’t stand 8 hours in Y, so I changed to a CO flight in F connecting through LAX. By some miracle of miracles, on 12/22 at around 7:00pm, I searched NWA for a PerkSaver F seat on 98, and there was one available which I succeeded in changing to. The DC-10 is the ONLY wide body plane I have ever been on, so it has special meaning to me.

At check in at DTW, the agent in the first class line assisted me with getting on an earlier DTW-MSP flight (as my original only had 40 minutes on the ground) and was able to place me right into F and not on standby. She also assisted in checking my luggage through to MKK on an Island Air connection (not booked through NWA). She was excellent; an asset to the NWA check-in staff.

My outbound flight was NW763 from DTW-MSP, which decided to go mechanical and required a plane swap. Starting to panic as we were delayed longer and longer, I realized I may miss NW99. Not to worry though! We were soon on our way and had about 45 minutes on the ground in MSP before NW99. I felt the pilot handled this well, keeping us informed, but quickly grew weary of the F/A’s stories about their wild new years eve. I don’t know if they meant for the whole F cabin to hear the stories, but we did. Also, with two long delays on the ground, not even water was served in the F cabin. (I know, already been discussed.)

Boarding of NW99 was BUSY at MSP. EVERYONE was crowding the door, but the agent did turn away non pre-board customers to allow for the F cabin and passengers with children and special needs to board first. Once on the plane, I saw my absolute favorite F/A Carla was working the flight, although not in F. She remembered me from the first and only flight we had together (MSP-HNL in August) and I teased her about forgetting my seat belt extender till almost take off last time, and she made sure I had it right away this time. (On every other plane I have at least 2 inches of seat belt left. Only on the DC-10 do I require an extender.)

Service on NW99 was excellent as always… Flight was smooth as could be, and the landing was perfect. The plane applauded as we landed due to how excellent it was. We also learned that it was the pilot’s last flight, as he was retiring. After an uneventful flight to MKK (Molokai), I was delighted to find my luggage there. NW and Island Air got it right.

I spent a wonderful three days in MKK visiting the beautiful island. (I’ll include a link to all my pics later.) Although billed as “The Friendly Isle”, I did not find the people to be all that friendly to tourists. Maybe just a perception. If you ever get a change to visit MKK, please do. There is not a single traffic light on the island, and the only chains from the mainland are one Subway restaurant and a Citgo gas station. I stayed at Wavecrest Condo’s, unit A-305 for around $120 a night. It was beautiful with an excellent view of Maui and Lanai across the channel. I was then off to Kauai (LIH) via Island Air with a connection at OGG.

For me, Kauai is paradise. Again, there will be pictures linked to this thread later. I stayed at the Hilton Kauai Beach Resort and had a beautiful ocean view. 120,000 HHONORS points for three nights seems steep, but it was pretty worth it to me. The resort was beautiful, but the pool area completely dead. Weather in that area of the island (just north of the airport) is unpredictable and subject to rain. It did rain everyday there, but still there was no one around even on the sunny days. The bar staff was excellent, but too bad the pool bar closes at 6 and lobby bar, Shutters, at 11. Kauai is not known for its nightlife, but when you travel alone, sometimes it is nice. I did end up meeting someone to hang out with, so I had fun anyway.

Finally, the day arrived, and I was off to HNL to meet up with the fellow FTers and be a part of a small piece of history. The check in counter for Aloha air was almost an hour long, and had me swearing them off until I got to the check in counter and had a wonderful attendant. She saw my DC-10 t-shirt and asked if I was flying Northwest and if I could like my bags checked through to my final destination. (I didn’t even have to ask, and she didn’t even have my name yet!) She was able to accomplish that in less than two minutes, as well as placing me on a flight going out an hour earlier, giving me more ground time in HNL. I was on my way, with a new appreciation for Aloha Airlines!

Upon arrival, I checked into the WorldClub and tried to spy other FTers. While I didn’t see anyone, I do know now that I spied N24SW and Wife not in uniform, but would meet them on the plane. I charged my iPod some, and left my coat in the closet and headed out to the gate area at 1:30 to see if anyone was out there. I did meet N751PR at the check in desk, and chatted for a bit while the Check in agents reprinted my boarding pass. They seemed VERY excited about the whole event, and took pictures and chatted with us. Slowly other FTers trickled in… Being that I wasn’t at the Pre-Do events, it was my first time meeting everyone.

While we waited to start the Tour des Lounges, we were approached by a gentleman and his wife inquiring if they could purchase a shirt. Though we did not have any for purchase, we did chat up with him. As it turns out, this was Captain Larry Branscomb and his beautiful wife Julie-Anne. Captain Branscomb is a retired Northwest pilot, having flown the DC-10 for years. He retired just after 9-11, with his last flight being flight 98 from HNL-MSP. He and Mrs. Branscomb flew out special for this flight, and had no idea what was in store with the FT crew. They did graciously agree to join our tour and to share any stories they could about being a pilot for the airline industry in the Golden Days (Mrs. Branscomb had been check in staff at one point as well!) To me, this was truly a highlight of the trip. They helped make my day special, and I think we helped theirs. Mrs Branscomb had plenty of Mileage Run questions and I believe will be joining FlyerTalk. It was quite an honor to have them with us, and we made sure they pre-boarded with our group. If they weren’t FTers yet, they would be soon.

When NW99 arrived, we greeted the plane. I waited with Captain and Mrs Branscomb to meet the pilot and flight crew. Several passengers coming off the flight remarked about the shirt, but that was about it. After talking with them for a bit, we were off to the Delta Lounge for the last stop of our tour, and where most of the FTers already were.

After a short time in the Delta lounge, we headed to the gate area where we waited for NW98. As you can tell from other posts, that experience was amazing. The crew was there, as well as the ground crew, and they answered questions and posed for pictures. I won’t ramble on too much about that, because I believe the others have covered it well. Todd’s announcement as well as the pre-boarding was a real treat. I was pleased to see that Carla would again be working this flight, and she let me know to find her after I boarded as she had a surprise for me. Upon boarding, I was greeted at the door by Carla with my seatbelt extender. That was a real treat.

The flight, service, and experience were amazing. Truly remarkable. I was a little misty at the whole thing, and only slept about 30 minutes of the whole flight. Most of it was spent in the galley chatting with other FTers, some coach passengers, and some NW staff. While you folks in the back had a great time as well (I tried to get back there...) we had a great time in the mid galley as well! (The one behind F) Great folks all around. It was a beautiful ride, and a great landing. I won’t waste much time on this as others will cover it as well. The real treat was the DC-10 history in the announcements, and the crew signed picture of the DC-10 taking off into the sunset. It was remarkable. About two minutes from takeoff, however, I realized I left my coat in the Northwest worldclub. :’( So if anyone sees a green, lined, fleece coat... Its mine!

I loved how when the seatbelt light came on, we all scurried to our seats like good little flyers without having to be told.

Instead of meeting my fellow FTers in the MSP WorldClub, I had a flight to catch back to Detroit at 6:50am. N751PR and I stayed on the DC-10 until the last possible second. We did manage to horn in a little on an NWA event on the plane, but just long enough to snap some pictures before we said goodbye. We got some great shots of the crew and support staff in full uniform.

I said goodbye and headed off my flight to DTW. The crew loved my shirt, and the other passengers in the boarding area asked about it as well. Upon arrival in DTW, no one gave it a second look, and I was off to collect my luggage, which had made it safely from LIH to DTW via Aloha and NWA. This had truly been a wonderful trip. Thank you all.

Here are my pics... Hopefully you see two different photo sets and don't have to wade through all... One should be trip pics, and the other the DC-10 Do pics

http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/

Last edited by james318; Jan 9, 07 at 4:21 pm Reason: forgot stuff.
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Old Jan 9, 07, 2:02 pm
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Originally Posted by redtailshark View Post
I ate breakfast with RC outside the WC during which he showed me his EQM statements. All domestic, 180-200+K EQMs during the previous few years.
Did you see the laminated version, or the metal engraved one?
Jaimito Cartero is offline  
Old Jan 9, 07, 2:06 pm
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Originally Posted by james318 View Post
For me, Kauai is paradise. Again, there will be pictures linked to this thread later. I stayed at the Hilton Kauai Beach Resort and had a beautiful ocean view. 120,000 starpoints for three nights seems steep, but it was pretty worth it to me. The resort was beautiful, but the pool area completely dead.
Kauai is on my list of islands to go to on my next HI trip. Are you sure you used Starpoints at the Hilton?
Jaimito Cartero is offline  
Old Jan 9, 07, 4:20 pm
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Originally Posted by Jaimito Cartero View Post
Kauai is on my list of islands to go to on my next HI trip. Are you sure you used Starpoints at the Hilton?
LOL... Now that would have been something. No, I used HHONORS points. phew. I'll correct.

Here is the link for my pictures. I am still getting used to Flickr, so I may not know exactly what I am doing. As far as I can tell, I have two photsets under this link, with one set being trip pics, and the other being the DO pics. Hopefully I got that right.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/
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Old Jan 9, 07, 4:26 pm
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Excellent Pics - Thank you!!
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