BWI to Lagos (LOS) via JFK Business Class. Really not worth it. This is a low-cost airline and
everything about it says cheap. Two Biz Class tickets cost almost 7K, much cheaper than Virgin or
BA, but in the future, I'll just pay an additional 5K and fly Virgin. Check-in is chaotic,
unprofessional, and unfriendly. Flight crew friendly to me and my wife, but I saw some other
passengers being snubbed and scolded. Priority tagged luggage came out last. Check-in at Lagos is
ridiculous - only one counter for Business and one for economy. Planes are very old. Recline is only
135 degrees. Meals fair. Only worth it if you must be in Lagos in less than 24 hours. I can't
imagine what people who fly this airline economy go through.
10 December 2005 Customer Trip Rating : n/a
JFK-GEO. Check in chaotic. Old 757 but
clean. Leather seats, commfortable but seat pich much to be desired. Food nothing special, standard,
blant and again this horrible plastic cutlery. Overhead screens with one movie, no flight tracking.
Flight attendants okay, cheerful. Overall impression of NAA okay, nothing special but value for
money. One of the few alternatives to fly to Guyana from Europe via JFK.
North American Airlines - by Rick Wyzykowski
4 June 2005
Just got back from Maui and I would rate this airline very highly. I was skeptical at first because
of limited feedback so far, but was pleasantly surprised by friendly check-in and on board staff,
reasonably on time flight, and all of our baggage arrived in one piece. 757's seemed a little dated
but clean and very safe.
We paid $350 round trip. Full meals were served and were pretty good. Our return flight served a
complimentary glass of Syrah or Pinot Grigio with the dinner service. A nice touch. IFE was provided
with a portable digital movie player (8-10 movie selections... all recent - Sideways, National
Treasure, etc, TV shows, music videos) rented for $10. Needs earphones which are provided.
The direct flight from Oakland to Kahului was very convenient, and the great departure and arrival
times were awesome! We left Oakland at 9AM, and this allowed enough time to get the kids together
and to the airport. Our arrival in Kahului at 11:30AM allowed plenty of time to checkin at the
hotel, settle in and still spend the rest of the afternoon by the pool. On the way back, we left at
1PM (again, great for catching that last breakfast watching the waves crash on the beach while still
allowing plenty of time to get the kids ready and to the airport), and arrived in Oakland at 8:55PM.
All in all as their slogan says "America's greatest little airline."
North American Airlines - by Aaron Pewtherer
26 March 2005
Thanks Jordan - I'm booking my flight with North American Airlines right now.
(via Lihue Kauai), then direct back. 8 hours out, and 5 hours back.
Thanks to your suggestions, I have learned that I won't check any baggage and will bring my own
food - and pack some water and headphones too.
NAA was $356 RT. That was $100 less then Hawaiian Air, with ATA & Aloha even more expensive then
that. Prices quoted are for Memorial Weekend 2005, booked 60 days in advance.
North American Airlines - by Jordan Silber
28 February 2005
My wife and I have been to Hawaii 16 times in the past 3 years and have flown most every carrier
from San Francisco, Los Angeles and Sacramento. This month, we flew North American Airlines from
Oakland to Maui (nonstop) and returning (with a stop in Honolulu). I suspect most people considering
North American Airlines, a new, all-coach carrier with a total of 7 leased aircraft (1 or 2 on
California-Hawaii duty), will be asking the question “is the lower price worth taking them?” I will
try to give my comparisons versus other Hawaii economy services available, going into some detail as
I believe this is the first NAA trip report to be posted.
My basic feeling is, NAA did a decent job, transporting us safely and on-time, with no lost baggage.
The on-ground service can stand for improvement, and the in-air service is on whole comparable to
other economy Hawaii services, none of which are extraordinary.
Price / Schedule. We got a great price on NAA by booking several months in advance: $300 round trip
over President’s Day weekend. Booking early did not come without inconvenience to us. Several weeks
after we paid for our tickets, NAA changed its flight schedule. Instead of operating daily nonstops
(Mondays to Honolulu, Tuesdays to Maui, Wednesdays to Kauai, etc.), NAA has adopted to fly using a
daily multi-point schedule. For example, they now fly daily Oakland-Maui-Honolulu-Oakland. This is a
major detraction which would probably mean I would not personally buy a ticket with them again.
Besides price, the major selling point for us were the nonstops, the convenience. They now make all
their Maui and Honolulu customers have a stopover (quite a lengthy one – 2.5 hours) in each
direction. Instead of two 5 hour days, you now have a 5 hour day and a 10 hour day with them. This
is a deal-breaker for me, but with ultra-low prices perhaps they can still compete (I note, however,
that ATA is operating on an entirely point-to-point nonstop basis with pricing often below NAA’s –
if ATA’s prices, or any other nonstop carrier’s, for your dates are lower, by all means do not
subject yourself to a 10 hour day.
Ground Service. Ground service – ticketing and baggage delivery – is the one area in which NAA can
definitely use major improvement. Given the unexpected 10 hour day, due to medical reasons we
requested and received a bulkhead (NAA was kind enough not only to grant this request but to mail us
a letter on their letterhead confirming this). I got a good insight into NAA’s ground service
delivery by way of this request. In Oakland, there are NAA employees. Ticketing is in the upper
concourse area of terminal 1 (by security). The NAA employees were friendly and helpful, and
apparently the bulkhead request had been registered with them as they had no problem securing seats
1B and C for us. Boarding passes are printed using a fully computerized system and as there were 5
check-in agents, things proceeded smoothly. They say arrive 3 hours in advance – 2 hours is clearly
more than enough in Oakland (and our flight was fully sold-out).
In Maui, things were a mess. There is not a single NAA employee on-site – everything is contracted
out to Aloha. Check-in is done by a single Aloha agent – one agent – and a single TSA agent scanning
bags as you approach the counter, and boarding passes are the old-fashioned “sticker” model.
Additionally, be aware that Maui to Honolulu is “open seating” – no seat assignments. Finally, if
you check in at Maui, because they use a non-computerized “sticker” system, they have literally
divided the plane in half: half the stickers to Maui and half to Honolulu. This creates an obvious
inefficiency: a party at Maui may get two seats not together as the Maui “stickers” have run dry,
while there are plenty of open seats which, if things were computerized, could be assigned to them.
The agent was nice enough – things were just very slow (we waited in line 1 hour 20 minutes for the
processing of roughly 40 people). The message about our bulkhead was not communicated, and Aloha was
powerless to do much about it though they did have a great attitude and did try (by calling on a
cell telephone to the Honolulu ground staff). Basically we were left to seek out the single NAA
employee in the Hawaiian islands – one agent in Honolulu – to get the seating resolved. Luckily, on
our arrival we did find him, he was extremely nice and helpful, and we did get seats 1A and B. I say
all this just to make you aware, NAA does not have a large Hawaii staff. They rely heavily on Aloha
to supply ground service, and the speed of delivery and access to NAA information, as well as
reliance on an antiquated “sticker” system, mean that the whole check-in process is slow and clumsy,
and not efficient in terms of distribution of seats.
The final element of ground service, baggage delivery, gets a flat 0/10 rating. The bags in Maui
(processed, as per above, by Aloha) was very decent: about 20 minutes from door at jetway opened to
first bags out. However the Oakland service was inexcusable. The jetway door was opened at 10:11
p.m., and we did not receive our bags until 11:26 p.m. And we were not the last people to receive
bags! One hour and fifteen minutes is probably the worst baggage delivery time I have ever
experienced on any carrier, hopefully this was an anomaly and not the norm.
In-Air Service. NAA stands up very favorably as against other Hawaii carrier’s economy services.
Let me start with the good news: NAA in my view has the best entertainment offering of any carrier
in the market (perhaps excepting Continental’s one Los Angeles-Honolulu daily flight, but clearly
better than Hawaiian, Aloha, United, American, Northwest or ATA). The reason I give them such a high
rating is, they have two options: for $5 headset fee, if you don’t have your own, you can view the
main in-cabin movie (these are 757’s and you have standard swing-down LCD’s approximately every 8
rows or so). The movies were recent first-run films in both directions. A second option is a $10
“Digi-Player” which is an individual digital media player with a 7” screen that stands up on your
tray table. This offers on-demand movies and television (on our flight: Matrix Reloaded, Le Divorce,
O Brother Where Art Thou, Pirates of the Caribbean, Runaway Jury, Shark Tale, X2:X-Men United, Day
After Tomorrow, Around the World in 80 Days, Catwoman, Cellular, Harry Potter & Prisoner, Courage
Under Fire plus numerous television offerings). NAA should be commended for such great entertainment
options and I give them a clean 10/10.
Seating is decent, there’s really no economy seating to Hawaii that stands out (saving E+ on UA or
to a lesser extent MRTC on AA, if you can grab either of those). It’s a tight 31” pitch, but the
seats are leather and comfortable. Of course as with any aircraft there are seats that are terrific:
1ABC have 34” of legroom plus a 13” cutout (but be careful, 1DEF have only 13” of legroom and no
cutout – take a regular seat over these); 9BC and 9DE are stand-alone 2 seaters by the exit doors
with 58” of forward legroom but the possibility for bathroom congregation in your forward area,
making 10A and 10F the seats with “no seat” in front of them. The same scenario is repeated at row
23/24. The Oakland agent did mention that NAA is going to remove 3 rows from each 757…if this
happens the pitch in economy will be more reasonable.
Food was pretty bad (choice of omelet or pancakes on way out, choice of BBQ chicken or vegetarian
pasta on way back)…small portions, lukewarm and flavorless, with minimal accompaniments. These are
$3 meals at cost, and if you’re actually hungry you will not be at all satisfied by them. I had read
in a prior thread that NAA has “great” food – no way. All that being said, as we all know economy
meal service is the drags on most every carrier (Aloha being the exception, I recently had a large
steak for dinner in economy that was terrific, and Aloha consistently does a good spend to yield a
very decent offering food-wise). On NAA, bring something of your own if you want to eat anything
decent. On a brighter note, beer and wine are only $3 (cocktails $4) and on the outbound leg only
there are free mai-tais (premixed from bottles). Overall F&B gets a 3/10.
Through all of this, the helpfulness and friendliness of the in-air staff was commendable, a solid
10/10. NAA have some very decent people working in-air. They should get even more kudos because they
explained that to save costs, they now have to work a 16.5 hour day (they used to get to overnight
in Hawaii). That’s right – they get in a 6 a.m. for the morning departure, go to Maui, Honolulu and
back and do not finish their day until a 10:30 p.m. touchdown at Oakland. (I noticed that at least
the pilots do rotate in Honolulu, thank goodness).
Our Conclusions. When I bought NAA, I did so for convenience and price. Don’t overlook the
convenience of an 8 a.m. Oakland nonstop departure: I walked into the Hyatt at Ka’anapali at 12:06
p.m. – meaning I got a full half day of pool time on my departure day. This was golden. However I
had also figured on a full half day of pool time on my departure day, something now not possible as
you need to arrive at Maui airport at 10:00 to 10:30 a.m., making for a very early and rushed last
morning and a heck of a long day to get home. So on the outbound, convenience remains terrific, but
they’ve really crunched you on the return. To me personally, no matter what the price, this is a
deal breaker. However, if there prices remain low, I expect others will ask the same question we
did: how low makes it worth it?
In answering this, I can say that I believe NAA offers a safe, on-time, friendly experience with
decent in-air service. They are a very tiny carrier with a less than adequate re-accommodation
policy and a distinct inability to offer you alternative NAA arrangements (as they have only 1
flight a day) – so do get travel insurance which would allow you to purchase an alternate flight in
the event of a flight irregularity. That being said, if the service as outlined above meets with
your liking, no reason not to give these guys a shot.
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