The Northwest WorldGateway (also known as the Edward H. McNamara Terminal at Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport is one of the US hubs for Northwest Airlines, although many other international and domestic Skyteam Alliance airlines such as Continental, Delta, and Lufthansa use the terminal as well. It opened February 25, 2002 and is a particularly busy terminal within the US.

Well, I'm not going to bore you any more with the encyclopedic "facts", as those can be found anywhere. Instead, I'll give you a firsthand perspective of the things you can do here. An enormous terminal, it's filled with a wide variety of sights and people which can make waiting for your flight a bit more palatable. Personal experience talking here - I spent about 4 hours a week in the WorldGateway for a year straight, due to business travel (don't ask).

Top 10 things to do at the Northwest WorldGateway to pass the time

1. Check out the Motown store, where you can see last vestiges of pride this city has reflected in the windows of shiny model cars and in the soulful music piped through the air.

2. Watch the artistic fountain and its varied spouts and spurts of water do acrobatic things. Alternately, watch the tourists who are amazed by it, the first time they've seen it. It's old hat to you by now.

3. Wait in line for what is probably the longest and slowest Starbucks queue, right next to the fountain. Better yet, stop at the Caribou Coffee stand instead, if you're departing from a high-numbered gate.

4. Have breakfast at just about any of the "chain"-type restaurants in there -- but they're all "southwestern" style, so whether you're in the Jose Cuervo Tequileria or in Chili's, your eggs and potatoes with salsa will all taste the same, and amazingly bland.

5. Alternately, if you arrive via one of the low-numbered gates, you can stop and get home-style comfort foods you had as a kid, such as PB&J. But what if you entered the terminal at Gate A72 or something? In that case, you can get Taco Bell for breakfast - it's one of the few fast food-style counters open in the early morning. Added bonus: Unlike many Taco Bells, they still sell the chili cheese burrito.

6. Have a drink at the Fox Sports bar, right near the entrance to the terminal. In fact, have a smoke while you're there. Fun fact: it's the only place it's allowed in the terminal. Apparently they were asked by the management if they would allow it, since the queue of people going back and forth through security to puff away was getting too unwieldy.

7. What if you're sitting in the terminal, and you are (invariably) informed that your gate has been changed from A4 to A70? Well, you can take the tram from one end to the other, or walk the nearly 1 mile length of the terminal. As for me, I never took the tram, mostly on account of opting for the exercise (see numbers 4-6 above)

8. Get a foot or back massage at the place just around the corner from the main atrium. They're pretty darn good, and 30 bucks for 30 minutes is pretty reasonable. If you're a guy, fight your absurd homophobic tendencies and try one of the male masseuses one time, especially if your flight left you with knots in your shoulders and neck.

9. Teach yourself bits of Japanese and Chinese - all the informational signs feature Japanese below the English (probably due to the whole auto industry connection), as do the public service announcements, which you will hear about a milion times, but which also add Mandarin to the mix.

10. When you finally get situated in a waiting area outside your gate, be thankful you're not in the L.C. Smith Terminal, which, along with the rest of Detroit, looks like a third-world nation.

After all, I've made a few disparaging remarks above about WorldGateway, but overall it's a pretty darn nice joint, as far as airport terminals go. Oh, and those notes about food? You probably want to heed them, seeing as NWA stopped serving free snacks in the main cabin sometime around the end of 2005.

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