FlyingFinn76 From Finland, joined Jun 2009, 1706 posts, RR: 31 Posted (3 years 2 months 1 week 5 days 8 hours ago) and read 10281 times:
Back in October 2010 Blue1 announced a very weird route - between Helsinki and Tallinn twice a day on weekdays and once on weekends. Flights were to be operated by the couple of Golden Air ATR 72-500s that are based at HEL, operating various domestic rotations for KF. This was really quite a bizarre route where AY (nowadays operated by FC apart from a sole weekly jet flight on Sundays) basically dominates. It has something close to ten daily flights on the route, so for any would-be competition the setup is very unfair from the beginning. Estonian Air Regional most recently operated the route for a couple of years with their Saab 340s, but have since withdrawn - a shame as I took those flights quite a few times, usually quite affordable and nice short hops. Anyway KF is now codesharing with OV, so maybe, just maybe they will find enough connecting traffic - this is a route where OD passengers and especially yields are very thin, due to the heavy competition from the ferry companies offering cut throat fares especially during the peak summer season.
I never really had a big desire to fly this route as I’ve done it so many times with AY, FC and OV, but then I noticed that KF was actually operating the inaugural flight with a B717! Now that sounded much more interesting - inaugural flights are always fun and crossing the Gulf of Finland on a 717 would be a novel experience (so far I’ve done it wih A319, ATR-42 and 72s, Saab 340 and ERJ-145). So of course I ended up booking a ticket on the inaugural flight for around 47 EUR.
From Tallinn, I had the option of catching the same flight back, but like PH puts it, “never fly the same reg twice” (well, I’ve broken that rule quite a bit...), so I decided to do something else. First I had my sights at OV to ARN and SK home, OV would’ve been on a 733, never flown one on their colors yet, but the price was a bit too steep and it featured the notorious last flight of the day on SK, no thanks this time. In the end I just settled for good old airBaltic via RIX for under 70 EUR. I chose the later RIX-HEL flight in order to enjoy a little bit more lounge time there and due to the fact that it was operated by a 737. At the time of booking the earlier flight was showing as a Dash, but I knew better than to trust BT on this, and of course it eventually got changed to a Fokker...
Here’s the simple route for the day:
The background story does not end here, however. Firstly sometime before the flight I found out that a good number of regulars from a Finnish aviation forum were also taking part on this flight. In the end there were six of us taking the flight - two of them were actually taking the same route as me, albeit they were lured by the false promise of the Dash and booked the earlier flight home...
And now the big bomb: A while ago a Finnish TV channel was looking for volunteers for an upcoming reality TV show dubbed “Lentokenttä” (or quite simply “Airport” in English) - I think I was temporally insane when I decided to apply, with my rationale being that they’d probably get most applications from your average pax on their way to a citybreak or a beach holiday, and a freak like me would make for some entertaining contrasts - after all people love the insane!
A couple of weeks before the flight I actually got a call from the production company, they asked some questions and finally told me that yes, they do want to film me and actually will accompany me to the flight as well (this was made possible by KF being the main co-operation partner of the TV show - well I knew it and that’s why I proposed this particular flight - the cunning person that I am ). Quite surprisingly there were no real preparations done - they called me a couple of times and finally told me that somebody will call me a few hours before the flight to discuss the logistics (which did happen, of course).
I’m at HEL T1 a bit more than an hour before departure and meet the first camera crew - they have two, the first one at the check-in area and the other one airside. Some basic chat and hatching of plans follows, and then I exit the terminal to stage another entrance, this time for the camera. A fake check-in follows - I did OLCI, but they want to film it anyway. At least I get a genuine cardboard boarding pass this way, always nice.
We do a bit more interviewing midway through the stairs to the security checkpoint upstairs - some basic questions as can be expected, stuff like “Why do you do this?” - “What’s the most memorable flight you’ve ever taken?” etc. Another faked scene has me going up the escalator, after which the guys remove my mike and bid me farewell. Quickly through security to meet the second, main camera team. The first order of things is to sign a permission form for them to actually film me (hmm, isn’t that a bit late?!), hatch another plan and then go.
So I walk to the gate, where a number of people are already waiting. Not too hard to spot some of the fellow aviation geeks - large cameras and certain websites open on their laptops are a good giveaway! So some introductions and warm up chat follows - most of this filmed, of course .
The filming crew asks quite a few questions from me and the other guys about aviation as the hobby and everything related to it and of course want to take some “action shots” of people shooting photos etc.
The inbound from LHR arrives a bit early - I’m glad to see it is OH-BLI as I desperately need more than OH-BLM for my log!
Not too much later boarding is called. No mention about the special status of the flight, but at least I spot a few Blue1 officials among the pax. I ask the gate agent about celebrations (just like I did with the check-in agent), but she doesn’t seem to know anything.
I recognize the purser on this flight - I’ve flown with him many times, I think he is quite up in the seniority ranks. My seat 5A is on the first row of economy - this time they even got the cabin divider right:
The camera crew settles on the three seater next to me:
The load is quite abysmal, maybe 20 pax in economy, if you count the three persons from the TV crew. In the four rows of economy extra there are three passengers - all of them Blue1 staff on their way to the celebrations.
An announcement is made about a TV crew being on board and that they are only feeling a certain “special” passenger (whoa, that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside!) and that anybody who didn’t give their prior consent will not appear in the show (they did ask the frequent flier guys for permissions, though).
The flight time is announced as 30 minutes with push back being bang on time. When asked what am I feeling or thinking, I tell the camera “I’m actually wondering whether we will take off from the far runway - and if we do and land from the wrong direction at TLL we will spend at least as much time taxiing as actually airborne”. Lots of other questions follow, including one about my carbon footprint - which I dodge quite professionally. I think I could become a politician with these skills - too bad I’m far too honest for that job!
Anyway I was right - we do take off from 22R nine minutes after push back:
I tell the camera again that this is another reason I love flying - the sun is always shining somewhere up there (well, apart from the night time, that is!):
Inflight service soon commences - in economy extra they hand out a tiny snack bag (later at TLL I asked the purser what was inside - a cookie and a small carton of orange juice!), back in the main cabin we get a tiny piece of Toblerone chocolate. Whee.
More filming follows, this time the crew goes around the plane and interviews the purser a bit as well.
After exactly eleven minutes our descent is announced. Tallinn is covered in thick clouds, so no good views until on short finals - it becomes apparent that we are landing on 08, which means a not too long taxi time, so in the end our flight time just barely exceeds our taxi time .
During descent I’m starting to get a bit annoyed by the camera crew filming me, so I tell one of them: “You might want to shoot the view on the other side - you will get quite nice shots of some of Tallinn’s finest Soviet-era architecture, including the concrete blocks at Lasnamäe!”. This works, and they point the camera there instead.
Landing is on 08 after 21 minutes of flight. A couple of minutes later we dock to a jetway. No water cannon salute, though - maybe it is too cold for that.
Tallinn Lennart Meri Airport
I’m the first one to deboard after the KF officials from eco extra. I was given some instructions by the camera crew, so I follow them. Inside the terminal I’m surprised at the media event that seems to be taking place - there are lots and lots of reporters, TV crews (hey, maybe I also appeared on Estonian TV!?) etc., and some nice food and beverages as well - sparkling wine, some small nibbles and a nice Blue1 branded cake:
Juha Järvinen, the Commercial Director at Blue1 who was on our flight and Tom Christides, the Director of Communications at Blue1, who was waiting in Tallinn:
The guy with the orange tie is the representative for TLL airport:
The ceremonial ribbon cutting will take place and I’m asked to make my way somewhere near it so that they can get some nice footage of me and the thing happening. Somehow I end up next to Mr. Christides, who is demonstrating the official Air Botnia/Blue1 ribbon cutting kit:
Too bad most of these routes are no more - heck most of those planes operating them are no more...
I ask him about the (re-)opening of the AMS route that was supposed to take place this very same day and he says that it has been pushed back to March due to the lack of planes. I can’t help but tease him a bit about the weird assortment of planes that have recently been seen operating for KF, these include Estonian Air, City Airline, Jettime, DAT and heck, even the arch enemy AY is operating an A320 from time to time for KF! He manages to dodge the question and turn it into a joke - yeah, that’s the way these smooth director types are!
Soon the ribbon is cut:
We are asked to raise a toast with the cheap and nasty wine in front of the camera, and finally I’m relieved of my duty as a reality TV star. The crew thanks us, I thank them and offer a final piece of advice: sit again on the right hand side since the take off from 08 will have an excellent view of the city centre and the pretty old town on that side.
All of this ate up a bit too much of time - I decide to skip my planned shopping spree (hey, this is my first visit to Estonia after they migrated to the Euro and I’d love to get my hands on some of them) since I’ll be here again in three weeks anyway and head to the lounge instead for a quick drink and some nibbles - the BT flight is already parked on the apron and will board in less than half an hour.
I won’t bother reporting the journey home on BT - I’ve covered that far too many times and there really wasn’t anything special, apart from the fact that I spotted some additional Dashes at RIX, the deliveries are finally happening (I guess some mysterious money somehow surfaced to actually pay for them!).
Here are a couple of bonus pictures of the flights home.
First time I see FR at TLL - they only started flying here in Deceber:
OV’s first CRJ-900 parked at the TLL apron as seen from the air after our take off:
A very pretty sunset over the Gulf of Riga during our approach into RIX:
My ride home to HEL:
A nice short hop on fortunately a different KF 717 this time. Not much can really be said about a 21-minute flight, but nice nevertheless. I’m really hoping that KF can make this route last - the two daily frequencies are too little if you ask me - the schedules make it possible to have a full working day somewhere else if you depart ex-TLL, but it just doesn’t work the other way. But more competition is always good, so let’s hope for the best. As mentioned I’m doing another one of these flights soon, albeit in another direction and with the DC ATR. There are some excellent fares available ex-TLL, so it’s good for segment runs.
And then the other interesting part of this report - appearing in a reality TV show! I did have lots and lots of second thoughts about this whole thing and wondering what the heck was I thinking - but then again I’m crazy so it was sort of fun at the same time. Let’s see what kind of show they make out of it after it’s been edited and post produced. The show is not scheduled to be in the TV for another half a year, so I have plenty of time to emigrate away from Finland if I feel too ashamed - Anybody in the UK, US or Australia want to offer me a decent job?
Not too long to go til the next trip, which is mainly just collecting some SK group flight segments, hopefully an SK A319 and spending a few hours in one of my favorite cities in Europe: HEL-CPH-AMS-OSL-RIX-HEL. Stay tuned!
AlwaysOnAPlane From United Kingdom, joined Sep 2010, 305 posts, RR: 2
Reply 5, posted (3 years 2 months 1 week 5 days 5 hours ago) and read 9793 times:
Hey P. So you made it to the big time eh . That is pretty cool to be filmed about something you are so passionate about.
An interesting story with good pictures, especially the sunset approach into RIX. The inaugural flights box and ribbon cutting equipment is a nice touch also. Never really imagined airports would have something like this.
Looking forward to reading about your SK segment run mate. Take it easy.
FlyingFinn76 From Finland, joined Jun 2009, 1706 posts, RR: 31
Reply 8, posted (3 years 2 months 1 week 4 days 7 hours ago) and read 8177 times:
Hi guys, good to see the comments!
Quoting FLIEGER67 (Reply 1): Congrats to catch another B717, really hard to get these days, at least in Germany.
Not really - plenty of them at HEL nowadays . Anyway maybe you should try MUC-HEL aboard one? Plenty of new departure airports for you in Finland if so inclined.
Quoting FLIEGER67 (Reply 1): there is also a report about the new route on Anna.aero.
Yes, read that today. They missed me by a few inches on the ribbon cutting photo - or maybe they edited me out, can't scare the readers too much!
Quoting FLIEGER67 (Reply 1): So let me know when the show is on TV, maybe Youtube shows us something about it.
Quoting ba319-131 (Reply 2): Good read, nice to see the reality TV start flight take place, let me know when its on Youtube!
Quoting parton87 (Reply 3): What a cool thing you being in a TV-Show! Do you know when it will be shown on TV? Maybe they put the episodes up on the net so we not living in Finland can see it?
Sometime in the Autumn, September - October methinks. All the programs from that channel are visible at www.ruutu.fi for some time after the show airs, but I'm not sure if one can use that from outside Finland.
Quoting ba319-131 (Reply 2): Interesting the flight had such a low load given the TV cameras, if I were running Blue 1 I'd have filled it with off duty staff and family to make it look busy!
Come to think of it, one of my arguments to the carbon footprint question was pointing out towards the empty cabin behind us and saying "Just look at this flight - maybe 90% of the seats (ok, exaggerating a bit here) are empty, it doesn't really make a large different whether they are filled or not.". I think that will get edited out as it will not look good for Blue1 as the main sponsor of the show!
I think so. If they can get enough money to buy enough of them .
Quoting SRforever (Reply 4): Glad you also finally managed to get on a different 717.
Oh yes, thanks. Two more booked up for February, so maybe some additional regs as well.
Quoting MH017 (Reply 6): Someting puzzles me, though: you told to crew to sit on the righthand side of the plane in order to see the (old) city of TLL when taking-off from 08: shouldn't this be 26 ?
Very good, Pieter. I noticed this error today - yes, indeed we both landed and took off from runway two-six. I also noticed I referred to the Premium cabin with its old name, Economy Extra. Old habits die hard.
Quoting AYA333 (Reply 7): I´m still not sure whether it was good or bad luck that I happened to be in Oslo for a week and couldn´t be onboard this Reality TV flight
Maybe I should invite them for some of our little jaunts together in March?
airbuseric From Netherlands, joined Jan 2005, 4207 posts, RR: 51
Reply 10, posted (3 years 2 months 1 week 3 days 21 hours ago) and read 7713 times:
very nice report. What a joy to fly the rather big 717 on the little hop across the water!
So, I'm looking forward to see my first Finnish TV programm with you included. I hope that it will popup somewhere on the web.
"The whole world steps aside for the man who knows where he is going"
infodesk From Switzerland, joined May 2006, 1424 posts, RR: 33
Reply 12, posted (3 years 2 months 1 week 3 days 10 hours ago) and read 7484 times:
What an exciting report! Good for you for applying to the TV show, your theory about them wanting somebody a bit different to your average holidaymakers certainly was correct. As the others have said, I hope we'll be able to watch it on the web. Otherwise you'll have to start selling DVDs of it.....
FlyingFinn76 From Finland, joined Jun 2009, 1706 posts, RR: 31
Reply 17, posted (3 years 2 months 5 days 19 hours ago) and read 6373 times:
Hi guys and gals, good to see more comments.
Quoting Rogerbcn (Reply 11): Three of the new ones come from JK, I had the opportunity to fly on the B717 once on a short hop from PMI to BCVN, 40 min. flight.
Yeah, my first (and only until KF got their planes) flight with the 717 was with JK/AerBal as well, BCN-MAD which I booked just to log a flight on one.
Quoting infodesk (Reply 12): Now that could have been an interesting scene for the camera crew if it hadn't have been in the right place: "On my last two flight this thing has been in the wrong place and it is again today!"
Well, again that would be edited out in order not to offend the main sponsor .
Quoting infodesk (Reply 12): Do I detect a ponytail? You wouldn't get away with that in Switzerland.
Nope, I don't think the guy had a ponytail, just a bit girly hair. But come on - Estonia is the country of young people - who of course tend not to be very conservative at all.
gabrielchew From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2005, 3037 posts, RR: 12
Reply 18, posted (3 years 2 months 3 days 15 hours ago) and read 6111 times:
An interesting TR there P! How come there was no cake etc in HEL, only in TLL? I liked their scissors box! There are some interesing routes on there. Have KF announced that the route is cancelled yet due to low loads?!
No idea really, we Finns usually aren't very good at these kind of celebrations. I've lost count of the inaugural flights I've done here where the celebrations have either been extremely subtle or non-existent!
Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 18): Have KF announced that the route is cancelled yet due to low loads?!
Don't judge the book by its covers! Usually this route is operated by an ATR-72 with 70 seats instead of the 100-seater 717. They will look into it at least for a few months, I'm sure of it. And besides the route is codeshared with OV, so they might have some obligatory clauses in that contract as well...
I sure hope they won't cancel it before the weekend as I'm flying it on the opposite direction again on Saturday...
LH4116 From Sweden, joined Aug 2007, 1709 posts, RR: 14
Reply 21, posted (2 years 16 hours ago) and read 3314 times:
Hey there PetteriFinn76, nice report!
Interesting that you flew OH-BLI. A very good friend of mine is working on her right now, doing the C check at ARN. Interesting also that they served freebie chocolates in the M cabin. Suppose that's not the case on all KF flights?