I had to wake up at 5 am in order to catch the bus to Helsinki Vantaa airport for my 8:45 am flight to Copenhagen Kastrup. Met my two university friends on the bus – we were all heading to Amsterdam for the weekend. Got to the airport at around 7 am and quickly checked in at the SAS Business Class/Star Alliance Gold counter. Security was a breeze after that as usual at HEL. I then made my way to the SAS Business lounge for the first time – one of the joys of being Star Gold.
The lounge was very nice inside, it’s divided into two sections – one is for mostly work and refreshments while the other one is a typical lounge thing with nice chairs etc. Both sections have a great view over the tarmac and the runways. There are also two free high-speed Internet terminals and the usual fax machines, printers, copiers etc. There was some breakfast available: rolls, cheeses, crackers and biscuits. Drinks included orange/tomato juice, soft drinks. A beer tap was present too. All right for breakfast but a wider selection of alcoholic drinks would be nice during the day.
I left the lounge at 8:15 am and boarded SK713 right away at gate 26. The purser was greeting us at the door as always on Scandinavian. Business class this morning was more than 10 rows – very impressive. I took seat 24D while my friends had 24E and F. Legroom was very good and this M82 had the updated interior with bigger overhead bins and new seats with legrests. Boarding was completed early and we started pushing back at 8:40 am while the crew was performing the safety demo in Swedish and English. A Finnair 757 (OH-LBR) was sitting at gate 25 next to us.
A quick taxi towards runway 22 followed and at 8:45 am the engines spooled up and Saxo Viking started rolling. After 35 seconds, a very powerful climb followed and we were on our way to Kastrup. The seatbelt sign was switched off quickly and the breakfast service started. It was the usual SAS one – ham, cheese, lettuce and marmalade to go with the warm rolls, youghurt and orange juice. Several rounds of coffee and tea were also offered. The crew on this flight was rather senior but they were all friendly. There was about one hour left of the flight as the meal boxes were collected, and it passed by rather quickly. We flew the usual route over Visby and MMX.
At 09:11 am our MD-82 touched down on 04L and quickly taxied to one of the A gates near the domestic terminal where we arrived three minutes ahead of schedule at 9:17 am. I noticed a Crossair ERJ and also a LOT example near us, and an Air France 737-500 (F-GJNM) was sitting next to us.
I decided not to go to the Copenhagen SAS lounge this time as our AMS flight would be boarding in about 40 minutes. Made it to gate B3 in about 10 minutes where LN-RPX was waiting. Boarding started just before of 10 o’clock and I made my way to seat 17D just to see a group or three occupying our seats. The flight attendant suggested that we take 17ABC and we agreed – just to regret it two minutes later. The B-seat is the one that practically disappears when ABC are converted to C-class, a complete joke as an economy seat.
The next thing I noticed was the non-existent legroom. It was a maximum of 30”, I have never felt so cramped on any aircraft before. Also the seats were very narrow compared to the MD-80 ones. No idea why the guy at HEL gave me a seat in the second last row as a Star Gold when I was the fifth to be checked in for that flight. The exit row (7) would have been much better.
Soon the captain welcomed us on board and announced the estimated flying time of 1h 10 minutes. A safety demo in Danish and English followed. That’s when I noticed the two gorgeous Danish air hostesses (that’s what their SK name tag says) . We were pushed back exactly on time at 10:20 am and taxied to 04R for takeoff. The 26-second roll was better than on the MD-80s but the climb wasn’t that great. I have no idea about our cruising altitude as the captain never said it but we reached it rather quickly and the service started.
A cold meal consisting of two sandwiches was served. They were all right but very Scandinavian (I’m not the biggest fan of fish on planes). Also two Fazermint chocolates were on the tray. I had my usual drinks – a Baileys with ice and Coke, followed by coffee later. We were already descending as the lunchboxes were collected. I was pretty impressed by the amount of food on such a short flight.
We landed at Schiphol at 11:36, using runway 06, and taxied to the B concourse. LN-RPX parked between two other SAS machines, LN-RML and OY-KHF, both MD-80s. I noticed a rather impressive row of Martinair freighters in the cargo area, four MD-11s and one Boeing 747-200. We were out quickly with hand luggage only and took the shuttle to the Crowne Plaza Schiphol.
After a superb weekend it was time to fly home… We took the train to Schiphol and picked up our bags at the Crowne Plaza. Check in at the business class counter was quick even though the Globe Ground agent seemed to have no clue what she was doing. There was a small queue for the security check but it took no longer than five minutes. I then made my way to the lounge that SAS uses, Ogden Executive lounge I think. Next to it was the Globe Ground one. Had a lot of trouble getting in – I got my Senator card in the mail after I left Helsinki and the guy wasn’t too willing to accept my account statement with the status on it but finally he agreed to.
This lounge was pretty nice inside too and had a nice view of the airport. It’s used by at least SK, AY and AZ and wasn’t too busy. Snack selection sucked big time, only peanuts available, but drink selection was pretty nice. I had some Bacardi cola and a few soft drinks before making my way to gate B15 for boarding. One of Scandinavian’s only two MD-83s was waiting. A 737-600 was operating a flight to Stockholm from the next gate.
Boarding started around 7:40 pm and I made my way to seat 14D. Legroom was superb, around 34” I’d say, and the seats were equipped with audio entertainment. Soon the captain announced that one runway at Schiphol is closed and that we’ll have to wait another 30 minutes for pushback. He also mentioned that mobile phones can be used – quite a few of the business class (11 rows today) passengers actually made some calls.
At 8:36 pm we were pushed back and the captain announced the estimated flying time of only one hour tonight. LN-RMF then taxied to runway 01L where we took off after a KLM Asia Boeing 747-400 at 9:49 pm. Takeoff roll was 33 seconds and we then climbed steeply to FL350. After a couple of minutes the seatbelt sign went off and the service started.
One can’t expect too much on a one-hour flight nowadays but a full cold meal was served. There was a salmon salad to start with and the main course was a big piece of chicken fillet, served with an assortment of vegetables. It was very tasty. No warm rolls were served this time – there was a cold one on the tray. I had the usual coke and Baileys with ice with my meal later followed by coffee again. Dessert was a piece of German Ritter sport chocolate. We were almost on finals to Kastrup as the boxes were collected.
At this point the purser was announcing all the gates for connecting flights and possible re-bookings due to the delay. “SK716 to Helsinki will depart from B2” was later followed by “We will arrive at B2”. Bugger – it will be the same MD-83! We touched down on 04L thirty minutes late and had to wait a while to get the ground crews to B2 for our arrival. I was out of the plane at around 10 pm and waited in front of B2 for LN-RMF to be refuelled and catered.
The flight was expected to be ten minutes late, later changed to fifteen. We boarded at 10:25 pm and took our seats in row. Seats and legroom were of course the same as in row 14 a while ago. Boarding went smoothly until there was a group of eight coming down the aisle. They just stopped there and started deciding which seats they would take. I was so close to say something very rude to them but managed to keep my mouth shut. They probably delayed the flight by another five minutes by blocking the entry to rows behind 16. As the flight attendants started to perform the safety demo, one of these airheads got up again saying that he’s not in his seat. The flight attendant suggested that he takes a seat a couple of rows further back where there were two empty seats. A prison matron ordering him just to sit down would have helped at this point.
We were pushed back at 10:44 pm and followed SK973 (A340 service to Bangkok and Singapore) to runway 04R. After a 20-second roll, at 10:53 pm, the Douglas jet left the Danish soil. This must have been one of the quickest takeoff rolls I have experienced and the climb was extremely steep as well. I would have still preferred to sit on the Airbus that we were following, heading to the warmth of Asia . When we were climbing, the bridge to Sweden and the city of Malmö looked nice from the air with all the lights on. A couple of minutes later the seatbelt sign went off and the crew swung into action. There was one particularly cute Danish blond on this flight.
Another full cold meal was served, consisting of salmon salad, big pieces of ham, potato salad and vegetables. The delicious warm rolls were offered two times on this flight again. More sweet Fazermints for dessert as well. Feeling thirsty, I had two cokes as well as a Baileys with ice with my meal, later followed by coffee of course. I felt completely stuffed at this point. Routing was the usual CPH-HEL standard – over MMX, Visby and later Estonia just before landing at HEL.
Our MD-83 touched down rather smoothly on runway 04 at 1:05 am, just five minutes late. We braked really hard, exited 04 via ZG and arrived at gate 26 in less than two minutes. HEL was full of overnighting Euro planes, KLM’s 737 PH-BTC was at gate 27 next to us.
We made it to the bus stop by 1:13, missing the last city bus by three minutes. I can’t believe some idiot has decided that the last bus is at 1:10 while SK gets in at 1:00 – it must be impossible to depart at 1:20 I’m sure. And of course the Finnair bus departs at the same time, why give people better schedules? So we ended up spending four hours at the airport – felt like saving a few euros after the weekend!
Hope you enjoyed the report, comments are more than welcome as usual!
Econojetter From Malaysia, joined May 2001, 430 posts, RR: 5 Reply 2, posted (11 years 7 months 3 weeks 5 days 8 hours ago) and read 3638 times:
Very unwise of them to seat a Star Gold in the last rows of the aircraft. I've been in those seats before and remember how tight they were... I'd say around 30" of pitch. Otherwise, the majority of the rows on SAS (Euro, not Doemstic) aircraft seem to have around 33 - 34" pitch.
One other flight where I've suffered the bone-crusher last rows was a LX RJ100 (Jumbolino) flight. The food was very good though.
Lufthansa747 From Philippines, joined May 1999, 3201 posts, RR: 45 Reply 4, posted (11 years 7 months 3 weeks 5 days 1 hour ago) and read 3618 times:
It seems like not all of the SAS machines have the same pitch in the back. I had seat 32F which is almost in the tailcone on LN-ROT (MD-82) and the legroom was the usual 33-34". But at least LN-RMM (MD-81) and this 736 have the special treatment in the last rows. This very same thing was very noticeable on a QF 762 as well.
SAS Flight Ops lists OY-KHE as "DOM", it still had the good legroom and I noticed no difference from the "EURO" configuration.
Shamrock104: I find the SAS euro legroom very generous usually - it's just the last rows that seem to be horrible on some planes. According to my Swiss timetable they pack 156 seats on the MD-83s - Finnair has two with the same configuration (OH-LPC and LMG). They do mainly leisure and domestic runs and I have been on both numerous times, you are right - it was really tight. Would be hell on a 4.5 hr flight to Spain.
MilesDependent From Australia, joined Sep 2001, 848 posts, RR: 0 Reply 9, posted (11 years 7 months 2 weeks 15 hours ago) and read 3481 times:
When did you qualify for *G? I made *G for the first time last year and have noticed the following on my SQ, TG & UA fligts:
* No mention or thanks for the loyalty - not even once
* Preferred seating in the first 2 rows of economy on SQ - not on TG.
* The business class check-ins are a God-send, particularly flying out of SYD where the queues are unbelievable
* Lounge access is really good. So far I've been to lounges in SIN, CNX, HKY, BKK, SYD (x2), and HKG.
* On my 2 UA flights I was upgraded to business class upper-deck on a 744!!
* Priority boarding. But I don't really see the point in this unless you've got a stack of carry-ons and want to secure overhead space. Lately I've been checking all my bags due to thge increased security.
Lufthansa747 From Philippines, joined May 1999, 3201 posts, RR: 45 Reply 10, posted (11 years 7 months 1 week 6 days 22 hours ago) and read 3466 times:
I crossed 100K LH status miles on SK972, about 600 miles out of BKK a month ago. Senator card valid for almost three years arrived about 2 weeks later. I have only flown SK and LH after that:
*nobody ever mentioned my status
*got horrible seats in the very back (HEL-CPH and CPH-AMS, changed HEL-CPH)
*SAS doesn't know the term "priority boarding"
*priority check in was good at HEL (long Y line)
*lounges were pretty good
*only person mentioning my status was F-class check in agent at JFK
*lounges were good
*priority check in and security at JFK are good
I was extremely unhappy with LH seating, holding Lufthansa top status, it is unacceptable IMHO to be seated in 42K. LH doesn't pre-assign exit rows or bulkheads in advance, not even for Senators. I don't want to whinge too much, but having 124K status miles with them at the moment, I do expect some sort of preferred seating. Economy plus like on UA would be more than sufficient.
Will be posting a full LH report (HEL-FRA-JFK-FRA-HEL) shortly.
I will be doing LH/OS/UA/AC/SK (can you say * 55555 run... ) within the next couple of months, so we'll see how the treatment is with those or with SK/LH again...