I'm back from my round the world trip and here's the report:
June 30, 2001
McDonnell Douglas MD-82
The first leg of my trip was this SAS flight to Stockholm. I arrived at Vantaa airport about 1,5 hours before departure just to face this huge lineup for the SAS check-in. Those of you who know the airport, it started by the Finnair business class counters. After waiting about an hour I finally got my boarding passes for all four of my legs today. Seat 32F, a window from the very last row, was assigned for me.
I made my way through security to gate 26 where SAS and Lufthansa flights usually depart and noticed that LN-ROU "Ring Viking" would be the aircraft for my flight. Boarding was 20 minutes before departure and as soon as I reached my seat, I asked about a cockpit visit on this very short 42 minute flight. The pleasant Swedish flight attendant said she would check with the flight crew. In a minute the purser came to my seat and said "I'll take you up there after takeoff and you can stay for the landing if you want to. You'll probably miss breakfast though." Now that was a hard choice - delicious airline food of the jumpseat for landing!
We were pushed back 10 minutes late at 09:55 and taxied to runway 22. Ring Viking left the Finnish soil at 10:01, made a right turn and we were on our way to Arlanda. As soon as the seatbelt sign went off, I was invited to the cockpit and took my jumpseat. I chatted with the guys about SAS pilot training and flying the MD-80. The first officer said it's a hard plane to fly - the Fokker 50 he flew earlier was much easier. He even printed me the weather report for HKG/VHHH!! Suddenly the same purser knocked the cockpit door and brought me breakfast! Very good, a warm roll with ham and cheese as well as strawberry youghurt and orange juice.
By the time I finished my breakfast, we were over Norrtälje and started our descent into Arlanda. The captain contacted Stockholm control and we started our ILS approach for runway 26. At around 09:40 (Swedish time) I could hear "Scandinavian seven-zero-three, you are cleared to land runway two-six". We landed at 09:43 on the bumpy runway after the very smooth flight and vacated the runway quickly. There was a short hold before Stockholm ground could assign a gate for us, but anyway we made it there more or less on time. I thanked the crew and made my way to the terminal for my connection to Copenhagen. The crew switched to SE-DIP and flew back to HEL, later followed by CPH and LHR.
June 30, 2001
I had some time to kill at Arlanda, so I did some spotting and took pictures. Some of the more interesting visitors included an Iran Air 747-200 EP-IAH, a Syrianair 727, Delta 767-300, American 767-200 N334AA departing as AA81 to Chicago. I also spotted a white A310-300, EC-HVB.
By now it was time to board my next flight, a B737-800 service to CPH-Kastrup. I had seat 19F this time. LN-RPM looked really new and the seats were comfortable. We were pushed back 10 minutes late at 12:35 PM. Made our way to runway 19 and took off. This time we had a young Danish cabin crew onboard. Again, the flight attendants were very nice (and good looking ). A tasty cold sandwich and drinks were served on this short flight. I went for a Baileys and a Coke. No cockpit visit on this flight as they had somebody riding on the jumpseat.
Soon we were on approach to CPH and landed on 22L at 1:40PM after being airborne for 56 minutes. Taxied to one of the B-gates and now it was time to explore CPH a little bit. I went to the food court and had a burger with fries. I then walked along the shopping arcade all the way to the non-EU gates and back. I spotted the bmi A330 now flying for SAS and a BAe146 or Avro RJ from Faroe Islands.
Lufthansa Cityline LH5215
Canadair Regional Jet 100
I was actually booked on SK663 to Munich but went to the LH gate to ask if I could go on this one. They had the CRJ overbooked by five, so it didn't look too promising. Anyway the SAS lady took my boarding pass and said she'll do what she can. Soon the CRJ taxied in and I went back to the desk to ask whether they still were overbooked. She said "No, we are not but I don't think you are on it! and started laughing". I said ok and that I'd better rush to the SAS gate to catch 663 then but she handed me a new boarding pass that said LH5215 Class C. "You are in business class now, is that ok?" Sure it was, She had just upgraded me!! I thanked her and boarded my first ever regional jet flight.
I took my seat 2D and discovered the contents of the seat pocket in front of me. We taxied to runway 22R and took off 20 minutes late at 5:05PM. As soon as the seatbelt sign went off the flight attendant (not friendly at all) said "We only have one business class meal onboard - who bought a business class ticket?" She didn't even apologise me and two other people who had been upgraded! So I got a sandwich and a muffin and flushed them down with a coke. Asked for a cockpit visit to which they said no. The flight on this little jet was very comfortable and smooth. Also the leather seats were excellent and you can't complain about the legroom (I had a bulkhead). After being airborne for 90 minutes, we touched down at Munich Franz Josef Strauss runway 26R.
A rather long taxi to the commuter stands followed and I grabbed my gate-checked carry-on and boarded the bus to the terminal.
At MUC I had the chance to use Lufthansa's Business lounges with my LH Silver card. I went to both of them but wasn't too impressed. Only drinks and light snacks (peanuts, candies, chocolates) were available. They even charged for the use of the internet. Anyway, I had some drinks in both lounges and made my way to the gate where LH730 was just about to start boarding. It was a pure chaos, 250 people trying to rush onboard at the same time. No pre-boarding whatsoever to First/Business/Gold/Silver/families with children. They didn't even board with row numbers or zones.
I made my way to seat 40A located towards the back of the aircraft. A Varig B767-300 in old colours was sitting right next to us and an ex-Rootsair A320 quite a distance away with Pegasus titles. The flight attendants gave us the usual pre-takeoff orange juice and headphones. At 8:52 PM we were pushed back, seven minutes late. We taxied for 15 minutes and entered runway 26L via Bravo 11 at 9:07PM to start our 50-second takeoff roll. After rotation we made a sharp left turn and the big bus was gaining altitude rather slowly. After 10 minutes we were flying at 12000 feet. At this point the seatbelt sign went off and menus were distributed. This was the first time I got a menu in Lufthansa economy class. That was a nice bonus. At this point the crew also served us drinks and a snack mix.
We were approaching our initial cruising altitude of 33000ft at this point and the dinner was served. I chose the Chinese style stir-fried breast of duck served with scallions and vegetable rice. The other choice was pasta. The duck was absolutely delicious and I also had a smoked salmon salad to go with it. Dessert was lemon crème, very tasty too. I had a white wine and some Diet Coke with my meal. After I finished it, the route map was screened again, our route had taken us near Salzburg, Linz and Bratislava so far , and we were heading towards Kiev and Odessa and eventually the Himalayas.
Shortly after this, the first movie was started, it was the Wedding Planner with Jennifer Lopez. The brand-new Airbus had lots of monitors over the aisles, so watching wasn't really a problem even without PTVs. I enjoyed the movie and had a couple of soft drinks while watching it. After the movie they showed the route map again, we had climbed up to FL370 and were cruising at 966 kilometres per hour. Seven hours were remaining of the flight.I decided to sleep a little at this point. The new seats were pretty comfortable with adjustable headrests and adequate legroom. There were three teenagers in row 41 and they just kept talking and climbing over their seats all the time. One of them tried to reach her cabin baggage in the overhead bin as the flight attendant assigned to my section of the plane noticed it. The girl was by now basically hanging from the overhead bin and was giggling all the time. My flight attendant noticed my Frequent Traveller baggage tag and asked whether that bag was hers. She said negative to which the F/A replied " You all sit down now and be quiet!" I almost started laughing…
After about two hours I woke up and was soon invited to the cockpit. We were 4 hours out of Chek Lap Kok and still flying over the Himalayas. We chatted about flying the A340 and how LH recruits its pilots and the first officer showed me the different functions of the screens etc. I also found out that Foxtrot Bravo had only flown 484 cycles so far. After maybe half an hour up there, I went back to my seat for breakfast. As the crew started the service, my flight attendant asked if I liked the cockpit and we chatted a bit. Pretty nice considering it was a 100% full flight. A hot breakfast was served with the usual omelette, some meat, bacon, mushrooms. It also included warm rolls, youghurt and a pastry. The breakfast was simply huge and pretty good too. As I took a look out of the window, I saw a plane flying right below us to the opposite direction. It was an A320 and was so close that I could read the word Dragonair on the fuselage!
At this point the captain informed us that we were looking at 1:30PM arrival at HKG but that we might have to hold for a while since HKG control was keeping bigger separations between landing aircraft due to thunderstorms in the area. It was a very rough descent through the clouds for us and we entered a holding pattern over the Pacific as expected. Maybe after 20 minutes we started our ILS approach for 07L and touched down smoothly at 1:56PM and taxied quickly to gate 49 where we stopped at 2:02PM, two minutes late. I didn't spot too many planes this time, only a couple of 747Fs of KE, NW, NH etc. and a SQ 777 taking off from 07L. next to us was a Cathay A330. As I deplaned, I grabbed a Business Class menu and comfort kit, both were new items to my collection. There were lots of representatives at the gate assisting connecting passengers etc. I took the train to immigration and baggage claim and later the bus to the city. Now it was time to stay four days in HK. And believe it or not but in such a huge city like Hong Kong, I saw TWICE the flight attendant serving me on LH730!
- SAS was way better than LH on short flights. Nice crews, meals and clean planes.
- LH longhaul flight on the A340 was way better than my earlier LH longhauls on the 747-200. Crew was ok but not nearly as friendly as SAS. I still rate LH longhaul above AF/AY/KL.
Ansett to Sydney and Qantas to Brisbane.
Hope you enjoyed,