November 24, 2001
Scandinavian Airlines SK711
McDonnell Douglas MD-87
SE-DIC “Grane Viking”
Photo © Derek Pedley
I woke up at around 5:30 AM and waited a couple of minutes until my dad picked me up. We then drove to Helsinki-Vantaa airport and arrived there around 6 AM. I went to departure hall 3 and noticed that the SK check-in had quite a few travellers in the economy class line already. As I had an e-ticket, I went to the self-service machines and inserted my Lufthansa Silver card. In less than a minute I had my two boarding passes printed. What surprised me was that the machine asked no security questions whatsoever.
Security was a breeze, nothing had changed since September 11 in my opinion. As usual, my flight was departing from gate 26, with LH3030 to Frankfurt boarding at 26A. As the gate wasn’t open yet, I walked around a little bit and spotted some interesting aircraft like Tyrolean’s Star Alliance -coloured Fokker 70 and Crossair ERJ-145 (HB-JAR). Finnair’s 757-200 (OH-LBO) was next to my SAS plane at gate 25. Finnair MD11 (OH-LGA) landed from BKK as AY098 later.
Gate 26 was open now, and I was amongst the first pax to enter. SAS uses closed gate areas usually at HEL, they take your boarding pass as you enter the gate and as soon as you are ready to board, you just walk onboard. An MD-87 in old colours was waiting. After a couple of minutes there were roughly 50 people in the gate lounge and SK711 was ready for boarding. I was greeted by our purser at door 1L and made my way to seat 06A. Business class today was only three rows, and to my surprise there were no C-class pax at all! This MD-87 had the old M80 interiors, not the updated ones like SK M81/82 at least.
Boarding was completed at 7:20AM, and I was happy to have 06A and C all to myself. Legroom was very generous too. A brief safety demo in both English and Danish was given next, and we were ready for pushback after de-icing was completed at 7:27AM, two minutes behind schedule. As soon as we had vacated the gate, a Furura 737 (EC-HBZ) took it. Started our taxi towards runway 04 at 7:31. As usual, we passed numerous AY planes as well as three other SK MD80s and a BA A319.
Full thrust was applied at 7:40 and we steeply climbed towards the cruising altitude of 11500 meters. Three F/As were onboard and a breakfast consisting of a warm roll, a plate of ham/cheese/some liver stuff and orange juice was served. More rolls and coffee/tea were served later. Service was good and friendly as usual on SK.
Soon after the breakfast boxes were collected, we started our descent into Copenhagen Kastrup. A smooth touchdown followed at 7:56AM Danish time, 1h16 after we left the Finnish soil. While we were taxiing to our remote stand, I noticed a Korean Air Cargo B747F landing and Singapore Airlines A340 at gate (9V-SJN). Other aircraft that we passed included an Estonian Air B737-500 (ES-ABP) and Air Baltic Fokker 50 (YL-BAT), as well as countless SAS MD-80s and Dash 8-Q400s. At 8:05 AM we finally stopped at stand H-106, five minutes ahead of schedule. SE-DIX, also in old colours was next to us and looked worse than some of the Delta 757s or 727s. This one needs a new paintjob quickly. Next to DIX there was this brand new A321 (OY-KBK) looking awesome. Also noticed one of the A340s next to SAS hangars. We deplaned via the tail exit and took the bus to the terminal.
November 24, 2001
Scandinavian Airlines SK501
McDonnell Douglas MD-81
LN-RMM "Blenda Viking"
Photo © Jens Flunkert
I then rushed to the C-concourse to catch what was supposed to be a B767 to London Heathrow. Another MD80 waiting… I have been on way too many of these things. Obviously the pax load didn’t warrant a 763. At gate there was a team from some Danish university conducting a research about ear pain during flights.
They started boarding SK501 at 8:40AM, and I made my way to seat 22A. This machine was wearing the new scheme and had an updated interior. Legroom was very bad though. A glance out of my window confirmed that this aircraft was actually pretty old – I have never in my life seen a wing looking as terrible as this one. Maybe they should consider repainting the wings as well? We were absolutely packed, not one single empty seat, C-class was small though.
Next to us were a Greenlandair B757 (OY-GRL) and SAS MD80 (LN-RMT) on the other side. We were pushed back at 9 AM, five minutes behind schedule, and taxied past LN-RCL (a terrible looking 767… please repaint this one as well) to the de-icing stand. A 737NG (LN-RRY) was there and we were next in line. There was a de-icing truck on each side of the plane, and on my side there was also an instructor, as the lady doing the de-icing seemed to be very inexperienced in the de-icing field (max. 2 people in that funny little cabin).
A taxi to runway 04R followed, and we lifted off at 9:23. Climbed to FL310 for our short 1h20min hop to Heathrow. This flight had a very senior crew, but they were all very friendly. Another breakfast was served, and it was exactly the same as on the previous leg. Not long after I had finished my meal, we left our cruising altitude and started the approach into London’s Heathrow airport.
Weather in London was very cloudy, and we were about to land as I first saw the ground. LN-RMM touched down on 27R at 9:43 AM and I saw the usual mix of heavies at LHR. A special sight were three Concordes near the BA hangars. T3 gates had seven AA machines (A300/B767/B777) and quite a few UA B777s, including N777UA, N784UA, N785UA and N786UA. AC had numerous planes there too. I also saw two Virgin B747-200s and numerous 400s and Airbuses. Some more exotic visitors included a Ghana DC10, NZ 744 (ZK-NBT) and Biman Bangladesh A310 (S2-ADH). We reached our gate at 9:45AM and parked next to 9M-MPM or Malaysia Airlines. What a beauty she was…
I deplaned and went through passport control, a very nice lady just said “welcome to Britain” and that was it. Next stop was Virgin Atlantic ticket desk, where I reserved window seats for my January flights to MCO.
November 24, 2001
Photo © Ivica Ramljak - FRA Spotting
After I got to T2, I went to Lufthansa Business class check-in as an FTL-card holder, but was called over to the First -counter as there was one person ahead of me in the C-class line. A helpful agent checked me in for all my four LH flights, including the return, and explained me where the lounge is.
I had two hour to spend until my flight would be boarding, so went to the viewing deck for half an hour, but unfortunately the weather wasn’t good for photography. So after watching some interesting planes to land, including a Saudia MD11F, MEA A310 and BWIA L1011. I went to the Lufthansa Business lounge, which was pretty nice, and I could also see the 27R arrivals from there. Had lots of diet coke, some Baileys and some snacks before heading to gate 5 for boarding. Our A300 had been sitting there for at least 3 hours.
Boarding started shortly, and I was one of the first to board. I was greeted by a cute blonde at door 2L. Seat 23A was mine for my very first A300 flight and I was very excited. The big bus was very clean inside with comfortable all-leather seats and decent legroom. We were pushed back at 1 PM, hardly 1/3 full. A JAT 737 (YU-ANK) was next to us, and as we taxied towards 27L, I noticed three South African 747s near the hangars, a 742, 744 and another 744 with RR engines.
There wasn’t too much departing traffic, maybe five planes in front of us. Our A300 entered 27L after the Star Alliance-coloured bmi A320 (G-MIDX) took off. At 1:20 PM full thrust was applied and this powerful machine started moving. Climb was rather steep and we immediately turned left. This gave me a great view of Heathrow. As we were cruising over Ostend, a sandwich was served along with two full drink rounds. Flight attendants were very friendly and extremely attractive .
We continued our flight over Brussels, then directly to Frankfurt, and started our descent shortly after the second drink service. Weather at FRA was absolutely miserable, clouds at 400 ft and heavy rain. The first thing I saw on the ground was the Autobahn just before the beginning of the runway. The next sight was extremely sad, four B747-230Bs parked near the USAF planes. D-AIAW touched down at 3:26PM and taxied to remote stand V158, next to D-AIRD, an A321-100. I thanked the crew and boarded the bus to the terminal.
November 24, 2001
Photo © Konstantin von Wedelstaedt
We arrived at the B-concourse and my HAM flight was departing from A16, so I walked there via the tunnel. Went directly to the LH Business lounge at the end of lower A-concourse. It was very crowded and the selection of drinks/snacks wasn’t as good as at LHR. Time passed quickly though, and soon I went to A16 for boarding. Our aircraft was at a remote stand again. Some interesting planes at FRA included GA/KE/OZ/JL/CA/NH 744s, DL 763, RG M11 and a Turkmenistan 757.
This flight was an A310 when I booked, then switched to an A300. As our bus was approaching D-AIRD (the A321 next to my A300 from LHR) and I was a big Airbus behind it – I was like oh no, D-AIAW again! But as we got closer, I noticed that AIAW was gone and D-AIDN was using stand V158 now! Excellent, I got my first A310 ride after all! I boarded via the rear stairs and was very delighted to see the old intercontinental seats. The aircraft was in a strange configuration for a domestic leg – front half was all business class with LH’s old intercontinental C-seats and rest was Y-class.
I had seat 34A and noticed that economy class would be packed. The front half of the aircraft had a grand total of three passengers. I guess this aircraft used to fly to JFK/BOS/YUL/YYZ some years ago as it’s the only A310ET of LH still in operation. Legroom was decent again and the armrests had the old inflight entertainment controls. This aircraft and especially the seats reminded me of some great LH flights to Canada a couple of years ago.
Flight attendants on this flight were absolutely superb, very friendly and at least two of them looked like supermodels . At 5:10PM we started taxiing towards the runway, and a very powerful takeoff and climb took place at 5:20. It was one of the best takeoffs I have experienced. Our cruising altitude was 10700 meters and drinks were served. I had a beer and a diet coke.
After a smooth ride, we started our descent into HAM, where the weather was almost as bad as at FRA. We touched down at 6:05PM and I noticed two A340s at LH Technik, one LH and one that looked like SQ without any titles. A Finnair A319 landed and a Crossair RJ-100 (HB-IXN) was departing. We reached our gate at 6:10 and I noticed D-AISC (A321-200) next to us. T I thanked the great crew and made my way to the Airport Express –stop.
Return part will follow shortly. Comments are more than welcome as always!!