It all started on monday: My boss asked me if I have to work on tuesday or friday. I had to work last tuesday, but I didn't have to work today (friday), so my boss asked me if I want to fly to AJR. It's the end of this year's AJR season, and Flycar offered us free tickets to fly to AJR and back because the last flights on this route have not many passengers booked. Of course I wanted to take that free flight, many of my colleagues did as well, so there were about 15 colleagues flying to AJR and back last tuesday, and about 15 colleagues and me flying today. Great, this was going to become a sort of company outing ("Betriebsausflug") for us
Sorry if this trip report won't be as detailed as my last trip reports, but with 15 colleagues around me enjoying our trip to Sweden, you won't see Ndebele writing down offblock and airborne times...
04 April 2003
Photo © Florian Kondziela
Photo © Paulo carvalho
I arrived at the airport at 07:45, went to the check-in counter, said hello to the colleagues behind the counters (who had to stay at STR today...), checked in and met some of my happier colleagues who checked in for AJR as well. Keeping in mind that the flight to AJR via HHN would take 4 hours at least, they had to smoke several cigarettes before boarding (I'm a non-smoker but what could I do?), then we went to the gate. There were only about 15 "real" passengers flying from STR, plus about 15 colleagues and me. Boarding started at 08:30, we were bussed to our aircraft D-ALTG which was parked on parking position 15 (I think). With only about 30 passengers, two colleagues and I decided to take seats 14DEF (exit row) although there were others seats printed on our boarding passes. Push-back started at 08:58 (two minutes ahaed of schedule) and we taxied to runway 07 where we took of a few minutes later.
Of course no beverage service on the short hop to HHN, about 20 minutes time to chat, to look out of the window and to discuss if our female colleague on 14F would be capable to open the emergency exit (there was a sign written next to the exit: "Weight of exit door: 15kg")
At about 09:30 we landed at HHN on runway 03 (?). Surprise, surprise, not a single aircraft at HHN at this time, not even a single Ryanair aircraft. We knew that about 100 additional passengers would enter at HHN, so we changed our seats to the originally designated seats on our boarding passes. A colleague and I were sitting on 12A and 12C, the others were sitting in rows 2, 3 and 4.
No re-fueling at HHN, boarding started just a few minutes after arriving at the parking position, indeed about 100 passengers boarded, most of them in red-and-black coats with the name of their company on it. But we were ahaed of schedule, so boarding took about 20 minutes, because boarding had started before scheduled boarding time to they had to wait for the last missing passengers at the gate. We saw a Ryanair B737-800 landing, a few minutes later another one, then another one.
Push-back started at about 10:30, we taxied to runway 03 (?) from where we took off.
No chance to change our seats and move further forwards, closer to our colleagues in the front rows, all seats in the front were occupied. So we did the best we could do, bought a headphone each (2.50€) and watched the inflight movie, "Catch me if you can!". The crew served breakfast, consisting of a roll, butter, "Schinkenwurst" (what a wurst...) (sorry I don't the English term), jam, cheese, vanilla yoghurt, curd cheese. For beverage I had a 7up, later a Pepsi. Great, LTU offers 7up and Pepsi instead of Sprite and Coke
Not much to see outside, it was cloudy during the whole flight to AJR, but according to the captain we flew over Hanover, Hamburg and Stockholm.
Just before landing, two colleagues decided to change their seats with us, now I was sitting on 2C for landing. We couldn't see anything but clouds until a minute before landing, then all we saw was forest and snow, AJR is situated far away from the next town, somewhere in the forest of North Sweden. We landed on runway 30 and taxied to the very small terminal. Again there was no other aircraft on the ground, only our A320, a very small apron and a very very small terminal. We said goodbye to the crew, but they knew they would see us again only a few minutes later.
No passport control, Sweden is member of Schengen I think, we went to the check-in counter, not a big choice which counter to take as there was only one counter, a small wooden sign said "Incheckning" which is obviously Swedish for Check-In. Only 40 passengers booked on AJR-HHN so we didn't care about our seats as we would take our seats of our choice anyway. We perferred to go outside the terminal building to have the last snowball fight of the year A German lady who waited for her flight back to HHN and saw our snowball fight asked us if we're on a school excursion Did we really look like pupils? Okay, we were all aged between 18 and 25 so we're still young, but not *that* young. And our supervisor was on this trip to weden as well, she's about 40 years old and the lady thought that this would probably be our teacher.
The AJR airport manager came along, he offered us to take a group photo of us, we all gave him our cameras and he made a photo of us with each camera. Very kind, unfortunately he didn't know how to handle my camera so I have to wait for a copy of a photo taken with a colleague's camera.
04 April 2003
Photo © Michael Nikel
Photo © Tobias Rose
Then the colleagues had their several last cigarettes before departure, we went to the gate, well in fact it was just a wooden door, looked like the door to an office, but a small sign on the door said "Gate" (yes you're right, there is only one gate). But please don't get me wrong, Arvidsjaur airport is small, but still it's a funny, clean and obviously quite new airport, the terminal looked really new-built. Very nice.
At the passport control we finally saw the typical kind of girl you expect to see when you travel to Sweden: long blond hair, blue eyes, smiling at us while she checked our passports. Great. Then we went to the gate, where boarding started a few minutes later. Total time between leaving the aircraft and boarding it again: About 45 minutes.
We all took our seats in rows 24, 25, 26 and 27. They had to de-ice before they started the engines at about 14:30. We entered the runway, rolled until the end of runway 12 where we made a 180° turn in order to take off from runway 30, no there are no taxyways at AJR. We were pressed into our seats, the runway is very short, and of course there were only 40 passengers so the A320 demonstrated all of its power
This time there was a much better view outside, no clouds over Sweden, wonder, one hour before there were so many clouds, but this time a great view over Sweden! So I decided not to watch the movie, they showed Sweet Home Alabama, we rather chatted, watched the great view over Sweden, somewhere over Stockholm there was another plane passing below us, I shouted "Look, an SAS MD-80!", of course nobody believed me that this was an SAS MD-80. And of course nobody believed me either when I opened the LTU inflight magazine and watched the photos of their fleet, the text said that the photo shows an A321 but I told my colleagues that it's an A320 on the photo. "Don't you think that LTU knows their own fleet better than you do?" they said. But believe me, it was an A320
Then they served the meal, a hot meal this time: Pasta with tomato sauce, a salad with vinegar dressing and a muffin. It tasted great. Once again I had a 7up.
Nothing more to tell about this flight, a great flight, great service, great crew, great colleagues (although they still don't believe me that I identified the SAS MD-80), the whole flight was really fun.
We started our descent nto HHN, during descent we obviously crossed the FRA descent, several planes crossed our way, and no I didn't tell my colleagues that I identified a LH CRJ, a LH B737-500 and a LH A319. We landed at HHN (runway 21?) at about 16:50, once again the only plane on the ground. No wait, there was an AN-24 parked, but I don't know what airline.
About 20 passengers left at HHN, we had to re-fuel this time but we could stay aboard, with only 20 passengers (i.e. 5 "real" passengers and our group) we were pushed back and taxied to runway 03(?). We saw a Ryanair B737-200 landing, I didn't know they still use the B737-200 to HHN. We took off at about 17:30, had a great view outside, saw the cities of Mainz, Wiesbaden and later Mannheim, and at about 18:10 we landed at STR, home again. We all rushed to our office, I had a look into the arrival screen while the others had a cigarette, then we went home. The end of a great excursion.
I want to take the chance to thank the tour operator for this great trip, and I'm looking forward to October when they will re-start their AJR flights. And of course I want to thank the crew of this flight, it was really fun and we had four great flights. And what's an excursion without great colleagues, of course the colleagues were great, too.
This is the end of my trip report, hope you enjoyed reading it, comments and questions are (as usually) welcome.