01 May 2003
Helsinki Vantaa (HEL/EFHK) – Copenhagen Kastrup (CPH/EKCH)
Scandinavian Airlines SK 713
McDonnell Douglas MD-81
SE-DIS ”Sigmund Viking”
Economy Class, Seat 6C
0840-0920 – On Time
Photo © Alexander Jonsson
Photo © Charles Falk
I woke up about an hour after my alarm went off and suddenly I was in a hurry to get to Helsinki airport. SAS Self Service refused to check me in and instructed me to contact check-in for a message. It turned out that SK713 was overbooked and the agent asked if I’d be willing to take LH to FRA instead of going via CPH and a EUR150 travel voucher. I agreed but unfortunately they had enough no shows so 713 went out with 1 open seat in C.
SAS lounge was pretty empty, had a sandwich and checked my e-mails and later inquired about the status of the overbooking situation. Pleasant lounge agent called the gate and suggested the gate agent an upgrade since I volunteered… This didn’t materialize and not surprisingly, the gate agent was the same prison matron who was upgrading non-status passengers on LH a few months earlier. I was happy with 6C though, there’s not much service in SAS euro C anyway nowadays.
Sigmund Viking was pushed back on time and headed to 22L for takeoff. Took off after a few Finnair machines and headed towards Denmark. Service started soon and what a disappointment that was. SK euro service has gone down the drain after April 1 cutbacks and the only one with worse European service now is KLM I believe. Instead of a decent breakfast box, we got a small box with an even smaller sandwich in a Scandinavian Direct wrapping and a small cup of yoghurt. Coffee and tea were offered in both classes despite some rumors that Y doesn’t get them anymore.
Landed after an uneventful hour and a half on 22R and taxied to a remote stand at the end of C-concourse. The bus took drove directly to arrivals C that is just outside the lounges. I had a Danish and something to drink in the Scandinavian Lounge before heading to the ticket desk to fix up my messed up return from YYZ. I was booked on the midnight redeye to Heathrow but AC pulled it due to low demand… SK call centre insisted that the only routing would be via FRA about 7 hours earlier but thankfully the first words that the CPH agent said were “I don’t understand why they booked you through Frankfurt”. She swapped me into the 8.15 pm AC service to LHR instead.
01 May 2003
Copenhagen Kastrup (CPH/EKCH) – Frankfurt/Main (FRA/EDDF)
Lufthansa LH 3053
Economy Class, Seat 14D
1025-1205 – On Time
Photo © Charles Falk
Photo © Michael Fritz
This flight went from A300 to A321 first and ended up being a half empty A320 at the end. Boarded on time and was greeted by cheerful young ladies at the door. I made my way to 14D, which is over the wing and a few rows behind the exit rows. Legroom was decent – these A320s beat the LH 737s by miles in terms of comfort. Captain announced an estimated flying time of 1h10min and that we’d be arriving at Frankfurt Main a few minutes early, traffic permitting.
We were pushed back on time and made our way to 22R for takeoff. It was our turn after a few SAS machines and we headed towards Hamburg and onto Frankfurt. Service started soon and the choice was a cheese or turkey sandwich. Took the turkey and it was rather big and tasty. All the flight attendants were excellent and made two rounds with the drink carts. One thing I don’t like about SAS is the lack of drinks on morning flights in particular – you get whatever happens to be in the box and coffee/tea. LH has always offered the full selection.
Soon we were on descent into Frankfurt and the crew was passing out surveys – I was happy to give them good marks for this flight. We flew past downtown Frankfurt and landed a few minutes early on 25R as expected. A long taxi to a remote near Terminal 2 followed and we came to a complete stop exactly 1205pm. I thanked the crew who did a great job on this particular flight and made my way down the stairs to the waiting Fraport bus.
01 May 2003
Frankfurt/Main (FRA/EDDF) – Toronto Lester B. Pearson International (YYZ/CYYZ)
Air Canada AC 873
Economy Class, Seat 21C
1305-1515 – On Time
Photo © Chris Sheldon
Photo © Chris Sheldon
Unfortunately there was no time for a stop at the Senator Lounge, so I went straight to B46. I made the mistake of approaching one of the gate agents at the desk and even asked for an exit row and a real boarding pass (SK prints seat info etc on the passenger coupon of the ATB ticket and since AC used to give you back the bigger part, in this case the flight coupon, I thought that I need a real boarding pass as well). “I have no exit rows and you have a boarding pass.” He was one of the rudest members of airline staff I’ve ever met – the last thing that struggling AC needs I think.
There was some confusion at the gate itself as to what part of the ticket/boarding pass they should keep, but they managed to give me the small stub back after a while. Boarding started soon, two guys were chatting at door 2L, none of them bothered to say a word or even look at the passengers boarding. 21C is just behind the stairs to the upper deck and next to the galleys. The 747 itself looked very tired inside, more like an old –200 series. Legroom was awful and as a bonus, there is a bulky footrest which is completely useless if you are over 6ft/180cm and in the “up” position it takes another two inches off your legroom.
Nobody bothered to welcome us onboard and soon the French-Canadian purser started his announcement “This is AC872 to Toronto (well it was 873…), Air Canada requires you to… prohibits you from this and that…” I thought I was in the military instead of being onboard a flight for a while. We pushed back a few minutes late and taxied to 25R for takeoff. The 747 was very heavy today and we took off after a 50-minute roll after a lot of noise and rattling.
Headphones were soon distributed and the audio system in my seat was half dead while the one in the middle seat was completely broken. Service started soon and most of the flight attendants were 60 years+ and totally disinterested in customer service. On top of that, the way the service was done was a total disgrace. They dropped pretzel bags and empty cans on the floor all the time and at some point, a set of plastic cutlery landed on my lap. As I handed it back, all the so-called service professional managed to say was “Thanks”. This would never ever happen on an Asian airline for example and if it did, they would apologize at least.
Lunch was a choice of chicken or pasta – I took the pasta and it was totally disgusting, pieces of tasteless macaroni in water. Alcoholic beverages are not free anymore, so no more Baileys for me to round it off. I tried to sleep after the meal, managed to do so but woke up every hour or so. Water was served a few times between the meals, if anybody knows how the prison matrons manage to keep their sour face and not say a word when patrolling the aisles with that water bottle, I’d be interested.
Finally, the carts were pulled out again and we were about 1h30min out of Toronto. The service consisted of a sandwich and a chocolate bar – somewhat decent actually. We landed at 3.05pm, followed by a long taxi to YYZ T1. As passengers were deplaning, flight attendants were too busy chatting again instead of thanking the passengers or anything. Immigration had quite long lines as there had been AC flights from Bermuda, Nassau and Mexico City arriving earlier. Quite a strange experience at the desk as well – not a single question asked instead of the usual 10-minute interview… Customs line out of the baggage claim area was ridiculously long but fortunately it didn’t take too long.
Hertz counters at the terminal were closed “due to current business situation”, so I made my way to the parking garage to pick up my rental car. I hit the 401 to Kingston a few minutes later and it was of course jam packed near Toronto around 4pm.
04 May 2003
Toronto Lester B. Pearson International (YYZ/CYYZ) – London Heathrow (LHR/EGLL)
Air Canada AC 848
Economy Class, Seat 31H (Exit Row)
2015-0800+1 – On Time
Photo © Sacha Cantor & Corey Karls
Photo © Sacha Cantor & Corey Karls
Check in at the Air Canada premium counters was quick and I was able to score the exit row for this flight. Took the elevator up to the Maple Leaf Lounge and cleared security there. Everything there was like last time I visited, good selection of drinks but only cheese and crackers to eat. Internet access is a dial-up which is ridiculously slow, but at least they have four computers.
Boarding for AC848 was at gate JJ and I was one of the last to board. Crew was more or less as disinterested as on the flight over – the standard AC transatlantic grandmas. 31H offers excellent legroom and seat width is decent too as they don’t have that awful PTV controller taking two inches out of the width like SAS does on the A330/340 exit rows.
We pushed back and took off on time, flight time was just over six hours. Service was pretty much identical to AC873, I took chicken for dinner and it was somewhat decent, brilliant by AC economy standards I guess. I passed out right after dinner and only woke up as we were on approach into Heathrow – the drinks at the MLL probably helped… I was still half asleep as we touched down.
We taxied past a lot of AA and UA triple sevens as well as a few Virgin jets to a gate in T3 and I was off to flight connections. I have never understood the idea of clearing Heathrow security when your connecting flight leaves from the same terminal…
05 May 2003
London Heathrow (LHR/EGLL) – Copenhagen Kastrup (CPH/EKCH)
Scandinavian Airlines SK 502
McDonnell Douglas MD-87
SE-DIF “Hjorulf Viking”
Economy Class, Seat 6C
0925-1200 – On Time
Photo © Patrick Lutz
Photo © MIKE MOORES
I went to the AC MLL / SK Business Lounge next – unfortunately the new one isn’t open yet. The old one is small, dark and food is totally lacking while drink selection was ok. The gate appeared on the screens around 9am and I made my way to gate 6 for boarding.
This flight was scheduled to be an A321 but an MD-87 that was far from full, was waiting. There is something strange about the SAS check-in system, if you check in well in advance, you always get something terrible like 24D in my case. Luckily, the agents had already taken care of it and handed me a new boarding pass with 6C printed on it.
Pushed back on time again and took off without delay after a Lufthansa 737-500. Service was the new downgraded one again, I didn’t bother taking the box but it seemed to contain a cup of yoghurt, a tub of orange juice and two slices of ham for your roll (served separately). Only coffee/tea served again, not even water.
We landed on CPH’s 22R pretty much on time and taxied to the C-concourse which was totally deserted. After a quick glance at my passport by a Danish officer, I was in the SAS Business Lounge, and on my way to a refreshing long shower. It seems like SAS never has any wait to get to the showers (unlike LH) but the standard of the showers is not comparable with that of the LH ones at FRA. This time the floor of the shower cabin was wet and not cleaned (had lots of someone’s hair there…). Last time they had an used razor and before that a used toothbrush. All of the abovementioned are unacceptable in a business class lounge shower in my opinion.
I then made my way upstairs to the Scandinavian Lounge and requested one of the resting rooms. These are great if you have a lengthy layover and have a bed, chair as well as a toilet and shower (should have known!!) as well as an alarm clock so you won’t miss your flight. I was much more refreshed after two hours of sleep and was ready for the bump game…
I went to C5 where the bus to the Dash-8 to Helsinki was boarding – they were overbooked by two and the agent happily took my seat and handed me a EUR 150 travel voucher. My new flight would be two hours later, SK1710 with seat 6F in Business Class. I headed back to the lounge to kill more time.
05 May 2003
Copenhagen Kastrup (CPH/EKCH) – Helsinki Vantaa (HEL/EFHK)
Scandinavian Airlines SK 1710
McDonnell Douglas MD-82
OY-KGT “Hake Viking”
Business Class, Seat 6F
1735-2005 – On Time
Photo © Kai-jens Meyer
Photo © Colin K. Work
This one was overbooked well, so of course I went for a little chat with the gate agent… She really appreciated my offer it seemed and I was hopeful for a few minutes. However, I boarded last as she had no-shows from a few connecting flights but she didn’t forget to mention again “how lovely it was from me to wait”. Purser was greeting passengers at the door and I recognized him from some earlier flight.
Doors were soon closed with every single seat taken, and unfortunately SAS uses the same 2-3 configuration in business as in economy. We were pushed back a few minutes late and the heavily loaded Douglas headed yet again to 22R for takeoff. No welcome drinks were offered in business. Took off after a lengthy roll and a powerful climb followed.
Service started soon and there were no hot towels or anything, just a cold meal handed out. The tray is considerably smaller than before the cutbacks and had just one plate with some cold macaroni and salad. There are real glasses and cutlery but desserts are gone as well. Despite the glasses, drinks were served in plastic cups, which makes no sense whatsoever. Overall service and food was same as in economy before the cutbacks if not even less. I can’t see why anybody would pay extra for SK euro C except because of flexible tickets.
We landed after another uneventful hour and a half on runway 15 and taxied to gate 27, next to a company B737-600 that I was originally supposed to take before AC pulled that YYZ-LHR service.