a couple of months ago, a friend of me came with the idea to do a one-day visit to CPH to do some photography around the airport, and to catch some 'Scandinavian' aircraft on picture. We looked on several websites for reasonable schedules and fares, and out of the three carriers we were watching (HV,AB,NB), NB (Sterling European) came with the best fare and schedule. We booked the return for just over EUR 60.00 incl. all taxes. Not bad at all.
But, 1½ month ago, we got an e-mail from NB, asking us to accept a schedule change for our return flight CPH-AMS. Original departure ex CPH was at 7.25pm, but now changed into a departure of 4.45pm Anyway, what should we do about it. We couldn't refuse... we had to fly back to AMS anyway, and other carriers were offering only expensive fares at that moment. So we accepted and got some hours less time to spend in Denmark.
I noticed in the reservation system of my company, that day 1 and day 5 morning flights were operated by MD82 equipment, a type which is not in use with NB actually. This type is only operating on the AMS flight from June 9 until June 16, so I was quite excited what to expect. After very good recent experiences on twice a MD-83 (Spanair BIO-BCN / Nordic Leisure TXL-AMS), it appears that I will get another ride on a Mad Dog
The day started badly for me as I was feeling a little ill after a BBQ and some beer the day before during the soccer game Netherlands-Serbia Montenegro. But I felt well enough to travel, and decided to go on with the trip. Afterwards, not the best decision for me... but not changable anymore
June 12, 2006
Flight: NB572 AMS-CPH
Aircraft: TF-JXB McDonnell Douglas MD-82
Seat: 7A Economy Class
STD: 08:55 ATD: 09:54
STA: 10:10 ATA: 11:04
Photo © Stefan Sjögren - Stockholm Arlanda Photography
We used the automatic checkin machines of ground hander Menzies Aviation at AMS terminal 3, checkin desks 30. The machines were available without waiting time, and all was done within 1 minute. We changed seats, to get both a lefthand windowseat behind eachother. We passed security for a walk to gate B13, from where our flight was departing. Firstly we stopped for a cup of tea in one of the 'panorama-restaurants'. Here I got another moment of being ill, and I think the cleaners had a lot of work to get the floor blinking again *sorry*. We walked down to gate B13, and after some waiting, the flight said 'delayed' on the screens. Some time later, we even got a gate change further down the gate to B17. Preboarding was done for the whole group of passengers, a total of 56. Not a very great load for a flight to CPH. I think KLM is doing better here!
Then an all white painted MD-82 showed up at our gate, being TF-JXB, a machine originally being build as MD-81, but converted to -82 for SK. Later flown for JetX, then Iceland Express, and now JetX again, and leased out to NB. Boarding was done quickly because they collected all boardingpasses way in advance, and loadsheet was also ready on time. After boarding and fueling at the same moment, doors were closed at 09:42am. After some waiting due traffic restrictions on the runway, were got our pushback and startup for a runway 24 departure.
Takeoff was powerfull in this long tube, very quiet up front in the cabin. But it was rather bumpy and for the first time in my life I had to use the disposal bag were it is meant for . I thought I was feeling better, but eventually my conditions were getting worse. No good, and I didn't give a lot of attention to the rest of this flight. I know we passed some nice scenery of the Dutch 'Wadden-Islands' before decending into CPH. The crew didn't offer any water to me. Of course, I was able to buy a bottle for EUR 4.00, but I didn't like their prices. I think Sterling's inflight catering product is a little overpriced when I compare it to other LCC's. Before landing, we got a sharp righthand turn over the sea into CPH runway 22L. Landing was smooth and without further noticable things, we parked on remote stand H100. We were allowed to leave the aircraft using the rear stairs, which is a nice experience. 1 bus was waiting to bring us to Terminal 3 arrivals.
The day was just terrible for me. I didn't get any food into my stomach, as all got out again and I was feeling too bad to take some pictures. This made me decide to stay in the terminal building, were I was able to get fresh water, and the use of toilets. My friend was going to a runway spot for a few hours. Temperatures outside reached up to 32°C! A Very hot day in Denmark...
The return flight gave me a little better impression about Sterling, but now I didn't get a window seat. As we were checked in on row 4 (1 seat blocked) I took the aisle seat (to be sure to get out fast if neccesary )
Flight: NB573 CPH-AMS
Aircraft: OY-APB Boeing 737-500
Seat: 4D Economy Class
STD: 16:45 ATD: 17:04
STA: 18:00 ATA: 18:26
Photo © Fredrik Granberg
After some time relaxing in CPH 'Quite Room', fitted with some relax-chairs, and no disturbance of cellphones etc., we went to the mainfloor of Terminal 2 again to look onto the screens and to get some info of our departure gate. We got gate A21. When we arrived there, the screens were showing us a 15 minutes delay. So, again no on-time departure? Hmm... We did pre-boarding, and found out that also this flight was not very well loaded. Our aircraft arrived and we saw it was a -500 type. My friend was really hoping to jump onto a -700, a type he has never flown on before, but luck was not with him.
Boarding was ready at 16:55, and with 19 minutes delay we departurd for AMS. The seats were of grey fabric, and seatpitch was not really good. The seats looked very wornout, and dirty. Also the walls, overhead bins etc, looked a little bit outdated and in bad shape. Safety demo was done in both English and Danish language, but only shown by the crew together with the Danish language. During English, nobody was showing us the use of the lifevest and oxygen masks :S No good Sterling! I thought the very senior purser was doing better
With a load of only 37 (!) passengers, we got airborne again quickly, from runway 22R. The route was almost the same, flying over the Dutch provinces of Groningen, Friesland, passing 'IJsselmeer' down to Hoorn, and then decending for a runway 18R arrival. Nothing special about this flight either. I listened to my MP3 player for some time until one of the crew members asked me to turn this electronic equipment off . I didn't know this was causing dangerous situations for aircrafts? Maybe, it is only dangerous to Sterling aircraft ?!
Ok, we arrived a little behind schedule, and to be true, I was happy to be home again. Sterling was offering some great fares, and of course I'll fly them again to get a better visit to CPH. But, the ontime performance on my 2 flights was no good, they had to bring in a substitute aircraft which was also delayed. The seatpitch is no good, but fair for shorter European routes. Although, Sterling should re-fit the cabin of the B737-500's, they look very outdated and heavily used/worn. Food/Beverages are a little overpriced compared to some other airlines. Also of notice were the very low passengerloads on both flights. The MD82 offered 162 seats, only 56 were occupied! The returnflight on the smaller 737 with 37 pax wasn't doing better.
I hope it gives a little impressions about NB, and please understand I was not able to take any pictures this day of the flights. When I arrived home, I took a shower and got a very good sleep. At the time of writing, I'm feeling much better again, so let's say: just bad timing of my body
Questios and other replies are more then welcome!