Flight: Sterling 486 Edinburgh - Copenhagen
Date: 7th September 2006
Aircraft: 737-700 OY-MRC
I had been having a few issues with my car the few weeks before my flight, so was struggling for transport. As my flight was at a fiarly sensible time of day, I persuaded my father to give me a lift to the airport. We left home at 9am, allowing plenty of time to get to the airport, which took us just under 2 hours, arriving at 11am. The flight was not until 2pm, and checkin wasnt open at the time.
I grabbed a seat in the checkin area, and waited for the gate to open. Checkin was rather busy, Delta and Continental were both still checking in, but the biggest queues were coming from the locos. After waiting an hour, the board flashed up to say checkin had opened. As soon as it flashed up, I ran straight to the designated checkin desk, expecting to be first there. How rong I was. Just about the entire flight was already queued up for the flight! I heard another woman behind me remarking that everyone had got to the checkin rather fast. A few other people were getting uneasy, both displays above the checkin had crashed, one was blank and the other was displaying an error message about the time settings on the machine being wrong, instead of the usual airline name and destination.
I eventually made it to the front of the queue, and was assigned seat 13A, unlucky for some, I thought. I then proceeded up to security to see how the new restrictions were going down.
Security was a breeze, there were plenty of security points open, and so the queues were moving quickly.
Through security, and straight to the pub for a pint and something to eat. After some food I set about exploring the terminal. The new South East pier had just opened that morning, so I took a wander up the top end, and christened the toilets in there. I took a few snaps of the area, but ive not got them off my phone yet, and everyone else has posted theirs by now, so theres not much point posting them. There was a single BA flight using the area, but only about 2 passengers waiting at the gate.
Eventually it was flight time, and I saw my aircraft arrive from the SE pier, so started the long walk to the gate. Arrived at the gate and saw my aircraft OY-MRC sitting on stand, a 737-700. Pitty, I was hoping for an 800. I boarded, and started heading for my seat. I noticed immediately that the exit row was roughly around my row, so started to pray it was my row........
...... it was! Well, kind of. The exit doors were directly in line with row 12, so there was no 12A as a result. Unlucky for some? Definately not! As I approached my seat I noticed a couple already in the row, just about to sit down in my seat. I stopped them, and told them that was my seat. "Ya", replied the man in a foreign accent, then sat down in my seat. "Im in 13A" I said, "Ya, 13" he replied. "No, no, you are in 13B/C, I am in A", I said, pointing out which seat was which. He eventually stood up, not believing me, and looked at the overhead locker and the seat map. Realising he wasnt gonna get the window seat, he grudgingly let me in. I sat down in my extra legroom seat, and stretched my legs out as far as I could, still unable to touch the seat infront.
That was a bit of luck, I had checked the stirling website a few days before, they were asking for 30EUROs for an exit row, and 5Euros to guarantee a window seat! I got both for free!
The flight took off on time, and looked to be about 80% full. There were one or two empty seats, but not many of them. The flight seemed to be full of Danes, there were very few Scots onboard. Arrived at Copenhagen on time, and headed for baggage reclaim.
Our aircraft docked at the gate as far away from the baggage reclaim as it possibly could, leaving us with a hell of a long walk to reclaim! We had to walk the full length of the terminal, which seems like a good half mile or so! No travelators in sight! Eventually made my way to reclaim, and still had a few minutes wait for the bags!
Collected the bag, and headed out of the terminal. I stopped at the info desk, and asked for directions to the hotel. I as staying at the Holiday Airport Dan. I had just missed the shuttle bus, I was told. 40 minutes until the next one (despite them runnign every 30 minutes??), so the woman advised me to just walk it. "its only about 700 metres" she said. Out of the terminal, turn right, then cross the bridge over the motorway. Its just up that road.
Ok, I decided to justw alk it rather than wait. I followed her directions, and crossed the bridge. I was at the end of a housing estate, with no sign of a hotel anywhere. There was a crossroads ahead, so walked up to that to see if it was on this street. No sign of a hotel. There appeared to be a few shops further up, and some sort of square. Still no hotel. I looked behind me, and could just make out the terminal in the distance over the bridge. I had walked about 700metres. I started heading back towards the crossroads, thinking maybe it was down this road somewhere. As I approached I saw a woman out walking her dog. I decided to ask her for directions. As she got closer I realised she was a stunning young blonde, about 18 years old. I asked her for directions, and she said it wa sback up the road, right opposite the square I was just at! I thought about asking her to come with me and invite her up to the room, but the dog looked a bit hungry.
The hotel was directly opposite the square I was just standing at. The hotel is on the corner with a small road running down the side of it. The name of the hotel is only on this side, so to see it youve got to walk past it. If I had taken 3 more steps I might have seen the hotel! Oh well!
Checked in, and found my room. The hotel was really nice, but my room was a little strange. Directly opposite my room, about 10 metres away, there was a corridor, with a large window running along it, and more rooms. ANyone walking along this corridor was looking right into my room! I had to keep the curtains closed all the times to get some privacy!
Woke up at 8, and headed down for some breakfast, then checked out and took the shuttle bus to the terminal for flight #2
Flight: SAS 406 Copenhagen - Stockholm
Date: 8th September 2006
Aircraft: A321 OY-KBH
I was the only one on the shuttle bus, and noone got on for the return journey either! I made my way into the terminal, and found the SAS checkin desks. Quite a large queue, but plenty of desks available, so queues moved fast. I requested an exit row this time, and was told there was one seat left, an isle seat. I took that, seat 22C.
Through checkin, which was a lot easier this time, no need to remove shoes in Copenhagen! Through security and into the temrinal. As soon as I walked through security, you were greeted by a rather large window looking out over the apron. Parked right next to the window was an Air Greenland A330. It was so close its wings were almost touching the window. A great view!
Copenhagen Airport was voted best airport in the world recently, and I have to say I agree. It really is a great airport. Despite being split into 3 terminals, you are free to walk between them all, airside its all just one big terminal really. I walked from one end to the other, checking out the aircraft on stand as I did. Air Greenland A330, Delta 767, Thai 747 were some of the highlights.
The shopping facilities are great in CPH, and I soon past the time browsing the shops. I stopped a lovely top in the Boss shop, but decided to wait until my return flight to Edinburgh to buy it. It wa sboarding time, so headed to the pier where our flight was waiting. We were hoarded into a small holding room, and boarding commenced. Although in an exit row, the legroom wasnt quite as good as it could be. Some genious decided to put a wooden cupboard infront of seats 22B/C/D/E, which restricted legroom slightly. Your knees werent rubbing against it, but you couldnt quite stretch your legs out fully. Also there is no window in the exit row unlike the previous flight. There is a small hole in the door, about the size of your hand, but you need to lean forward, possibly even stand up from your seat to see out this. The seat in 22A/F had no window next to it, just a wall.
But you dont need one on an SAS A321...... you have nosecam! A friend had mentioned this to me when I had discovered it was an A321 I was flying. Shortly after the flight pushed back, the tv screens dropped from the roof, and gave the inflight safety demo. Once the demo was finished, nosecam came on. All SAS A321s have a small camera fitted to the nosewheel, which come son for takeoff and landing. We taxiid to the runway, following another aircraft, which we could see on the screen. We took off, and the landing gear was retracted, nosecam remained on, giving us a great view of the land below us as we climbed out of Denmark. Once we passed through the clouds, nosecam dissapeared to be replaced by a screen showing our flight progress.
We were then treated to 3 episodes of tom and gerry, with no sound, but you dont really need sound for T&G. Free tea and coffee was offered to passengers, but no snacks. As soon as this was complete, about 40 minutes after takeoff, it was time to land again! Nosecam reappeared as we descended, showing the land below us, then finally the nosegear came down. We were in clouds for most of the approach, but eventuallybroke cover shortly before landing. We could see the runway infront of us, just visible through the driving rain. Touch down at a rather wet Stockholm, and taxiid to the terminal.
The flight was 100% full, not a single empty seat in sight, so it was a rather busy baggage reclaim. I had chosen a rather early flight back on the sunday, so i was hoping to change this for a later flight giving me more time to explore stockholm on the sunday. I was meeting up with 2 airliners.net members, both of whom were leaving at 6pm on the sunday. I queued for a good 20 minutes at the SAS desk, only to be told there was no chance of changing, as my ticket price was so cheap. (£80 return). I knew that was going to happen!
Downstairs and onto the Arlanda Express train to the town centre. As I reached the station the train was already waiting, so I dived onbaord rather than pre-buying a ticket. Its an extra 50SEK if you buy onbaord, as I would later find out. (12SEK = £1). The ticket inspector came round, and aksed me how old I was. 23 I replied. He then charged me 150SEK and gave me a youth ticket.... in Sweden you are a youth until you are 25!
Arlanda airport is about 40km from the town centre, making it almost as bad as a ryanair airport. But the dedicated shuttle train takes just 20 minutes, so it isnt too bad. Exited the station, and headed across the road for some food. I had spotted what appeared to be some kind of Swedish fast food restaraunt. "McDonalds" they called it. Not too bad, ok if you want to grab a quick bite to eat. Pitty we dont have anything like that over here :P
After that it was over to the station again, and I grabbed a taxi to the hotel. I couldnt find a hotel in the town centre, so we had settled for a hotel in Alvik, 5km from the town centre. 170SEK for the taxi! The hotel was right across the road from an underground stop, which was just 20SEK each way to get to town. Trains ran until 3am, so getting around really wasnt a problem!
A very enjoyable time in Stockholm, a lovely city, but not very good for nightlife. We couldnt get into any of the clubs, "regulars only" was the general greeting. Not very welcoming :S We ended up in TGI Fridays, which was actually not bad for a night out, but was the only place that would let us in. On the first night we bumped into half the tartain army on the way back from the football. They were flying via Stockholm with SAS, and decided to stop there for the weekend. They reported a similar experience, on the thursday they had no bother getting in anywhere, but on friday noone wanted to know, so they had to settle for TGI Fridays.
Oh yea, drinks were VERY expensive. About 60SEK for a pint, 90SEK for a JD+Coke :O
Time for flight #3.
Flight: SAS 1421 Stockholm - Copenhagen
Date: 10th September 2006
Aircraft: MD81 OY-KGY
Awoke early on the Sunday, and headed into town on the underground to grab the train to the airport. I met with the other a.netters at the station, they werent flying until 6, but we were all going to go to the airport together, I was gonna check in, and they were gonna do some spotting. We pre-bought the tickets, just 100SEK this time.
20 minutes later we arrived at Arlanda, and checked in. I didnt bother asking for a window seat this time. It was just 2 hours until the flight, so I said goodbye to the others, and went through security. ARN airport was somewhat dissapointing. I was in terminal 5, the very end terminal for my flight. The area was a small cul-de-sac, with a few SAS planes visible, and little else. A malaysian 777 pulled up, which was about as exciting as it got.
Another packed flight, no seats visible again. The MD81 takeoff was one of the smoothest ive ever experienced. Throttle was applied very slowly, and you could bearly feel the plane accelerate. Eventually we took off, and climbed VERY slowly. On the previous flight we had climbed straight to 30,000ft, but this flight bearly seemed to go above 10,000! We remained low for the duration of the flight, which gave great views of the land below. Stockholm is a very strange city, often described as "the venice of the north". It is built on a series of Islands. All the terrain around the area was extremely flat, with lots of lakes, inlets and islands. Very nice views.
After about 40 minutes we were on the approach into CPH, which we bearly needed to descend for! Landed and soon were off the aircraft. Again we were faced with an extremely long walk to arrivals. When we reached the baggage belt, the sign above it estimated a 15 minute wait for baggage... there were another 2 flights using the same baggage belt before us.
Eventually the baggage arrived, so I excited and headed for the train station. Rather than a dedicated shuttle train, CPH is on the mainline, with trains running by every 10/15 minutes. just 35DKK (10DKK = £1), much cheaper than Arlanda. 10 minutes later we arrived in Copenhagen station. There is no Information Desk in the station, the nearest one is up the road. I walked up to this, only to find it was closed on a sunday! How useful! Thankfully the information centre is in the same building as a coffee shop, so you could still get inside. The info bit was roped off, and the girls in the coffee shop had no idea where the hotel was. I jumped over the rope and grabbed a map. A few minutes later I had found the hotel, just round the corner, behind the station.
I spent 4 days in Copenhagen, then it was time for the final flight...
Flight: Sterling 485 Copenhagen - Edinburgh
Date: 14th September 2006
Aircraft: 737-500 OY-APB
Time to come home, so woke up early and walked round to the station. I arrived just 5 mins before the train was due to leave, so quickly bought a ticket, and dived onto the train for the airport, just as it was about to leave. Sterling have a general checkin desk for all flights, so checkin was open, and the queue wasnt too bad. I requested an exit row again, but was told it would be 30Euros extra. I explained I had got the exit row for free on the way out, "you were lucky then" she replied, and gave me seat 2A.
Back through security, and I had another wander round to see what wa son stand today. Delta was there again, but the Air Greenland flight had gone. I returned to the Boss shop and bought the top I was after, then grabbed some food. Sterling was using the pier at the far end again, down by terminal 1, so I headed down there. This must be a special pierfor UK flights, as you need to clear passport control on this pier, which I never had to do on the other flights. I headed through and we were placed in a small holding room to wait for the flight. It was rather sunny, and the room had large windows, resulting in a rather hot room.
It was soon boarding time, and we got onboard and found our seats. I forgot to look round to see how busy the flight was, but the front exit row was occupied by a single person. There wa sone other guy in my row, who appeared to have rather sore legs, and immediately moved to the front row for the extra legroom. He was charged 30Euros for this privilage. In all the front few rows looked empty, I dont know about the rest of the plane. There were a few folk in the holding pen, so maybe a 50% load or higher at a guess.
We finished boaridng the aircraft rather early, but instea dof departing early, we sat on stand for about 10-15 minutes until out departure time was due. The passengers were onboard, but the fuel was not. Eventually we departed and started the 1hr 30 mins flight back to Edinburgh.
We eventually arrived in Edinburgh, another wet approach into an airport. Again clouds were very low, and views were limited until we were almost on the ground. Despite leaving from a gate the previous week when it was nice and sunny, this week we were dumped on stand 1B, and left with a quick dash through the rain into the tunnel.
Once again we were left with a long wait for baggage, so I took this oppertunity to change some money back into pounds.
Through customs and onto the airport bus (hurry up and build the rail link goddamit :P) to the station.
Rather than get my father to come and collect me, I decided just to get the train home. I arrived at waverly about 40 mins before the train, just enough time to grab some food, then board the train to lockerbie.
Boy do I regret taking the train!
About an hour after leaving, when we were just about to arrive at lockerbie, the train came to a halt. The driver called for the trian manager to come to the cab, a sure sign something was wrong. Sure enough, there was a problem. A few minutes later the driver came back on the tannoy, lightning had struck the line and taken out all the power in the area. No signals, no points. Nothing, all fried.
We were stuck there for about 2 hours while engineers looked at the problem. Finally someone seemed to cotton on to the fact that we were on a diesel train, and so we continued through the no-power zone and completed the remaining 5 miles to lockerbie!
1hr 30 minutes to fly from CPH-EDI, and yet 3 hours to make it about 80 miles from Edinburgh to Lockerbie? Typical!
Ive taken 4 flights, 4 train journeys and countless underground trips around europe without a single delay. I then take one train journey in the UK and we grind to a halt and get delayed 2 hours!
Oh well, a very enjoyable break. I thought that was going to be it for this years travels, but now it appears my sister wants me to go to Portugal to set up some computers in her appartments, shes paying for the flights. Like im going to say no! A friend is also trying to persuade me to go to Dublin for a weekend.
So I might make another 4 flights by the end of the year! Its all good
[Edited 2006-09-22 11:48:04]