Blasting away to CPH on a SAS MD-82
At the end of November the Christmas holiday was quickly getting closer and I had nothing planned in the two weeks that I would be off. The last half year was my first year at university and I didn’t have any time to do trips so I really was desperate to go somewhere around Christmas.
Since I have always wanted to fly the MD-80 I looked at the prices for flights to Copenhagen with SAS and I found out that I could do a return to Copenhagen with Scandinavian and Norwegian for about €100.
Now I just had to find somebody who would like join me on this trip. My best friend isn’t into planes but he might like to visit Copenhagen (or any other city). I suggested a couple of cities to go to. Fares are crazy in the Christmas holiday so we didn’t have much choice. We could either go to Dublin, Berlin or Copenhagen. Of course I said that I would prefer to go to Copenhagen and at the end he gave in (he just wanted to get out of the Netherlands too and didn’t really mind where we would go). After we had a further look at what to do and where we could stay we got together to book our flights.
Booking the flight
I already got my Amex out of my wallet when we noticed that ticket prices had doubled the night before. Although we really really wanted to go we both agreed that a return flight for €200 was way too expensive. We were so disappointed!!!
When I got home from my friend’s place I checked the prices and noticed that if you would buy just one ticket (instead of two) at least one of the two tickets would cost 50 euro less! I called my friend immediately and convinced him we should book after all. The next ten minutes were very stressful. I booked the first ticket for just €70, the second did cost €120. We split the extra cost. Return would be with Norwegian which was €70 for both of us. Expensive but still. The most annoying thing was that ticket fares went down again after we booked the flight so we ended up spending too much.
Outbound flight with SAS was scheduled with an MD-80 and inbound with Norwegian was scheduled with a Boeing 737-800.
SAS MD-80 seat maps are hard to find on the internet. There are three maps on seatguru.com but it is unclear if the pictured seat maps are from a MD-81, MD-82 or MD-87. My knowledge of the MD-80 isn’t very good but I think there must be some big differences between the short MD-87 and long MD-82. This made selecting a good seat very difficult. In addition to this problem, I also had no clue what MD-80 aircraft we would be flying to Copenhagen. I went to the SAS booking desk at Schiphol to ask and they could only tell me it was scheduled to be operated with a MD-80. Not which type of Mad Dog. A member of the Airport information desk had a look in their system and told me that the flight was scheduled to be operated with a MD-81. However a member of Scramble (Dutch spotting site) informed me that it was scheduled with a CRJ-900.
When check in started we immediately checked ourselves in. Online check in starts 22 hours prior to departure with Scandinavian Airlines. I wanted a seat in the back of the aircraft but not too far backwards because then the engines may block the view (according to SeatGuru rows 32 and 33 have a limited view outside the window). Seat 26A and 26C (there are no B seats in a SAS’ MD-80) were still available so we decided to have those two seats. Of course, I would have the window seat.
To the airport
December 28 was the day of our departure. SK552 to Copenhagen would start boarding at 10 o’clock in the morning which meant we had to be at the airport at around 8:15 and leave our hometown at eightish. My dad was kind enough to drive us to the airport. We picked up my friend and drove to the airport. I noticed that they were using the Kaagbaan for arrival that day, so that we’d probably depart from either the Zwanenburgbaan or the Polderbaan (in both situations a departure to the north). At 8:15 my dad dropped us of at departure hall 1 and our trip had then officially started!
1. Entrance to departure hall 1
Since Denmark does not have the Euro we had to get some Danish Krones for our city trip. Amsterdam Schiphol airport has got loads of places where you can exchange money. We went to Travelex as I don’t have to pay transaction charges there.
Before going thru customs I once again checked if our flight was still operated with a Mad Dog. “M82, is that a McDonnell Douglas 82?” the lady from airport information asked. YES, no aircraft change yet, like last time with KLM when I ended up in a F70 i.s.o. a F50. My bud didn’t know what I was bothered about: “As long as we get there safe and on time”. I tried to convince him that the MD-80 really is THE aircraft to fly in; no succes.
2. Departure hall 1
After a long walk back to departure hall 1 we were ready to go thru security. There was a short queue that morning. It took us five minutes at the most to get to airside. Then we got ourselves two trolleys and walked around and had a look in the shops for a short while. The shops at Schiphol are overpriced and boring in my opinion. They all seem to sell the same things. Mostly cigarettes, chocolate and liquor.
3. The shopping area on airside
Soon we got bored and went to our gate: C7. On our way to our gate we passed the KLM Retrojet and I could see an Edelweiss A320, operating for Swiss. The area around gate C7 wasn’t very busy. We took a seat near the window where I had a look over the tarmac. At around 9:45 LN-RML taxied by. This would be the aircraft which would take us to Copenhagen. This would be my first ever Mad Dog flight!
4. LN-RML arriving at gate C7 after an inbound flight from Copenhagen
Airline: Scandinavian Airlines
Aircraft: McDonnell Douglas 82
Registration number: LN-RML
Aircraft name: Aud Viking
First flight: 23 February 1991
Delivery to Scandinavian: 15 March 1991
Previously in service with: SAS is first operator of this aircraft
Photo © Stefan Sonnenberg
Photo © Bartosz Bujak
Photo © Stefan Sonnenberg
Photo © George Polfliet
5. Our flight had a code share with Adria and Thai
At 10:10 (ten minutes after boarding time) the announcement was made that SAS flight 552 to Copenhagen was now ready for boarding. They only announced this in English, not in Danish or Dutch. Since the area had got quite busy the last ten minutes, soon a line was formed at the gate. There were two staff members present who checked our passport and boarding pass. Everything went easy and smooth.
6. Ain’t she a beauty?!!!
After a short walk in the gateway we were friendly welcomed by two cabin crew members. There was no queue in front of the aircraft. My friend and myself turned onto the aisle and walked a long way into the cabin. MD-82s are really long and narrow and you’ll notice that when you step aboard. Seat 26A had a window with a perfect view over the wing. Unfortunately I couldn’t see the engine from my seat because the engine was further back.
7. This message is displayed next to the front door. Something I personally have not seen/noticed before
The morning flight to Copenhagen was nearly completely full that day. I would say a load factor approaching 95%. Still, it didn’t feel as if I was a sardine in a tin.
Passengers were requested to stow their luggage in the overhead compartment and then leave the aisle to let other passengers get thru.
8. Next to us was an Air France A320
After approximately 15 minutes boarding had completed and the plane was nearly completely full. We were yet again welcomed onboard. Then the safety demonstration was performed by the cabin crew. First in Danish then in English. The First officer also introduced himself and informed us about today’s flying time and that we would taxi to the most west runway for takeoff (which is known as the “Polderbaan”).
9. While boarding
Meanwhile we were pushed back from the gate and our captain turned on the engines. The sound was in one word amazing! Those engine roar when taxiing. It sounds like ahumahumahum… Just amazing! I thought the MD-80 would sound much like the Fokker 70 but it obviously doesn’t. We taxied south of the terminal buildings, all the way past the Zwanenburgbaan runway, over de Hoofdvaart until we finally reached the Polderbaan runway.
10. After push back.
11. Flaps were soon extended. In the background you can see a Georgian, two BMI’s and a Bulgarian at the stand.
12. Crossing the A4 motorway. It is very impressive to see a plane taxiing by just meters in front/above you when you are driving on the motorway.
13. As recommended by the cabin crew I had a look at the safety card before takeoff
14. This is one of the most popular spotting places around Amsterdam. The canal is called the Hoofdvaart and I live virtually next to this canal.
First we stopped on the runway, then the engines began roaring, breaks were released and we were pushed back in our seats. We soon passed the official spotting location and then we were airborn. It was a very fast and steep rotation. The G-forces were stunning. Never experienced anything like it before. We ascended smoothly and turned a little to the right heading towards Groningen.
15. The sound when engine are steady is nice but when at take off they are really blasting away. Pictured here is the official spotting place.
16. Mad Dogs are known for their powerful takeoffs. I was all excited and not at all disappointed.
17. Shortly after takeoff we could see the city of Haarlem in the distance as well as the North Sea. We were so lucky with the weather
18. Flaps were retracted fairly late in my opinion.
19. After about 5 minutes we made a short right hand turn. Those MD’s really cut through the air; very stable
Soon after takeoff the fasten seatbelt signs were turned off and I got out of my seat to have a look around in the cabin. First I asked one of the crew members if it was a problem to take some photos of the cabin. He replied that it wasn’t a problem at all so I took tons of photos.
20. The overhead panel with a reading light and the a/c
The cabin looked very bright and clean for a nearly 19 year old plane. What I noticed was that the overhead panels with the signs “Fasten your seatbelt” and “No smoking” are totally different from those onboard Airbus and Boeing airplanes. Funny is that the galley is not located in the rear of the aircraft but around the rear exit. There are two rows of seats behind the galley on the left hand side of the MD-82 while on the right there is no galley. As mentioned on SeatGuru the last two rows indeed have a very limited view out of the window. The “good” thing about those two rows for us, aviation enthusiasts, is the sound. The only thing you can hear up front is the wind while in the lavatories in the back of the plane the floor trembled and it was extremely noisy!
21. Nearly all seats were occupied on that days flight.
Scandinavian does not offer free drinks and snacks in economy class. However you have the opportunity to buy them on board. There is a menu inside the in-flight-magazine. Since we did not have breakfast yet, we decided to take the special deal with a muffin and a tea/coffee for €5. I thought that was expensive but the muffin we got was huge and tasted fine. Most passengers didn’t buy anything on this flight.
22. On this picture it looks like my cup of tea is very small but in fact the muffin was very big.
When we were roughly halfway, the first officer had an update about altitude, heading etc. We were at an altitude of just under 10 kilometers and had passed the city of Groningen. Just before arrival the first officer came back again over the intercom with arrival and weather information.
We flew over sea and the “mainland” of Denmark. Not much to be seen outside so I had a look in the in-flight-magazine. I found a page with information about what to do in Copenhagen during Christmas (very useful to us) and a page with SAS’ fleet information.
23. SAS’ fleet information. The fuel consumption is a nice add
Although it felt I had plenty of leg room, the legroom was actually very limited. I didn’t notice this until I had to reach down to my camera bag which was underneath the seat in front of me. I couldn’t get to my camera without twisting my head and hitting it against the row of seats in front of me. I have not experienced this before (I’m not very tall). Since row 26 is the last row before the galley our seats could not be reclined very much.
25. Limited legroom onboard this MD-82. Note the cup holder on the picture.
After almost one hour of flying I noticed that we were already descending. We flew past Copenhagen on the right and descended to a fairly low altitude. We made some sharp turns to the left over sea before holding short of what I think was runway 22L. At this time the flaps were extended. And again.. . And yet again. At the time we touched down on the runway the flaps were huge! Touchdown was gentile and the captain made our MD-80 slow down quickly before leaving the runway.
26. Descending somewhere over Denmark
27. The more turns the better!
28.I’ve seen quite a few photos like this but never seen this effect in real life until now.
29. Short finals
30. Airport in sight
31. Slowly flying over the runway with flaps fully extended. You gotta love those flaps!
32. And touchdown
33. It was a short taxi to the gate. Especially when you compare it to the taxi time at AMS
“Welcome to Copenhagen ladies and gentlemen” we heard and the usual message that “we had to remain seated until the captain has turned off the seatbelt sign” (I can dream this sentence). Soon we arrived at the gate and we were free to leave our seats and get our personally belongings. However it still took nearly a full minute until the engines were shut down.
34. Once the passengers on the row next to us left I was able to take a photo of the seats.
I hoped we would be able to exit the plane on the rear. Just because it is the only aircraft where it is possible to leave the plane at the end of the aisle. Unfortunately deboarding went just as in any other plane. The good thing about leaving the plane at the front is that you pass the cockpit. Of course I could not resist to ask if I could have a short gaze at the flight deck. The stewardess checked with the captain I was allowed to enter the cockpit.
For the first 10 seconds I was speechless. “Now this is a real flight deck” was the first thing I said. Amazing to see how those MD-80s differ from the regular Airbus and Boeing narrow bodies. I had a chat with the captain who told me that all MD-80s from SAS have the same cockpit and when you are allowed to fly one MD-80, you may fly all of them. No matter what series it is. Then I left the cockpit and said goodbye to the cabin crew and entered the terminal building.
35. Thanks very much to the crew for showing me in the cockpit
It was a fairly long walk to the railway station of the airport. Luckily everything is well signed (even though we got “lost” once). After we bought a train ticket we were up to the city center. Travel time to Central station is just 15 minutes.
36. Terminal building of CPH
Copenhagen is a beautiful city. Everything is within walking distance from each other. We stayed in the center for three days and enjoyed ourselves a lot. We walked the city tour past Amalienborg Palace, the Little Mermaid as well as the impressive city hall, spend a full day in the amusement park “Tivoli” which is located directly next to central railway station and enjoyed traditional Danish smørrebrød. And all the people were so friendly!!
Copenhagen is not a particular cheap city but it’s more than worth a visit in my opinion. Here are some photos.
37. Copenhagen is just like Amsterdam in some ways: lots of canals and lots of bikes.
38. The main shopping street in the city is pictured here. It’s called Strøget
39. The city center has quite a lot of impressive squares.
40. Nyhavn is one of the most famous landmarks of the capitol city of Denmark
41. Smørrebrød (open sandwich) is a traditional Danish “dish”. I had mine with potatoes and bacon. Most are served with fish.
42. Be sure to visit one of the many parks in Copenhagen.
43. The street in which our hotel was situated.
The MD-80 is a fantastic airplane. I would definately recommend a aviation enthusiast to try and fly in one as they are getting more rare by the day. SAS has recently sold 18 of them to Allegiant. Such a shame to see these noisy bird go. SAS’ service isn’t outstanding but it’s good enough. I enjoyed some cheerful cabin crew members and I felt very comfortable on board. Check SAS’ website and try to get yourself a good deal.
When you fly to Copenhagen be sure to go into the center. One day would be enough to get a good impression but you could easily spend a couple of days. Have fun. Hopefully you’ll enjoy the city as much as we did.
Former flight reviews:
Goodbye to KLM’s F50, or not?
Great flight with Baboo
Planned flight reviews: