Planes, Ice and the Midnight sun; Greenland! Part one: Getting there
In late January, I started thinking about my summer vacation. I’d been to the USA 8 times now, and while I love it there, I wanted to do something different this year. I thought it be nice to head East for a change, and started looking into Japan as my 2011 summer destination. In a random conversation on the anet chat, someone mentioned Greenland. I’d been to Iceland once before, and have always liked the arctic stuff. Curiously I started looking into Greenland trips, a place I had always wanted to see. I found a lot of pricey organized tours by Danish travel agents, which weren’t really to my liking. I found out however that I could very easily just make my own program, see more cities, log more flights, and actually save some money by not using a travel agent!
From Amsterdam, there are two options to get to Greenland. Either head to KEF on FI, and change planes to either GL to Nuuk, or NY to another Greenlandic destination, or to CPH and onwards on GL to SFJ. I had already tried FI and NY in the past and was more eager to get on the GL 330, and decided to fly from CPH instead. After some research I decided to start in Ilulissat, onwards to Nuuk, and end in Kangerlussuaq.
Domestic travel in Greenland is either by plane or by boat, as there are no roads between cities. And naturally, I wasn’t going by boat. GL operates 5 of the rare DHC-7 “Dash 7”s. I just had to get a few flights on those! However GL has started to replace the aging DH7 by the DHC-8-200Q, a type which I also hadn’t logged. A lot of domestic flights in Greenland have a stopover in another city, and naturally I wasn’t going to fly any non-stop flights. You could basically make it as crazy as you want, GL’s website allows you to sometimes fly via 4 stops. This is however rather pricey and after a lot of consideration I booked the following legs. I chose KLM to CPH as they were the cheapest (I had some vouchers left);
AMS-CPH (KL 733)
CPH-SFJ (GL 332)
SFJ-JEG-JAV (GL DH7)
JAV-JHS-GOH (GL DH2)
GOH-JSU-SFJ (GL DH7)
SFJ-CPH (GL 332)
A total of 10 flights planned, including 4 on the DH7! Not bad I thought. GL leaves CPH early in the morning, and so I decided to stay the night in CPH. I wanted to arrive in CPH in the afternoon, to do some sightseeing there as well. The mosquito season in Greenland starts in July, and as I wanted to avoid that I decided to go in early June. All the hotels still had availability. After a long couple of months, the time was finally there, and I was finally heading for Greenland! The planned 733 had unfortunately changed to a 738, something I had anticipated. On the 6th of June my dad dropped me off at AMS for my KLM flight. After exchanging some euro’s to Danish Kroners (the DKK still doesn’t make sense to me after 2 weeks) I headed to the C concourse, where most of KL’s Schengen flights depart. A nice blue 738 was waiting for me, and I took a seat with some nice ramp views.
PH-BXU being prepped
A rare visitor in the background
And a 767 meeting!
A big relief to see my suitcase being loaded, though I would have been interested in KLMs efforts to deliver my suitcase to JAV.
Using the only glass jetbridge at AMS
Boarding process was smooth, as Schiphol Airport does give KLM 2 boarding pass scanners at each gate (something a lot of other airlines can only hope for) I found out that it was a full flight. I had an assigned seat though so no hurry for me to board. There were several crew members throughout the cabin who all greeted me and seemed friendly.
AMS-CPH / 6-6-11
KL1129 operated by KLM
Boeing 737-8BK (12th time on type)
Photo © Leonard Ortuso
An ontime pushback, and only a short taxi to the “kaagbaan”
Climb out over Hoofddorp
And the “polderbaan”
I was slightly disappointed by the legroom, the seats itself were comfy though
Only the choice of sweet or savory cookies. KLM, I wish you would serve sandwiches more often!
You have to love the KL 738 winglets though
After a short and uneventful cruise we descended into CPH
Approach and landing video;
Loved to see some SK heavies!
Welcome to Copenhagen
I had been to CPH twice before, but never in Terminal A. It was a pleasure being here again and I have to say I really love the airport. Unfortunately it took well over half an hour for the bags to arrive on the baggage belt. Afterwards I took the train to Orestad, and walked to the Cabinn Metro hotel. The hotel was reasonably affordable and is only a 5-10 minute train ride from the airport. After dropping off my stuff I headed back to the train station and met with friend and fellow anetter “CamiloA380” for some sightseeing in CPH. Last time I was here the mermaid was in a museum and so I wanted to see it this time.
In the evening Camilo and I said goodbye and I headed back to the hotel. It was a rather small, but functional and clean room. I couldn’t get to sleep however, and I had a long day the next morning!
My GL flight to SFJ would leave at 9 in the morning, and I wanted to get there at 7 latest to check in my bag. Thankfully the Cabinn Metro hotel offers breakfast from 5 in the morning, and I left the hotel a quarter past 6 to head to the airport. I wanted to get the 0627 train, but when I got to the station at 0620 a delayed earlier train showed up, so I got to CPH well in time.
GL check in, like most airlines, is located in Terminal 2. I think T3 is only for SAS and friends, and T1 for the domestic flights. There was a small ticket office of GL and 3 check in desks open, with no line whatsoever. My baggage was checked in all the way through to JAV and the friendly lady handed me the boarding cards. GL allows you to select seats on the 330 flights and so I had reserved my seats months ago. In all the check in process took less than 1 minute. There was hardly a line at security and I made it airside around 7 o clock. GL’s sole 332 usually spends the night at CPH at a remote spot, and I took a seat at the end of the B concourse to get some pictures of the plane being towed to the gate. I spent the time doing some reading and listening to the concert of JT8 engines everywhere around me. Sure enough, after a while I spotted a large red bus being towed!
She looks great!
I just love this livery
At the gate
Nice line up of tails
There was an announcement that the jetbridge was malfunctioning which would result in a small boarding delay. Nobody seemed to really care. About 20 minutes prior to departure we were allowed to board. I was very excited to fly Air Greenland! I was greeted at the door by 2 friendly crew members and made my way through a large business class section. The flight looked indeed full, but there wasn’t much hand luggage and everyone got seated quickly. The flight time would be little over 4 hours.
CPH-SFJ / 7-6-11
GL782 operated by Air Greenland
A330-223 (3rd time on type)
Photo © Stefan Sonnenberg
View from my seat
Legroom wasn’t bad, but there was a large IFE box underneath the seat
We pushed back a couple of minutes later and taxied to the active. Greenland here I come! Take off was accompanied by the roaring sound of the PW4186A
Take off video
Gotta love the 330 wings
The cabin crew made an announcement in Greenlandic, Danish and English, welcoming us on board and informing us about the service. All the seats in economy have PTVs but there is no AVOD. Just a selection of films and music on various channels, and more importantly, a moving map!
Followed by a warm meal. It tasted okay. The cabin crew was very friendly and attentive.
The coffee wasn’t bad for airline standards, and the chocolate cake was very good. Afterwards I was offered a mini Toblerone bar. The flight took us over the Northern part of Iceland and thankfully I got some views of the mountains
Its only a short hop from Iceland to Greenland and very soon I saw icebergs on the sea below, followed by the shoreline of Greenland. Overflying Greenland is always my favorite part of TATL trips, and I was excited to actually go there this time!
After a short while the decent into SFJ commenced, I got some amazing views of the inland ice pack below
Beautiful ice formations
The fjords, generally speaking these are snow free in the summer
The approach was amazing, and I spotted the airport below the wing
The approach and landing video shows how there’s almost a huge righthand turn before landing
It was a very very smooth landing, and as there’s no ILS this was some good piloting. A short taxi to the stand, and I spotted some GL equipment on the way there. Disembarking was done by front and rear stairs. It was really cool to use the stairs for such a big plane for a change. And it made for some interesting pictures!
Pretty little DH7
The mighty PW4000
DH2’s, I’d later fly on the left one
We climbed a stairs into a small but modern terminal, no passport control and I didn’t have to claim my bag. My next flight wasn’t for another 2 hours so I went to the observation terrace. GL shows flight into with registrations of aircraft so you know which plane to walk to on the ramp. My next flight would be on OY-CBT. The weather was very nice. Cool but still warm enough to walk without a coat on. Low wind and a very bright sun.
Suloraq and Qarsoq
This concludes part 1 Getting there
A sneak preview for part 2;
I hope you liked reading this report, part 2 will focus on all the domestic flights, and part 3 will show the flights I took to get back home. Vacation is over and its back to work, so please give me some time to write part two, as it will be a long and extensive report. Any comments, replies and questions are always welcome!
[Edited 2011-06-21 04:19:10]