This August I had the pleasure of flying both civil Saab aircrafts: the Saab 340 and the Saab 2000. As the flight reviews about these two flights have become rather long, the flight review is divided in two parts:
1: Logging The Saab 340: In Sweden Of Course
2: Logging The Saab 2000: In Sweden Of Course
I N T R O D U C T I O N
This summer I had time off from University for more than 2 months but had nothing more planned than two weeks in Colombia for my study trip. I wanted more. Where to go?
Stockholm has always appealed to me a lot. Said to be one of the most beautiful cities of Europe and I had never been there. But not for long, I thought to myself.
Three days in Stockholm sounds good of course but one week in Sweden sounds even better! So hey, why not? Touring around this Scandinavian country must be fun. And when you're in Sweden as an aviation enthusiast you can not leave the country without flying one of those rare birds that still fly in this country. Fokker 50's, Saabs, ATP's, Jetstream 32's, the list just goes on and on. I wanted to fly one of these birds but had not decided yet which one, where to, how to get back and how much to pay for it.
To be quite honest I wanted to fly Nextjet's ATP but I found their fares quite high (€70 for a one way ticket to Galivare in the very north of Sweden). Nextjet also offered flights on one of their Saab 340's for just over €50 one way. I nominated Östersund as one of the potential destinations. Then I had a good look at my return flight. I also wanted to see some of the Swedish countryside so departing from the same airport back to Stockholm or to Copenhagen/Malmö was not an option. I figured out I could catch a train from Östersund to the city of Sundsvall. From Sundsvall I could then fly back to Stockholm on a Fokker 50, another new type for me. (This whole process looks rather easy but in fact it took me ages to figure this out.) I ended up booking this:
Stockholm Bromma – Östersund
Departure: 19:00 Arrival: 20:15
Sundsvall – Stockholm Arlanda
Departure: 17:50 Arrival: 18:50
I paid roughly €120 for these two flights.
But then a few weeks after booking these flights I got a message from Nextjet that my flying times had changed. I would now depart in the late evening so no sunshine during the flight. I found out that a new earlier flight was added to Nextjet's schedule from Stockholm to Östersund, so I contacted Nextjet to ask if it was possible to get rebooked. I got a reply within 15 minutes saying that all was ok and that I was now booked on the flight which was due to depart Bromma at 14:25.
I got a similar message from Skyways some weeks later. My flight would depart Sundsvall 7 hours earlier than expected. Not good at all and Skyways didn't have any other flights on that route that day. I did find a new flight with another airline which suited me: Sundsvallsflyg. I got Skyways to cancel my ticket (which was no problem) and booked my new flight with the small local airline from Sundsvall. To my delight the flight was scheduled to be operated with the other Swedish civil plane: the Saab 2000!
P R E F L I G H T
After having spent three full days in and around Stockholm it was time to leave this amazing city! My flight with Nextjet would depart from Stockholm Bromma airport at 14:25. Because I wanted to have some time to discover this small airport I left for the airport at around noon. The easiest way to get to Bromma airport from Gamla Stan (the very beautiful Old City in the center of Stockholm) is by Flygbus. Buses leave every 30 minutes from the main railway station: Stockholm Centralstation. I bought a ticket at the kiosk, paid about 70 Swedish Krones (which is a little more than €7) and boarded the bus. The ride to the airport only took 15 minutes. The bus stopped just in front of the small terminal building.
The bus stop right in front of the terminal building.
Yes, this actually is the airport if you are wondering…
Bromma is one of the three airports Stockholm has got. Arlanda is the international airport and is approximately 37 km from the city. Skavsta is served by Ryanair and some other low cost carriers and is almost 100 km from Stockholm. Finally, we've got Bromma, a small airport near the city center with mostly domestic flights. The only two foreign airlines that serve the airport are Brussels Airlines and Finnair. There are a lot of Swedish regional airlines that fly out of Bromma. Nextjet is just one of them.
Main Hall. Not large at all.
Bromma departures screen. Most destinations are within Sweden. Only Brussels and Helsinki are outside Sweden. Or can you see any others?
I went inside and found myself in a small check-in area. There was quite a queue in front of the Brussels Airlines check-in desk. The only other open desk handled (nearly) all other flights. Since I had luggage to check in and Nextjet does not offer online check-in I also needed to go to the check-in desk. There was just one passenger in front of me. "Is there free seating on board?" was one of the first things I asked, wanting to secure a window seat in the front of the plane. She confirmed that it was indeed free seating. She handed me my boarding pass and I was set for boarding. However, boarding would not start for another one and a half hour. So what to do?
Why not go out and check what is around the terminal building? Maybe I could see some planes. I went back outside and turned right. There was a small parking lot right next to the taxi way. I had a great view over the runway from there. A little bit further back there was a small hill with two picknick benches. This offered an even better view over the airport. I stayed here for about 1 hour, watching all those nice Swedish airlines coming in.
Malmö Aviation is a major player at Bromma.
Taxi way is right next to the car park; so good photo opportunities.
They have even placed a picknick bench for the aviation lovers among us.
My first encounter with Nextjet. When I saw this plane leaving I thought for a second I missed my flight.
Then it was time to go to the gate. Security was empty. No queue whatsoever! There is not much after customs. I seated myself close to the gate so I would be able to board the plane first and get a proper seat in the front of the plane.
My boarding pass. This is all that I got.
Flight: 2N 632
Aircraft: Saab 340A
Registration number: SE-LEP
First flight: 5 July 1988
Delivery to Nextjet: 28 October 2008
Previously in service with: Formosa Airlines, Skyways Airlines, Golden Air
Photo © Niklas Kull - Ostersund Photography
Photo © Anton Pettersson
Photo © Peter Eriksson - Ostersund Photography
Photo © Johan Ljungdahl
For those who do not know where Östersund is (can't blame you), here is a map.
Exactly on time boarding was announced. Only in Swedish. I did not understand all of it but since I speak both German and Dutch it was quite clear that boarding had started. I was the second to go out of the terminal.
Bromma is really strange. There are parking positions and you are told to which one you should walk.
Bromma and its stands.
I had already seen my aircraft from the terminal. It was SE-LEP, the Nextjet Saab in special Ski Sweden livery. The aircraft was built in 1988 and delivered to the Taiwan airline of Formosa Airlines where it flew as B-12200. After 8 years it came (back) to Sweden where the plane got its current registration number. Before it ended up at Nextjet in 2008 it flew for Skyways Airlines and Golden Air. Since 2009 it wears this beautiful blue and yellow livery promoting the Swedish national skiing team.
I headed towards the little Saab and made my way up the steps into the aircraft. I was friendly welcomed by the middle-aged female flight attendant: "Hej Hej, Välkommen!" she said to me. What a nice language is Swedish. I quickly found myself a nice seat in the front of the cabin and seated myself. I took some photos out of the window and had a good look around the cabin when other passengers boarded. The flight attendant walked through the very short cabin during boarding and asked me something in Swedish. "Sorry?", I asked. "A, you speak English, she replied and asked me if I was fine." Then she went back to the door and greeted the last passengers with a nice "Hej Hej, Välkommen!" again. Then she went thru the cabin once more to move some passengers around. I was allowed to stay where I was. For the second time she asked me if everything was all right when she passed my row. "Yes, more than", I replied again. Because I thought I might be behaving a little strange during the flight because of my aviation enthusiasm, I thought I'd owe her an explanation at this point. "I've really looked forward to this flight. The main reason for booking this flight is that I wanted to fly the Saab 340." She was really surprised to hear that and asked me if I liked the plane until now.
Lucky me, it's the special painted SkiSweden Saab that would bring me up north.
Up the stairs.
One of the two General Electric CT7-9B engines.
Blue and yellow. Like the Swedish flag.
My seat (photo was taken later during the flight).
Legroom: not too generous.
The flight attendant did a manual safety demonstration. She sat down on the first row and announced all safety messages in Swedish and English. Afterwards, she stood up and demonstrated the use of the seatbelt and the life jacket. Then she checked whether or not everyone had their seatbelts fastened. A lady sitting a few rows behind me was a little scared of flying and I heard the stewardess tell her all about the safety measures they take: "the pilots are really experienced and the aircraft gets regular check-ups."
Captain, start those engines!
The engines were started and soon afterwards we started our short taxi to runway 30. The engines made a lot of noise but unlike the ATR-42 the aircraft did not tremble a lot. We held on the runway for a few seconds and then we started our take-off roll. It felt like we hopped into the air. Really strange.
Taxi to the runway.
I sneakily recorded the take-off, hoping that the flight attendant wouldn't notice me filming it. I was unlucky, she caught me. When I looked in her direction just seconds after take-off she shouted something to me. I expected to hear something like "No filming during take-off!" but to my surprise she said "Come over here (to the first row) when the seatbelt sign has been switched off. You'll have a way better view of the wing from here". I thanked her and stayed in my seat until the fasten seatbelt signs were turned off.
Just after take-off.
Last views of Stockholm.
I went to the front row and indeed the view from this row is much better than it was from the row I was seated on. The engine looks really good from that angle. I could also see Stockholm's other airport: Arlanda below us. I stayed in the first row for some minutes before I returned to my own row.
Nice engine view from the first row.
This is obviously Arlanda.
In the meantime, the flight attendant had started the in-flight service. It's the usual buy on board service. As stated in other flight reviews, prices weren't listed anywhere but I was quite hungry from all that Saab 340-excitement so I ordered an apple juice and a cheese roll. It was just 42 SEK, which I found rather cheap seen as Sweden is a very expensive country and airlines meals aren't the cheapest anyway. The cheese roll was Swedish; it tasted like knäckebröd. The apple juice tasted like apple juice.
"Where are you staying in Östersund", the flight attendant asked me a little bit later. I told her I would stay in the Östersund Ledkrysset Hostel. She explained me how to get there from the airport. Really nice that she could tell me this.
A Perfect Flight: Nextjet's own magazine. In Swedish of course.
Route map on the back.
A view from my seat.
Next, I asked her if it was okay for me to take some photos of the cabin. "Sure, go ahead", she said and I went to the back of the plane to get a good cabin photo. What is there to say about the cabin? Well, it's very small. 1-2 seating. I was surprised to be able to stand up in the aisle because it was so small. The personal space I had while seated was acceptable. The overhead bins opened in a strange way but do not offer a lot of storage room. Don't expect too much leg room when you're booked on one of these Saabs.
However, the large windows will for sure make up for this. They are just huge! And luckily the windows on my Saab were all very clean!
Still climbing to our cruising altitude.
The back of the cabin was a little quieter than the front of the cabin. The views of the wing are terrible and I would not like being seated here at all. So I soon returned back to the front of the cabin after I took a few pictures.
Overhead panels. Do you see the large crack?
The cabin. A light load that day.
Awful view from the rear of the plane.
Massive windows: LIKE!
I talked to the flight attendant for a little while. I asked her if Nextjet would keep the Saab 340's. And she told me that she thought the Saab 340 is a little bit on the noisy side. She actually offered me (and a couple of other passengers) some earplugs but I declined them because I wanted to hear those engines. I kinda like the noise.
More engine views.
Descending to Östersund Airport.
Then it was time to get back to my seat as the captain already had started our descend. We flew over lake Storsjön (I did not spot the monster which is said to live in the lake) and lined up for runway 12. The captain extended the flaps and we slowed down a lot. After approximately an 1 hour flight we landed at Frösön Airport. We slowed down and turned about halfway down the runway. It was just a very small taxi to our parking location.
Saying goodbye to Nextjet and to the Saab 340.
So long SE-LEP.
Once the engines were turned off, I got out of my seat and grabbed my belongings. As the plane was not full at all it took just seconds to get everyone out of the plane. I was one of the last to disembark. I thanked the flight attendant and went out on the tarmac and walked to the terminal building.
Åre Östersund Airport (formely Östersund-Frösön Airport) is a small airport which serves the town/city of Östersund which is approximately 11 kilometers from the airport as well as the ski resort of Åre (just under 100 kilometers from the airport). There is very little year-round service to the airport. Nextjet operates flights to/from Bromma, Luleå and Umeå and Scandinavian Airlines is at the airport with flights to Stockholm Arlanda. During the winter however, the airport gets "a lot" of charters flying mainly ski-tourists.
The terminal building is small but very modern. Since my flight was the first to arrive in the afternoon the baggage reclaim area was empty. There were a lot of passengers waiting in the departure lounge as two flights were soon to depart: Nextjet to Bromma and SAS to Arlanda. Anyway, I got my bag from the belt and went out to the buses.
P O S T F L I G H T
Buses run from the airport to the city center of Östersund after all flights. I bought a ticket (I think this was 70 SEK which is €7) in the bus and waited for departure. The bus waited for the SAS flight out of Arlanda to arrive before it departed. This was a matter of minutes. It was a short ride to the center and a short walk to my hostel (as the flight attendant had described to me).
Ö S T E R S U N D
Östersund is a small town. I had one whole day in the city. During that day I walked around the city and went over the bridge to Frösön. A lot of touristic attractions had already been closed since the season had already ended. Jämtli (the open air museum) was "closed" for the day and the Moose garden was only open from 3PM until 4PM. A shame. An entire day walking around Östersund was a bit too much. Knowing what I know now I would have gone to Åre for the day, or just spend one night in Östersund instead of two.
View over Östersund from Frösön.
Jämtli; the open air museum unfortunately was closed but I was able to walk around it anyway.
View from Arctura.
The grass is always greener where?
The harbor (Frösön in the background).
Beautiful photo if I may say so myself.
I woke up at 5 o'clock the following morning. It was already very light outside. I got out of my bed at around 6 and walked to the railway station. My train departed from Centralstation at 7:36. Exactly on time a Veolia train rolled into the station and all passengers boarded. The travel time to Sundsvall would be a little under 2,5 hours. Ticket price was about €20.
Do you know those days when the sky is just perfect crystal blue? Well, it was one of those days. The railway runs along a lot of lakes and goes through major forests. Definitely one of the most beautiful sceneries I've ever seen in Europe. We passed small villages with small wooden churches. The photos speak for themselves.
My train arrives.
Amazing views from the train.
Another view of the scenery.
Nice little church.
Nice picturesque Swedish building.
This is where section one of this flight review ends. My Saab experience goes on in the next section: Logging the Saab 2000: In Sweden Of Course
You are invited to read that review as well!
For those who have got fed up with reading/viewing this flight review by now, thanks for reading. Comments are welcome!
My other flight reviews
Logging the Saab 2000: In Sweden Of Course
Return Trip To Cartagena De Indias With Aires
Securing my Miles on a KLM Fokker 100
Truly Irish: Aer Arann
My First Turboprop Flight With FlyBE
Blasting away to CPH on a SAS MD-82
Goodbye to KLM’s F50, or not?
Great flight with Baboo
[Edited 2011-09-20 12:42:28]