A few months ago the question was raised on one of the a.net forums whether it would be worthwhile to organise a meeting at Sweden’s main gateway Stockholm Arlanda. A thread was opened in the ‘non-aviation’ forum and more and more users got set and agreed on coming over. A date was set - Sat 14th/Sun 15th Jan 2012 - and flights and hotels were booked, so were mine. A good delegation of the ‘trip reports’ forum users would be present as well so that gave me as well an extra boost to start looking for flights and a place to spend the night.
While looking for flights I noticed that fellow user and Belgian MSS658 and fellow Belgian would be present as well so we agreed on booking the same flight out on Fri 13th in the evening. SK here being the most obvious choice and priced at about € 93 all in. Quite pricey for a one way I know but not much other convenient choices on a Friday evening. Besides that I had little interest in detouring as in the winter time most flights are in the dark so not much to see through the peephole anyway.
Meanwhile user FlyingFinn76 announced his intention on doing a side trip to TLL on Sat afternoon, going out on an OV Saab 340. He soon got some people convinced to join and in the end I as well produced a booking on this one for € 59 all in. As I wanted to get home already on Sat evening there was not much choice since TLL isn’t exactly LHR or FRA concerning the number of destinations served. The best option was a TLL-AMS-BRU routing which very conveniently would takeoff only 1h25 mins after touching tarmac on the Saab flight from ARN. Operated by an OV CRJ-900 and a KL F70, 2 new types for my log, it also happened to be the only viable option for me and priced at a reasonable € 139 all in. Booked that as well.
Btw all flight were booked on the respective airline’s websites as they gave me the best pricing.
In the end this itinerary was produced:
BRU-TLL SAS B736
ARN-TLL Estonian Air Saab 340A
TLL-AMS Estonian Air CRJ-900
AMS-BRU KLM F70
which on a map looks like this:
Needless to say I was quite excited on going to this meeting!
on to ARN
This journey starts off at one of the 5 train stations in my hometown. I decide to treat myself to a 1st class train ticket to Vilvoorde, a city close to the airport from where I will continue my travels by bus. The train ticket is actually stored on my ID-card so no extra docs needed for this journey. The train might be 1st class, the station very clearly isn’t...
And by a close look, the train is neither, just your standard graffiti sprayed IC:
After a hassle free and quick train and bus trip I meet up with MSS658 at BRU’s departure hall. We exchange greetings and salutations and conduct some more formalities like producing a boarding pass at the kiosk:
And soon we are on our way to terminal A.
A smooth security check later we find ourselves at gate A47. I get myself a bottle of Chaudfontaine while MSS658 strolls around some and gets some photos.
All appears fine with SK1590 to ARN:
Next door - gate - is our originally scheduled equipment in the form of a sexy looking T-tail. This one’s quite obviously off to CPH. Our flight got changed from a MD-82 to a B736 not long after booking.
The inbound comes in some 20 mins early and after deboarding of it’s passengers we are cleared to enter. I take my seat in the back while MSS658 sits his bum down on 17A.
BRU (Brussels) to ARN (Stockholm)
B736 SE-DNX ‘Torvald Viking’
Photo © Mats Salder
The rest is very much known business Everyone by now knows how things go on a SK flight so I will not comment on all the events that passed. In fact there were no events whatsoever, I just sat back and listened to some mellow tunes on the phone, in offline mode of course
The cabin in a relaxed Fri evening mood:
Looking up I see this:
After a smooth ride we gently kiss ARN’s 2500m long 01R and some time later we are docked and free to go. But not after commenting to the cpt on his - or his colleague’s or the autopilot’s - excellent touchdown. We get a cockpit visit as well
We make our way to the exit and to SkyCity next to meet up with some other users, namely makeree and parton87. After a nice conversation and some drinks we all head off to our hotels, for me, makeree and parton87 it’s the Radisson Blu Arlandia.
Next time I will most likely end up in here:
After a good night’s sleep and an impressive and very tasty breakfast we head back to the airport. We also check in as well for our TLL flight in the afternoon.
Oops, wrong desk...
This should work better:
Next thing we see ourselves on the way to SkyCity to meet the other participants. It seems this TG plane has to be in every report that features ARN:
Some other traffic being parked as well, but generally it’s very quiet:
So we meet up with all other participants, some more famous ones inclusive:
Greetings and salutations are exchanged again and after a time a part of the group heads off to visit one of the restored Carvelle aircrafts in the neighbourhood of the airport and to do some winter spotting as well.
The hardcore - or softies, choose for yourself - stay inside. We make a nest at some pizza place and talk and drink and talk and drink for a few hours.
on to TLL
Time passes fast when you are having fun and soon enough it’s time for us to head to the gate for our flight to TLL. A small dozen of us are booked on this very same flight, quite impressive! About 30% of today’s load consists of some plane geeks, with cameras ready as if we would go off to war. Very hilarious!
B06 for today’s run to TLL, a bus gate:
One particular user decided to get to TLL by green (BT) iso blue colors (OV), I’ll take your guesses for his/her identity! Here’s that plane:
ARN (Stockholm) to TLL (Tallinn)
Saab 340A ES-ASN
Photo © Igor Dvurekov
After the arrival of the bus to the plane it’s photo shooting madness. This gentleman most conveniently got in my way while snapping this one:
Quite a healhty load today thanks to a small dozen of a.netters:
Parked on the opposite side is this white Golden Air plane:
The cockpit crew as well watching the scene in amusement
Shiny prop on this little cutie:
A last one before bumping my head on the lower than low cabin ceiling:
A ‘Hi there’ later to the cute blonde FA we are all on board and all-but-one occupy the whole left side of this aircraft, which consists conveniently of 1-seaters.
The props are fired up and we taxi off to ARN’s 3301m long 19R for takeoff:
ARN for you:
Fancy a 5th freedom flight on this one (if it exists...): to IKA via BUD!
Turning on to the active rwy:
The props rev up and we race up into the air, leaving behind a lightly snowy ARN:
We establish cruise and the FA begins the drinks and snack round. A muffin and some tea and lemon. Sorry 717Flyer, I did not perform your muffin test but it was slightly warm and moist so imho the perfect muffin
I pop in my ear plugs - man this plane is loud! This is what the quite well used and small cabin looks like:
Good seating comfort actually on this teeny weeny plane:
I keep looking outside with the sun gradually setting. Actually this flight’s solid like a rock. I expected this plane to be much more prone to turbulence, but we glide through the air like a hot iron on a cotton shirt.
My seat number ‘en detail’:
After an hour or so, the plane dives gently down and we start our descent into TLL. The pilot announces the weather as windy and snowy with a temperature a little under the zero mark. When we come out under the clouds we are already quite low, landing at TLL is quite imminent now:
A textbook crosswind landing is performed on TLL’s 3070m rwy 08. We exit the runway and come to a halt on the apron where a bus is standby to ferry us to some warmer places ie the terminal.
The mighty large airport of TLL:
You can see how windy it is here:
One last look...
So we arrive at the terminal and I do the rest of my checkin formalities at the transit desk (thanks for picking up the phone airbuseric ) and I bid adieu to my fellow a.net travellers. They head out to the city while I - sadly - head home.
on to AMS
All’s good from the FIDS and as you can see not much fligths left that day. It looks RIX is quite popular and the other guys return flight to RIX (and onwards) for tomorrow is already listed
I wander around but there’s not much to wonder, this airport’s so small. I guess it must be every connecting traveller’s dream! The architecture au contraire is nothing to write home about, I find the interior neither fish nor flesh. Not stylish to say the least. But hey, there’s free Wifi! Watch and learn you big Euro airports!
At gate B6 I spot what will be my ride to AMS. Although it’s dark, this will be my highlight of the day. I’m very much looking forward to entering this aircraft, let alone taking a flight with it.
The gate area. I sit accross and wait patiently for those doors to open...
TLL (Tallinn) to AMS (Amsterdam)
Bombardier CRJ-900 ES-ACD
Once they do, I’m one of the 1st to board this 1 month ago delivered bird. It definitely looks, feels and smells shiny and new. I’m delighted and express my feelings (in a modest way) to the FA standing at the door. She smiles and welcomes me cordially. I’m impressed...
I settle into my comfortable seat and watch the boarding taking place. A deicing truck as well arrives and sprays the wings with the chemical stuff.
Excellent legroom and seating as well:
Et la carte de sécurite:
‘Boarding completed’ is announced and a few minutes later we push back and taxi out for departure on rwy 08. Being seated next to the engine I immediately notice it’s loudness when we blast off into the dark Estonian skies. Next time a seat more upfront would be recommendable.
Well in fact the noise is the only negative aspect on this plane and flight...
A view on the comfortable leather seats, come close to your screen and you can even smell they’re new!
The FA’s immediately prepare for service after the seatbelt sign has been switched off. We get complimentary drinks and choice between a fish or pesto sandwich. I choose some tea, sparkling water and the pesto sandwich which goes down in a few bites. Yummy!
Up and close with the small galley in the back:
My phone’s GPS sees us cruising at about 11,4 km height at about 900 kph above Denmark:
This flight’s very smooth as well. Apparently the skies are clear since I can see some lights an cities nearly all the way down to AMS.
After some 1h40mins, we gently descend and the cabin is prepared for arrival in to AMS’ 3400m rwy 36R (Aalsmeerbaan). Since it’s a clear evening, the views down are fascinating, even in the dark. AMS airport as well as the approach path followed by other planes is all visible and my eyes are literally glued solid to the window. Too bad it was impossible to take pics, I didn’t even try...
We touch down and brake so hard that for a moment I fear all seats will slide forward. Obviously the pilot in command had to/wanted to take the first exit out to the apron.
And so I am in AMS, last time I was here was 2007 on my way to Vietnam.
Home of the ‘Koninklijke Luchtvaartmaatschappij’!
Only a short taxi until we dock at one of the B gates next to Ms Swiss:
I get out on the tarmac and into the finger to the gate area. But not before taking one last look to this sexy thing made out of metal:
You’d rather have a good neighbour than a far off friend. At least the aircraft type is OK in the next pic!
on to BRU
By the looks of it I emerge at gate B27. A quick glance at the FIDS reveals nothing special on my last flight. I have about an hour to kill before boarding starts.
So I take a walk, a Coke and a bite to eat. There’s not much interesting to spot, a lot of gates are empty and it’s dark anyway to I make use of the 2x 30mins free Wifi courtesy of Schiphol Airport. I basically stroll in the direction of the DEFGH gates, but a passport control stops me. I turn around and decide to rest some at gate B18 which is due to be used for the flight to BRU.
There’s this Interesting setup to get to the commuter apron in the distance. The larger Jungle Jets are parked right at the end of the finger but are not connected physically. There are acutally two glass bridges next to each other: the left one leading straight onto the parked plane, the right one leading to a final staircase and out to a stand where a bus parks.
Schiphol has these excellent FIDS in use, lots of clear and useful info:
At boarding time, I see the gate agent typing on his PC and a moment later and automated boarding message is produced at the gate’s audio installation. I get up and and head down to the waiting bus. It’s interesting to see that tonight’s load mainly consists of transfer passengers from far off destinations: I see quite some Asians, a few Southern Americans and a few Europeans (or so they look like).
AMS (Amsterdam) to BRU (Brussels)
Fokker 70 PH-KZA
Photo © Björn Van Brussel
The bus drives us off to the commuter apron and we make a stop in front of the expected F70:
With some other F70’s taxiing close by on the rwy for takeoff, it gets quite noisy. I don’t think it’s a pleasure to stand in these noisy conditions all day...
I get a friendly greeting from an all black male FA. Good job KLM in trying to diversify your cabin crew, even on short haul flights! As I’m one of the last on board I notice my seat is occupied already. I make no fuss but see the exit row on the right side is still empty. ‘Go ahead’ says the other (female) FA in Dutch, ‘it’s all yours’. I’m impressed by this crew’s enthusiasm and friendliness and that even for their last flight of the day.
So I place myself in the exit row, needless to say that legroom is outstanding. On the whole, the cabin still looks good as well, the plane is clean and the cloth blue seats are quite wide. On the whole, seating comfort is excellent! The female FA makes me a personal note on the to-follow procedures being seated in the exit row
I like these leather seat covers:
So this is how a F70 looks like:
The English captain - I’m surprised not to find an all Dutch crew here - comes on announcing a takeoff from the 3300m 36C (Zwanenburgbaan). We kick off on time and are airborne some 10 minutes after leaving our stand.
Once again I witness this extraordinary light spectacle from above. The crew manages to do a drink and snack on this ultrashort 30min hop to BRU, we all get some juice and a salty snack:
The usual twist and turns follow and before we know it, we kiss the ground of BRU’s 3211m 25L. A medium short taxi and many ‘thank you’s’ later from the crew we dock into one of the A gates next to some SN machinery:
As usual I’m the last one to deboard. The cpt’s at his office and I ask him for the possibility of a cockpit shot to which he kindly agrees:
I say my goodbyes and get out of the plane and into the terminal.
A 10min walk later I meet my pre-arranged taxi driver (thanks dad!) who brings me home safely.
2 highlights this weekend: firstly the flights!
SAS: My 2nd ride on this company’s B736. The cabin’s starting to get a bit dated and seating comfort was not the best, mainly because the seats next to me were occupied as well, not allowing me to strech out as I’m used to. The cold chicken wrap I bought was tasty but priced at 50 SEK kinda expensive.
Estonian Air: Both excellent flights, friendly FA’s and a complimentary snack and drink. Nice little airline and TLL is a joy to connect in. Big thumbs up!
KLM: Last time I flew KLM was back in 2000 on a longhaul to SIN/SYD. They did not dissapoint either today although I maybe have to take a somewhat longer flight to get the whole picture. To be tested again in the future for sure!
...and secondly: the a.net meet!
I really had a blast meeting all people who showed up. Excellent talking and not only aviation related. It was pure fun and I’m dying to do this again in BER coming June. Thanks my friends: LH4116, airbuseric, DunA320, FlyingFinn76, makeree, BA319-131, AlwaysOnAPlane, Palmjet, AYA333, deltamartin, MSS658, parton87, MEA-707, photophil, CrimsonNL, tobbry! (If I have forgotten your name, please don’t be offended, I’m the forgettable type )