After dozens of angry phone calls to the godforsaken land of which the airline in question is originating, it became very apparent that I would not be seeing those 1800 missing miles from my SAS flight in Business Class, 900 of which would’ve qualified me for the Star Alliance Gold status. With 900 miles missing, I was reluctantly forced to embark on yet another journey to collect those missing miles. The airline in question happened to have a very restrictive mileage earning chart for *A partners, which basically means that nearly all booking classes in Economy (including many high ones) are blocked on most airlines. This of course also happened to be the case on SAS, however as luck would have it, the booking class for the dirt-cheap youth tickets for some reason happened to give 100% mileage, with a 600 mile minimum earning for each leg. With that in mind, SAS became my only option for the flights, as I wanted to keep the costs down.
Normally I’m not a big fan of mileage runs, since they quite frankly serve no other purpose then to earn some silly miles, which I think is completely idiotic way to burn money. Instead, I wanted to make this more into a weekend trip, and very soon I found a suitable itinerary to Berlin on SAS. I would be flying out on Saturday at lunchtime, and back on the late afternoon the following day, giving me a good 24 hours to spend in the city. The flights were booked as last minute fares setting me back a reasonable €102 for both segments. A night at a nice boutique hotel in west Berlin was also booked for an acceptable rate of €39, including breakfast. The train tickets to ARN were booked as well, free of charge since I had some SJ vouchers to spend. With everything booked, I quickly packed my bag and went to sleep, as I would be leaving the following morning.
I woke up at 7.40am, just 20 minutes prior to setting off to the train station to catch my train. As you’d imagine, I had indeed hit the snooze button too many times and to be fair nobody likes to wake up at 7am on a saturday morning. I quickly jumped out of bed, and ran downstairs to the bathroom for an icy cold shower, followed by a quick shave. With no time to eat my usual saturday breakfast, I quickly picked up my camera backpack and ran out the door. Very soon I made it to the train station to catch the 8.14am SJ Regional train to Sala, followed by a quick change to the InterCity bound for Arlanda. Both trains were bang on time this morning, which is highly unusual for SJ, and soon I arrived at Arlanda just after 10am.
Upon slowly making my way up the escalators from the underground train station to SkyCity, my stomach began twiddling from the lack of food. My mind could only come up with two words for solving this little situation ”Micky” and ”Dee’s”, so I instantly headed over to check if they still had some breakfast bagels left. At the counter, I was served by Linda, a young woman in her mid 20s.
Quite frankly, I found it a bit silly of them not to serve me a bagel since they already had a bunch laying there, and even more surprising was the fact that the breakfast menu was still up on the screens. A really bad way of treating customers. I won’t discuss my opinions about the McD staff since many of you would probably just get pissed off at me.
Anyways, I grabbed my cheeseburger and headed over to the rather uncomfy lounge chairs at the SkyCity viewing deck to savour this artificial delight. As I was munching on this 90 gram slab of finest chopped mexican beef, sandwiched between two slices of chemically enhanced bread, and a layer of high-colorant (faux) cheese, I gazed over to the familiar looking young man seated in front of me. He turned out to be fellow a.netter Martin (Deltamartin) having a layover between his SAS and BT flights. Time flew away as we spent nearly one hour chatting, suppose it was a good way for both of us to kill some time off our layovers. Soon it was time for Martin to head off for lunch with his parents, and I figured I’d better get going to the security. It was nice seeing you again, hope to catch up soon!
Having done OLCI the previous day, I headed over to the self-service kiosks to print out my boarding pass. These days, SAS allow you to fly paperless on flights leaving Scandinavia, using only your credit card or frequent flyer card as boarding pass. Sadly tough as much as I love using this concept (now you get me, SAS. Great job!) I had to pick up a paper BP just to make sure that my status was printed on it so that the miles would be credited to my account.
By simply inserting my worn out VISA in the machine, my booking appeared on the screen, and I was later able to print out the BP with my *S status stated nice and clearly. With the BP in hand, I made a beeline over to the security. With this being a saturday, the security line was packed with your usual fly-once-a-year holiday passengers, carrying all kinds of oversized liquid containers in their hand luggage. The line was long, and things moved very slow, whereas the fast track was completely empty. It took me a grand total of 10 minutes to get by, and as usual I passed with flying colours.
It was now 11.30am, roughly 35 minutes prior to boarding I was released into the massive taxfree mall at airside Terminal 5. Having said that Arlanda is the dullest airport on the planet, I couldn’t really figure out how to spend those 35 minutes. So I decided to try my luck at the SAS Lounge, since technically I’ve already qualified for *G and I had all the proof to show it. Sadly however, despite explaining my situation to the woman at the reception in a very friendly manner, I received a strict and mechanic ”NO!!!!!!!”.
The answer was pretty much what I had expected since airlines after all are machine bureaucratic organisations, where the staff are trained to act under strictly formalised rules. Yes, lounge staff are pretty much impossible to argue against. I saw no point in being upset anyway since the woman was simply doing her job, so I wished her a nice weekend and headed downstairs for the public area. After admitting defeat and made a retreat to Robert’s coffee where they had espresso for only €1.
As I sat down with my espresso, I had some 15 minutes to kill before boarding for my flight would commence. Most of the time was spent spotting whatever aircraft that could be spotted, and of course playing my usual game of peoplewatching. At 12.05pm I headed off to gate 9 where my flight would depart.
At the gate area, a crowd of people had already formed, some of which were already lining up at the boarding gate (oh I might have forgot to mention that there are few things Swedes love more then forming queues). Soon boarding was called over the speakers, and people slowly began moving towards the gate, forming yet a longer queue. Since SAS is an airline with strong faith in our Scandinavian jantelagen values, no priority boarding was called for Business Class passengers, and Star Gold members. Instead, everyone was allowed to board at their own leisure. Yes that’s what you get from 80 years of socialism, good isn’t it? Boarding as expected turned out to be a very calm and civilised affair, since those 80 years of socialism haven’t turned us into barbarians, like fascism did to the people in south (no pun). My boarding pass was promptly scanned, and I was allowed to take my civilised stroll down the jetway.
As the passengers were stepping onboard the plane, one by one, I could notice the warmth and friendliness of the crew as everyone was greeted with a big smile. So I thought, this must surely be the beginning of a good flight with the friendly crews of SAS. As I stepped onboard, I was preparing myself for that genuine touch of Scandinavian hospitality some of you people claim to exist in Economy Class. But sadly no smile was given to me, the female purser simply gave me a pale stare, and turned her face away. Now that’s not right! And for god’s sake she was wearing one of those little yellow signs saying ”my smile is my makeup”. = faux! (no pun SAS, I really love those signs, especially when attached to the right person)
When paying the legacy airfare for this low cost service concept airline, the least thing I would expect in return as a compensation for the lack of service is some friendliness from the crew. Besides if they’re paying them the equivalent annual salary of a medium-size company’s CEO, the least thing they must do is to act out their so called ”genuine friendliness” on ALL passengers. Feeling very unwelcome onboard this flight, I slowly made my way down the aisle to my seat at row 19.
Upon reaching my row, a gentleman that at first glance could’ve been mistaken for the doubleganger of our friend from Manchester was seated in the middle seat. As usual, I put my backpack, jacket and Dr. Marten boots in the overhead compartment before settling down in the comfortable seat.
Soon, one of the crew members came over the PA announcing that boarding was completed. The aisle seat turned out to be vacant, but still the man showed no interest to move. Meanwhile, the ”ping ping” sounded through the cabin which indicated that pushback was now commencing. This was followed by the sound of our two CFM-56 engines (custom made for SAS to fill some environmental pollution BS regulation, which in real terms translates to a green shamrock sticker being attached to the cowling) spooling to life as we began our taxi towards runway 01L/19R. During our taxi, the crew conducted a manual safety demonstration.
Soon our equally stubby -600 had lined up on the runway, after which the throttles were rammed and the plane was propelled forward before shooting up in the sky.
Less then 10 minutes after takeoff, the seatbelt sign was turned off. This as we all know is a standard procedure on SAS, in order to maximise the time for conducting the onboard sales. Soon, that very same rude purser came over the PA, welcoming everyone onboard.
Rude Purser: ”-Ladies and gentlemen, welcome onboard this sold out SAS flight to Berlin. Due to some favourable tailwinds, our flight time will be 15 minutes shorter then usual, and our time together will sadly be short, but we hope you will all have a pleasant time flying with us today. In Business Class we will be serving a cold meal, with freshly heated breads, full drinks service, coffee or tea. [changing tone of voice] … And for those of you seated at the back in Economy Class you will have the ability to purchase snacks and drinks. Coffee and tea will be served for free”
To be quite honest, her jolly and friendly announcement seemed to give the wrong impression at least by judging the way I was mistreated earlier. Soon the carts were rolled out down the aisle.
The cart moved very slow through the cabin, and after nearly half the flight time had passed it had now reached my row. The BOB trolley was manned by the younger colleague (let’s call her C) of our Rude Purser.
No smiles, no friendly attitude or whatsoever was offered from the crew, just that stone cold rude attitude you only expect to receive from the crews on Ryanair. Without a word, my card along with the items I’ve purchased were handed over to me.
As a dedication to our muffin loving friend 717Flyer, who also happened to love SAS. I’ve decided to conduct a little muffin test on his behalf. The muffins sold today were the Hägges Chocolate muffin. Size wise the muffin was rather large and substantial, much bigger then I would have anticipated so quantity wise the muffin passed with flying colours. The muffin had a very nice, soft and moist’ish texture with some nice bits of molten’ish chocolate in it. Must say it tasted delicious, and with the muffin being so large I was feeling quite stuffed after finishing it. All in all, a very good value snack.
As for the coffee it tasted very bland and weak. Basically since SAS now offer the coffee for free, they want to keep the costs down by using as little coffee powder as possible. Not only that were the crew very reluctant in pouring up re-fills (which was not the case back in the days when coffee had to be paid for). With the muffin being rather large, a second cup of coffee was required to wash it down. As I raised my head to look over the aisle, I noticed that C was offering the re-fills in her usual manner. So when she reached my row, I simply raised my empty cup as a notification for being in need for a refill. Sadly C completely ignored me and simply kept walking. So I hit the call button to request a refill.
Minutes later, the Rude Purser came running down the aisle from the front galley. Without even looking at me, she stopped by at my row, turned off the call light, and left. Now what the hell was this all about!? I highly doubt that these people have read my previous reports, but it doesn’t justify this arrogant behaviour. I mean on Air France the crew have always been very happy to answer my calls, and bring me that extra cup of coffee with a big smile. I seriously don’t see what people find so good about SAS, when clearly the crew haven’t lived up to their so called ”good” reputation. In fact this reputation just seems to have given this airline a very complacent and stubborn attitude, by cutting down on the service and still expect passengers to like them… I’m not buying that!
By the time, I had stuffed the last bits of that big muffin in my face, the captain came over the PA announcing that our descent to TXL would soon commence. C, and the Rude Purser came down the cabin to collect the rubbish in preparation for landing. As the Rude Purser reached my row, I made my request for that 2nd cup of coffee, and handed her my empty cup. In response, I a highly reluctant fake smile was cracked as she simply disposed my cup in the trash bin, and left. And no, she didn’t bring me that god dam coffee!
Following a series of sharp left, and right turns the chubby little Boeing soon lined up for the runway. The dull Sovjet-like suburbia of Berlin became more and more visible down below, as we gently made our way over to the threshold. This was followed by a hard landing, and some equally hard braking, before veering off and taxiing towards our remote parking position at Terminal D.
Soon, the doors were opened and passengers were released to disembark the plane via the airstairs attached to door 1L. A bus was parked outside the aircraft, and I decided to remain onboard the plane until everyone had de-boarded.
I entered the bus as the last person, and soon the doors were closed and we drove off some 100 meters to the terminal. Seems quite pointless to me to have a bus when passengers could just walk on the tarmac, it gives some extra fresh air and exercise.
My first impressions of Tegel could perhaps not be described as the best. It was perhaps one of the strangest airports I have ever visited in my entire lifetime, with a layout that defies all the sense and logic in conventional airport architecture. Basically the airport was a mess, completely throwing the german values of efficiency out the window. I really don’t see how every gate should have its own dedicated check-in counter, connected to its dedicated security check, that lead out to its dedicated holding pen. The layout was just so confusing that I simply wanted to get the hell out of there ASAP (thank goodie they’re closing this place down). So I quickly bought myself a public transport daypass, and hopped on the bus into town.
The bus and metro ride was a fast, efficient, and flawless affair as one would always expect from the German public transport system. It took me a grand total of 40 minutes from stepping off the plane, to entering my hotel room. Hotel Kaiser was the place I would be spending the night. A small 3* boutique hotel, located in the two top floors of a residential building in Western Berlin. I quite liked the idea of living in the middle of a residential area, as you could see into the living room window of the neighbours.
The rooms had a very warm and cozy feel to them, the soft carpet and wooden furnishing added some earthy tones which helped contributing to this feel. The double bed was very soft and comfortable, and the bed linens were silky smooth. Bathroom was simple, and fresh containing all the essential amenities. At €39 per night this hotel was really a bargain, offering some terribly good value for the money.
I was feeling quite tired from the lack of sleep during the previous night, so I figured it would be better to spend one hour on the bed just relaxing, before heading out on the streets for some sightseeing. Before leaving the hotel, I passed by the reception to pick up a map. The gentleman manning the reception was very helpful by offering to point out all the must-see places in town, and guided me on how to reach them. A cup of Nespresso was also offered which I gladly accepted (you hear that Eric, it’s boutique right?).
Outside was freezing cold, but luckily the U-bahn station was just 50 meters away. First on my ”express” sightseeing agenda was a visit to Postdamer Platz for some early lunch. The place was pretty much just a showcase of office buildings and shopping malls, not exactly the kind of thing you’re interested to see when you’re traveling abroad. There was however a foodcourt at the underground level of the shopping mall where they served some nice traditional german food. So I settled for a large currywurst, and a big icy glass of Becks.
Next up was a walk up the icy streets to the Brandenburger Gate, perhaps the landmark that Berlin is mostly known for, 2nd to the Berlin Wall. On my way over, I stopped by the holocaust memorial where I got lost between the cubes.
Next up on the tour was a visit to the Bundenstag, which was literally just a stone throw away. Sadly though I was not allowed to enter, as they required people to make reservations two days in advance. Bugger, but oh well then I’ve something to do on my next visit.
The last and final stop on this evening’s sightseeing agenda was a visit to Alexanderplatz. Having watched the Bourne movies more times then I can keep track of, my expectations for the place were set rather high as I’d imagine it being that überly vibrant square just like in the movies. Sadly though, as I emerged from the underground of the U-Bahn, I was quite disappointed to see the place looking so dull and empty. The cold weather had formed a haze of smog over the square making it look more like a scene from a deserted frozen town in Northern China, rather then the heart of Europe’s most sizzlingly vibrant metropolis. And that high office building where they put the snipers in the movie turned out to be some lame a*s Park Inn by Radisson…
Feeling very tired and cold, I hopped on the U-Bahn back to my hotel. Before heading to my room, I stopped by at the reception to pick up the password for the free wifi. A piece of paper was handed to me with the password clearly written… Turns out that it’s more then 30 digits long! I have no idea what the point of that was, but nevertheless the wifi was lightning fast. After a quick look on the Facetube, my good friends PetteriFinn and Eric suggested I’d head out and explore the nightlife in the city. To be quite frank, going out drinking without friends is pretty darn boring and depressive.
So instead, I headed out for some late dinner at a nice genuine italian restaurant in Kreuzberg. I opted for a pasta carbonara which was prepared right in front of my eyes, served along with some ruccola salad, cherry tomatoes and parmesan cheese. Generally I’m not a big fan of pasta as it’s mostly overpriced and overrated, however this time it was different. The Carbonara was perhaps the best plate of pasta I had ever eaten in my entire life, and not only did it taste good, it looked great as well. Sadly no pic since my camera was left at the hotel, but it did happen (you hear that P!?). Feeling stuffed, I jumped on the metro back to my hotel. It was now midnight, and I was feeling tired. Since it was saturday after all, I picked up some goodies along the way. The reminder of the evening was spent catching up on some reports while munching on my Ben&Jerry’s, and having a few sips of Jäger. After a while, I gently laid down on the bed and fell asleep like a child.
– My last day in Berlin
As I opened up my eyes in the morning, the room was filled with shimmering sunlight. It was one of those glorious sunday mornings, that you knew would be the beginning of a fabulous day. The feeling of waking up with nobody by my side made me slightly sadden as I stumbled my way over towards the window to inhale the the fresh morning breeze. Looking out over this unexplored city, with so much left for me to discover brought some joy to my mind as I hopped in for my freezing shower. Having the morning formalities conducted, I jumped in the elevator to the 6th floor to indulge on whatever food was on offer at this seemingly extensive breakfast buffet.
The breakfast buffet could best be described as a showcase of the finest, yet barest essential breakfast items the german cousin has to offer. On offer today were freshly baked wheat buns, straight from the baker’s shop, accompanied by a selection of cold cuts such as various hams, heart shaped salami, gouda & mozzarella cheese, freshly sliced tomatoes, served along with assorted preserves, butter, and cream cheese. Cherry yoghurt as well as plain yoghurt, along with freshly cut fruit were also on offer. To wash this serenade of breakfast delights down was a selection of store bought tetras of apple and orange juice, neatly presented in their own bowl of ice as if they were bottles of Moët and Krug. Freshly ground beans brewed into rich, aromatic coffee neatly served in bauhaus inspired lufthansa-style miniature cups came to be the star of this morning show. I don’t recall having coffee this good since Milan, which may have been the reason to why I came to suspect that the coffee must’ve been catered by illy.
My apologies once again go to Suryo, for leaving my heavy Nikon DSLR in the room as massive hunger was the only thing occupying my mind, at the time. Not to speak about the thirst that needed quenching, of course. Following that first bowl of yoghurt came a frenzy of buns, coffee, and fruit. By the time I finished, the food coma came to take its toll as I headed back for my room to lay on the bed for one hour or so. Well spelt, well groomed, and well fed I picked up my trustworthy companion and left the keys at the reception as my stay at the Kaiser Hotel had now reached its end. The friendly receptionist wished me a pleasant day, as I made beeline for the elevator to take me down to the ground floor.
Back out on the wide-open streets of Berlin, I set out to finish those sightseeing objectives left from the previous day. First off on the agenda was a ride on the U-Bahn to Mitte, for a visit to the iconic and cult inspiring Checkpoint Charlie.
The army guards were kind enough to let me take a picture of the place without purging out the ripoff photo surcharge of €2. Next up on my sightseeing was a ride further east towards what could perhaps be described as the landmark that formed the city’s identity as we know it today. I’m talking about the Berlin Wall.
Standing by the side of the wall, I closed my eyes as my hands were laid against it. All the historic events that had taken place over the past five decades came flashing through my mind as a montage of grainy black&white flickering its way into a melange of dazed colour. A tear was nearly shed upon wrapping the thought of all the people who had lost their lives in their attempts of crossing this highly militarised zone in hope for a better life in the west.
Continuing my walk alongside the wall, I came across what could be described as what enhanced my Berlin experience the most: A currywurst stand by the wall. It doesn’t get much more authentic than this! My order for a traditional currywurst and bun was promptly taken. Sadly my request for an icy cold Becks was denied as it turned out that wintertime is not the season for Weissbier. Instead a cup of warming Glühwein was offered, which I gladly accepted.
As I munched into this infamous, yet oh so delicious savoury snack, I couldn’t help but overhearing a conversation between two american girls at the adjacent table. Those two girls were asking themselves the question of why the Berliners have such a love affair with this appalling dish. Before I even had chance to turn around and give them an answer to their seemingly ignorant question, they had already left. So you may wonder why is this deep friend frank, drenched in a liquid mixture of processed tomatoes and artificial curry, dozed with powdered curry such a big hit in Berlin?
For starters it’s so much more then a savoury warm snack. The dish was invented back in 1949 by WWII survivor Herta Hauer. After having obtained a number of ingredients from British soldiers, Hauer began experimenting around, and eventually came up with the aforementioned mixture. The dish became a huge success, and in the years later Hauer came to serve it to the construction workers in Berlin as they rebuilt the city after the devastation caused by the war.
What summons this iconic signature dish is more than the sum of its parts. Currywurst was the food that rebuilt the city of Berlin, and turned it into the sizzlingly vibrant metropolis it’s known as today. The start of a new chapter for the city, Europe, and the rest of the world where human beings can now live their lives in peace and freedom. Hence why the reason it will always have a special place in every berliners heart.
Walking on these historic grounds made me slightly emotional, and as I gazed on the clock it turned out to be half past one meaning that I only had 90 minutes left in town. I jumped back on the U-Bahn bound for Alexanderplatz, to explore the place further from PetteriFinn’s recommendation. The Berlin Cathedral was the only thing of interest to see.
With one hour left before jumping on the bus back to Tegel, the hunger was starting to creep back again despite the massive breakfast and currywurst. Adjacent to the train station was a nice traditional German restaurant that served typical bavarian specialities. My request for a Leberkäse was sadly denied as it wasn’t on the menu for the day, so I was forced to settle for a schnitzel. My choice of table right next to the kitchen door was far from clever as steam came washing over me as I savoured my meal. It wasn’t until I left the restaurant that I realised that the entire me smelled like schnitzel. With not much time to spare, I headed across the street to catch the express bus bound for Tegel Airport.
The bus was packed with airline passengers carrying oversized pieces of luggage, and dragging their screaming kids along. Due to a malfunctioning brake, we were forced to pull to the side of the road for 20 minutes. In total the ride took nearly one hour, and I was very lucky to have managed to score a seat. At 4pm sharp the bus arrived to Otto Littental International Airport.
Soon, I made my way through the organised mess of completely illogical airport over to the check in hall at the D terminal. Two counters were dedicated for today’s SAS departure for Stockholm, one for Economy and one for Business/Economy Extra/EBS/EBG/*G.
At the empty Economy Class counter, I was served by Annie a woman in her late 20s working for Acciona Airport services which happened to be the handling company SAS use at Tegel.
Feeling quite upset about the mileage issue, I began having some serious doubts about my choice in frequent flyer programme. I’m just better off getting a Eurobonus Gold Card (which by the way is a much nicer looking card too) instead since those 900 missing miles will never be credited to my account anyway. A beeline was made to the empty security check which was passed with flying colours. The friendly security officer made some funny remarks about my miniature Jägermeister bottles I was carrying in my backpack.
As expected the gate area was filled with drunken fly-once-a-year leisure swedes who had most likely been on a 72 hour party marathon weekend in Berlin. This may explain the empty check-in areas as those people still stick to the rule of arriving to the airport at latest 3 hours pre-departure. With some 30 minutes to go before boarding, I went to explore the offerings in the travel-value store. What made me quite surprised was the fact that you could purchase alcohol for destinations within the EU as well, which is highly unusual. So I decided to spend my last €€€ in cash on a small bottle of Bailey’s. A drunk’ish swedish woman in her middle ages became very happy about the idea of taxfree booze within EU, so she ended up purchasing 7 bottles of various strong spirits. Suppose the finns are up for some competition in the drinking game now! Very soon though, boarding was called over the speakers.
Like mentioned earlier in the report, the swedes are a population with an obsessive passion for queueing. A long queue had already formed in front of the boarding gate. As expected, Annie from check-in was assigned the duties of scanning and ripping the boarding passes. Despite the long queue, I managed to slip through and board way ahead of all the people who were already lined up. I was wished a pleasant flight by Annie before being released down the stairways leading down to the apron. Boarding for this flight was done via airstairs, sadly the back door was not opened. There’s just something slightly nasty about us a.netters and that backdoor on the MD. Seems like all of us just want to take her from the back, the moment we lay eyes on this beauty.
As I climbed my way up the unsteady ladder towards the door, I received a very warm and friendly welcome from our purser Karin. A lovely brunette in her mid 50s greeting me with a big smile. Quite ironically I noticed her wearing one of those little yellow tags saying ”my smile is my makeup”, a tag which really suited her well.
I knew already from the looks of it that this was going to be a great flight. As I made my way down the aisle to my seat at the 8th row, I was struck by how bright, clean and fresh the cabin was. The seats, sidewalls, and overhead bins were all in immaculate condition. The load on this flight appeared to be full, and on the aisle seat a german businessman was already seated. He kindly stepped aside to let me through. As I sat down in the seat, I was once again amazed of how comfortable the seats are. The front rows had some extra legroom, making it possible for me to fully stretch my legs.
The boarding process went on surprisingly smooth, and soon the airstairs were retracted and the door was closed. The female captain came over the PA announcing our flightpath to Stockholm. A stop at the de-icing ramp, and strong headwinds would delay our arrival in Stockholm by fifteen minutes. Pushback soon followed, and the JT8D engines spooled into life as we taxied towards the de-icing ramp.
De-icing was complete in a matte of minutes, and luckily my window remained untouched by the gooey green glycol fluid. A short taxi to the runway followed, after which the engines made a huge roar as we rocketed down the runway and up into the cloudy evening skies of northern Germany. The takeoff was very dark, so no pics could be taken without coming out as blurry beyond recognition. Soon though, the Mad Dog emerged from this thick layer of ”pea soup”(!?) and a beautiful sunset taking place over the clear skies became visible to my left.
The climb was very smooth, and no turbulence or whatsoever was experienced at any time during the flight. As we had set course for Stockholm, the seatbelt sign was switched off, and the crew came out with the trolleys to start tonight’s show. Very soon, Karin parked the trolley beside my row, and approached me with a big smile.
The muffin tasted very nice and juice, just like the one I had on the outbound flight. For 25 SEK it’s very good value for the money, making this BOB thing a pretty fair compromise. At least since I was served a free glass of water and coffee. The coffee tasted nice and rich in aroma, not as watery as that mudwater they served me on the outbound flight, and the water of course was icy cold. All in all a great snack that fit in very appropriately to the duration of this flight. The man in the opposing row opted for the roast beef which was served in a box very similar to what they serve in Economy Extra. Perhaps something to try if I ever fly SAS EU again.
Shortly after having stuffed myself with the rather substantial muffin, Karin came around to offer re-fills on the coffee which I gladly accepted. Soon though the bladder was taking its toll from all the coffee and water, so I made a visit to the loo. I was instructed by Karin to simply use the front lavatory as the trolley was blocking the aisle. The biz lavatory was spotless and clean, sadly there was no window as this feature is only available on the CPH based MD-80s.
The reminder of the flight was very uneventful. The cabin lights were dimmed throughout the rest of the flight, and I spent the short remaining time in the air listening to some music on my iPhone while enjoying the views from the window. Soon the nose tipped down, indicating that we had reached our tip of descent. 20 minutes a smooth landing occurred, and the aircraft made a taxi to its gate at Terminal 5.
Upon leaving the aircraft, I thanked Karin for the great service and having the pleasure to fly with her tonight. My request for a cockpit visit was granted, and I had a very interesting chat with the female captain and her male colleague. Our conversation was sadly halted as Karin tapped me on the shoulder to notify me that the gate was about to close soon, so I bid the crew goodbye and ran up the jetway. 15 minutes later, I was on my train back home to Västerås ending a very pleasant weekend getaway to Berlin.
What concludes my two flights with SAS is that their dreaded Economy Class product is not really that bad, it’s just mediocre. While it still offers terrible value for the money due to its lack of service, the free coffee is still a good compromise as you can keep the costs for the menu options down at an acceptable level. However, SAS will still remain at the bottom of my list of preferred legacy airlines, but if I were to choose between them and the LCCs I would pick SAS in a heartbeat.
The crew on the outbound flight were really horrible. I don’t recall having such a bad crew experience on SAS before, and I really hope that it was just a one-time thing. The crew on the outbound flight were fantastic as usual on SAS, great service, great aircraft. But then again, every SAS flight on the MD-80 is a good SAS flight, and Karin and her colleagues really came to prove that statement.
All in all SAS is an airline of acceptable standard, and I wouldn’t mind flying them again in case I were to feel like going on a last minute trip somewhere. Apart from those cheap last minute tickets, my business will go to my all time favourites Lufthansa and SWISS.
Feel free to have a look at my previous reports. The reports are categorised chronologically based on their year/date of publication.
Proper Short Haul – Lufthansa CPH-FRA-CPH Y (pics) (by LH4116 Feb 13 2012 in Trip Reports)
SAS At Their Very Finest! ZRH-ARN, Business (pics) (by lh4116 Feb 2 2012 in Trip Reports)
Swiss Flatbed Business Class: PVG-ZRH +More (pics) (by LH4116 Jan 23 2012 in Trip Reports)
Proper Long Haul – Swiss Made: ARN-PVG Y (pics) (by LH4116 Jan 10 2012 in Trip Reports)
LH Italia, You Won’t Be Missed! ARN-MXP C (pics) (by LH4116 Oct 31 2011 in Trip Reports)
Parisian City Break à La Air France. ARN-CDG Y Rt (by LH4116 Aug 27 2011 in Trip Reports)
Long, Sleek And Still Blue. Finnair B757! (pics) (by LH4116 Aug 5 2011 in Trip Reports)
Off To Norway, On A Classic. ARN-BGO SAS Y (pics) (by LH4116 Jul 30 2011 in Trip Reports)
”Flying It Fake” On SAS, ARN-DLM Rt In ”C” (pics) (by LH4116 Jul 5 2011 in Trip Reports)
Norwegian ARN-GOT Inaugural Flights, Feb 17 (pics) (by LH4116 Feb 25 2011 in Trip Reports)
TAP Portugal, And The Moroccan Travesty (pics) (by LH4116 Jul 15 2010 in Trip Reports)
Off To The Northern Skies, On SAS And X2000 (pics) (by LH4116 May 9 2010 in Trip Reports)
KLM Y, ARN-AMS R/t + Wonderful Holland (pics) (by LH4116 Oct 30 2009 in Trip Reports)
Trip Report: Train to Gothenburg, 1st Class (pics) (by LH4116 Jul 10 2009 in Non Aviation)
I Give You, SAS At Its Very Best! (pics) (by LH4116 Apr 17 2009 in Trip Reports)
Comments are much appreciated!