Denmark - London, via Sweden?
Thursday 20 December - It All Starts With A Bargain
Who is not familiar with the natural phenomenon of Black Friday? It is a commercially milked out salesbonanza originating from the USA where shops have extreme low prices and sales so customers go bulk shopping for stuff they don't need at all. But, as this new tradition is spreading across the globe, airlines started to put their tickets for bargain as well. When we saw a bargain from the Danish airline Sun Air we did not hesitate at all and booked our tickets from Billund to London City. Sun Air of Scandiavia operates for British Airways with a fleet of Dornier Do-328 Jets. The jets have just 30 seats in a full business class configuration. The tickets grants access to the lounge at Billund airport (BLL) as well.
So, now we just have to get to Billund. Our route of preference is via Copenhagen (CPH) with SAS Scandinavian Airlines. We will fly an A320 to CPH, and between CPH and BLL with an ATR. Last time we booked an ATR, but got an Embraer 145 instead.. This time will be our ATR turboprop debut, we can feel it!
The first flight with SAS is a good one. We fly an A320 registered OY-KAM. The crew is nice and friendly and time literally flies by. The weather in Copenhagen is foggy and cold. We know we have to spend almost five hours here before our ATR flight to Billund. Despite the fog there are some nice aircraft to be photographed such as an Icelandair 757 special and an Atlantic Airways A320. We also see the ATR which is likely to be our next flight.
After eating a tasty hotdog, we settle down at a gate with a good view of an A320Neo being handled. It is still 15 minutes to go for our gate announcement, so prepare for a walk. Suddenly we receive a text message. It says that our flight to Billund had been cancelled.. We have to go to a transfer desk as soon as possible. Luckily, we are already at the airport for over four hours, so we know this place by heart by now, thus the transfer desk was easy to find. Here we get two options: option one is waiting another four and a half hours for the next flight to Billund and arriving there around midnight, or option two: taking a new boarding pass and rush to a gate on (you guessed it) the entire other side of the airport and board immediately for a flight via Stockholm. This option would mean that we arrive around 10pm, so we could still get some dinner anda good night sleep then. Anyways, the plan of arriving in Billund with daylight is ready for the trashcan...
We grab the tickets and rush as two complete idiots to the other side of the airport. Here we board an A321, registered OY-KBF. We board the plane via the aft door as we are greeted by the purser. You won't believe it, it is the same pursur as our previous flight from Amsterdam to Copenhagen! He recognizes us and asks why we are going to Sweden. We explain our story and after a brief laugh we fiend our seats. The flight is quick and turbulent as around 70% of the original BLL flight chose for option two. This means that we have a slight delay and this tenseness can be felt in the atmosphere.
We touch down at a dark, snowy Arlanda Airport. After a quick taxi to the gate we disembark and slide over the frozen tarmac to the gate. Then we need to hurry to our next gate, all passengers running behind an SAS official. Here we have to wait for the bus to arrive as our next plane is waiting for us on a remote stand. Will this be an ATR then?
We get in the bus and drive to the remote stands. Here we see two CRJ-900 and an ATR parked. Unfortunately, there is no activity around the ATR and our bus stops next to a CRJ.. We board the cramped plane and after a quick de-iceing we take off to Billund. The flight is okay but we are really tired by now. After landing we drop our stuff at the hotel and walk back to the terminal for a nice well deserved dinner. Today was weird, and we missed the ATR. AGAIN!!!!!
Fiday 21 December - Dornier Time!
The next morning we get up early to pack our stuff an head to the terminal. Our tickets for today grand access to the business class lounge. However, the airport/airline staff did not know about this action so far, so they have to search the entire checkin area for lounge entry tickets. Finally we get them and we make our way to the lounge. After a delicious breakfast it is time to go to our gate. We see our ride for this morning already being prepared. Today's flight is on OY-NCO, the only Dornier in the Sun Air fleet that is licenced and authorized to fly at London City Airport.
We take our seats at the first row. Seating is pretty decent and immediately after takeoff we get another breakfast served. This second breakfast is delicious as well and as the plane is just for 50% full, we take our chances to take different seats for different viewpoints. The sun rises over the cloudy North Sea which gives a golden shine over the scene. Before we know it we start our descent again and we make a stunning scenic approach at London City. We disembark the plane and look back on what has been a great comfortable flight in a truly unique aircraft type.
We take the bus and underground to Hyde Park for one of Europes best Christmas festivals: Winter Wonderland. This is our first time here and we enjoy it truly; we can recommend this event to everyone who likes Christmas even a little! As the sun sets again it is time for us to take the underground to London Heathrow, as we stay in the beautiful Renaissance Hotel tonight!
Saturday 22 December - First Row at Heathrow
The day starts early as we wake up next to the sheer beauty of aviation. Lots of magnificent planes come by in a golden morning light. As the sun rises, our view gets more and more backlit, so we decide to make our way to the terminal instead. First things first: a biggg English breakfast.
As we are stuffed to the max, we take the bus to Terminal 5 where we get through security and find a good spot at the window. Here we see some amazing widebodies such as the BA 747 and A380, some A340s and lots of Dreamliners. Highlights are the Qatar Amiri Flight A340, Virgin Atlantic A340 "A Big Virgin Thank You" and the Air New Zealand All Blacks 777. In the distance we see a special VIP Boeing 747-8i BBJ from the Sultan of Brunei. We see the first British Airways A321NEO flight departing to Amsterdam as well with G-NEOR.
As the sun sets again it is time to head to our gate. We fly back to Amsterdam today with British Airways, an A320 registered as G-EUUD. After a brief delay and deboarding some passengers and baggage, the flight is like every London-Amsterdam flight: good. In Amsterdam, we see a familiar plane standing next to us: G-NEOR! She is having some engine issues, so she had not returned to London yet. What a bummer for BA's newest member of the fleet. We make our way through the terminal to the train station and take the train back home. We are tired from this trip, but we have seen some great stuff! Cannot wait to do it again!