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Posts Tagged ‘SAS’

Stockholm 2010, day six (final), going home

05.10.2010 23:54

Final day, and time to just wake up, pack up the last few things before I check out of the hotel and start my way towards the airport.

I was a bit worried about getting the spin art from the day before with me home, but after a few tweaks to my suitcase (if I open up a special zipper in the lid, the suitcase can contain about 2-3 cm more stuff), I was able to carefully squeeze the frame into the lid. I was already looking up options for mailing it home or cost for extra pieces of luggage on my flight (the first piece of luggage is free with SAS, anything beyond that costs extra), but the fact that it managed to fit into the lid made me relax a whole lot more.

I had been up almost all night surfing the web and didn’t get around to really turn in for the night before closer to 6 in the morning. I already had my phone’s alarm clock set to a 8:30 wake-up call, since they stop serving the breakfast buffet at 10, with an additional wake-up at 11 (final check-out is at 12, or noon). I woke up just slightly at the first wake-up call, and decided I could just catch a few more hours of sleep and find something on the way to the airport instead.

I’m thankful for almost eternal repeat (the app I use for my phone’s alarm clock makes me solve mathematical problems to completely shut off the alarm) – I didn’t get my ass out of the hotel room until it was closer to 11:55, which is really pushing it. I took the bus the usual three stops to where I can switch to the subway. There’s a Burger King right next to this stop, and I had originally thought about grabbing me a burger menu (I didn’t have to be at the airport for another 2 hours at least), but I decided to just travel all the way to the airport, get myself to the baggage drop and be done with it. The subway leads about 4 stops to T-Centralen, which is where just about all public transportation in Stockholm meets, including the Arlanda Express, which takes me to the airport in 20 minutes or less.

Yes, this little folder

Arriving at the airport at about 13:10, I felt I had all the time in the world, and after walking about 5-10 minutes around the check-in area to find my airline’s check-in terminals and baggage drop-off counters, I suddenly realized I had forgotten my folder aboard the airport express train.

Now, this is where I kept a written copy of the booking reference code, one of my credit cards (more specifically, the credit card I used to pay for this trip), and last but not least, my passport.

You can imagine the sense of panic I felt at that moment. I rushed downstairs to the airport express trains and waited for the next train to arrive. I tried looking in through the windows around where I sat, hoping it was the exact same train I arrived on myself, but without luck. Finally, one of the train staff noticed the slightly confused and worried person that I had become at that point, and approached me. I explained the situation, and he managed to call up the train central for more information. The train he was operating was at its last stop, and would be switching tracks to leave for the city about 5 minutes later, but he would meet me again at the track at the other side of the platform to give me an update.

Sure enough, the guys at the central had found my folder, and the person now holding my travel folder would be on the train arriving at 14:10, about 40 minutes later. I patiently waited at the platform until the time came, and I finally got it back, with an immense feeling of relief.

I rushed back upstairs to check in my baggage (SAS lets you check in to the flight and select seats up to 22 hours before the flight, so I did just that the night before), first via one of the check-in terminals (for a baggage attachment), and then over the the drop-off counter. When I had dropped off my suitcase, I looked at the clock up on the wall; it was now 14:30. The flight takes off at 15:35, and baggage has to be checked in no later than an hour on international flights (this was for a flight from Stockholm, Sweden to Oslo, Norway). So much for that relaxing extra time I was hoping for.

Next up was a quite long walk through the security checkpoint and to my gate (which was probably as far away as you could possibly get – if you’re on an international-bound flight at Arlanda airport outside Stockholm, try walking the distance to gate 10A, you’ll see what I mean). I managed to grab me a cinnamon bun and a croissant along with an orange soda (Zingo) when I had found my gate, just to eat at least something (and those were the only things I found tempting at the time).

The transfer from an international flight to a domestic flight at Gardermoen airport (outside Oslo) was no picnic, either. I now remember what I hate about travelling internationally, especially if the first airport I arrive at on an international flight isn’t the airport of my final destination. I have to walk a long way to the baggage pick-up, take my luggage, haul it through customs and outside the security checkpoint, where I have to check-in my baggage again (I can go directly to the drop-off counter this time, though) and go through the security checkpoint all over again. I don’t think I’ve walked that far in a very long time.

Good thing the next flight of my trip wasn’t leaving for another 2 hours or so. After finally finding some decent food (the choice finally landed on a heated ham and cheese ciabatta), I found the right gate for my flight (which wasn’t up on the boards yet when I first arrived through the checkpoint) and sat down for some eating time. The flight appeared to be slightly delayed, and seemed to be the last of the 19:10 flights to start boarding, but this slight delay allowed me to finish my ciabatta and soda before the boarding started.

Some flights can really be tiresome. I just hope the flight portion of my next trip goes more smoothly. I don’t know when or where my next trip will be, though, but I hope it won’t be too long.

And for those who are interested, I’ve uploaded all photos from this week to my Flickr account:

Flickr photoset: Late Summer Vacation 2010

Stockholm 2010, day one

30.09.2010 00:10

My first day is just about over, and not much has happened.

My day started with the airport bus at 10 am, lift-off to Bergen at 11:05, and touchdown in Stockholm around 2 pm, the Arlanda Express arriving in the city center a little before 3 pm, getting a little lost trying to find the right subway track going near my hotel, and finally checking in at 3:45 pm.

I was originally going to the first Blue Man Group performance of the week at 7:30 pm, but I got an e-mail from the ticket agency on Friday letting me know that the Wednesday show was cancelled. To tell you the truth, I was a little disappointed. Still, there’s always the other 7 shows, starting with the 7:30 pm show tomorrow (Thursday).

I spent the left-over time using the free Wifi connection at the hotel (for hotel guests), wasting several hours. The fact that there’s a supermarket next door to the hotel comes in handy for snacking supplies, though. I finally got my ass together around 8 pm to get some dinner.

Today’s dining choice became Stockholms Matvarufabrik, about 1 block away from the hotel. The menu was limited, the dining area was a bit so-so (but clean). I’m not a big fan of the deliberate worn-down interior designs, which is probably why I didn’t enjoy the atmosphere too much.

My choice on the menu landed on venison with pumpkin, duck liver, black currant and liqourice ( hjortrygg med variation på pumpa, halstrad anklever, svarta vinbär och lakritsrot hjort med gresskar, andelever, solbær og lakris). Delicious!

And now, for a shower and it’s off to bed for me…

Too fat for airplanes?

15.02.2010 18:58

Over the recent year, I’ve had more than a fair share of airplane travel. My trip to the US last summer encompassed 10 flights alone (to and from), and my trip to Oslo last weekend counts as two additional flights (including the return flight).

Some of you might’ve caught film director Kevin Smith‘s recent trouble with Southwest Airlines, where he was, in essence, kicked off the flight because he was too fat – after being seated. He had paid for two seats (which is already a bullshit premise), but arrived so early at the airport, so he decided to jump on standby for an earlier flight. That earlier flight only had a single seat available, which mr. Smith didn’t mind – in his words; “I didn’t buy an extra seat because I’m fat (which I am), but because I’m anti-social and didn’t want to sit next to someone & possibly have to make convo (in person, I’m very shy)”. According to his story on Twitter, he was seated between to ladies, and he fit the seat perfectly without an extender, yet, the captain didn’t want him on the flight because he was a security risk.

When I returned from the singles party in Oslo last Sunday, I had a similar problem. I had checked in to my flight with SAS the night before using their mobile website, just to make sure I actually would be on the flight, considering it was the last flight of the evening (SK 1334 from Oslo to Ålesund at 9:45 PM on Feb 7, to be exact).

Knowing that seat rows with the emergency exits have slightly more leg room, and considering that I had no problem sitting next to an emergency exit on of the US flights last year, I checked in to seat 11A, which on this flight is the window seat smack dab next to the emergency exit. This was even indicated clearly on the seat chart during check-in (which is why I selected that seat).

As I said, sitting next to an emergency exit is not a problem for me, even if there should be problems during the flight. I have enough arm strength to rip the door handle right off if/when needed, I can remain calm in an emergency, and I can be more than helpful guiding my fellow passengers out the emergency exit if the plane should be damaged enough to make for a hasty exit. I sat next to an emergency exit at one of the flights in the US (I don’t remember which flight at the moment), and I even sat next to an emergency exit on my flight down to Oslo earlier that same weekend. As on all flights in recent years, I was wearing a seat belt extender, and on both previous occasions, I was only asked if I was able to handle the emergency exit if an emergency should arise, in addition to being asked about language barriers and my understanding of the additional instructions when seated next to an emergency exit.

However, on this last flight, I was told that since I was wearing a seat belt extender, I had to move to a different seat, due to being considered a security risk. I was even compared to a woman with child (pregnant or with a new born), and was told that anyone requiring a seat belt extender could not be seated next to an emergency exit. Not one to cause a scene, I reluctantly moved to the seat row behind my original seat, as that flight had about 20, maybe 30 passengers in total (and both seat rows in front and behind my original seat were empty). I was kinda grumpy the rest of the flight, to say the least.

In recent times, I always ask for a seat belt extender the second I board the flight. Sometimes they give it to me there and then, and sometimes they bring it to my seat after the boarding queue has died down. When I flew to Oslo that weekend (SK 1331 the Friday before), the attendant brought it to my seat – knowing full well that I was sitting in a seat next to the emergency exit. I was only asked the usual questions regarding emergency instructions etc.

For some reason, the flight attendant on that particular Sunday flight had a beef with me.

I mean, if there’s such a security problem regarding seating next to emergency exits, why even allow passengers to check in without problems to these seats? Also, it’s the first time I’ve even heard of such a regulation.

I fit snugly into airplane seats with the arm rests down, no problem, it’s just that the seat belt itself doesn’t reach all the way around. If I stand on my knees on the seat, people can pass by me without any problems, so frankly, I don’t see why I couldn’t sit there.

I originally was going to let this one slide by silently, but with the issues Kevin Smith had today,  I just couldn’t shut my mouth much longer.

Between Ålesund and Oslo, there are only two airlines available; SAS and Norwegian. Norwegian (Air Shuttle) is the cheapest choice of the two, but you do get to bare minimum. A friend of mine used Norwegian Air Shuttle on a trip to London a few months ago, and had trouble with flight delays due to weather (where SAS re-routed the flights to the neighboring city (Molde), Norwegian instead let the airplanes return to Oslo), in addition to not getting any service or information during these delays (something which she noticed the passengers with SAS got – SAS, to their credit, even set up bus trips to Molde so people would get to their destinations). This little story made me select SAS for my flights out of Ålesund. Yes, they are a little bit more expensive (anywhere from 100 to 300 NOK extra), but you (usually) get a whole lot more customer service out of those extra money.

Then again, that single flight attendant did kinda ruin my flight that day. I know how Kevin Smith must feel.