SAS MD80 FAREWELL CHARTER
When an old aircraft retires from the fleet, the only appropriate action is to charter it and take an old lady for one long, last flight, with good friends.
And that’s exactly what we did.
My friends at milepoint.com (where frequent flyers meet) with tommy777 as the head organizer, put together a great program for the NordicDO 2013. A “do” is, as the verb describes, doing something. In this case, chartering our own aircraft, and fly across Scandinavia.
The MD82 has been in service with SAS since 1985 but now it’s time for newer and more fuel efficient airplanes. As of May 2014, SAS will be operating a fleet of only Next Generation jets.
So let’s get to it!
The trip started Thursday, September 19, in the morning, when I took the train from Arendal to Oslo. It took me about 4 hours to get to Oslo, and it was a nice and comfortable ride.
I got off the train and headed for the Radisson Blu Plaza hotel which is conveniently located right next to the train station. I checked in to my room, located on the 17th floor, before it was time for a welcome reception on the 33rd floor of the hotel.
My Oslo-view from my room
The Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel at night
The next morning I had a quick breakfast before I got on the airport express train (ticket sponsored by Club Carlson for this event) and after 20 minutes on the train, I arrived at Oslo Gardermoen Airport.
To be honest, you wouldn’t think we were a group of frequent flyers on tour. We had a dedicated check in counter for those of us with gold cards. Which meant everyone got in that line
I have never seen such a long line for check in at Oslo before.
We checked in, and we also got our special name tags.
After check in, some of us proceeded to the SAS Scandinavian Lounge where we were granted access, despite that we were flying on a SAS charter, and not a regular scheduled flight. The Lounge Dragons were on our side this day! (But you needed a gold card from SAS to enter)
When the monitor in the lounge said “Go to gate” for SK7001, we walked over to Gate 44 where our beautiful MD82, SE-DMB waited for us.
As we got settled in to our seats (16E for me on the first leg to Stockholm), the party kicked off.
First, a passenger on our flight, took the safety demo. Turns out she’s an ex-Pan Am flight attendant
But we also had regular crew onboard. Here, our air host Mattias shows us where the emergency exits are located.
The Air Purser, Karin, had purchased, out of her own pocket, Scandinavian flags and small bouquets of fresh flowers to decorate the interior of the aircraft. It really underlines the dedication of the SAS employees working with our flight. They are all so passionate about their company and their job, and it really shows.
Then we pushed back, and taxied to the runway for take off. Or so we thought.
The captain thought it’d be a good idea, to clean this old woman with some water before taking off, considering he had so many celebrities onboard (Captain Ola’s own words haha)
Water salute courtesy by the emergency response team at OSL!
All cleaned up, we could finally take off!
It was a beautiful take off, and the entire airplane started applauding when the wheels lifted off the ground. We were in an ecstatic mood. And that mood continued for the rest of the day.
The service on board this flight is something you will never experience onboard any SAS (or any other airline, for that matter) flight. Breakfast was served on the first leg, a 40-minute flight from Oslo to Stockholm. With alcohol. Free alcohol. When Norwegians are offered free alcohol, they never decline such a generous offer (keep in mind, a glass of beer at a bar here in Norway is 10-15USD)
The flight attendants had their hands full with serving a full MD80-flight breakfast and drinks. But they did an amazing job.
Air Hostesses Hanna and Natalie
The amazing Air Purser, Karin, with her vintage SAS wings on her uniform.
Karin has been employed with SAS since 1978!
Stockholm-Arlanda in sight, and we start the approach to RWY26.
Keep in mind this 40-minute flight had a full meal service + drink service. Thus, cleaning the cabin took a while.
The guy in the blue t-shirt in the aisle, is tommy777 himself. He is here seen running up the aisle with breakfast boxes, cleaning the cabin. We were well below 3000 ft at this point.
Here are some of the crew, cleaning up the last few items before announcing “cabin secure” to the flight deck.
But the “cabin secure” didn’t get to the pilots, so they had to discontinue the approach, while we were on final lol. So they made a left 360 to get everything ready for landing. The cabin crew seemed a little…stressed.
Wheels down, we can land!
In Stockholm, SAS welcomed us into their SAS Business Lounge in Terminal 5, which they had closed down that afternoon, just for us. Vice President of Eurobonus, SAS’ frequent flyer program, gave a little speech. We could ask him some questions, most of which he really couldn’t answer, as it was mainly concerning a new tier coming to Eurobonus this fall, that will be revealed later on.
My friend Jennifer, a 787 flight engineer working with Norwegian and Qatar in Stockholm, joined us as well. Nice to see you again Jen!
The SK7001 crew!
SAS handed out goodie bags as we left the lounge, to go back to our airplane for the next flight.
SE-DMB parked by F-37.
For the next flight to Copenhagen, I got seat 17F. Before boarding, we were let loose on the tarmac to take photos of the aircraft.
Air Hostess Hanna and me
It was then time for boarding, which iconically happened through the back of the airplane.
We took off from RWY 19R and after some right and left turns for noise abatement, we were headed north.
Copenhagen is south of Stockholm, isn’t it?
Yes, it still is, no one blew up the city and moved it to Northern Sweden. But when we’re talking about frequent flyers, we never take the shortest route, do we?
Stockholm-Copenhagen is usually a 340 mile, 1 hour flight. Usually. But there is nothing usual about SK7001.
This was our flight. 3,5 hrs was the estimated flight time enroute.
When flying northbound, the captain announced he had to really convince the air traffic controllers that his plan was indeed to fly to CPH. Via BOO (Arctic Circle) and SVG.
So with the airplane in the air for the next 3,5 hours, service began.
With hot towels! I can really not recall the last time I was offered a hot towel in economy.
I had to take a photo, as evidence
Sophie joined me, and got settled into her new favorite seat, 17E.
With Karin behind the wheels of the drink cart, the party started ROCK’n'ROLL!
What an amazing view to enjoy my dinner with.
Dinner, with HOT ROLLS!
I enjoyed a glass of champagne with my dinner. Life is good.
Speed brakes? Yes, we were going to do a low pass over Stavanger!
Since traffic at SVG was coming in from the south and taking off to the north, we couldn’t get a low pass over the airfield (we came in from the north, thus going against the traffic flow)
But we got down to 2,500 ft. And according to the crew, the aircraft started to depressurize, thinking it was going land. But with the flip of a switch, and applying power, we started a gentle climb up to cruise. During cruise we had a MD80-quiz and more fun before we unfortunately started the approach to Copenhagen.
I couldn’t stop smiling. This flight was beyond what I had ever imagined.
Before landing, we pushed ALL the cabin attendant call buttons, just to make sure they still worked, 22 years after the aircraft was built
But all things must come to an end. That includes also SK7001. For the first time in my life, I wished, from deep within my heart, that the flight would never end.
Touch down on Runway 22L in Copenhagen. I have never heard this much applause on an airplane before.
A special flight was over, and as we taxied to gate I was reminiscing all the great memories I have had with the SAS MD80 fleet.
SE-DMB will be ferried to the US later this year, for a transformation to become a water bomber. Knowing that, makes it a little easier. It will still play an important role for many many people in the years to come.
This summer and early fall I have been working so hard to reach one goal, and one goal only. To change the country’s prime minister from Jens Stoltenberg (Labor party) to Erna Solberg (the Conservative party)
Monday, September 9 was election day, and I was working as an election official to make sure everything went smoothly. As the election came to an end towards the evening, the results were published shortly after.
And the results spoke for them selves. When all the votes were counted, the non-socialist parties had won, meaning Erna Solberg, the leader of the Conservatives and our prime minister candidate, will create a government together with the Liberals, Christian Democrats and the Progress Party.
Erna Solberg will be the second female prime minister in Norway.
Long nights, lots of work. It all paid off. When I went to bed that night, after the election, I felt a sense of emptiness. What will I do tomorrow? Just go to work? No more campaigning? The campaign has been a part of my life since late July, so it was kind of a shock to return to the daily life and reality. But it also feels good. Knowing we did everything we could, and that we actually made a difference. A huge relief. And a self confidence booster for sure.
This is my first weekend off in a long, long time. I look forward to just go to work for a few hours tomorrow, Saturday, and other than that – just relax!
Next weekend I’m jetting of to new adventures in Oslo, Stockholm and Copenhagen, on a privately chartered aircraft. Stay tuned
A blog reader sent me the link of an article regarding germy places on a commercial flight. I found it very interesting, and thought I should share it with my other readers as well.
After clicking the “Book Now” button for a flight, there is a whisper of possibility in the air. The possibility of a new adventure, the possibility of making new memories, and the possibility of … catching the flu on your way to a once in a lifetime vacation. Many of the basic cleaning duties of commercial flights slip through the cracks between hectic schedules and delayed flights, leaving behind a breeding ground for bacteria looking to attack the bodies of unsuspecting travelers. Microbiologist and Director of Global Service Care at Reckitt Benckiser Inc., Joe Rubino, has lent some expertise and suggestions within our list of the top 5 “dirtiest” parts of a commercial flight!
To my readers, please take precautions when traveling. I always keep a bottle of antibac in my purse, and also in my carry-on when I travel by plane. There is no excuse for bad hygiene, even when traveling, as you can get most antibacs in 3oz travel size as well.
Stay healthy, and keep exploring the world
I had almost forgot about my blog, for the entire summer. But now I will try and keep you guys updated on a more regular basis, especially since this fall will include a lot of stress related to the start of CPL in February. I will write about the application process, the visa process +++. More on that later.
This summer I got to travel A LOT. I traveled all over Norway with a friend for 5 days. I flew 24 flights in 5 days. On the Dash 8 Q100/Q200/Q400. So much fun! I even got to ride jumpseat on some of the flights. If you want to check out some cool photos from my trip, visit my Instagram profile http://instagram.com/cecebg# (from the seatbelt and onward)
My favorite shot is of the Q100 propeller in the sunset, flying from Bodø (ENBO) to Mo i Rana (ENRA)
For more photos, make sure you check out my Photobucket library
So far, 2013 has brought me to the US 3 times, and a few trips around Europe as well. In May, I also went on a day trip to Barcelona with some friends. I went to Stockholm for the first time in June to shoot a video for Disney’s new Pixar project “Planes” and on my day off I flew off to Helsinki, Finland for the day, just for fun I got to sit in the jumpseat on the B737-800 from Kristiansand to Oslo, and I rode the B717 (Airline: Blue1) for the first time in my life! Awesome airplane!
In August I haven’t traveled anywhere but in September, me and some friends at the Scandinavian avgeek forum Flyprat (www.flyprat.no) have chartered a SAS MD-80 that will take us on a SAS MD80-farewell tour across Scandinavia. SAS is retiring the MD80 this October. In November I’m going on a long weekend trip to Dublin!
Thanks for still following my blog (those of you who still are)
I will not wait 3 months until the next blog, that’s for sure
So I was browsing the internet during my lunch break at work yesterday and came across an ad online, where this guy needed to sell his plane tickets to Washington DC from Oslo (round trip). He didn’t need to go anymore, as the friends he was supposed to visit had moved from D.C to Vancouver, B.C, Canada. He asked 1500 NOK (approx $250) for it, and I decided to buy it from him. The only “problem”? The departure day is Thursday. This Thursday.
Yes, May 16th I will once again, and for the third time this year, get on a plane bound for America. I am obsessed with that country.
So after paying the guy 1500 NOK for the ticket I contacted SAS (operating and marketing carrier in this case) to change the name on the ticket, which cost 500NOK. No problem, and a new ticket was issued to me within minutes of me hanging up the phone.
Now, I don’t really know what to do in D.C for 5 days, so I contacted my cousin Molly and told her about my plans for the weekend. She is spending the weekend until Sunday morning, in Upstate New York by a lake, and she invited me to go with her and her boyfriend. So how the heck do I get to Lake George? By train or plane, were the options. I decided to book a flight direct to Albany (ALB) 2 hours after I arrive from Copenhagen in Dulles. I also booked a return ticket to IAD from EWR Tuesday May 21 when my flight back to Europe departs IAD in the afternoon.
I also booked a connecting flight to Oslo (OSL) from Kristiansand (KRS) with SAS, Thursday morning.
I will spend a few days up by Lake George first, then head to NYC for the Syttende May parade (May 17, Norway’s Constitution day) in Brooklyn, which is a yearly parade celebrated by Norwegian-Americans.
Flights are pretty full, but I sent an Optiontown request for my return flight IAD-CPH from economy to business class (paid, standby upgrade) so I’m crossing my fingers that will work out.
Well, I better start packing. Between me and my trip is 6 hours at work tomorrow, and some intense hours of packing.