Monday, July 1, 2013

Trip Report-Leg 3: HEL-OSL-KEF on Blue1 and SAS (Scandinavian Airlines)

Leg 3 of the Northern European trip: HEL(Helsinki)-OSL(Oslo)-KEF(Reykjavik) on SK (Blue1 and Scandinavian Airlines)

This was the third leg of a 3-country tour of Northern Europe. The other legs were:

This next leg of the journey had us up around 4:45am. In Helsinki the sun was up and bright already so it wasn't too difficult to get up and moving that early. We were in a taxi to the Helsinki Vantaa airport by 5:30am and it couldn't have taken more than 15 minutes to get there. At checkin we needed to use a kiosk and it didn't print both luggage tags. It is strange to me that the the kiosk prints both boarding passes and luggage tags because there is so much that can go wrong by tagging your own luggage. I guess in Finland they know what they are doing. So we had to go to the counter anyway and get the tags. At the security checkpoint it was quite a different scene than at US airports. They had all the trays for the liquids and computers at a central location like at a cafeteria. Then once you have your act together you choose which one of the 3 or 4 lines you join to go through the scanners. That setup is much more efficient and you won't get stuck behind someone who is trying to figure it out while holding everyone else up. I loved it. Once we got through security we headed to the SAS Business lounge which was located right next to the security checkpoint. We waited there until about 7:00am until it was time to go to the gate for the 7:30am flight. 

This was the gate area, Gate 13, at HEL. Right behind me is the SAS Business Lounge, which is also right outside the security checkpoint. Our flight ended up getting delayed about 30 minutes. As can be seen in the photo, this early morning sunlight was so incredibly strong and warm. It was actually uncomfortable to stand in the sunlight.

This was our Blue1 717-200 called Forest Pond. I've only ever been on Hawaiian Airlines' 717s before so this was a treat for me. I absolutely love 717s and wish they had never been discontinued. Blue1 is the Finland airline in the SAS (Scandinavian Airline Group).

We were seated in the very first row of the economy section, row 5. The legroom was pretty good. They didn't serve any food on this flight, just beverages. The flight was about 1.5 hours long and in no time at all we were landing in Oslo, Norway for our layover.

This is the only divider between the economy class section and the slightly upgraded SAS Plus cabin, which includes lounge access and free food. There is no qualitative difference in the seats however.

Once at OSL I was able to take some pictures of the 717. The Blue1livery is quite nice. Blue is my favorite color so this was a memorable flight for me.

Our layover in OSL was scheduled to be about 2 hours long, but with the delay of the first flight, the layover ended up being around 1.5 hours. We went to the SAS lounge which was really nicely appointed in a truly Scandinavian design. An interesting thing I noticed about both the lounge in Helsinki and Oslo, is that the restrooms were individual use ones and there were no large public ones. We made our way to the gate and the OSL terminal was quite a zoo. They are doing some construction on the terminal and they need the extra gate space because the international terminal is quite busy. Our flight to Iceland was also delayed about 20 minutes and boarding was sort of chaotic. I had booked us exit row seats so I knew we would have extra room, but when they scanned my boarding pass at the gate, new seat assignments popped out for us.

We were now in 3D and 3E. It wasn't until we got to our seats that we saw that we had been "upgraded" to SAS Plus seats. I think the legroom might have been slightly more than the other seats, but this flight was 100% full.

The service on this flight was very good and since we were in the upgraded seats, we were able to order anything off of the buy-on-board menu for free. I ordered a salad because it looked like it was a caesar salad on the menu but it turns out that it was a roast beef and potato salad. It was slightly odd, but maybe it's a European thing. I don't know. It was tasty if not a bit salty.

The flight to Keflavik Airport in Iceland was about 2.5 hours long. We actually arrived on time even though we departed about 30 minutes late. When we arrived at KEF, we were the only plane there. We landed at about 10:45am. 

Getting through the airport was a breeze. It was quite chilly when we landed at about 12C and windy. We walked out to the Flybus area where we caught the bus directly to the Blue Lagoon.

These are the strange art sculptures just outside the airport. 

No comments:

Post a Comment