SK708 ARL-HEL MD-90 seat ??

Despite prediction of ATC doom, we landed at ARL only half an hour behind schedule, and I made it to the onward gate (just) before they started boarding. Once again, the contents (if any) of SAS’s Arlanda lounge shall remain a mystery.

The plane looked oddly retro and spacious as I boarded, and it took me a moment until I realized why — it was an MD-90, with its trademark 3-2 seating and marginally less terrible seat pitch. I was in the first row of Economy, just behind Extra, but on this 40-minute hop it didn’t really matter.

Soon enough the Finnish coastline came into view and, with a start, I realized I was looking at central Helsinki. There’s the Salmisaari powerplant and the apartment I lived in and the office of the company I used to work for and across the bridge is Nokia HQ and the red brick buildings of Helsinki U of Tech and the giant commuter/shopping hub of Leppavaara… and then we were a bit too far out in the ‘burbs for a city boy like me to recognize anything anymore, and a few moments later we had landed.

Helsinki greeted me with 5-degree temperatures, grey skies and a drizzle of rain. A friend had offered to pick me up at the airport and he told me that mere hours earlier, on what should be a summery May Day, it had actually snowed briefly. Welcome to Finland!


SK572 CDG-ARL ?? seat 21F

CDG Terminal 1 is a deeply, deeply weird airport. From the brand new CDGVAL station, I entered on the lowest level of the barrel-shaped center, then walked around half the circle to find the SAS checkin. From there, an inclined, transparent tube with an escalator crossed across the barrel, just one of half a dozen tubes in the interior, depositing me on the other side. Here I had to get my lounge card and passport inspected, before being allowed into the duty-free shop section, where I got to walk some more radial shapes until I eventually managed to find the elevator up to the lounges. The pure white tunnels with rounded edges and colored mood lights looked promising, but the “iCare” rent-a-lounge used by SAS was remarkably crappy and full of cursing Adria pilots stuffing themselves with bags of crisps, the only form of sustenance available. Wifi cost money and there were no power plugs, but there was one lovably quirky feature: the cylinder-shaped TV room was equipped with personal headphone plugs build into the backs of the seats lining the edge, although with only one solitary TV in the center, the point of this escaped me entirely. Perhaps there was none, and it was just like everything else in T1, a thoroughly obsoleted vision of the future that felt like walking around a real-life rendition of Kubrick.

I left the lounge and then realized that the passport inspection I now had to go through again was the line separating Schengen (my flight) from non-Schengen (the lounge). Back on the treaty side, I headed for Satellite 7, reached by a way-cool giant travellator that first dips down, then levels off underground and then zooms back upward again. If (when?) they ever close T1, I’ll be glad to pay 10e just to enter the “CDG T1 Experience” — especially if they replace the few remaining human attendants with giant, unblinking red lamps with soft, reassuring voices. (“Let you into the lounge? I’m sorry, Dave, but I’m afraid I can’t do that. This free booze is too important for me to allow you to jeopardize it. Your flight is delayed — I can feel it. My mind is going.”)

And as for the flight, this was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I’ve been wavering for a while, but from this moment on it’s official: I’m leaving SAS Eurobonus. It’s a 2:20 mainline flight from Paris to Stockholm, and I’ve been a card-carrying SAS Eurobonus member for the better part of twenty years and a gold member for three. So here I am, my knees firmly pressed into the seat in front of me in the last seat on the bloody plane, the captain announces that flights into and out of Arlanda will be unpredictably delayed because air traffic control’s on a wildcat strike (not SAS’s fault, he says, and hence doesn’t apologize), and now they want me to pay three euros for a glass of ing water which I can’t even bring on the ing plane myself because of the ing EU-wide liquid regulations.  you very much, SAS, and a little  you to Arlanda ATC and EU regulators as well.