Tuesday, 5 July 2016

My first ever extreme cold weather flights and de-icing. Scandinavian Airlines London to Tromsø via Oslo

More firsts on this trip:
  • Frst trip on Scandinavian Airlines
  • First trip to Norway
  • First visit to Oslo Airport
  • First time witnessing wing de-icing
  • First flight with on-board WiFi
As you might have read previously here, this trip to Tromsø was part of my first northern hemisphere Christmas. I live in Sydney, Australia, where real cold is rare. We call 8ºC (46ºF) overnight freezing, and regard 30ºC (86ºF) as just getting warm. So -10ºC (14ºF) comes as a real shock.

I think you can tell that my English friends have perfected a traditional Northern Hemisphere Christmas with this mantle decoration.
We started our trip at Heathrow Terminal 2 - The Queens Terminal, at a better than average Plaza Platinum lounge, ready to board our Scandinavian Airlines flight Flight SK 806 at 3:35pm on 27 Dec.

In fact this report is a bit of a combination of four flights all on the same aircraft type:
  • London to Oslo - SK 806 at 3:35pm on 27 Dec
  • Oslo to Tromsø - SK 4434 at 7:55 on 27 Dec
  • Trømso to Oslo - SK 4417 at 2 pm on 30 Dec
  • Oslo to London - SK 811 at 5:05pm on 30 Dec
All flights were on Boeing 737-800's in Economy. And all were roughly on time, except for the first flight out of Oslo which got delayed by a couple of hours - not sure of the reason - rumour was because of a fire at Tromsø airport - but I can find no news report to support that.

Interior of the SAS 737-800. On the low-cost side of a legacy airline.
This inter European operation of SAS, is kind of quasi low-cost airline. For readers in Australia, think Virgin Blue - before it changed to Virgin Australia. So 'full service' appearance, but you pay for everything either in a higher bundled ticket price, or item by item onboard, depending what fare you paid. But, SAS do have WiFi at €6 for the flight - which was about AU$10 (US$7) at the time. Not worth it for the length of the flights in my opinion (both around 2 hours).


You will notice no back of seat entertainment, or drop down screens - so this is an entertainment free zone. Fortunately, in this day and age, all you need is your trusty iPad, and you have podcasts, music, TV and movies at your fingertips.

They do - do reading material however:

Yes there is an article on Male Grooming titled 'Sideburns, baby, sideburns'.
. . . and you can order food and drinks, although I am not entirely sure the Scandinavian food revolution has quite hit this airline:


Here's the low cost model at work - meal deals, and combo meals. Please note all those somewhat healthy options on the left of the page? None were available.

Only the unhealthy options remained.
 This is what was available:

Wine always makes the flight go faster.

A cheeky little 'garnacha', and the universal comfort food - Potato Crisps!

I like the illustration of the Potato plant. It looks far nobler than it is.

This animated screen awaited us in the luggage hall. The loop went for quite a while, and given our delay, it was quite mesmerising.



video

I know this will sound naive for those of you in the northern hemisphere, but this is the first time I have seen snow at an airport:


Oslo airport, my first snow at an airport. Seemed ominous
I soon relaxed once I realised that these airports are totally designed to cope with this sort of weather. Leaving Oslo after our trip to Tromsø - our plane was de-iced. Another first for me.

De-icing in Oslo. I was wide-eyed, as this was my first experience of extreme cold weather flying.
This was an experience trip. We were only staying three nights - the first because we arrived so late, and then two nights to chase the northern lights. We were here to give me a proper northern hemisphere Christmas experience. So other than seeing Santa Clause actual sleigh passing overhead, snow and the northern lights were about as Christmassy as this trip was going to get. I was not disappointed - as the next couple of instalments of this tale will attest.

Conclusion

Europe is meant to be small compared to Australia, but it still takes a day to get from London to Tromsø with one stopover and a delay. When its winter there is snow everywhere, and when you are not protected by a metal tube, or an overheated airport, it is cold, very cold, and you do need all those thermals. Water resistant snowboots are also a good investment. Layering, and allowing time to disrobe and re-robe every time you change environment is something I am not used to, but you definitely need to adapt to. Fires happen in airports or planes even in sub zero temperatures.

More stories from this trip




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