This is a review of a trip I took in December of 2011. In the meantime a lot has been happening at Blue 1. The beginning of 2012 looked rather bleak for this Finnish SAS subsidiary, with the airline basically withdrawing from all its international services outside Scandinavia. In the meantime though, things have started to look up, at least slightly. With the financial situation at SAS continuing to deteriorate, it may well be that Blue 1 will end up taking over at least the entire European operation of the SAS group.
Date: 27 December 2011
Aircraft: B 717
Cabin Class: Economy Extra
Copenhagen airport is very busy when I arrive, judging by the queues it looks as though all of Denmark has elected to travel by air on this early morning!
Fortunately I checked in online the previous day, so I won’t have to join the not so fun looking queue down there.
In Copenhagen SAS has a dedicated Fast Track for passengers in Business Class on SAS or with Eurobonus gold status. Fortunately Economy Extra passengers on Blue1 may also avail themselves of the fast track.
There are two exits from the Fast Track security area, one leads you into a duty free shop while the other drops you off right outside the SAS lounges.
The SAS Gold Lounge
There are two lounges in one facility in Copenhagen. The SAS lounge for Business Class passengers is located on the ground floor, while the upper floor is the Scandinavia lounge for all Star Gold passengers. The lounge is rather peaceful. Not really quite sure what to expect in terms of catering on Blue 1, I decide to have breakfast in the lounge.
Eventually I head to the departure gate to catch a first glimpse of my ride to Helsinki. Et voilà!
My first impression of the cabin is good, although the carpets look rather worn and filthy. Of the three flights on a Bue1 B 717 I take on this trip, none were identical from the inside. This aircraft has a bulkhead covered in blue leather and is equipped with two lavatories in the rear of the cabin.
We take off into a murky looking Copenhagen sky, very soon though we are through the clouds and in lovely subdued sunshine.
Service already starts on the ground with a round of water or orange juice. There are eight rows of Economy Extra for only five passengers in this cabin, which makes for a very pleasant and quiet flight.
Once we we are airborne, breakfast is served, which comes with nice warm bread. The crew do a number of coffee and juice rounds throughout the flight. One thing that strikes me is that everything on this aircraft is SAS branded, from the seat covers to the salt and pepper sachets. So why not just call it SAS Finland?
The meal is tasty and certainly more than I expected. It hits the spot just nicely.
Soon we start our descent, which is a very bumpy affair, making it really hard to take any decent pictures.
Transfer in Helsinki
Upon arrival I head for the SAS lounge, which is right opposite my gate for the connection to Oulu. The lounge is nice and rather well stocked.
The weather is starting to clear up – I think.
Date: 27 December 2011
Operated by: Golden Air
Aircraft: ATR 72
Cabin Class: Economy Extra
Boarding for this flight is from a remote stand, so we are bussed to our aircraft, which is parked in a part of the airport that really does justice to the term ‘remote stand’.
The load on this flight is close to 100%. There are two rows of Economy Extra. As the ATR has the entry door at the rear, the premium section is also located in the rear section of the cabin. So I take my time and wait for everybody else to get on board.
Seating is rather tight, but quite okay for such a short flight. The cabin is clean and welcoming.
On this flight lunch is served, consisting of a chicken breast with some sort of pasta salad and chutney. Every tray comes with a bottle of wine on it (in a plastic bottle, I decided not to try it…). The food, as all the meals I have on Blue1 actually, is quite tasty. The chicken is succulent and not at all dry.
Landing in Oulu is pretty rough and there seems to be a blizzard passing through the area as we start our approach. Still the sturdy ATR 72 marches on persistently, seemingly unperturbed by the rough flying conditions. My greatest respect to the cockpit crew’s airmanship skills! As we slow down, there is a strong crosswind component sweeping snow across the airfield and the runway. The snow clearing squad is evidently having a hard time keeping the apron and runway clear of snow.
I have finally arrived in Oulu and clocked the B 717, Blue1 and Golden Air. It’s also so cold that I’m freezing my nuts off by the time I reach the hotel!
I like Blue 1. They’re a nice little airline and the service they provide on the four flights I have with them is consistently very good. I have nothing to complain about. But please, someone give those carpets a good scrub!