(This report is posted simultaneously in French here)
I chose to make this Flight Report a special one, because as some of my most attentive readers may have noticed when checking my profile, this report together with its twin French version is the one which makes me reach the threshold of one million cumulated kilometers reported on this website. Granted, since the vast majority of my flights are short haul, I only reached this total by cumulating around 600,000 km in French with 400,000 km also posted in English. But this is also the flight which makes me reach a total of one million life kilometers in flight since a memorable ORY-NCE Air France flight in the lap of my mother. I have evidently no memory of this event, but my mother does, first because flying was an incredible luxury back then, and second because the FA had been sternly reprimanded by an anonymous middle aged passenger for her utter lack of help of this young woman carrying an infant. (Reconstructing my air travel resume carries a 40,000 km error margin, but who cares about an extra or missing trip round the world?)
I probably also earned around a million Flying Blue airmiles (cumulated with their preceding Fréquence Plus points), but I did not bother checking records.
To celebrate this triple millionaire status, I decided to replace the landscapes that I saw during this flight by a retrospective of all airfields which can be seen looking west when taking Flight AF1262, by far the flight I boarded most in my career. An afternoon flight, and therefore a window seat on the right for adequate lighting conditions would yield many others, such as CPH, for instance.
Of course, you cannot see them all during a single flight, even with ideal weather, because they are within viewing distance of different routes. Many of these runways are much too short for an Airbus, but it is nevertheless obvious that emergency airports are plentiful on the line. (Thanks to gcmap.com)
Before taking off, I must reach the airport, and before that, I can choose my seat, which I did even before the OLCI. A window seat on the left for good lighting conditions, ahead of the wing because I am going to have a small hand luggage (the overhead bins fill up very quickly in the front of the aircraft on this line). I keep Seat 6A at OLCI, because the window is misaligned on row 5 in AF’s A321s, and I suspect A320s are the same;
It’s a reasonably smooth taxi ride to CDG this time
I used a regular taxi, not a taxi motorcycle. It’s early July and some people already left on vacation, hence improved traffic conditions.
Entering Terminal 2F landside
It is not a crowded day
My flight to ARN is displayed on time
Going through security is fast; I have Skypriority privilege, but I doubt it as crowded at the regular security check this time.
The newspapers bins are more full than usual with French and foreign daily newspapers offered by AF to their passengers. This bins are located somewhat out of the way: that there are more newspapers than usual is hint that the business passengers who know this terminal well has been replaced in part by less experienced holidaymakers..
Plane spotting is as difficult as usual, with this Air Europa 737 and the frustration of being unable to take a decent picture of a KLM 737 in vintage livery.
A friendly welcome by one of the BP self-scan machines at the entrance of the lounge (the human option is available on the other side, but they are busy).
I find AF’s selection of foreign languages interesting. Let’s admit that Arabic (the #5 most spoken language in the world) is omitted because no flight to countries where it the official language departs from this terminal. But there are no flights to Norway either (they depart from Terminal 2G), nor to the Far East or Russia. Swedish, which barely makes it in the Top 100 league of languages, made the team.
The lower level of the lounge is signaled as usual by a tray with used tableware
… probably because this is where there are tables with used tableware.
The good news, compared to the month before, is that this is July, and many Skypriority passengers left on vacation, so this lounge is not crowded as usual at this time of the day.
A recent flight to OSL out of Terminal 2G taught me that there can be muesli portions hidden behind the corn flakes ones; they are not even hidden this morning.
On the other hand, there is none at the main level of the lounge, or maybe there are none left.
… on the other hand, these slices of cakes are missing downstairs (but I did not miss them).
Anyway, I chose to go downstairs, and there is the usual set of ham and turkey meat slices, cheese, etc. The supply is not plentiful, but more than I need.
In contrast, there are lots of pastries; maybe they have just been resupplied.
There is of course tea and coffee
Other drinks? Alcoholic drinks are beyond the reach of kids,
… like this one on the left.
Fruit juice, maybe? It’s the right button for apple juice,
… but there is only that much left, and I complete it with the left option.
It’s even more multifruit than expected.
This is my breakfast: nothing fancy, but actually better than at home (it’s supposed to be part of my lunch too, so the comparison is unfair).
There are newspapers and magazines just after the welcome desk, and more in front of the front door.
It’s marginally better here for plane spotting, but there are still lots of jet bridges in the way of planes like this AF A32x
This is the best shot I could take of the KLM plane is vintage livery
A view of the culprits
I can’t deny their usefulness for some passengers, and maybe one day I’ll be happy that they are here.
Time for boarding. The Skypriority line is shorter than usual, another hint of the beginning of the vacation season.
Austrian, American Airlines, Air Baltic, Air Serbia and Easyjet tails at Terminal 2D
I do not support the Paris bid to host the Olympic Games (the logo on the right of the door). Not that the population was asked for its opinion on this.
The departure is targeted on time, but won’t
My notes were correct: the windows are well aligned on that row. As usual, wiping the window is needed for better pictures.
There must have been a noisy kid in the previous flight: a passenger used ear plugs that cleaning missed.
The plane at the next gate is somewhat special
This A321 has been used as a test platform for saving our precious resources
… by using bio-fuel
Vacations are when the middle seat remains empty – a rare treat on this line
I like it when the captain faces the passengers, especially to announce them that we would depart late, due to the need to offload the luggage of a no-show passenger. He furthermore had the elegance of not moralizing about it (I hate it when captains hint that we passengers always do this). The purser also faced the passengers for his standard initial information.
The bio-jet leaves
From the rear, she looks like any other A32x
An intruder hides among these AF A32x parked in front of Terminal 2D
The angle of view changed, revealing Air Serbia, CSA, Austrian, Easyjet, Air Malta and American Airlines birds at Terminal 2D
The latter is of course the only long haul aircraft there
Taxiing alongside the parking area for long haul Skyteam aircraft: an A340, two 777s and an undetermined Airbus
The 777 in Skyteam livery
On the other side, the closest aircraft is a 777-200LR
From the position of this Brussels Airlines A319, we’ll take off from Runway 27L
An Ethiopian Airlines 777-200LR parked away from Terminal 1
Terminal 1 and an SAS 737
Turkish Airlines A330, Eva Air 777, Thai Airways A380, La Compagnie 757 and two United Airlines birds around a satellite of Terminal 1, and a Lufthansa Airbus in the foreground.
The Stade de France (the biggest stadium in the Paris area) on the left and railway tracks heading towards the Gare du Nord station (and the Seine River beyond them).
Did you spot the aircraft above the horizon, towards the left in the preceding picture? This is the Cityjet Avro RJ-85 in Leinster Rugby livery (EI-RJX, thanks to Google Images), heading towards DUB (thanks to Flightradar24)
The telecommunication tower in Andilly
A line-up of windmills in the countryside
The weather quickly hides the terrain
But two aircraft appear in the distance, and it is a fair opportunity for air-to-air pictures
This is EI-DCR, a Ryanair 738, operating Flight FR8062 (BHX-CFU)
And D-AIKS, a Lufthansa A330-300, operating Flight LH421 (BOS-FRA)
Now, I had promised a review of the airports on this route, so let’s backtrack a little bit: the first one which can be seen when taking off toward the west (quite usual, due to the prevailing winds) is Le Bourget Airport (LBG) where Charles Lindbergh landed on May 21st, 1927, completing the first solo transatlantic flight in history. The first one which appears just after taking off from Runway 27L or 27R (which is most often the case, due to the prevailing westerlies) is Le Bourget Airport (LBG) where Charles Lindbergh landed on 21 May 1927, after flying the first solo transatlantic flight.
90 years after the heroic times of the Spirit of Saint Louis, only business jets now land in LBG, whose name is painted on a disused runway.
Lagny le Sec Airfield, in Plessis-Belleville (LFPP) is much less prestigious, but it nevertheless has two runways, one hard surfaced and another with grass.
Next comes French Airbase 110 in Creil (CSF). There are no military flights any more since May 2016: only a flying club remains nowadays (but there are still Air Force facilities).
Amiens-Glisy Airfield (QAM), center in the foreground was built in 1937 for an airbase which has been French, then German and last Allied inside a decade. The runway could be lengthened to accommodate single aisle jets, but there are flying clubs only at present and no plans to change this.
Méaulte is a small town whose traffic potential would seem at first sight much less than that of Amiens, but it is on the Albert-Picardie Airport (BYF) that oversized planes land routinely: the "Beluga" A300-600ST cargo aircraft which convey to TLS the Airbus noses and sections built in the factory which is next to the runway, in the white buildings in the center of the picture.
Grass runways are especially hard to spot from a distance, compounded by the aircraft’s altitude. Only when I prepared this special FR did I localize Arras – Roclincourt Airfield on this picture.
The same applies to Lens- Bénifontaine Airfield (LFQL).
The triangular shape of Lille’s historic center makes this city especially easy to recognize from the cruising altitude which is reached about here by Flight AF1262. Lille Lesquin Airport (LIL) is in the foreground on the left.
Zoom on LIL, from different angles. In the foreground, the two round taxiways serving silos remind the military past of LIL which only in 1998 became a full civilian airport.
The same landscape, from similar angles, but with natural colors.
Spotting LIL south of Lille is easy, but much like for LFQL, you need to know where it is to have a chance to localize Lille - Marcq-en-Barœul (LFQO) north of Lille, despite its four runways, because they are all grass.
Some image processing was useful to highlight them
We now cross the border into Belgium, where the first airport is Kortrijk, mainly used by business aircraft.
The runway is built across an expressway, like in CDG.
It is impossible to spot it without knowing that it is there : the grass landing strip of Moorsele (EBMO), 5 km northwest of KJK (red arrow in the top of the picture)
Ostend Airport (OST), renamed Ostend-Bruges in 2003 when Ryanair opened a short lived link with London-Stansted (STN). (These are two examples of airports served by Ryanair which are nowhere near the well-known city they are named after)
Ursel Air Base (EBUL), in the vicinity of Bruges, also used by a flying club.
Woensdrecht Air Base(BZM) , just north of Antwerp. It also harbors Fokker Services, a civilian aircraft maintenance company, which does not handle Fokkers only.
The first airport which can be seen in the Netherlands is that of Rotterdam-The Hague (RTM)
A break in this airport review, as a FA brings me a specific meal.
On flights scheduled longer than 2.5 hour, Air France provides a choice of special menus for religious or medical reasons for free – something that they do not advertise very openly. It is a welcome opportunity to introduce variety in the meals on this line that I fly nearly each week, and this time, I had decided to try the gluten-free option.
There it is after unwrapping : artichoke for starters, chicken with rice and some sauce which may have been lemon flavored, crème anglaise, a tiny portion of butter and wafers.
Anything missing? Yes indeed: something to drink, and since this special meal did not include a bottle of water like the regular meal, I was going to have to wait until the normal service, a sign of a rather indifferent service, in line with his way of handing me this meal. Being seated in the first rows in Economy meant that I waited less than if I had been further back, but the choice between waiting 14 minutes during which the hot meal would be much less warm, or starting to eat without anything to drink was not satisfactory, and this FA just ruined the credits earned by the captain and the purser. I chose the “start eating” option, relying on the fact that the artichoke still held some of the water used to boil them (they shouldn’t have, but that was welcome).
Now, this special menu was not bad, but I really prefer the gluten-free bread available in ARN’s Terminal 2 lounge to these wafers. Like most of AF’s special meals, it is nevertheless a valid option to avoid eating the same meal week after week. The hot dish of the regular meal, seen on the table tray of Seat 6C, was Poulet au pesto rosso et au risotto that I described in this report (in French) one month earlier, but note that the dessert changed (I already had this dessert, though).
Now, let’s go back to the imaginary landscape with AMS, seen her in winter. When I saw the ground at that season (which seldom happened), hard surfaced runways stood out especially well off the snowy landscape, and it was the case here.
AMS in the spring. The remoteness of Runway 18R/36L (“The Polderbaan”) is obvious : it takes a strict minimum of 15 minutes of taxiing from the terminals, in the absence of obstruction by the traffic on Runway18C/36C.
Zoom on the terminals which are surrounded by the runways. Image processing enhanced the blue KLM livery.
Lelystad Airport(LEY), dedicated to general aviation only, located in the province of Flevoland which is unique in being 100% made of land gained on the sea. Ryanair –again them – proposed to buy all landing and take-off slots the day the airport would be opened to civil aviation, without drawing much interest from the airport’s managers who were not keen to be tied to a single customer.
I found Drachten Airfield (EHDR) a months after taking this picture. This is another case of a grass trip which is well camouflaged in the landscape when seen from 30,000 feet up.
Leeuwarden and its airbase (LWR)
Groningen Airport (GRQ), the last Dutch airport on this route
Germany lavishly equipped their Frisian islands with runways. The first one from the west is BMK, i.e. Borkum Airport.
Juist and its airport (JUI)
Nordeney and its not very visible airport (NRD), lower right.
There are no cars in Baltrum and bicycles are not welcome there, but there is a 360 m runway (BMR), which would require a number of rotations to evacuate the 500 permanent inhabitants if a boat was not an option, in view of the maximum capacity of the aircraft which can land there.
Langeoog and its airport (LGO)
A detour to the mainland to mention Jever Air Base (ETNJ) in Lower Saxony, around 20 km from the North Sea shore.
The two islands of Heligoland were only one until 1720, when the land connecting them was washed away by a storm flood. HGL, the airport, was built for military purposes in 1938 on the quasi-uninhabited Düne Island. Due to the short length of the runways (the longest is only 480 m long) and isolation of the island, pilots must have 100 hours flight experience and short take off/landing training to be allowed to land there.
The captain chose a more northern route than usual, which gave me for the first time a chance to spot relatively decently the island of Sylt through a break in the clouds.
And also add another airport in my database : this is GWT
The causeway (railway only) linking Sylt to the mainland
We return above the continent in Denmark, with the mixed civilian-military Vojens Airport, also called Skrydstrup (SKS)
The same in winter
Depending on the route, Flight AF1262 reaches Sweden (from north to south) at the level of Gothenburg Airport (GOT)
… or that of much smaller Halmstad and its airport (HAD)
… or last that of Ängelholm Helsingborg Airport (AGH).
Hagshult Air base(ESMV), in the lower part of this picture, was active at the time of the Cold War. photo
The 1,200 m Klevshult highway strip (Reservvägbas in Swedish) was installed by widening an existing road some 3 km north of ESMV.
Örebro in winter (right of center) and ORB, its airport in the lower left corner.
Zoom on ORB
Flight AF1262 usually flies far from Jönköping, but this route provided me a better, albeit still distant, view of its airport JKG
When there is an opportunity for a cross direction air-to-air picture, shoot first and think later, because the relative speed is so high. This is EI-FJV, a Norwegian Air Shuttle 738 operating Flight DY5351 (ARN-ALC), shot during this flight.
Eksjö and its airfield used by a flying club, at the boundary of what very much looks like an Army shooting range (the five « fingers » in the upper left part of the picture – thanks to Google Earth).
The former Hultsfred air base (HLF), now privatized and used by a flying club.
Norrköping Airport (NRK) only has a daily flight to MUC, as well as seasonal charter flights, operated mostly by TUI.
Nyköping Airport (NYO), shamelessly called Stockholm Skavsta despite being actually 100 km from Stockholm, served mostly by Ryanair.
In the outskirts of Stockholm’s urban area, the former Tullinge air base (ESCN), created in 1942 and used until 1995 by the Air force, then by a flying club until 2004, and now disused and partially built up.
When came the time of jet aircraft, it was impossible to lengthen the runways in Stockholm Bromma Airport (BMA) which is now only used for domestic flights, with the exception of flights to AAE, BRU and HEL.
The disused and partially destroyed runway of Barkaby Airfield (ESKB) which closed in 2010. For the record, this is where the pictures of ABBA’s Arrival record where shot, inside and in front of a helicopter on the ground.
Last, not least, ARN ! There are two parallel runways: 01R/19L in the foreground and 01L/19R in the background, and Runway 08/26 on the right, which is less used than the other two.
ARN was inaugurated officially in 1962 after several years of trial operation. Unlike many other airports, Arlanda is neither the name of a historic character, nor really the name of the place where it was built: it is a new name created as a pun between the ancient name of the local parish and the Swedish verb landa (= to land).
This is the end of this airport hopping review: we land on Runway 01R in ARN, braking alongside the fire brigade’s building and the Caravelle that they use as a playground.
Bombardier Global Express-BD-700
Bae ATP Nextjet on the taxiway that we are going to use to reach Terminal 2
The vintage 747-200 converted into a hotel
An SAS CRJ-900 taking off, shot just before reaching the gate
I have reached my destination, and RL777 knows it too :)
I have good reasons to believe that there were three handicapped passengers on this flight
In front Terminal 2, in the freight are, there are the usual 757: UPS
A Nextjet Bae ATP on a remote parking stand
Passengers are boarding this Wow Air A320
The relatively small number of planes registered in Iceland allows Wow Air to select “amusing” registration numbers
The displays in the luggage delivery room announce the same 4’ waiting time
… for the bus to Brommaplan
…and for the Arlanda Express
Only that I know this terminal too well to take more than 4 minutes to reach the Arlanda Express platform, and the next train is now displayed to be 12 minutes at the top of the escalators. It looks like they deleted a train service from the schedule.
Rather than wait for the next train, I change my mind and choose the « express plane spotting and bus transfer » option, the latter being slower but easier for me. A quickie walk to Terminal 3 to spot an SAS ATR72 and a Nextjet Bae ATP hiding a Fokker 50, on the north side
Nextjet Saab 340 and Bae ATP Nextjet on the south side
And an SAS 737 hiding an SAS ATR72 on the south side of Terminal 4
Exit of the terminal just in time as the bus to Brommaplan stops
Passengers needing to put luggage in the hold even provide me a chance to take a picture from the front
The seats just behind the driver are for handicapped passengers, but not too handicapped though, because this bus is definitely not wheelchair compatible. But they have a stop button just in front of them..
… and then I realize that there are similar buttons overhead that I had not noticed the previous few times I had used this bus.
Arrival in Kista
… behind a classic Citroen, which was a archetypical car of both the Gestapo and the Resistance during WWII in France
Post-war bank robbers loved it too for its performance
You would now call it charitably sluggish in mild slope, compared to a modern truck
SEB’s logo is still on this long curvy building alongside the expressway, but this major Swedish bank has moved out.
This is the end of this Flight Report, but if you still have time, you can choose to click below for a bonus on a public transport line in Stockholm seldom used by tourists..
Bonus : Click here displayhide
What are these people in office clothing on the shore of the Bälsstaviken, one of Stockholm’s many fjords?
They are waiting for the ferry to go home at the end of the day : from early May to late September (except in July when all Sweden appears to be on vacation), an unusual shuttle is operating between the business area in Solna and the center of Stockholm. Two trips early in the morning, two on the way back in midafternoon, without passengers on the way back each time; the boat can by chartered for private events the rest of the time.
Just because you are in a public means of transportation does not mean that you can’t drink : the Swedes can’t imagine not being able to drink beer or wine on a cruise, no matter how short.
Many among the passengers who have taken a seat on the two benches on the roof have a glass in the hand.
Off we go!
The first bridge on the way is that of Huvusta
Some residential buildings must be nice, despite being somewhat poorly served by public transportation.
The ferry zig-zags between the two shores, making stops which hardly last more than a minute each time. A fleet of Optimist dinghies of a sailing school operates in front of the buildings of the west end of Kungsholmen Island.
The viaduct of Route 275 spans the Tranebergssund which separates Kungsholmen Island on the left from the North bank of Stockholm on the right.
The steeple of Essinge Church, built in the end of the 1950s, at the high point of Stora Essingen Island.
It’s a capital where you can canoe in the middle of the city…
It’s a treat for aviation geeks too, because this ferry route is right under the flight path of planes to/from BMA, Stockholm’s mostly domestic airport, and Braathens Regional aircraft keep flying by overhead. This is an ATR72 heading towards SDL (Sundsvall)
And an Avro RJ100 heading towards MMX (Malmö)
The viaduct of the E20 Expressway starts here from the north shore of Stockholm (on the left), crosses Lilla Essingen Island and reaches Stora Essingen (“Big Essingen”) Island on the right, before veering south to the left and reaching the south shore of Stockholm, out of scope here.
To the left of the above picture, there are more canoeists, and also beauties sunbathing in swimwear on the rocks.
Högalid Church dominates the east end of Södermalm Island. It was built in 1916-1923 in National-Romantic style and now belongs to Stockholm’s skyline. There is a small beach, but it takes motivation to swim in the cold water.
The Western Bridge (Västerbron) is the first one spanning the Knight’s Fjord (Riddarfjärden) when leaving westward from the heart of Stockholm, i.e. in the opposite direction of this urban cruise.
My readers already had a glimpse of this bridge and of the cityscape it provides in the bonus of this FR, on a much less sunny day.
Beyond the Western Bridge, the panorama of the eastern end of the Knight’s Fjord unveils, with clockwise :
The buildings alongside Norr Mälerstrand, on Kungsholmen Island, on the north side of the Knight’s Fjord.
The Stockholm City Hall, another building in National-Romantic style of Stockholm’s skyline, built at the same time as the Högalid Church, at the East end of Kungsholmen Island, next to the end of the fjord.
This congress center built in front of the Radisson Blu Waterfront did not receive universal applause for its architectural integration in the neighborhood.
The spire of the Saint Clare Church, on the north shore, is the second tallest in Sweden.
The Parliament, on the very tiny Helgeandholme island
The Centre Bridge and the Court on Gamla Stan Island (« Old Town », the location of the original settlement which evolved into Stockholm)
The Norstedt Building which belongs to the company with the same name on Riddarholmen Island.
Riddarholmen Island blocks the East end of the fjord on the east. In the center, the steeple of its church
The steeple of the German Church (Tyska kyrkan), on Gamla Stan Island
A black Swedish Railways bridge crosses the bridges hiding Gamla Stan Island, before reaching Stockholm’s Central Station
Next comes the south bank of the fjord, alongside Södermalm Island. The neo-Gothic building in the center of the picture is Mariahissen, built in 1895. Its elevator (Mariahissen means “Maria Elevator”) which is opened to the public at certain times in the day and the walk on top of the cliff behind provide some of the most spectacular views of the fjord.
The Munich Brewery was rebuilt after a fire in 1893 in Renaissance style. It produced beer until 1971, and was then transformed into a congress and conference venue.
The end of this ferry line is near ; on the roof of a dark building behind the prow of the ship moored to Riddarholmen island…
… these men with hard hats and safety harnesses were probably not tourists.
The Movitz is unusual in that she runs on batteries, which makes this mini-cruise especially silent. The batteries only take ten minutes to recharge upon arrival, but they did not quite made it to the destination: the crew had to start her Diesel engine for the remaining ten minutes of the overall 45 minute trip (see the smoke out of the funnel).
How could a self-respecting city not claim having a “green” ferry ?
This is the end of this collector edition of an AF1262 Flight Report. Thanks for reading me !
Air France Lounge - 2F, F1
Paris - CDG
Stockholm - ARN
This was a flight where everything was OK and no more : the window seat was comfortable, but cleaning was not perfect, the indifference of the CFA who served me deleted the good impression left by the captain and the purser, the special menu was decent but not especially noteworthy. I give an extra half point for the offering of newspapers in both paper and digital format (the latter not mentioned in the report, but yes, it is available).
My evaluation is just as neutral for the lounge, markedly more pleasant than during the usual business trip season, but not outstanding though. It was neither especially good nor bad in any criterion.
ARN’s rating is less than usual because of the misleading Arlanda Express next train schedule (either the delay was wrong or the train was cancelled), but is nevertheless very good.
CDG’s accessibility was better than usual because of less road traffic at the beginning of the vacation period, but that did not make it good.
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