A warm welcome to a short selection of solely two FRs regarding a shorter day trip from Stockholm to Vilnius in the beginning of November 2017. The opening part includes the outbound flight from Stockholm ARN to Vilnius while the next part will revolve around the flight back to Stockholm.
Note: The background to this itinerary is similar if not identical to the FR covering an F50 flight between THN and BMA published a few weeks ago.
During the summer months frivolous talks regarding a family trip in late-October were presented. Unfortunately we were unable to book a trip at this time, due to our move to a new part of town at the end of July 2017. Costs involved with the move were of higher importance than the costs of a hypothetical family trip, the trip was put on hold. When the situation with the new home had stabilized, we were too late to the booking party. The plan was to leave Stockholm for a warmer place during my school holidays, but many other inhabitants have similar if not identical plans during these school holidays. Fares to most international destinations were high and the hopes for a family trip faded away. The trip was not entirely cancelled, but postponed for 2018 instead. As a result, my week of school holidays was free. A week or two prior to the start of the holidays, I asked my parents if I could head out on two quick day trips within Europe. They agreed rather quickly after I presented the planned destinations and after the oral confirmation I proceeded to book the quickies. The first day trip included Trollhättan, while the latter involved a round-trip to Vilnius, Lithuania. The stay was expected to be brief, at only 3,5 hours after accounting for time spent at the airport and travel times to/from the airport. As a result of the brief stay, my exploration and experiences from Vilnius would be extremely limited. Nonetheless, SAS' fairly reasonable youth fares made it economically feasible to consider a quickie to Vilnius. Additionally, the permission from my parents made it socially feasible to consider such a day expedition. Thank you mother and father for letting me go on these quick trips!
Part 1 - ARN-VNO, SK738, SAS (Cityjet), Bombardier CRJ-900, EI-FPM - You are here
Part 2 - VNO-ARN, SK739, Norwegian, Bombardier CRJ-900, EI-FPP -
On the day of departure, the alarm clock began ringing at 04:30, sending vibrations to my ears and alerting me of the upcoming schedule on this initial November day of the year. I had a quick and basic breakfast at 04:47, mainly focused on crispbread and slices of bread. The remaining time was spent going through my final checks and relaxing in my room before planning to leave at 05:42 for the bus departing at 05:48 AM. Online check-in had been completed the night before.
After telling my parents goodbye, I proceeded towards the bus stop to catch a local bus to the train station. 05:47 AM.
The Volvo 8900 bus on picture arrived punctually at my local bus stop, before pulling up at the station two minutes ahead of schedule. The scenario of this context did not allow me to fully take advantage of the early arrival, because my train was expecting a delay of two minutes. A common occurence on this line from prior experience.
Southbound train towards the city centre.
Northbound train towards Bålsta decelerating towards the end of the platform, with a delay of two minutes at 06:02 AM. Bålsta, the northern terminus, is a town located just outside of Stockholm County in Uppsala County. Besides the commuter train service, the local public transportation company in Stockholm known as SL also operates a bus line from Bålsta to Arlanda Airport. I had planned to hop on one of these buses from Bålsta.
Inside the X60B commuter train.
Locating an optimal seat for this swift train ride involved few complications.
At 06:08 AM local time, the doors of the train were opened, allowing passengers to exit. Despite living in close proximity to Bålsta, I had not visited nor connected at the station prior to this occasion.
Instead of the usual red and blue SL buses, yellow UL buses were mainly present at the station due to the change from Stockholm to Uppsala County. The SL bus I was supposed to catch was scheduled to leave at 06:19 AM, before arriving at Terminal 5 by 07:15 AM. A planned departure at 08:40 AM could be noted for flight SK738 to Vilnius.
The feeling of being in a different town was surely strengthened by the significant presence of yellow UL buses.
Additionally, taxis in liveries of "Bålsta Taxi" were dominant, instead of the usual "Sverige Taxi Stockholm", "Taxi Stockholm" and "TaxiKurir Stockholm" cabs I am used to spot.
VDL Citea LLE bus operating line 311 towards Skokloster.
Volvo 8900 bus assigned for line 803 towards Enköping.
Prior to departure, I overheard a passenger in the area mentioning a major delay. With curiosity the SL app is launched in order to check the status of the bus from Bålsta to ARN. Moments passed before unsatisfying results approached me, according to the app the 06:19 departure would be delayed for 25 minutes due to a shortage in staff. That implied a departure at 06:44 and an arrival at 07:40 AM. I suppose this unexpected occurence shows the importance of keeping reasonable margins. Perhaps I should make better attempts at including a larger margin in the future.
At 06:37 AM a Scania Omnilink II bus in more familiar colours arrived by the station, although it would not operate our departure to ARN. However seconds later another SL bus arrived at the station and pulled up hastily towards our assigned stop, showing signs of it operating the delayed departure to the airport.
We managed to leave Bålsta with a delay of 20 minutes instead for 25.
Six minutes later, the bus entered Stockholm County.
Throughout the ride, the driver managed to reduce the delay with a further five minutes, resulting in an arrival at 07:30 AM implying a delay of 15 minutes instead of 25 or 20.
The ATC tower in the background.
Departures area at Terminal 5.
Inside the terminal.
According to the Swedavia app and FIDS screens at ARN, SK738 to Vilnius was assigned for an F gate. The F gates are in closer vicinity to the security check found by SAS' check in-desks (desks 71-90), therefore I proceeded to walk in that direction.
In preparatory for the security procedures, I printed a secondary BP using one of several kiosks available in the section.
Interestingly I was provided with a single BP for both flights, most likely due to the short stay in Vilnius.
Continuing to the BP scan, before passing security.
The member of staff standing by the scanner I used told me to proceed to the check upstairs, when scanning the BP. 07:35 AM.
Queues were minimal, allowing me to pass the control in roughly seven minutes.
According to this FIDS found at 07:42 AM after security, my flight was still assigned for gate F38.
Walking through the duty-free section found after clearing security.
The relatively rapid and smooth clearance through security opened a margin for plane spotting prior to departure.
Norwegian 737 MAX 8.
SK B737 and TG B77W.
A walkway, with stores to the left and windows to the right.
At 07:53 AM a vibration was felt in one of my pockets, apparently SK had notified me of a gate change to gate F33.
Volvo XC60 on display.
BT B733 and an LH A320.
At 07:56 AM the short spotting sesson by the walkway between the F gates and gates 1-10 was terminated. Instead at this point, I decided to walk to the actual F gates.
The lower lewel of the F section with the Schengen gates was quiet.
737 getting serviced for a morning departure to Helsinki.
Most seats were found to be vacant in the area.
QR B788 operating flight QR170 to Doha.
Power and USB ports.
By gate F33.
Airbaltic B733, Lufthansa A320 together with a hiding SK 737 and Thomas Cook Scandinavia A333.
SK CR9 (Cityjet) arriving as SK1840 from Billund. This particular frame would later operate flight SK738 to Vilnius.
Airline: SAS (Cityjet)
Flight no & route: SK738 ARN-VNO
Aircraft: Bombardier CRJ-900
Scheduled time of departure (actual): 08:40 (08:57), UTC +1
Scheduled time of arrival (actual): 11:05 (10:57), UTC +2
Scheduled flight time (actual): 1 hour 25 minutes (1 hour)
Passengers deboarding from EI-FPM, which would operate the flight I was taking.
737 MAX 8.
Our CR9 getting serviced for the short hop to VNO, while an SK A20N commences its taxi towards runway 19R.
Boarding for the 08:40 AM departure was announced at 08:23 AM local time. Judging by the scarce presence of human beings around the gate, the chance for a vacant aisle seat could have been on the rise.
This bird was delivered in February 2017, making it less than a year old.
When entering the aircraft, an interesting situation may have taken place. The FA standing by the door most likely noticed me taking pictures of the aircraft while I was walking towards the door, because as I entered I was greeted with a saying similar to the following: “You know you are not allowed to take pictures, right? The airline can sue you“. She immediately noticed my confused expression, while my body and thoughts froze. Quietly, I said something about deleting them before she started laughing and said “Oh coome on, I was just joking!“. I tried laughing with her and after a deep breath, I continued towards row 14.
Based off of my rather sloppy observation, the cabin seemed spotless in most aspects.
By 08:28 AM, boarding had nearly been completed and the aisle seat remained unoccupied. Although even if someone would show up to have this seat in the last moment, I do not believe that passenger would have stayed for an extended period of time given the overall light load in this 90-seater.
With a light load, boarding was finished quickly. The CR9 commenced the pushback process at 08:29 AM local time.
Announcements regarding safety were made in English and in one of the Scandinavian languages, which unsurprisingly turned out to be Swedish if I recall correctly.
Initiating the taxi towards runway 19R.
B2 B735, having recently arrived from Minsk.
KL E190 and SK B738.
A closer look at the E190, with backlighting.
An announcement from the flight deck was made at approximately 08:50 AM. According to the captain, there were five aircraft in front of us waiting to depart, our CR9 was therefore expected to takeoff 10 minutes from the moment this notice was made public.
Lining up with runway 19R.
Rolling down the runway.
Liftoff at 08:57 AM.
E4 motorway towards Uppsala.
Märsta in the northern outskirts.
Banking towards Vilnius.
Lake Fysingen primarily seen on the picture, with Stockholm North Logistics Center in Rosersberg, parts of Lake Mälaren and Upplands Väsby. Brunna, Kungsängen and Bro in the northwestern outskirts are found in the distance.
Per usual, the battery level in my phone had decreased significantly since 04:30 AM in the morning. I took the opportunity from the flight in order to fuel up the phone for the quickie in Vilnius.
Täby in the northeastern outskirts.
14 000 ft and climbing.
Moments later, cloud layers began taking over the view.
The safety card.
October issue of the SK magazine.
BOB menu, mainly consisting of snacks and drinks. A basic breakfast could be bought until 09:00 AM (I presume on flights departing before 9) while some sandwiches, a salad and/or a smoothie could be purchased after 9 AM.
Cruising towards Vilnius.
Added comfort was felt throughout the flight, mainly due to this vacant aisle seat.
The tea/coffee service was conducted 15 minutes after departure. While servicing row 14, me and the FA who had pranked me earlier made eye contact for a moment and began laughing ever so slightly. Her colleague seemed confused to which she explained how she'd made fun of me for taking pictures while I was entering the aircraft. When serving my cup of coffee, the FA who had pranked me asked me where I originated from. I replied saying how my parents were from India/Bangladesh but I had been born in Sweden. Unfortunately due to my poor hearing, I was having difficulties in hearing her voice clearly but I believe she mentioned she was from Nepal and had only been here for a little time. After the short conversation, the FA proceeded to subsequent rows.
This morning flight witnessed a light load today, most likely below 40%. Sidenote: After the tea/coffee service, the humorous FA returned to my row and started chatting with me. We talked about photography, sunrises on early morning flights and the northern lights. Overall the FA was kind, friendly and of course humorous in a positive way IMO. She definitely made the flight experience more fun and enjoyable.
A visit to the lavatory.
Back at seat 14F.
Shortly afterwards, we commenced our descent into Vilnius Airport.
The cloud layers were quite thick over Vilnius.
Surroundings were not visible until we were seconds away from touchdown.
Touchdown on runway 19 at 10:57 AM local time.
Easy Fly CRJ-200.
NORRA AT75 (Nordic Regional Airlines).
Old Jubba Airways A320 and an AviaAM B733.
Sky Angkor A320.
Wizz Air A321.
Our CR9 came to a final stop at 10:03 AM. Light rain seemed to play a role in the current weather conditions.
The humorous FA once again stood by the aircraft door, I thanked her for the enjoyable flight while leaving before continuing towards the terminal building. FR B738.
I believe the boy in front of me was part of a basketball team, judging by their shirts on the flight. Apparently his bag was missing, I think it was believed someone else from the team had accidentally taken his bag too when exiting the aircraft? I am not sure what the situation looked like in detail but hopefully he would be reunited with his bag in the end.
Walking towards the exit.
Looks to be the correct path.
At the arrivals area at VNO by 11:16 AM.
Previously the plan was to catch the train to Vilnius Railway station, but the next train would not depart until 11:57 AM. Initially, I thought about waiting but after multiple minutes of waiting, I decided to look at available bus lines.
A MAN Lion's city bus operating line 2 to Stotis, known as the central bus station by the main railway station. I hopped on the bus, purchased a one-way ticket for EUR 1 and settled down. 11:31 AM.
Towards the central bus station, via an IKEA Warehouse.
On the E28.
Arrived at the main railway station area by 10:49 AM.
Thank you for taking your time to read through this FR :). Have a good one, see you!
Vilnius Bonus part 1:
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Main station building.
Solaris 15AC trolleybus.
Possibly a Mercedes-Benz O405.
Walking along Geležinkelio g (street).
Aušros vartai (Gates of dawn) in the distance.
A street in the old town. The old town in Vilnius is one of the largest surviving medieval old towns in Northern Europe.
Continuing the walk.
Walking along the Bastion of Vilnius City Wall.
Subačiaus g. (street).
Lietuvos nacionalinė filharmonija (Lithuanian National Philharmonic Society).
Vilnius Bonus part 2:
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Vilniaus rotušė (Town hall).
Russian Orthodox Church of St. Nicholas.
Literatų gatvė (Literatai street), a street decorated with artworks related to litterateurs.
Bažnytinio paveldo muziejus (Church heritage museum).
Vilniaus Šv. Onos bažnyčia (St. Anne's Church).
A continuation of the walk along Vilnius' interesting streets in the old town.
Vilnius bonus part 3:
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Gedimino pilies bokštas (Gediminas Castle Tower).
Vilnius Cathedral square.
Paminklas LDK didžiajam kunigaikščiui Gediminui (Monument to Grand Duke Gediminas).
Lietuvos nacionalinis muziejus (National Museum of Lithuania)
The trees had suffered from major losses of leaves.
Walking up to Trys kryžiai (Three Crosses).
Trys kryžiai (Three Crosses).
A relaxing view, before the walk would be resumed.
Vilnius bonus part 4:
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Kalnų parko estrada (stage).
Neris river on the left hand side.
Mindaugo Tiltas (bridge).
Energetikos ir technikos muziejus (Energy and Technology Museum) to the right.
Construction works at Gediminas Castle Tower.
Žygimantų g. (street).
Vilnius bonus part 5:
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Walking back towards the main railway station area.
Lietuvos Respublikos Krašto apsaugos ministerija (Ministry of National Defence of Lithuania), primarily seen on the picture.
St. Catherine's Church.
Through this help station located in the middle of the street, Wi-Fi, different tools, power and USB ports and other amenities were available for use.
By the main station area once again.
Thank you once again for taking your time to read through this FR, have a good one and see you later!
Stockholm - ARN
Vilnius - VNO
A casual hop from Stockholm to Vilnius made more interesting by the friendly and humorous FA.
Cabin comfort - Seat pitch was sufficient for a short leg, the vacant aisle seat added to the overall level of comfort experienced on this flight.
Cabin crew - One of the FAs pranked me well in the beginning, and striked several conversations with me throughout the flight. She was humorous, friendly and kind. In addition, the other FA was also friendly.
Entertainment - The window did the trick, at least in the first and last minutes of the flight.
Meal/catering - Tea or coffee service, standard SAS practice.
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