The blog of a travelling psychiatrist and football lover. Who happens to be a halfway decent photographer. Takes a cynical view of the world

Archive for the tag “norwegian airlines”

Ice and Snow. What can we learn from Scandinavia? Oslo airport. Gardermoen.

At around the same time Manchester airport was being closed due to snow and bad weather, the weather was not so different in Oslo and flights were leaving on time. Not so many are aware that Norway is the northernmost, westernmost and easternmost all all the three Scandinavian countries and has a population of only 5 million, mostly Norwegian people. And it also is a country without an official religon having separated from the church in 2012.    And humble Oslo is only the 17th busiest airport in Europe with 24.2 million passengers in 2014. About half the airport operator’s income is from retail revenue. There are twenty places to eat or drink, in addition to stores and other services including banks and post. In all, 8,000 square metres (86,000 sq ft) are used for restaurants, stores and non-aviation services. And yesterday it felt like an expedition to get through the duty free zone to anywhere near a departure gate. But as Oslo airport is connected to 162 other airports, maybe I can excuse the retail element. This of course has nothing to do with why the airport functions when all others close down.

The reality is pride and equipment and foresight.In Nordic Countries, Skill at Keeping Airports Open Through Blizzards Is a Point of Pride. Winter can last 6 months and airplane de-icing starts in august.Across the chilly water, on the bleak Svalbard archipelago in the Norwegian arctic, winter temperatures can drop to -55C. In winter, airport employees work round-the-clock shifts,  at the first sight of snow.

Another Nordic secret: pushing producers for absurdly powerful equipment. Oslo Airport runs two of the world’s largest self-propelled snowblowers, built by Norwegian airport-equipment maker Øveraasen AS. Only two other of the TV2000 units operate at airports; they, too, are in Norway.The 2,000-horsepower machines can shoot 10,000 tons of snow an hour more than 150 feet from the tarmac.

So we can say that foresight, effort and equipment play major roles in explaining why Scandinavian airports stay open , but also airport capacity . Heathrow for example, one of the worlds worst airports in my opinion, operates to 98% capacity and thus even small disruptions can be chaotic. Stockholm Arlanda has over 40 people dedicated to snow clearing during the winter.The airport has 18 PSB (ploughing, sweeping, blowing) machines. These are followed by snow throwers which move the line of snow left by the PSBs. Behind these come friction measuring vehicles that test the likelihood of skidding on the 2 photo 3 photo 4


Reflections on Norway and Lovely Free Wifi

Norway has to be one of the most civilised countries. Having been here only two days I have yet to find anyone who is anything less than polite and helpful. Anyone who serves you with food and drink has all the attitude you need and none of that surly dont care stuff either. The food is fresh and simple. Lots of nice bread, fruit and fish. Flying on Norwegian Airlines ( in Row 30 I should add economy cheap class), there was free wifi on the plane above 10,000 feet. Taxi drivers smile and are helpful. People are intelligent and interesting. Admittedly this place is not so cheap.  Something like 8£ for a hot dog at the airport, but it did come with mashed potato, relish and a decent bread roll.  In short I like this place.

Wifi if it is free at 10,000 feet and free in the airport and free in all hotels. Why Marriott hotels and others is it not free in UK? Explain to me also why all airlines cannot offer free in-flight wifi?


Reflections of Sweden. A country where the Wi-Fi is free

Spending time in Sweden is not a hardship. The country is a vibrant and exciting country and populated generally by happy and well meaning people. Perhaps the only real surprise was that not all Swedish speak English. I flew into Stockholm and most people travel into the city centre on the Arlanda Express,  a sort of cheaper and better version of the Heathrow Express. The main city is full of restaurants mostly and of course the Ice Bar in the Nordic Light hotel. An OK hotel but the rooms were tiny and some larger clients may have had interesting times trying to fit into their bathroom/toilet area. But I spent most of my time out of Stockholm travelling to other places. Firstly a short flight to Malmo on Norwegian airlines. Now I mention them specifically as not only did they text me a boarding pass without me asking ( for an early flight) but also because they were on time. Flight was scheduled for 7.30 am and that is the minute it left the runway. However when one gets to 10,000 feet they have free wi-fi that comes into operation. Wi-fi in the sky and free. Marriott hotels are you listening?

The small city of Lund is apparently the equivalent of our Oxford and Cambridge university towns ( looked more like Exeter to me) but with amazing sandwich shops. The rolls and cakes are incredible and cheap. A train journey of 3 hours to Gothenburg was less exciting. A packed train. Not a travel method to recommend. Gothenburg however was a lovely city. Again free wi-fi more or less anywhere, hotel room, burger bar or station concourse. Canals running through were reminiscent of Amsterdam.

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