Sun Air / Air Baltic | D328/Q400/B733 | LCY-BLL-OSL-RIX-LGW

 photo map.gif

Maps generated by theGreat Circle Mapper -copyright © Karl L. Swartz.

For my trip in February 2015, Latvia was on the to do list. Being not overly connected to the UK, this meant that Air Baltic would undoubtably be involved at some point – not that I was too bothered about that. I had long seen their lime tailed aircraft at Gatwick over the years so knew of their existence. I had initially considered a straight LGW-RIX-LGW return as the prices were pretty decent – under £100 – but where was the fun in that? I studied options and the most interesting and cost friendly one seemed to be an OSL-RIX-LGW routing, which would include flights on both the airlines Dash 8 Q400 and their ageing 737-300.

 photo itinBT.png

I’m led to believe that Air Baltic are the only carrier to accept BitCoin as a payment method?

 photo bitcoin.png

As the fares were pretty decent, I decided to throw in a couple of pre assigned seats too.

 photo seatsBT.png

This left getting to Oslo to figure out. Unlike Riga, there were plenty of options from London – with BA, SK and DY all offering direct flights for reasonable prices. I came close to booking the Friday evening departure with DY, but at the last minute remembered that British Airways franchise partner Sun Air offered flights from London City to their base at Billund and then onwards to Oslo. Having long wanted to try out Sun Air this seemed like the perfect opportunity. I logged on to ba.com and studied the options. Unpredictably, cash prices were a little on the steep side.

 photo lcybllcash.png

Fortunately, there were reward seats available and I parted with a few Avios to secure my seats. I was glad to see that these two flights would be operated by both the prop and the jet version of the D328.

 photo itin.png

 photo Seats.png

The journey began at my local station at 06:30am to make the thirty minute or so train ride to London Waterloo, before catching a combination of the tube and the DLR over to London City.

 photo IMG_1517.jpg

 photo IMG_1518.jpg

 photo IMG_1522.jpg

Upon arrival, I headed over to the BA desks to grab a boarding pass – a technical error on BA.com the previous day meant I was only given a boarding pass for the first sector.

 photo IMG_1523.jpg

Annoyingly though, I was still only handed the one boarding pass.

 photo IMG_1525.jpg

I made my way through security, and although it was busy it didn’t take too long. It could have been quicker however. LCY now employ the same technique as at a few airports – where everybody’s put into a separate queue at the metal detector. Good in theory, but if the person in front takes an age to get their bits into the tray (as was the case with me), it can be a little frustrating when others are coming and going whilst you’re still stood there.

Once I was through, I headed off to grab some breakfast.

 photo IMG_1527.jpg

I checked the status of my incoming flight and saw it was operated by MHS aviation – so a British Airways flight, operated by MHS Aviation on behalf of Sun Air… Nice mixture there.

 photo IMG_0024.png

As I’d set off earlier than planned, it meant I had a while to wait – but this wasn’t an issue as I had a good enough view outside.

 photo _MG_8485.jpg

 photo IMG_1531.jpg

 photo _MG_8487.jpg

 photo _MG_8489.jpg

Almost as soon as my aircraft landed, boarding was announced, so I made my way down to gate 10.

 photo IMG_1536.jpg

 photo IMG_1538.jpg

 photo IMG_1540.jpg

 photo mhslogo.jpg

 photo SUSlogo.jpg

BA8210
LCY-BLL
February 2015
Dornier 328 Prop / D-CMHB
Seat: 4A / Euro Traveller
Scheduled: 09:05/11:55
Off Stand: 09:05
On Stand: 12:07

Once in the holding pen, I counted around twenty or so other passengers, so a moderate load. There was a separate area for gold card/OneWorld Emerald card holders but due to the low load, I didn’t bother with it.

 photo IMG_1542.jpg

 photo _MG_8491.jpg

This mornings albino prop.

 photo _MG_8492.jpg

Something else on its way.

Boarding was announced, and the gate agent announced that strictly no electronic equipment was to be used on the ramp. And as we were escorted out to the aircraft, I figured it would be sensible to obey this rule to avoid any issues – so no ramp pics today. I was the first on board and I took my seat.

 photo IMG_1543.jpg

 photo _MG_8493.jpg

 photo IMG_1562.jpg

 photo IMG_1563.jpg

Sun Air’s own inflight mag

Flight time was announced at a pretty lengthy two hours, due to having a strong head wind. A minute or two behind schedule, the engines fired into life and we rolled forwards quite literally a few metres to the threshold of the runway.

 photo _MG_8495.jpg

 photo IMG_1549.jpg

After waiting for a BA E190 to land, we rolled into position, the engines spooled up and we were catapulted over East London.

 photo IMG_1551.jpg

 photo IMG_1556.jpg

 photo _MG_8496.jpg

We skimmed the clouds for a bit (to avoid what looked like a Thomson Dreamliner from what I could see) before climbing up to cruising altitude.

 photo _MG_8498.jpg

 photo _MG_8499.jpg

About the best shot I could get of the approaching traffic.

 photo _MG_8500.jpg

Once there, the lone crew member started the service. At first, I thought it had been enhanced to just your standard BA offerings on this type of route.

 photo _MG_8501.jpg

However, a few moments later, the meal trays were distributed.

 photo _MG_8502.jpg

It consisted of chicken and pasta with a bread service. No other options were available. Following this was a tea service.

 photo IMG_1570.jpg

And finally ice cream and digestifs were brought around on a tray. Which seemed a little odd as it still wasn’t 10am, but I indulged anyway.

 photo IMG_1574.jpg

 photo IMG_1575.jpg

 photo IMG_1576.jpg

Phew – what a service!

Once the seemingly never ending meal service was over, I updated the trip report and listened to some music – while keeping an eye on the outside world as we passed into an increasingly snowy Scandinavia.

 photo _MG_8503.jpg

 photo IMG_1569.jpg

 photo _MG_8504.jpg

 photo _MG_8505.jpg

A few moments later, the lady sat in the row next to mine tapped me on the shoulder and mentioned she noticed I was taking a lot of pictures…. Here we go again. My initial suspicions were false though, as she mentioned she was the cabin crew manager and wanted to know if they were doing a good job so far. I replied that I was very impressed with the service and she said she was glad that they were doing a good job, and that having noticed my BA Gold tag on my bag, was pleased that they were keeping their frequent flyers happy. She also mentioned the guy sat in front a Sun Air pilot and if I had any questions for either of them or concerns, I shouldn’t hesitate to ask.

I stuck with the iPod and the inflight mags until descent started.

 photo IMG_1580.jpg

SunAir route map

 photo IMG_1581.jpg

And the fleet

 photo IMG_1582.jpg

BA Highlife was also available.

Making our approach into Billund.

 photo _MG_8507.jpg

 photo _MG_8508.jpg

 photo _MG_8509.jpg

 photo IMG_1587.jpg

We made a few turns before making a smooth touchdown. Upon arrival on to stand, it was across the tarmac and up into the terminal.

 photo IMG_1596.jpg

 photo _MG_8510.jpg

 photo IMG_1602.jpg

I did see signs for transfer, but the actual transfer area itself was behind a locked door – so I had no option but to clear customs and go back through security again. This was no bother though as I had over four hours until my next flight – and its not as though Billund is overly busy anyway.

 photo IMG_1603.jpg

Landside in the terminal.

 photo _MG_8512.jpg

I stepped outside for a breath or two of fresh air before heading back in again.

 photo _MG_8513.jpg

I attempted to grab a boarding pass from the BA desk. This didn’t go to plan however, as the desk wasn’t manned – which is a little poor considering BLL is Sun Air’s main hub and there are flights throughout the day.

 photo IMG_1608.jpg

 photo IMG_1609.jpg

So instead, I grabbed a thermo paper one from a machine and headed through security. I made things a little more complicated than necessary by accidentally leaving my liquids bag in my rucksack – the staff picking up on this as it passed through the X-ray and rescanning the whole lot. It wasn’t a big deal though and I was on my way within a couple of minutes.

 photo IMG_1614.jpg

One of the few shops around

There wasn’t too much to be seen in the main area at BLL so I headed up to the King Amlet lounge – which was huge. And heavily guarded.

 photo IMG_1623.jpg

 photo IMG_1617.jpg

 photo _MG_8516.jpg

 photo _MG_8520.jpg

I set up camp here for the next few hours.

 photo _MG_8515.jpg

Pretty decent lunch.

 photo _MG_8517.jpg

 photo _MG_8522.jpg

View of the shopping area from the lounge.

With around an hour until departure, I was feeling a little bored of the lounge, so I went for a walk around the pretty small terminal.

 photo IMG_1624.jpg

There were a few windows around to see what was about.

 photo _MG_8523.jpg

 photo _MG_8525.jpg

 photo _MG_8526.jpg

 photo _MG_8527.jpg

This would turn out to be my ride to Norway.

Around fifteen minutes later, the gate was announced and I headed down.

 photo IMG_1625.jpg

 photo IMG_1628.jpg

Boarding was called shortly afterwards and I made my way across the ramp. As my boarding pass was scanned, I was handed a valet service tag for my bag “just incase”. It turned out to be fine – as it was on the previous leg.

 photo IMG_1630.jpg

 photo IMG_1632.jpg

 photo BAlogo.jpg

 photo SUSlogo.jpg

BA8267
BLL-OSL
February 2015
Dornier 328 Jet / OY-NCW
Seat: 5A / Euro Traveller
Scheduled: 16:40/17:50
Off Stand: 16:44
On Stand: 18:00

I was greeted at the door and took my seat.

 photo IMG_1634.jpg

 photo _MG_8528.jpg

 photo IMG_1651.jpg

Boarding was completed reasonably quickly and the captain announced a flying time of just an hour and five minutes. The engines made a pretty noisy start up and we made a pretty fast taxi over to the runway.

 photo IMG_1637.jpg

 photo _MG_8529.jpg

We then departed without much hesitation into some snowy skies. This jet version of a prop was pretty quick.

 photo IMG_1645.jpg

Pretty soon after departure, the service started. I expected the bar service from the previous flight to be dropped due to the shorter flight time, but it was carried out. I asked for a Coke and got a full sized can rather than the traditional mini ones that are normally found onboard.

 photo IMG_1649.jpg

 photo IMG_1652.jpg

Following this, the meal service began. This time around, it was mini burgers and a potato salad.

 photo IMG_1657.jpg

 photo _MG_8534.jpg

Followed by tea and then digestifs and ice cream – the same as earlier.

 photo IMG_1660.jpg

 photo IMG_1662.jpg

All the while, being treated to a great sunset outside.

 photo _MG_8530.jpg

 photo _MG_8533.jpg

 photo _MG_8537.jpg

 photo _MG_8540.jpg

Once the meal trays had been collected, decent had started into darkness.

 photo _MG_8543.jpg

There wasn’t too much to be seen by this point, as the sun had gone down completely by now. We touched down and taxied over to the regional jet area – which was possibly the furthest point from the terminal. It was then on to a waiting bus and over to the terminal.

 photo IMG_1680.jpg

 photo IMG_1683.jpg

Once through, it was on to an SAS bus to the city.

 photo IMG_1685.jpg

Upon arrival it was a fifteen minute or so walk to my hotel, the Park Inn.

 photo _MG_8551.jpg

A few pictures from my evening in Oslo.

 photo _MG_8545.jpg

 photo _MG_8546.jpg

 photo _MG_8561.jpg

 photo IMG_1688.jpg

When in Scandinavia…

The next morning, I grabbed some breakfast at the hotel, before heading back to the bus station.

 photo IMG_1689.jpg

 photo IMG_1691.jpg

I then made the forty minute or so back to the airport.

 photo IMG_1699.jpg

 photo IMG_1700.jpg

 photo _MG_8563.jpg

Upon arrival, I headed straight through a very quick security. No souvenir boarding passes today, as BT charge €10 for them…

 photo IMG_1716.png

 photo IMG_1703.jpg

Once through, I took a look at the lounges but it wasn’t overly clear if I could use my Airport Angel card in them or not so I didn’t bother. I just took a quick walk around the terminal before waiting at the gate.

 photo _MG_8566.jpg

 photo _MG_8568.jpg

Around thirty minutes before departure, YL-BAF pulled on to stand, and as usual the queue to be first aboard formed.

 photo _MG_8569.jpg

Boarding began and not for the first time, things came to a sudden halt on the air bridge – but only for a minute or two.

 photo IMG_1710.jpg

 photo btlogo.jpg

BT152
OSL-RIX
February 2015
Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 / YL-BAF
Seat: 17D / Basic Class
Scheduled: 10:45/13:35
Off Stand: 10:47
On Stand: 13:18

 photo IMG_1712.jpg

Once on board, the cabin filled up reasonably quickly however I was lucky enough to have a free seat next to me.

 photo IMG_1714.jpg

 photo _MG_8570.jpg

We pushed back and made a quick taxi out to the active.

 photo IMG_1719.jpg

 photo IMG_1722.jpg

There was no holding and we powered into to surprisingly bumpy skies.

 photo IMG_1724.jpg

 photo _MG_8571.jpg

During the climb, the seatbelt sign was turned off for around two minutes, before the turbulence meant that it had to be switched on again. The crew still got on with their service though. I ordered myself a cappuccino for €3.

 photo _MG_8573.jpg

The captain came over the PA once we had reached cruising altitude and gave a few facts about the flight and what the weather was expected to be in Riga. I spent the remainder of the uneventful flight browsing the pretty decent in flight mag and sipping on my drink.

 photo IMG_1730.jpg

And listening to some music.

 photo _MG_8575.jpg

Unfortunately there wasn’t too much to be seen outside for the duration.

 photo _MG_8576.jpg

 photo _MG_8577.jpg

Throughout the flight the crew were pretty pro active at making themselves busy – constantly passing through the cabin making sure all rubbish was collected and generally making sure everybody was ok every few minutes.

 photo _MG_8578.jpg

I just happened to glance out of the window and noticed we were heading into come clouds – and the seatbelt sign had been switched on. I packed my earphones away and a few moments later the gear was coming down whilst still in the clouds.

 photo IMG_1738.jpg

 photo IMG_1740.jpg

 photo IMG_1741.jpg

We touched down into a snowy Riga and made the journey over to the stand.

 photo IMG_1745.jpg

 photo IMG_1750.jpg

Followed by a bus journey over to the terminal.

 photo IMG_1753.jpg

After this it was out into the outside world to find a way to the city.

 photo IMG_1756.jpg

As there was a mini bus parked up, that would do.

 photo IMG_1757.jpg

Upon arrival, I took a brief walk around before checking into my hotel, the Radisson Blu.

 photo _MG_8579.jpg

 photo _MG_8583.jpg

 photo _MG_8587.jpg

The Freedom Monument with my hotel in the background.

 photo _MG_8590.jpg

The Nativity Cathedral.

 photo _MG_8591.jpg

The Radisson Blu in the centre of town.

 photo _MG_8594.jpg

After dumping my bags, I headed out again to see what was around – I mostly stuck to the old town.

 photo _MG_8609.jpg

 photo _MG_8610.jpg

 photo _MG_8618.jpg

My exploring was cut short slightly though, as it started to rain and then snow. So I figured I would be better off leaving it for the following day, which had taken a far more wintery theme.

 photo _MG_8622.jpg

 photo _MG_8625.jpg

 photo _MG_8628.jpg

 photo _MG_8629.jpg

 photo _MG_8632.jpg

 photo _MG_8634.jpg

 photo _MG_8639.jpg

 photo _MG_8643.jpg

 photo _MG_8646.jpg

When it was time to return to the airport, I took a minibus as I had plenty of time and it just happened to depart from outside my hotel. Around thirty minutes later I arrived.

 photo IMG_1823.jpg

Once more, I headed straight through security after a brief walk landside.

 photo IMG_1825.jpg

I had a choice of four lines to choose from and I chose the wrong one – an elder couple having no clue to the process at all were holding up proceedings. Once through, I had a brief look around the shops.

 photo IMG_1827.jpg

 photo _MG_8651.jpg

I then headed into the RIX business lounge for some lunch. As far as third party lounges go, it was pretty decent.

 photo IMG_1828.jpg

 photo IMG_1832.jpg

 photo _MG_8654.jpg

 photo _MG_8655.jpg

It was reasonably busy with LH passengers, but after a few moments I spotted a virtually deserted upstairs area with views across the ramp – perfect.

 photo _MG_8656.jpg

 photo _MG_8657.jpg

 photo _MG_8661.jpg

I waited here with some snacks and wifi until around forty five minutes before departure.

 photo IMG_1834.jpg

I made my way through passport control and into the basement.

 photo IMG_1836.jpg

 photo _MG_8664.jpg

LH getting deiced before heading off.

Boarding was called and I was the last person on to the first bus.

 photo btlogo.jpg

BT653
RIX-LGW
February 2015
Boeing 737-300 / YL-BBR
Seat: 19A / Basic
Scheduled: 15:20/16:10
Off Stand: 15:29
On Stand: 16:09

 photo IMG_1841.jpg

 photo IMG_1842.jpg

 photo IMG_1846.jpg

I made it on board just a few moments before a pretty big snow storm broke out.

 photo IMG_1847.jpg

 photo IMG_1851.jpg

 photo _MG_8666.jpg

 photo _MG_8667.jpg

Here is the snow.

 photo _MG_8669.jpg

A young is guy sat in the aisle seat, but then a group of his mates followed shortly. One looked at me with confusion and says to the others “whats he doing there?” – Obviously thinking I was Latvian or just being plain rude. I was defiantly in the right seat though (that I had paid to be in from the moment I booked) so too bad. From overhearing their conversation it would appear that they had all been out the night before and were all feeling a little worse for wear.

 photo IMG_1858.jpg

Some deicing needed I think.

Before pushback, we were pretty haphazardly de iced.

 photo IMG_1859.jpg

 photo IMG_1861.jpg

 photo IMG_1864.jpg

We made a slow journey over to the active and waited around for quite a while whilst a private jet landed.

 photo IMG_1866.jpg

 photo IMG_1871.jpg

We turned on to the active and made a pretty loud takeoff. Although annoyingly the de icing fluid stuck to the windows like glue – meaning that the views were more than a little distorted.

 photo IMG_1875.jpg

 photo IMG_1876.jpg

Even as we climbed, the de icing fluid still remained firmly attached to the windows, meaning pretty much all window shots came out blurred.

 photo IMG_1879.jpg

 photo _MG_8670.jpg

Not too much can be said about this flight really. I watched a couple of videos on my iPad, listened to some music and didn’t bother with any of the buy on board service.

 photo IMG_1881.jpg

Oh, and I remained pretty cramped throughout, due to my seat mate taking up as much space as he could whilst trying to sleep.

 photo IMG_1882.jpg

 photo IMG_1885.jpg

 photo IMG_1883.jpg

Still rubbish views.

Descent began into a pretty sunny Gatwick.

 photo _MG_8673.jpg

Luckily, upon descending, the deicing fluid finally cleared meaning I could see what was going on at last. We seemed to be flying at a reasonably low altitude for quite a while so I figured we would be landing on 08R.

 photo _MG_8674.jpg

 photo _MG_8675.jpg

Two turns to the right confirmed this.

 photo _MG_8676.jpg

 photo IMG_1891.jpg

 photo IMG_1893.jpg

We touched down and made our way over to the South Terminal.

 photo IMG_1895.jpg

 photo IMG_1899.jpg

 photo _MG_8677.jpg

As the engines were shut down, there was no power to the aircraft, so everything went dark and quiet. As there was no attempt made to get any power either, after a few minutes it got a little hot on board too. I wonder why this was? Surely the flight deck needed more than back up power? After around a ten minute wait, I made my way off into the South terminal. I hadn’t actually arrived here from an international flight since mid 2010. It didn’t look too much different though – unlike the rest of the terminal.

 photo IMG_1901.jpg

 photo IMG_1904.jpg

 photo IMG_1906.jpg

Upon reaching the station, there was bad news for me – Clapham Junction station was closed and the train to Guildford had been cancelled. Therefore it meant I was faced with a nearly two hour wait for a train home. Rather than hang about, I decided to get a little creative with my routing. It took quite a bit longer than if everything was running to plan, but certainly a lot less than two hours. It also meant I got to use one of the London Trams for the first time.

 photo IMG_1909.jpg

And with that brings an end to Februarys trip.

Sun Air were defiantly worth the hype in my opinion. A great on board service, comfortable planes and friendly enough crew – although I do have to question them serving lunch at 9:30 in the morning. Surely a breakfast sandwich and some cereal would work better?

Air Baltic also got the job done. Their website worked fine, the flights were more or less on time, the planes (despite the 737 being a good few years old) were in pretty good nick and the crews were pretty efficient and hard working.

Advertisements