Tag Archives: airports

The World’s Craziest Beach.

Our experts + other experts + our media crew + international press + Sint Maarten = work hard, play hard. Sun, sand, surf, palm trees… and the cybersecurity avant garde. Yep – it was SAS 2017.

Hmmm. What’s this fence doing here – practically on the beach? And all those ‘Danger’ signs?

Aha – yes; you’ve guessed it: it’s that landing strip – the one that ends just short of the beach!

Read on: The pretty unusual feeling…

Barcelona-Kiev-Yerevan.

Surprisingly, Kiev turned out to be the best connection on the journey from Barcelona to Yerevan.

For the first time in my life I flew Ukrainian Airlines. It is basically fine. Only the seats in business class are cramped and uncomfortable (as with most European companies) – they’re the same as in economy class, only three seats are used for two passengers. If the person sitting in front leans back, it becomes very difficult to do any work on a laptop – the keyboard ends up at your throat. You know how it is. What else didn’t I like – well, during the transfer at Boryspil we parked up on the tarmac, and only one bus was sent to transfer all the passengers of a Boeing 737-800. We were packed in like sardines.

Everything else was fine. The smiles of the stewardesses and good service completely made up for the cramped seats. The new terminal D was clean and spacious, and the WiFi was fast (the most important thing!).

Read on:

Greenland, pt. 2 – Airports.

Kangerlussuaq. Probably the strangest international airport in the world. First off, try pronouncing it properly. Hardly slips off the tongue now does it? I had trouble with it too.

Next there’s its geographic and demographic strangeness…

Have you ever seen an international hub airport with a local population of just 500 folks? Not 500,000 – 500! Well, now I have :).

And have you ever seen an airport where for domestic flights there are no security checks whatsoever?! In you stroll, you check in, hand over your luggage, and then you can go walkabout – wherever, including back outside the airport! When your plane’s due you walk to it from wherever you are with no security hassle. A dream!

Ok. Here’s the answer to question No. 2:

Greenland is a very rocky country, and a very glacial one. So building an airport – where you need a good stretch of flat land for the runway itself plus no rockiness in the near vicinity to get in the way of airplanes’ coming in to land and taking off – is no easy task. They did find one spot however that was deemed suitable – Kangerlussuaq: a freak bit of flat bedrock sufficiently far away from the nearest cliffs. The only problem: the runway is a mere 2.8km long!

Read on: Nuuk and Ilulissat

Welcome to Greenland!

By some quirk of fate I often fly across the North Atlantic. Europe-America-Europe; sometimes Asia-America-Europe; sometimes other, more exotic combinations. Example: sometimes I get to fly over Greenland. Sometimes this is at night – so nothing to report there. Other times it’s by day, but the weather’s typically polar and the visibility’s poor. But just sometimes, very occasionally, I get lucky: jetting over Greenland when it’s sunny and panoramic…

One such time for example was in July 2012: Crazy trip, crazy plane, crazy nice weather.

grenlandiya_1

Fast forward to July 2016, and it’s crazy nice weather again up over the big green white land. But this time I wasn’t just flying over, I was to land and then stay a few days. Hurray!

Read on: inside, deeper, more and more …

Legoland: Not Just for the Kids.

What’s Denmark famous for? Yes, it produces nice butter and bacon and beer and political dramas, and I do believe pastries were invented there. But what’s the one thing that’s the most quintessentially Danish like nothing else? Yes: Lego. So when in Denmark…

… go to Legoland! Here! Infinitesimal Lego! Constructions, installations, models, and all sorts of Lego-related amusements. If only I were 40 years younger I’d have stayed forever. But alas I can’t go back in time. Still, even at 50 I’d have wanted to stay a lot longer :)…

legoland-billund-denmark-1

Right at the entrance you come across an outsized Lego installation – meaning, made out of outsized pieces a lot bigger than the standard mini-pieces. However, most of the exhibits seem to be made of the standard ‘bricks’. In we go!…

Read on: Oh my Force!…

From Mexico to China.

Your attention please! This is Tijuana Airport broadcasting! I’m now now starting a reality show about the adventures of a traveler trying to fly from Mexico to China. Welcome aboard!

So, the most convenient way of getting from Cancun to China is to fly Cancun -> Mexico City -> Shanghai (with a stop to refuel). This time, the attempt to follow this route was a total failure. Shanghai Pudong Airport closed for technical reasons – that is, due to some dense dog fog. So I’m sitting in Mexico’s most northeasterly city, Tijuana, waiting to depart.

This is a very remote part of Mexico, most people will never make it here and you’ve probably never even heard of it. Which only makes it all the more interesting! It’s known as the third most prosperous city in the country (after Cancun and Mexico City). Perhaps, that’s thanks to the United States, right across the border, which has set up all sorts of manufacturing plants here, uses the local inexpensive (but decent) medical facilities, etc. It’s also one of the most criminalized places in Mexico, supplying drugs and illegal immigrants to the States. Bad stuff…But it looks (downtown, as seen from my hotel) pretty decent – could be somewhere in California or Florida or suchlike.

Tijuana-airport-1

Read on: But the weather is nothing like Florida…

To lose a suitcase once may be regarded as a misfortune…

…To lose it twice on two flights in as many days looks like carelessness!

My black suitcase gets around a bit. In fact – right around the globe several times a year. So you can imagine my… incredulousness, when it goes astray – TWICE – on a quick dash over to Western Europe!…

Ok, maybe I’m at least partly to blame. I should have listened. More experienced Europe-hoppers told me how, if you need to get from Moscow to Luxembourg and back quick, it’s best to fly to Dusseldorf in neighboring Germany and then drive a rental car 2+ hours (200 kilometers; untypically autobahny roads) to Lux; and coming back – the same route in reverse.

I just didn’t fancy two hours behind the wheel. So in the end we flew out Moscow-Milan-Luxembourg (Aeroflot + Luxair), and back – Luxembourg-Frankfurt-Moscow (Lufthansa + Aeroflot). In the end this route worked out longer, since we were waiting in Milan more than the 2+ hours it would have taken to drive Duss-Lux. But that was nothing…

See, when you fly with different airlines of different alliances – with transfers involving more than one terminal – there’s always a risk that your luggage won’t keep up with you. Which is what happened with me last week. But, like I say, my case managed to go astray both on the way there and on the way back! I might as well have not taken my case, since I never got round to using the bits and pieces inside it that would have made my trip to Luxembourg… comfortable!

On the way there things weren’t so bad: I was swiftly informed my “suitcase is still in Milan”, and that evening it was delivered to my hotel room. Phew.

It was on the way back when things got unacceptably… boycottable. Customs forms to fill out, having to list what was in the case (why?), a line for lost-and-found… All that meant I left the airport about an hour after landing.

My case did eventually arrive – but only two days later! What would have happened if I’d flown onward, say, to South-East Asia? A friend had that problem once – he was on a multi-city business trip to the US, and his case never caught him up after being mislaid still in Europe (though it did try – following him from hotel to hotel all around the States!!).

Here she is, sat outside my office @ HQ. ‘Rush’? RUSH???!!! :)

post-29-0-84406400-1448983306

Oh well, at least something positive has come out of this incident: I will now try my best to forgo a large suitcase to be checked in for short trips. Hand luggage only – it’s the only way forward upward.

Back soon folks; don’t go away!…

One man went to MOW, went to SVO connection.

At last, I’ve done it!

A few days ago I had my first ever flight connection in Moscow. I was flying from Geneva to Beijing via SVO (btw, the Moscow to Beijing leg was my 99th flight this year, meaning the one after it – to Tokyo – was my century!).

Something not sound quite right there? Let me repeat: via SVO.

That is, without going home, and simply transferring from one airplane to another at the airport – for the first time EVER (despite flying into or out of SVO a zillion times already). Oh well, seeing as though I was here, might as well see how it compares with other airports…

First off, the main finding: a connection in Moscow is easy and straightforward – almost unnoticeable. Main thing, as least for a Muscovite, is to switch off the autopilot so as not to head towards passport control but instead to ‘International transfer’. Then it’s a matter of a quick X-ray, and some 30 seconds later you’re already in the neutral zone, in among the gates and duty free shops.

IMG_0692

Well, that wasn’t difficult. Surprisingly smooth. And that’s in spite of all the inadequacies of Terminal F, the former – infamous – SVO2!

SVO-2/Terminal F is very old (built specially for the 1980 Moscow Olympics), very cramped, and very uncomfortable to use. Everywhere there’s a kinda dirty gray gloom. There is just no way you can compare this place with the likes of other intercontinental hubs like Munich, Heathrow 5 or Zurich – much less shiny new Dubai, Hong Kong, Narita, BCIA, KLIA or Changi. Well, you could, but it’d be like comparing… mincemeat with motorbikes: no point whatsoever :).

svoF-2

Read on: It’s not all doom and gloom…

You can’t go wrong in Huanglong.

Half an hour away on a plane from the not-so small (14-million-peopled!) Sichuan capital, Chengdu, in Southwest China, there’s yet another masterpiece of Chinese natural beauty: Huanglong. Basically it’s a cascade of brightly colored lakes and waterfalls made up of highly mineralized (calcareous) water. But that’s enough words. Better just check out the pics…

huanglong-china-1

Read on: Bewildering beauty…

Buddha and nothingness.

Onward we march on our hidden China tour!

Since we happened to be in the city of Leshan in the Sichuan province, it would have been rude not to have gotten up to the top of Mount Emei, in Chinese known as Éméi shān. That’s what we reckoned anyway. Turned out we were rudely mistaken.

mount-emei-china-buddha-1

Read on: No landscapes but … elephants!…