Member for

13 years 5 months

Posts: 14

Well, this is my first trip report so here goes (sorry no photos)

We booked a day trip to Lapland on the 23rd December some time back and so when the tickets arrived stating flights operated by Air Via I was somewhat surprised. The brochure had stated that most flights were usually operated by airlines including Monarch and Thomson etc!

The check-in time was listed as 06:25, however we arrived early as it wasn't possible to pre-reserve seats. We were close to the front of the queue however it took as absolute age to check-in. Two desks were opened but the staff on duty were not sure of how to check-in a day trip and the return boarding cards were being hand writted. Having checked in we then had to join the queue to pass through security. Again another nightmare as this started near the toilets in terminal two (the one's near the restaurant) and then snaked all the way to the far end of the terminal and then back again. We all understand that security has increased, however no further scanners or x-ray machines have been installed since my last journey in July. All-in-all the check-in and security check took 2 hours! I am glad we got there early!

Our flight (VIM901) was scheduled to depart at 07:55 and was listed as departing from gate 300. At 08:00 we got onto a bus and were transferred to the furthest remote stand adjacent to the cargo terminal. Our aircraft (LZ-MDT - see for picture) was parked next to an RAF VC10. Upon arriving at the aircraft the Captain gave everyone a big wave and then promptly legged in down the stairs and started an argument with the coach driver as to who had authorised passengers to be brought to the aircraft. A servisair cleaning van was still parked next to the aircraft and it was clearly visible that the people on board were still vacuming the inside. This argument went along the lines that the aircraft had been parked on stand the evening before and the cleaners had only arrived a couple of minutes before the passengers. We were all left standing at the bottom of the stairs whilst the argument continued for a good 10 minutes. Finally the cleaning staff left and we were then permitted to board. The aircraft was in good condition with the carpets and seats clean and smart in a blue colour sceme.

The flight taxied for take off at 08:35 and following no delays we were airborne from runway 24 left at just after 08:40 and climbing through the grey clouds. The inflight service was very different from most UK charter carriers. Alcoholic beverages were offered just after take off and were poured from full size bottles at £2.00 each. Cans of Bulgarian lager were offered at £1.50 for a small can and £2.50 for a 500ml can. A full English Breakfast was then served and complementary soft drinks (again poured from 2 litre bottles) were served with the meal (in addition to the usual carton of fresh orange). The breakfast was the best offered on any charter flight and included a rubbish sack for all items to be placed into once finished. This was then collected by the crew afterwards. Tea/Coffee was then served. The flight lasted just over 3 hours and routed over the North sea, Norway and Sweden. For much of the flight only clouds were visible, however once over Sweden we stared to see the ground and we stared our descent and a long final appreach to Kittila was initiated. It appeared that there wasn't much snow, however once we were closer the the ground it became clear then the forests hid most of this. Upon landing full reverse thrust was applied for a long time. The runway looked to be icy and a good 12 inches of snow was visible. The captain then made a full 180 degree turn and back-tracked the full length of the runway. Kitilla only has one access point from ramp to the runway. Other aircraft had already arrived from the UK including a First Choice A320 (Bristol), Monarch B757 (Manchester) Hamburg International 737 (Manchester) and BMI A321 (Heathrow). All were parked at each end of the ramp. It appeared to be a military operation. We were marshalled on to a stand and then a tug attached a our aircraft pushed backwards next to the BMI A321. All aircraft were parked tail in. We were then bussed to the terminal by which time a First Choice B757 and a Thomas Cook Belgium A320 had also landed.

A wonderful day followed with a visit to Santa's Village by Skidoo pulled sleigh plus many other activities. The big high light of the day was the meeting with the big man himself! (I would highly recommend this trip)

The return 20 minute coach journey left at 18:50 (local time) and we were soon back at the airport. Our return flight was delayed by 1 hour due to congestion at the airport (13 flights in total all shceduled to leave within 1 hour). Kittila Airport is about quarter of the size of LBA and there wasn't anywhere to stand never mind sit. The scene was reminisent of a cattle market. Our flight was one of the last to leave. Our aircraft has already been de-iced and therefore managed to get ahead of the Thomas Cook Belgium flight to Edinburgh that had been boarded before ours. A full power take off ensued and the A320 climbed like a rocket having no baggage aboard. Again a full complementary inflight meal was served with soft drinks. The return flight followed the same route via Sweden, Norway and the North Sea before one of the best landing I have ever experienced back at Manchester. You couldn't tell that the aircraft had made contact with the ground. A long run out with no reverse thrust ensued before we were met by a 'Follow me' vehicle to be taken back to terminal 2.

I was somewhat apprehensive about travelling with a Bulgarian charter carrier, however I would reccommend that some of the British Charter Airlines take note of their service. Well done Air Via Bulgarian Airlines!

Original post

Member for

17 years 1 month

Posts: 12,842

Great report....shame there's no pictures