My first six hours in the Faroe Islands

After treading possibly the most beaten path in the travel hacking community – the Park Hyatt Paris Vendome – I’m now somewhere completely different: hunkered down during a rainstorm in a tiny cottage in a settlement of around 50 people somewhere in the Faroe Islands. Since this is a points/miles blog, I won’t bore you with the specifics of my trip except to say HOLY FUCK THIS PLACE IS SO GODDAMNED BEAUTIFUL.

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Coming out of the airport, we were greeted by two sheep (I’m not kidding). They were just walking around the parking lot, as sheep do. I got in the rental car and drove an hour to Funningur without seeing a single traffic light, and the scenery was jaw-dropping the entire way.

But I’m getting ahead of myself – I wanted to talk about the flight, since it was kind of interesting. The Faroes are served by Atlantic Airways, which is independent but basically operates as an arm of SAS. (For instance, we checked in at an SAS check-in desk, and our boarding passes and luggage tags both said SAS on them.) Atlantic flies to a few places from Vagar airport, although Copenhagen is the destination they serve with the most frequency. I like any opportunity to fly an unusual airline, although honestly, there wasn’t anything about this flight that was particularly noteworthy. The A319 we flew on was in an all-economy configuration with a fairly tight 30″ seat pitch, although the plane was only about half full, which relieved some of the crampedness. In any case, the flight is just over two hours, so it doesn’t matter all that much that the plane isn’t super comfortable.

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Our chariot awaits at Copenhagen airport.

The plane was boarded in a single group, but much to my shock, everyone still filed onto the jetbridge in an orderly fashion. From the plane, I got to see that wonderful SAS livery all up and down the terminal, plus I even got a quick peek of a 737 (I think) decked out in retro livery.

imageThe flight itself was uneventful. As the flag carrier for a really small country, I was kind of expecting the captain and flight attendants to seem excited about showing off their homeland to new people, although it more seemed like the flight was there to take Faroese folks home from a vacation in mainland Europe. They do have a cool in-flight magazine, though.

Oh, and I almost forgot! I’m doing the first giveaway on this blog – and your chances of winning are REALLY good, since the traffic influx from Hyatt-gate has mostly worn off, meaning only 8-10 people end up reading my posts. So yeah, just leave a comment on this post telling me the most obscure airline you’ve ever flown, and I will send one lucky winner (chosen at random) an authentic, never-used Atlantic Airways BARF BAG!!!!!! Seriously, I will. I took it off the plane especially for this purpose.

And speaking of barf bags, I was kind of nervous about this flight when I saw how prominently Atlantic displayed them in each seat pocket. I had heard that flying to the Faroes can be a bumpy ride, and I don’t do that well in bad turbulence. (It’s not because I think I’m going to die, it’s that the sensation of falling is and has always been profoundly uncomfortable to me, and I hate it.) I know what severe turbulence is like, having flown back from New Zealand on a flight that lurched all over the sky (or so it felt) for four hours and prompted a few of the flight attendants to say it was the worst flight they had ever experienced. Let’s just say I’m not really looking forward to ever repeating it, so deciding to fly to the Faroes was not something I took lightly. However, I think the threat was overblown, since the flight itself was pretty smooth almost the entire way. After we broke through the cloud layer and were getting ready to land, I mentioned to Justine that I was almost disappointed, since I had been psyching myself up for this flight for months.

Well, that must have jinxed it, because right as I said it, we flew into the valley in which the airport is located, and as soon as there were mountains on both sides of us, the plane just about fell out of the sky (or so it felt – I know that turbulence can’t actually knock a plane out of the sky). It only went on for a minute or so, but it was some of the most extreme bumpiness I’ve ever felt. Making it seem even crazier, we couldn’t have been more than a couple thousand feet off the ground at this point. It took me by such surprise that I didn’t even have time to get scared – Justine and I just looked at each other and started laughing. And then it was over and we landed by SLAMMING down on the runway (due to the wind and the short runway, I assume the pilots need to land that hard on purpose).

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Taxiing toward the Vagar airport terminal. Not the usual runway scenery now is it?

The terminal is just one large building, so deplaning happens via moveable stairs, at which point you walk into the capitalist embrace of a duty free store before proceeding to collect your bags. I tried to get a decent photo of the plane, but it didn’t come out great due to the light. As soon as everyone was off, they turned the aircraft around and filled it up with Copenhagen-bound passengers; fifteen minutes later it was back in the air. I’ve been to very small airports (New Plymouth New Zealand comes to mind, served via a Beechcraft that shuttles passengers to Auckland), but never one this small with an aircraft this large. It towered over the rest of the airport in a regal way, and I can see why it was such a point of pride when Atlantic acquired it a few years ago.

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Bottom line: it doesn’t matter if Atlantic is good or bad, since they’re your only option if you want to visit the Faroe Islands. And don’t forget about the giveaway! BARF BAG!!

3 thoughts on “My first six hours in the Faroe Islands”

  1. Wonderful that you made it to the Faroes, my wife and I had 3 1/2 days there back in July as an extension to a trip to Iceland. I hope you are planning to do the ferry to Mykines and hike out to the lighthouse. Google that and you’ll see why. I don’t think Atlantic Airways, is an arm of SAS. Since they are small, they contract out for ground services with the major carrier at distant airports. Air Iceland handled the ground ops for us at the Reykjavik domestic airport.

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    1. That’s a good distinction between “contracts out for ground services” and the more general (and incorrect) “operates as an arm of.” I’m sure you’re right, since I know Atlantic is a separate company, though they do codeshare with SAS on the CPH-FAE route (and you can earn EuroBonus points flying Atlantic). We didn’t visit any outer islands – instead we rented a car and drove around the whole time. It’s been an amazing trip – looking forward to SAS’s new business class on the way home to the US tomorrow.

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  2. > the most obscure airline you’ve ever flown…

    I was going to say Tunisair, but I’ll go with Balair since it hasn’t existed since 1993. Defunct equals obscure, doesn’t it? Besides, any schmuck with a platty and a fanny-pack can still ride Tunisair. Though my Tunisair flights were both very memorable/horrible.

    I should have known you’d have an insanely detailed blog about a sub-subculture. You will never disappoint me.

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