I was certain that I would not make it to Sweden. I deliberately picked a flight route that had very tight connections so I could jam as many segments possible into one trip (I don’t want to put all my “mileage run” eggs in one basket); the goal of this flight was the journey and not the actual destination. This was rather stupid because some of my connections timings were less than 30-minutes and that meant I’d be de-boarding one plane as another was boarding. And, I’ve had no luck on United flights.
That being said, a week before this flight I learned a mind-shifting secret about the airline industry. I frequently fly Western routes on United and have accepted the fact that a flight that is an hour late is considered normal; this became so bad that I stopped flying direct to SF from Calgary and now route through Vancouver to be on Air Canada.
However, I discovered that all of these “United” flights are not run by United at all. They are all managed and staffed by Skywest Airlines flying under the United brand. And, all the pain suffered at the hands of Skywest does not translate to major United routes where timing is maintained so ruthlessly that they know down to the second if you are going to make your connection or not.
Not only did I make all my connections, in most cases we landed early. In fact, the Stockholm flight arrived two hours before the planned arrival time (thanks to the jet stream) and I ended up sitting in the airport in a sleep-deprived daze (I lost two hours of sleep) trying to sift through the sludge and figure out my next move in a city that I knew nothing about.
Minutes later I was riding in a cab through Stockholm, a place that looks suspiciously like Halifax except that everyone speaks a different language and there is a core that dates to the Middle Ages and not the Colonial Era.