This morning I went to CPH airport with plenty of time before my 9:00am flight to Dublin. After seeing this picture which told me estimated security line wait was 19 minutes, I used the "Fast Track" lane which had zero wait and was in the terminal with time to spare and spent 25 minutes relaxing in the SAS lounge.
When I exited the lounge to head for my gate I realized that Ireland is outside of Schengen Area and that I would have to go through passport control. It was around the same time that I realized that there was only a single line through passport control and it was really long.
After looking for some sort of "fast lane" in vain, I joined the line, thinking there was maybe a very realistic chance that I would miss my flight (which would a first ever). Luckily it was moving reasonably fast, and within a couple of minutes a second lane opened, though it was labeled "EU, EAA and CH passports only" or something like that. When I got close to the split I risked getting into it (it was much shorter) and got lucky and a few minutes later got my passport stamped though with a stern admonition: "Next time use the right lane."
I'm thinking - that'll be a while - I haven't been in CPH since 2007 though I hope I won't have a long of a wait before I return.
This morning's flight had two firsts for me. It was my first time flying with Blue1 (technically a subsidiary of SAS which I had flown for the first time yesterday). It was also my first time flying on a Boeing 717.
I got to the plane as it was finishing boarding and settled in my seat 1D. This was a regular coach seat as this plane is configured all coach.
We pushed back on time and took off mere minutes later.
I can't say for sure, but it seemed within about five or ten minutes there was a relatively loud "bang" noise and the plane jerked a little bit. It felt like something "jostled" us and it was followed by regular not very loud "boom" noises about 2-3 seconds apart. They stopped after less than a minute and since the FAs didn't look worried, I didn't worry either. I was sitting all the way in the front of the plane so I didn't see or smell anything (though apparently people sitting in the back did).
The sky was blue, the sun was out once we ascended above a thin cloud layer, and we were smoothly flying along till we started making a rather banked turn which felt like about 270° if not a complete 360° (it's hard to tell when there are no points to orient your direction way up high).
Sure enough, a few minutes later our Captain came on the intercom to announce that we had lost the use of the left engine and we were returning back to Copenhagen airport. He reassured us that the plane was absolutely designed and built to be able to safely fly with the use of only one engine, but of course to be on the safe side we would return as quickly as possible and just as a precaution the airport would have rescue squads standing by.
The landing was as smooth and uneventful as I've ever had, and while normally I'm pretty disdainful of passengers clapping for the pilots after landing, in this case I thought it was quite appropriate. You could tell that even though there were a lot of questions as a whole the passengers were quite relieved.
SAS was extremely professional - we were deplaned into an arrival gate area that was closed off just for us to keep us together (we had already gone through passport control so we were technically in "no-man's land") and had cases of bottled water for us. They made frequent announcements about our plane (compressor failure in the left engine) and the Captain spoke to everyone explaining the details of what happened, how they dealt with it, how rare it is, and that he would be around to answer any other questions that anyone might have.
After a while they took us as a group back through passport control and to the transfer desk where everyone was offered a meal voucher and we were told that the replacement plane may be available to take off by 12:30 (original departure 9:00, back in the airport by 10:00). Since I'm Star Alliance Gold I went to SAS lounge where I knew they had free food (though no herring!) and internet and I started writing up this experience.
At passport control back into CPH Schengen, the passport officer glanced up at me with surprise and said "Welcome back, so soon".
The rest of the story was much less dramatic (or traumatic as this was for a couple of people on the flight). They prepared an Airbus 320 which was scheduled for 13:00 and eventually took off close to 14:00. Gaining an hour into Dublin, we arrived at 14:50 rather than expected 10am but everyone got there safe and sound.
Kudos to our pilots who have to deal with much worse conditions in their training and periodic flight simulator refreshers (every six months according to our captain) and who handled this extremely calmly and professionally, providing reassurances to the passengers that while this occurrence was extremely rare, we were not in any danger and they had the situation under control the whole way.