Will you be flying on a trip soon? Then maybe you're interested in all that goes on here at the airport. Come along with me and I'll tell you more.
It's great that you'll soon be flying on a trip! It's certainly exciting. While I usually use my own wings to fly, I love to fly with those really big birds – I mean airplanes.
Are you curious about what will happen? I've put together a few fun things for you as well as for the adult you'll be travelling with.
Welcome to my wonderful airports! I hope we see each other so you can tell me more about where you're travelling to.
Flap your wings with me
Do you think your mum or dad just sits down and looks at their mobile? Try to get them to dance the Flajt dance instead. Just follow me and flap your wings!
Have you seen the trees right by the landing runway at the airport? I was born there, out of a blue egg one sunny day. Not long after I knocked my way out of the egg, I wanted to try to fly for the first time.
"You just have to get some speed, throw yourself into it and let your wings catch the wind," my mum said.
But I couldn't believe that the invisible air would carry all my weight and that my wings would support me – I didn't dare take a step out of the nest and instead just stayed there and got bored.
On the branch next to us lived the pesky Kax crow family.
"What kind of little bird are you that doesn't dare fly? Are your wings just for dusting your nest?" they croaked.
But one fine day, I had grown so much that I could look out of the nest and past the branches and down to the ground. A short distance from there stood a giant bird. It looked really heavy and I felt a little sorry for it.
"I don't dare fly either," I consoled it.
But then the big white bird started moving forward. It ran faster and faster and suddenly took off from the ground and flew. It even waved goodbye, turning straight towards the sky with a thunder, and headed off into the horizon.
"If that big, heavy bird can, then so can I," I thought.
I climbed out of the nest, down onto a branch. I started running, moving faster and faster until the branch was gone and I ran out right into the air! I fell like a rock towards the ground, hitting branch after branch on the way down.
"Now I'm done for," I thought.
But suddenly I saw a white strip painted across the sky and in front of it a small dot. That enormous white bird had left behind a trail to guide me!
I took a deep breath, turned my beak towards the white stripe and wished as hard as I could for air under my wings. I gained speed and just when I was about to end up on the ground, I turned upwards toward the blue sky.
"I'm flying, I'm flying! I dared to! Nothing is impossible," I twittered as loud as I could.
I started flying all around every day and checked out the big birds and the building next to the take-off runway. I learned everything and a little bit more about this fantastic airport.
On my flying trips, I met many people who worked at the airport and became friends with them.
"You birds are the model for all the planes in the world," someone who worked at the airport said to me one day.
"I knew that, of course," I tweeted back, with a little extra pride.
Ever since that day, I have been the technical expert, and everyone – even the Kax crows – comes and listens to me when I talk about it all.
The next time you come to the airport, maybe you'll see me. Please stop by and say hi – I'd love to tell you about everything I know, about this fantastic airport, about the power of the wings that carry you. You just have to dare to believe in yourself and throw yourself into it!
What happens with all the baggage?
This morning I woke up extra early since I was going to be at check-in and help take care of passengers. My job is to print out baggage tags and attach them to bags that people drop off. Every "tag" has a bar code that I scan using a device. Just like that, the code is entered into the computer and sent all the way to a data centre in London! That way, Swedavia can keep track of the bag wherever it is – anywhere in the world.
After ten bags, I thought it was time for a break. I flew up onto one bag and followed it as it was carried away on the conveyor belt. Behind it is a tunnel for baggage that goes all the way to Thailand. Ha ha! Maybe you didn't really believe that.
No, behind check-in is a large "baggage carrousel"! The bag I was riding on ended up on a rectangular tray that is connected to a loooong chain of other trays...which run high up to the ceiling on a long belt. Every tray reads the code on the tag attached to the bag and knows exactly where the bag is supposed to go. That's realy cool, right?
The code on this bag says it shouldn't be loaded onto the plane for two hours, so it automatically travels down to the basement to the "baggage hotel", where it will rest. I also tried to rest. But ...is there anything harder than lying still when you're curious and eager to flap your wings?
"Is there anyone who wants to play baggage memory?" I shouted, but obviously no one answered because no one works down in the baggage hotel . No, that big, big cool machine, with trays in long rows with bags in them, manages totally on its own!
Every fifteen minutes, they reshuffle the bags so that the ones that will be sent off soon end up right at the front. There was one bag now that was done resting and it started travelling upwards on its tray. I flew up onto it and followed along.
We started rolling along into baggage land on the long belt again. Suddenly the tray tilted so that the bag and I carefully glided down onto a wide slide. These slides are called baggage sortation chutes. Bags that will be loaded onto the same plane automatically end up in the same chute. Really clever, right?
At the bottom of the slide was a guy standing, lifting one bag at a time into a silver-coloured container. "Hi, Flajt," he shouted. "Wow, you're so strong", I tweeted. "How many bags do you lift every day?" "Between 600 and 800. They weigh as much as ten big elephants", the little guy boasted and flexed his muscles. "Take a coffee break and go groom your beard", I said. "I'll take over!"
Then I lifted the rest of the bags into the container. Did you think I was too small and weak? No, there's a sort of suction cup with a hook that carries the bags along, so even a bird like me can work here. What luck!
I drove the container with all the bags to the airplane in my truck. I saw when the big plane took off, full of bags in the baggage hold and full of kids and grown-ups inside the plane, with dreams and their destination in sight. As always, I was curious about what everyone would be doing. And I'll see them when they return, so maybe I can hear all about their trip.
What happens at the security checkpoint?
Have you heard the expression, "There's no place like home"? I love to be home in my nest at the airport, but sometimes when I see everyone travelling, I get the urge to see the world myself. I like to fly using my own wings, but some days I want to travel like you, inside a plane.
Today was one of those days. I packed my backpack with everything I needed for a trip to the desert. Yes, I had never been to a desert before and wasn't sure what I would need, so I packed a little of everything. A bowling ball, a snowboard, a pineapple, my stuffed animal, a bag of birdseed and three bottles of water.
Everything except the bowling ball and my snowboard went into my hand baggage, my backpack. You have to check in big things so they're put in the plane's baggage hold. But as it turns out, that isn't the easiest thing to do!
You obviously can't check in round or long objects in the usual way because they can roll off or won't have enough room in the trays that travel around the baggage room. But that problem was quickly taken care of. I just dropped them off at a place for special-sized baggage. There was a giant plastic wrap machine there so people can even pack their stroller! Good idea, right? I wrapped my bowling bowl just to test it.
I continued to the security checkpoint. I've always really liked this place. Do you know why? Well, because there are masses of cool things there. If you get the chance to go through a security checkpoint at my airport, promise me you'll keep your eyes out for these things.
All passengers, both children and adults, put their jackets and bags in small trays that move through a small tunnel. Check to see if some adults get stressed because they think it feels as though people in the queue are waiting. You won't get stressed. You know there's no hurry.
Check out the cool portal you walk though. Best of all – you go through one at a time, as if you were royalty. You know, those portals are used everywhere. They're in stores too, but you may not have thought about it. Listen for the beep. It beeps fairly often when you or someone else goes through the portal. Everything made of metal beeps! Keep an eye on the grown-ups. Sometimes they've forgotten to take off a belt or jewellery made of metal. If it beeps when you walk through, maybe you have coins in your pocket. No problem, it doesn't matter. The guard that greets you on the other side has a scanner and waves it over you to see where the coins might be. Once they've been found, you get a chance to go through the portal again. Has it beeped for a grown-up? Maybe they just forgot some keys in their pocket.
After the portal, there's sometimes an X-ray machine – check it out. Many people put their feet there, since the machine can see through shoes. We're lucky that no one needs to take off their shoes, because imagine how much it would smell of foot sweat, ha ha!
Check to see when your bag or jacket comes out the other side of the tunnel. A guard is sitting there staring at a TV. There's actually an X-ray device in the tunnel machine, and the screen shows what you have in your bag. Watch the guard and see whether they're working with enough concentration. That's because people can only sit there for a half hour. They need to be very alert. Sometimes, the X-ray machine fools the guard and makes them think there's something in the bag when there isn't, something stupid like a sword, for instance. That's called a "tip". If the guard doesn't notice it, well then, they haven't done their job and have to take a long break! These are the things you should keep an eye out for the next time you go through a security checkpoint. Promise that you'll check out all the cool things?!
Now today, I was a bit of a bird brain when I packed. After my bag went through the tunnel and I danced through the beeping portal, well then the guard asked me to open my bag – because I obviously had something there that you're not supposed to have with you – three bottles of water! So I went straight to jail. No, I'm just joking, ha ha!
I simply had to pour out the water and go through one more time without the bottles of water. You can't have liquids with you in containers that big. So check before you go through security that you and your family don't have any liquids in your bags like that so you can avoid any problem.
Interview with Flajt
– You are, after all, a bird. How is it that you happen to live with humans?
– People love their friend Flajt! And I like people who want to fly.
– Why do you like the airport so much?
– Strange questions! Is there a more exciting place than an airport? Just take the people here. They create a buzz in a wonderful way. It's as if they all want to become birds and be up in the clouds and fly. There's so much anticipation in the air. They're on their way somewhere or have been involved in interesting things. And think about how many weird devices, exciting adventures and thrilling jobs there are here!
– What do you do at the airport during the day?
– I work here as a service technician. That means I provide service, for instance, show what the best food for chicks and children is and show people the way to places for families with children. But above all, I am Swedavia's flight expert. After all, I'm a bird – the model for all the airplanes on the runways.
– What do you think about the airport in the future?
– I think people will make a plane for life! Make airplanes that are even better for the environment, ones that will look different, and also cooler. I usually draw new airplane models as a suggestion. And I think people will travel to the airport just to be there, even if they're not flying, to check out the planes, flit around and enjoy the atmosphere. Just like I do.
– What is your favourite part of the airport?
– The baggage conveyor belt. I usually fool around there. At Easter, I laid eggs on the conveyor belt. I mean, I didn't actually lay the eggs. I put on the conveyor belt the kind of eggs you get at Easter and fill with sweets. I then sat perched on a rod in the ceiling and watched the children find them.
– What's the best thing about being able to fly?
– Being able to get to new places really quickly. I like to see the world. A trip to visit someone's grandmother is just as fun as a trip to the Himalayan mountains – feeling the wind under my wings and being able to see the clouds from above.
– What equipment do you like best at the airport?
– The X-ray machine that can see through bags with. Once I had a pineapple in my bag because it would look funny to the staff. But another time I forgot three bottles of water in my bag and had to go out again and empty them. That's because you're not allowed to take liquids through security. The best thing about this was that I got to go through the beeping portal one more time!
– The beeping portal?
– Yes, if you're lucky, it beeps when you go through the portal at the security checkpoint. Then sometimes you can put your bird feet on this thing and lift your wings so the staff can check using a little device to see if you have metal anywhere. Because metal is what beeps in order to tell people that it's there, so the staff can see that it's not a dangerous metal object. Then you continue through the checkpoint. If you're even luckier, you can put your feet in another machine, so they can see through your shoes! They put that equipment there so people don't have to take off their shoes – that's because some people's feet smell of sweat.
– Is there anything at the airport that you would like to improve?
– Yeah. Right now, I've been flying around Swedavia's offices and tweeting about how a 100-metre nest should be built by Gate 13. That may not happen, but it doesn't hurt to try!
– How did it come about that a tiny bird like you became the mascot for all of Swedavia?
–Wow, that was put nicely. It's probably because I dared to ask whether I could become one. And because I didn't give up but instead learned all about this wonderful airport. You have to believe in yourself, that your wings will carry you.
– How can it be that you might be at Stockholm Arlanda and then at Umeå Airport at the same time?
– No, not at the same time. I'm just incredibly fast. I fly faster than the plane. So I'm in one place when you depart and then I can greet you at the other place when you arrive.
– What is it that makes you able to fly so fast?
– My special food, Flajt seeds. They give me strength so I can move quickly! It's like biofuel for airplanes, good for the planet and good for nature.
I'm lucky I can get water at the shop before the security checkpoint. Otherwise, my beak would get dry once I reach the desert. How was my trip? Well, it was fun, but I think the security checkpoint is always the most exciting thing about the whole trip. What do you think?