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Topic: The Reindeer Route To Australia In J
Username: palmjet
Posted 2011-12-15 15:01:54 and read 19717 times.



Hi everyone. On the eve of another trip down under over Christmas, I have finally got around to reporting on my trip back to Australia in August this year.

INTRODUCTION

Back in May 1787 when the First Fleet of ships set sail from England, getting to Australia was a real pain. In fact, even just finding Australia was almost as much a pain for those early European sailors, when seafaring navigational aids were still very basic. Much of the south west Pacific was virtually unknown to Europeans at the time, and their knowledge of the region was superficial and vague. Meanwhile the lives of the original peoples of the region were about to change forever, mostly not for the better.

Rather than go into a long and detailed debate about the decisions of my forefathers, the fact remains that the decisions of those British officials over 200 years ago resulted in the formation of strong and enduring ties between the UK and Australia, with many people having relatives, families and friends in both countries. While both countries in more recent history have sought to create their own destiny, with those ties becoming less strong, it’s evident from the sheer volume of people travelling by air between the two countries today, that the ties between Britain and Australia are not likely to disappear any time soon.

AND THEN THE KANGAROO ROUTE WAS BORN

“The Kangaroo” route, between Australia and the UK, is one of the most well known longhaul flights in the world. It has been for some time. Flights used to take weeks, not days, stopping at many destinations on the way, sometimes overnight, before continuing the journey the next day. In those days, flying the Kangaroo route was only for the wealthy but what a great way to see some of the world on the way.

An early Kangaroo route combination by way of illustration



Historically the domain of names like BOAC and Qantas Empire Airways (and Qantas today has allegedly trademarked the phrase), the Kangaroo route has seen rapid increases in the number of airline participants, particular from the carriers based in Asia, and more latterly, the Middle East, giving passengers all kinds of avia choices for their flight between Australia and the UK. Costs have also come down considerably which means these days, intercontinental air travel is not the domain of the uber wealthy as it once was. Most a.netters would be familiar with the services provided by Emirates, Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific for example, and numerous reports have featured longhaul pampering aboard a Qantas A380.

LESS KANGAROO, MORE REINDEER

However, my recent and completely unplanned trip back to Brisbane for family reasons, found me again looking at options via Helsinki rather than taking the traditional Kangaroo route back. I discovered the joy of transitting HEL a couple of years ago when I went to Hong Kong (see Finnair Longhaul To HK (w/pics) (by Palmjet Sep 25 2010 in Trip Reports)), and also earlier this year when I was back in Australia chasing Dash 8s:
(see "888": 8hrs, 8 Segments On An Aussie Dash 8 (pics) (by Palmjet Apr 3 2011 in Trip Reports)).

Despite the gripes of regular HEL users about Finavia (the airport operator)... as an infrequent transit visitor to HEL, I find HEL to be a breath of fresh air. I’d must rather transfer flights here than FRA or CDG.

The Finnair lounge and spa facilities which are offered to premium passengers, is a great location for transit passengers such as me. Having BA Executive Club membership, I weighed up the options of going back with a combination of OneWorld carriers. In the end, I settled for flying back via Helsinki on what I refer to as the Reindeer Route to Australia. Each of the longhaul sectors would be operated by Finnair and the ticket was booked via Finnair’s website, so AY get most of the lion’s share of the ticket revenue.

This report focuses on the outbound schlep to Brisbane only.



The outbound flights would be as follows:

Date: Sat, 27 August 2011
Route: London (LHR) – Helsinki (HEL)
Flights: BA794, codeshared with AY5904
Aircraft: A320, G-EUYB
Seat:4A Club Europe

Date: Sat, 27 August 2011
Route: Helsinki (HEL) – Hong Kong (HKG)
Flights: AY69
Aircraft: A340-300, OH-LQE “One World” colours
Seat:5A Business Class

Date: Sun, 28 August 2011
Route: Hong Kong - Brisbane (BNE)
Flights: CX103
Aircraft: A330-300, B-LAC
Seat:20K Business Class.

PRE-DEPARTURE

HEL flights on BA are operated out of T3. Not much to write about other than to observe that check in was fast and my bag checked all the way through to Brisbane without any complications. Directions to the lounge and a joke about my upcoming flying marathon to Brisbane with the check-in agent when she printed out my baggage tag, and I was all set.

Security at LHR mid morning was relatively free flowing and I was not in line for more than 10 minutes. The situation at LHR has really improved in the past 12-24 months, and nothing like the nightmare it used to be.

I made my way to the BA Galleries lounge for a bite to eat and took up my favourite position along the window to watch the goings on outside.

Continental, no United, no Continental, no United B772 just arriving and turning off 27L. I still can’t get used to these colours. It’s bamboozling to those of us who have seen these colours worn by Continental aircraft since the early 1990s.



LHR has fast become a haven for B773s. A long list of carriers now operate them here. Air New Zealand’s relatively new machine arriving from LAX on RW 27L



Home carrier BA also has a few 773s in the fleet, with more coming. I think this was a JFK flight, which I was monitoring on Plane Finder. The joys of technology.



Yes, I am heading to your home town, but you’ll beat me there.



The spot in the lounge is great for getting up close and personal - perhaps too close and personal for my liking with this IB 320 which was heading to the nearby gate. Ugh. I can only imagine the mediocre (if any) service the passengers received on this flight.



Having partaken in the delights of the lounge, which was moderately busy on this Sat morning, but not uncomfortably so, I headed out to find my gate and get ready for the beginning of what always is a very long period of 24+ hours of travelling. Having said that, if I was going by ship as they did in 1787, I would probably be still enroute as I type this trip report today! Flying wins hands down.

I passed this slightly grubby looking TG 744 on the way to the gate being prepared for the return to BKK. It certainly looked like a rain shower was heading our way at this point.



All BA flights to HEL at T3 board via a remote stand which means being bussed to the aircraft. The gate area filled up pretty quickly so the flight was expected to be busy.

Seemed like there might be a departure delay, as no movement from the gate agents and the time was ticking at -15 mins before departure. A sudden downpour probably did not help either. I had just over 6 hours transit time in HEL so any delay was not of concern. Boarding call was finally made and passengers made their way to the bus. Filling up fast, the doors were closed and we were off on a mini ramp tour to our waiting A320. We passed the usual T3 heavies, including a number of AC longhaul aircraft on the ground.

Bounding up the steps, I was met at the front door by cheerful and friendly crew. One thing that I’ve noticed about BA which is consistent across all the flights I have taken with them in the past couple of years - you always get welcomed at the door and often by multiple crew members. It’s a small thing, but it’s what I remember.

Unfortunately for BA, but fortunately for me, there were only a small handful of passengers in J this afternoon so the load wasn’t brilliant. Y however looked packed, given how long it took the door to be closed. All welcome messages were in English only.

We were finally ready to go, but nothing happened. The captain then added his welcome and explained that the aircraft was very heavy and for weight and balance reasons, they were moving a couple of people into the J class cabin, just for take off. 3 passengers were then escorted to some of the of free seats around me. I am sure they all thought they’d been upgraded. However, after take off, they were all escorted back to their original seats!

The safety demonstration was performed in English on the screens, which followed by a recorded message in Finnish.

A further nice welcome from the cockpit crew with some flight information. Flight time today to Helsinki was an estimated 2hrs 35 mins.



By the time we joined the long queue for takeoff from 27R, we were almost 40 mins past scheduled departure time. Plenty of holding, while a steady stream of departures sailed past my window.

Like this TK A340 presumably on its way back to Istanbul



Nice to see this QF A380 on its take off roll. I will see you next week from the delights of Seat 2A when I am heading back down under again for Christmas!



More confusing sights for my brain to try and comprehend, especially as the original Continental never operated B767-300s!



Getting ready for Athens - dedicated to OA260!



The weather was a mix of sunshine and showers. So far the airport had remained mostly dry while I was there, although afternoon showers were predicted to hit only a short time after we were due to depart.

The end of 27R seemed like it turned into quite a bunfight amongst airlines, all keen to be on their way.

This DL 764 tried to push in...no you don’t!



If it’s Saturday, it means no flying for this bird



We were then overtaken by this CX 744 who decided that he needed priority for his departure to HKG. I might see this beauty when I got to HKG, many hours later.



An AA763 sans winglets somehow managed to sneak in before us.



Good bye London for a couple of weeks. We were off after a long-ish take off roll.

Passing the heavies on the ground - another QF A380, awaiting its evening departure to SIN to operate QF10.



The forecast continuing sunshine and showers seemed to be correct. Quite spectacular from the air to see these localised rain showers from above the ground.



My empty row shortly after departure



As we gathered height, it was actually a pleasant day for flying some parts of the UK. After banking right and turning back on ourselves to head east, we flew past some amazing cloud formations over the home counties.



I believe this is Hatfield House. I went there a few months ago and it really looks like the design of the buildings and gardens. I can highly recommend it as a place to visit. The story goes that Elizabeth I (1533-1603) was sitting under a tree in the gardens in 1558 when she was told that she would be Queen of England. I never did find the alleged tree - although apparently it’s still there.



A short time later, first up was drinks so I had a diet coke and some nibbles.

Our flight-track today was fairly standard. I’ve flown this route now 4 times in the past year and each time, we’ve taken the same route: hugging the north Dutch coast, crossing just north of Hamburg, and then pretty much a straight line north east to Helsinki.



The view from 4A on this Saturday afternoon somewhere high above northern Europe



Shortly after the drinks service had been completed, preparations were made for lunch. No menu and no choice - lunch was a chicken breast with grilled vegetables. Despite its small size, it was very tasty. Nicely done. Plenty of bread was available (my weakness) and some white wine completed the ensemble. For dessert, some cheese and a chocolate. Not overly generous on the sweet stuff, but then again, I had eaten quite well in the lounge before departure so the portions were perfectly sized for me.



The flight was smooth. Very few bumps enroute and before long, we were getting close to the outskirts of Helsinki.

Lots of outlying islands and then lots of green



The weather looked very nice in Helsinki this afternoon - much clearer and settled than in London



Making a few turns before getting close to Helsinki Vantaa and chasing our shadow.



I loved the views from the window. Lots of green down there. Last time I flew through Helsinki, it was -10C and covered in snow. Quite a contrast!

Touchdown



“Welcome to a gorgeous afternoon in Helsinki, where the temperature is 23C”. Passing the domestic apron with a pair of AY E190s and a World MD11 dominating the scene. Certainly a well travelled section of the airport for a few well known A.net trip reporters!



The distinctive terminal at HEL. Of course this picture has to be dedicated to FlyingFinn



You know where you are



If it’s HEL, there must be a 717 somewhere.



Quite a few AY heavies at their gates and getting ready to go. Most are now in the new colours. When AY introduced these new colours, I was initially horrified: I nearly spat out my coffee when I saw a pic for the first time. However, over time, I hate to confess this, but the scheme has started to grow on me. I guess you get used to anything if you see it long enough. I still prefer AY’s old scheme though. There’s far too much white in the new scheme for my liking.



A yummy AY A330 at the gate looking resplendent in the late afternoon sunshine



How about a gaggle of A330s?



A not to be forgotten A340



Pulling up to our non Schengen gate, we had a neighbour, getting ready to go back to Moscow.



The first leg was over, and in sum, it was standard BA Club Europe: consistent, friendly, tasty food, comfortable - although we were about 20 mins late.

Now being quite familiar with the gate layout at HEL, I made my way directly to the lounge and spa.

HELSINKI SPA and LOUNGE

The lounge is free to premium passengers along with a host of other invitees, but the adjoining Spa comes with an entry fee of €45 for all users. I was keen to see what the Spa was like so I made my way over to the counter, and spoke to a lovely lady behind the desk. Her name was Jennifer, which I did not think sounded terribly Finnish, but perhaps she wasn’t? In any case, she made me feel very welcome and explained how the whole process worked.

There is a small relaxation pool so you can either bring your own swimmers, or you can rent a pair which the Spa provides. Having taken one look at the little pairs of blue Speedos for hire, I politely declined the offer. No way am I getting my bits out particularly when the Spa looks across the apron!

In all, the Spa is excellent. It was virtually deserted on this late Saturday afternoon, so I had plenty of latitude for pics. All for A.net trip reporting!

Changing rooms complete with everything you need. Lockers of different sizes so you can safely store your things.



The ice machine: this is meant to replicate being outside in the snow after leaving the sauna. You leave one of the saunas and grab some ice and smear it all over you - as much as you can stand. Brrr very cold. It periodically dumps more ice so there’s plenty to go around...



Walking into the central part of the Spa with a number of saunas surrounding it. Funky decorations hanging from the roof. Orange Juice and water station on the left if you are feeling dehydrated.

.



The small relaxation pool, which looks out onto the ramp. Nobody was swimming so I was able to get his pic without looking like a perv.



Heated sun loungers next to the relaxation pool, shimmering in the late afternoon sun. I spent a while here chilling out.



That was after trying out some of the saunas first. This was the stonebath. I liked this one, and (for a non Finn) it was boiling hot.



The dry sauna



I spent a good 1.5 hours in the Spa. It was bliss. I can’t recommend it highly enough. My favourite was the birch tree sauna. Real branches spread out on the floor of the sauna to give it that outdoorsy smell. You’d never know you were in the middle of an airport. There are showers too which allow you to clean off before heading back to the changing rooms. I felt totally relaxed by the time I left to go next door to the lounge. It was a great experience.



The Finnair lounge next door was not new to me - having been here a couple of times before, it was a perfect place to spend the remaining time checking the net, eating and watching the movement outside. I love the furniture design in the lounge. It’s very different to any other airline lounge I’ve been in.



These seats are great for relaxing and looking outside. The lounge was not very busy at all when I first got there but it gradually got busier as time went on. However, it was never uncomfortably crowded.



Food and beverage selection has been reported before so I won’t cover that here. Needless to say, I spent a happy hour or so here catching up on emails (wifi is free with a code that they give you at the desk) and rehydrating after my sauna experience. Soon it was time to head over to the gate.

Arriving at Gate 34. Yep that’s the one.



Around 45 minutes before our 2340 departure time, there was movement at the gate as the gate staff started getting us ready for boarding. The was a sizable number of passengers at the gate and I wondered how busy J would be. This would be my second time flying AY in J to Hong Kong and I wondered how this flight would compare.

END OF PART ONE

Topic: RE: The Reindeer Route To Australia In J
Username: palmjet
Posted 2011-12-15 15:04:12 and read 20028 times.

PART TWO

HELSINKI TO HONG KONG

No boarding delays and the process was very ordered and civilised - just how I like it. I was able to board whenever I wanted, which is what I really like about flying in J, as I get so excited about boarding an aircraft, I can’t bear to wait in a line!

I was welcomed on board by two smiling crew members and directed left to my J class seat, (5A) which was in the last row of the main J cabin. The blue J seats are very comfy, but are not 180 degree reclining, although the recline is almost completely flat. A bottle of Finnish water was placed at every seat where there was also a nice soft white pillow for every passenger. Finnair’s J class configuration on the A340s is 2-2-2 and there are two J cabins. The main cabin from rows 1 - 5 and then there is a mini J cabin aft of the forward galley, where there are only a few rows.



I was offered assistance with storing my things, but declined as I had very little to store. It was a nice gesture though. I was then offered some champagne, and despite the late hour and feeling quite tired, it was offered with a smile, so I could not resist. I also love Finnair’s retro glasses.



These were designed to commemorate AY’s first flight to New York in 1969. Very cool.

Here’s our expected routing for tonight’s flight which was expected to take 9 hours 30 minutes and cover over 4800 miles



I was unable to get any pics of the aircraft at the gate because of the gate layout and excessive use of multiple glass panels. However, I could see that it was OH-LQE, painted in the new colours, and not only that, it had One World titles.

The J cabin was half empty this evening so plenty of room for those of us onboard. AY has introduced a second HKG service since I last flew this route, so I wondered whether the loads were now lighter on both flights, or whether it was just that this was a random Sat evening at the end of August, so not a particularly busy time for flying.

All the more space for me, so there was no problem getting up and around and spreading out. I had nobody next to me.



The cabin was very hot when we boarded as the aircraft had been sitting on the ground for a few hours in HEL, and as it had been a warm day in Helsinki, our A340 was like a furnace. The crew did apologise for the uncomfortable state of the cabin and assured us it would cool down shortly. Well, here’s hoping we depart on time, because if we’d stayed much longer at the gate, I would have melted away.

Thankfully we pushed back just a few minutes late, at the same time as the AY flight to BKK which was at a nearby gate. These were the last two AY longhaul departures for the evening.

Safety demo done on screen in Finnish, Swedish and English. Emergency exits pointed out by the crew. I had a very nice gentleman who was working my aisle and row this evening. He had the blondest hair I’ve ever seen on a human being. This is Finnair after all.....!



Heading out to our departure runway with a wing fuel of fuel for the trip to HKG. Gotta love the “backward” F on the winglet. This pic is dedicated to VSMike!



I don’t recall what runway we took off from, but the runway sits parallel with the non Schengen gates. Take off was as spritely as only an A340-300 is capable of - in other words, a very long take off roll followed by a shallow climb. Wings flexing under the weight of all that fuel, as we sailed into the Helsinki night.



Some frequent turning action just after departure



Still climbing... A340-300 style

.



Shortly after the seatbelt signs went off, the crew introduced themselves and explained the service onboard. Also at this point, the cabin started to cool down considerably. Phew. We also had an amenity kit handed out by the crew containing all the essentials in a nice Finnair and Spa branded washbag. In J, we received a hot towel, while I took at a peek at the menu, which was in both English, Chinese and Finnish (in that order).



I did not opt for any of the sweet potato soup, but decided on just the salad and grilled spring chicken with chevre risotto. The other choices were sea bass or a vegetarian tortellini. It was getting past 1230am Helsinki time by the time dinner turned up. The salad was fresh, and two bread runs were done. “Was there anything else I wanted?” asked the very charming cabin crew member working our section. The load in J was light, so there was plenty of time for lots of personal service. I really appreciated this. The crew took their time to make sure everyone had what they wanted. They did not “rush” the dinner service so they could turn the lights out and hide out in the galley. They did a great job. The food was also of the right consistency. Nothing too heavy for this time of the night. I felt full, but not stuffed afterwards.



Dessert consisted of a caramel chocolate cake and everyone got cheese whether they wanted it or not. Wine refills were continually offered to the point that I had to stop the cabin crew refilling my glass by hiding it!



While eating, I had a play with the IFE. This is the home page. While it’s no Krisworld, it does the job, and there’s more than enough to keep you occupied for all or part of a 9 hour flight. I left my screen on the moving map, as all self respecting A.netter would do....



Stupidly I forgot to check out the camera functionality when it was daylight later in the flight. Bugger!

I managed to get about 4 -5 hours sleep during the night, before waking up and going for a wander.

By the time I took a peek out of the window (and nearly blinded myself in the process as the light was so bright), we were well into Chinese airspace.



Interestingly, we weren’t all that far from Chongqing at this point and Finnair will start a new service to Chongqing from Helsinki in 2012. Well done to Finnair for trying a new route which no other European airline is currently flying. I hope the route does well.

Flying past Chengdu in Sichuan Province



I was still feeling a little sleepy at this point so remained in my seat in a cradle position staring mindlessly away and lost in my own thoughts until breakfast preparations were underway.

Looking outside, it was just puffy clouds and haze down below - smog most likely



Here’s another view of the (old) J class seats. I have been on 3 of AY 340s now in the past 12 months in J and none of the aircraft I have travelled on have been re-fitted with the new AY J class seats, as found on most of the A330s. I guess they will get around to it eventually. Most people were still snoozing at this point.



Breakfast was served about 1.5 hours out of Hong Kong



Hot options consisted of a vegetable crepe and sausage which was passable. I mostly opted for the museli and yoghurt, the bread options, fruit and cheese. These days, I rarely eat hot breakfasts even on the ground. Refills of orange juice were frequent and served with a smile. The service was again personal and helpful. Nice balance Finnair.

A nice coffee. I had two.



Toward the end of Finnair longhual flights, they like to show a short film promoting Finnair, its history and its future, and again re-inforce that flying Finnair is the fast way from Europe to Asia. I like it when an airline remembers that it is actually.... an airline. This little short film is great. I wish more airlines would tell their story like this.



We passed Macau on the way down, so I knew we weren’t far away now. We took basically the same route on my previous AY flight to HKG. This time however, we flew south of Hong Kong Island and then turned left to fly right over Kai Tak (where I have many fond memories), which could be spotted through a gap in the clouds, before heading west again toward HKG.

Passing some densely populated parts of HKG on our descent



Nearly there and my first glimpse of HK “avia” at the terminal for this trip. Note the SQ whalejet at the gate, getting ready to depart back to SIN. We would eventually park to the left of the BA 744.



Hello Hong Kong! Slowing down with all our bits hanging out. Welcome to Hong Kong, where the local time is 330pm and the temperature is 33C. Yikes! Quite a contrast to the mild temperatures in London.



We pulled into our stand right next to this gorgeous looking 777. V8-BLC was being prepared for its flight back to Brunei. I remember when the 777s started operating into LHR. It’s a shame they have ended flights to Brisbane after flying there for a long time. I remember seeing their B757 in BNE back in the mid 90s. Nice to see them in HKG, although I thought they usually send an A319 or 320 to HKG.



Easing to our parking stand, with the jetbridge ready to attach itself to OH-LQE



Shortly after, we were allowed to disembark, with J class passengers being allowed off first. The crew were all there to thank everyone. It was a great flight with Finnair.

I like to try and get a snap of my ride at the end of each flight and thankfully at HKG, this was possible. Here is OH-LQE at the gate shortly after arriving from HEL. Thank you “white one”!



I had quite a few hours to kill in HKG before my late night flight down to Brisbane. After going through transit security and obtaining my boarding pass from Cathay Pacific for CX103, I spent most of it wandering around the terminal to see what was going on, as well as visiting the Cathay J class lounge. The premium CX lounges at HKG have been reported on frequently in this forum, so I have not covered anything specific in this report about the lounge. Needless to say it was a very pleasant experience.

HKG has always been a smorgasbord of variety when it comes to airlines. Today was no different.

From Qatar



to El Al (don’t forget it was Sunday by now so El Al were good to go again after the weekly no-fly programme on Saturdays)



to Air New Zealand (which had also come from London)



to the rare Mega Air Maldives registered B767-300



Hong Kong is truly one of the best airports for spotters. I never get tired of coming through here. I love this airport but I still miss Kai Tak.

OneWorld partners



What’s more, it’s not all longhual, mega sized airliners passing by. Some nice smaller aircraft are always around, such as Hong Kong Airlines/Hong Kong Express -



And of course, CX is king here.

.

.



Heading back to the lounge for some R&R, I followed this beauty, heading for the gate having just arrived: dedicated to Suryo!



It was also surprising to see my A340 again after it had been dragged away from the gate. Here’s OH-LQE having a well earned rest before doing a late night run back to Helsinki.



It was soon dark, so I spent the rest of my time in HKG, relaxing with some music and a book and taking the odd picture.

Nice to see a 747-300 around, even if it looks completely battered



South African A340-300 due to fly back to JNB



I love HKG because no matter how busy it is, the terminal never feels crowded and there’s always somewhere you can go if you feel you need some quiet time.

The calm before the boarding storm... sort of

THE FINAL LEG TO BRISBANE

By now, your senses start to fail as mega tiredness kicks in. Although I had freshened up with a shower and felt OK, I could feel the first pangs of jet lag starting to kick in. As such, I decided to go to the gate relatively early and just conserve what little energy I now had left for the last sector down to Brisbane, a usual flight time of just over 8 hours.

I only managed one shot of my aircraft at the gate due to reflection on the glass. Here’s B-LAC due to operate CX103 to Brisbane this evening - departure still a couple of hours away. The aircraft sat at the gate here for some time.



This must have been the Australian gate “section” as the flight on either side of ours was going to Adelaide and Sydney respectively. The ADL flight as leaving at exactly the same time as we were due to depart. It would be a race to see who pushed back first.

Boarding was efficient, and on time. I soon found myself at my seat, having been warmly welcomed by the crew at the door when I arrived. Cabin was the old CX J seats, which I was lucky to experience only in March this year. Again, the seat did not feel too narrow or claustrophobic, but I know it has its detractors. Of course, my biggest beef is the angle of the seat to the window, making picture taking especially challenging.

The load in J looked pretty good for a Sunday night flight. Most seats in the forward cabin of the A330 were occupied.

We managed to push back first, with the ADL A330 flight ready to go immediately after us. A warm welcome from the crew and an estimated flying time of just over 8 hours to Brisbane. A mostly smooth flight however we were warned that there might be a few bumps over the Philippines and the Equator.

Departure was to the south this evening. Sadly no pics of the departure as it was pitch black and there was way too much reflection.

Shortly after take off, a drinks service was offered along with nuts. The crew on this flight were as lovely as the crew on my BNE-CNS-HKG flight earlier this year. Cathay had certainly made a positive impression on me in 2011.

The main meal options consisted of a grilled chicken starter, followed by my choice of the sauteed sea bass in a spicy sauce, steamed jasmine rice and jade melon. Sea bass seems to be a favoured fish amongst One World carriers! The other option was pan fried lamb loin with a Madeira sauce, and new potatoes. For dessert, I had ice-cream. Drink runs along with wine were offered freely throughout the meal service, which was flawless. Thanks Cathay!

I managed to get a good 4 hours of sleep on the way which meant I felt slightly better by the time we had entered Australian airspace. As a passenger, you really get a perspective of how big Australia is when you fly in from Asia. You cross the Australian coastline usually over the Northern Territory or Queensland, but it’s still usually a good 3+ hours still to go before getting to Brisbane.

About 1.5 hours out of Brisbane, the cabin gradually came to life as people emerged from their slumber. Breakfast was soon being presented. I had the passionfruit smoothie, museli, yoghurt and juice, along with some croissants. The hot options consisted of omlettes, dim sum or congee (Chinese porridge).

Being careful this time to open my window shade slowly, having learnt my lesson from the previous flight, this was the view -



Nothing like waking up next to a Rolls Royce Trent humming away outside!

The descent revealed that it was a nice day weather wise in South East Queensland today. Perfect for flying.



It’s always a gamble wondering what direction we are going to approach the airport from. Having flown in and out of Brisbane I normally can tell miles out which direction we’re going to approach and what runway we will land on, but today it was a little tricky. By the time the cabin was secured for landing and everyone back in the seats, we were approaching the outlying areas of Brisbane, a city which now claims to be home to just over 2 million people. When I was born here, the population was half that. Amazing how this city has grown in 3 decades.



It soon became apparent we would be landing from the south, which meant overlying the centre of the city. I was lucky to be on the correct side of the aircraft for some great views of this now sprawling city.

This was central Brisbane just before commencing our final descent. The Brisbane River which snakes its way through the city, looks quite peaceful today. A contrast to back in January when this river broke its banks and flooded many areas. Fortitude Valley on the front right hand side, the suburb of New Farm next to it. Kangaroo point, the Story Bridge and the Gabba cricket ground are all in view!



A smooth landing followed on RW01, slowing down just enough to give me a view of this now re-branded Virgin hanger as we went past.



Landing in this direction means backtracking all the way to the International Terminal, which is separate to the Domestic facilities.

This is Brisbane International. I was there the day this terminal opened back in 1996.



As we approach our gate, we passed a few aircraft at their international gates, getting ready for their next flights.

Pacific Blue 737-800



Etihad A330-200



Perhaps the highlight for me was seeing this Air Niugini 763-300 in their new colours. I flew with them a few years ago between Brisbane and Sydney when they operated a domestic tag on service that was code shared with Qantas. Nice experience it was too. This aircraft would be going back up to Port Moresby.



Disembarkation was relatively quick and after a nice good bye from the crew, I was soon faced with that humid tropical smell as I walked up the HSBC branded jetway (yes, they truly seem to the world’s local bank). Some 27 hours, and 3 airlines later, I was home. Sure it was a long journey, but it beats getting a boat to Australia!



Immigration was fairly efficient for this time of the morning at BNE, although we all got the once over from the sniffer beagles which Australian Customs and Quarantine use. I was soon out into the landside part of the terminal, and into a taxi to see my family.

POSTSCRIPT

It’s difficult to compare Cathay and Finnair. They are such different carriers in terms of look and feel (in my view) although there were things which were consistent with both flights. The crews on both flights were lovely. I know it may have had something to do with travelling in J but I’ve had some experiences, and read of others, who have had appalling experiences, even in J. The food was also very tasty on both flights. Could not fault Cathay or Finnair on that front at all.

Finnair is not the biggest or the best out there, but what they provide is excellent value for money. I would not hesitate to fly with them again longhaul. They offer good connections through HEL and they seem to be very successful in promoting their Europe-Asia flights. Destinations in Asia are also being expanded: SIN returned to the AY network in May this year, and Chongqing starts next year.

Transitting in HEL was a pleasure and the Spa there was really something quite different from the usual transit experience. Finally, just as an observation, my entire trip from London to Australia was aboard Airbus aircraft - not a Boeing in sight. That would, however, be rectified on the return journey. But that’s another story.

Thanks for reading and any comments are always welcome

Topic: RE: The Reindeer Route To Australia In J
Username: The777Man
Posted 2011-12-15 16:28:07 and read 19404 times.

Hi Palmjet!

Thanks for an excellent report with great pictures !

Finnair long-haul seems pretty good and the food looks good too. Too bad that the seats were the old ones but perhaps AY will replace the 343s with other aircraft soon rather than refurbishing the aircraft ?

Nice to see another perspective of HEL from a non-Finnish person......

HKG is one of my favorite airports and great to see the variety of airlines there.

That's a long trip to BNE and I hope you got some rest once your arrived.

Looking forward to the return report!

The777Man

Topic: RE: The Reindeer Route To Australia In J
Username: bps3458
Posted 2011-12-15 16:28:30 and read 19396 times.

Hi Palmjet,

you have just made my day by posting this excellent report along with brilliant pictures. Got me all excited as I'll be doing the "Reindeer Route" in J in three weeks time for customer meetings in Germany. I'll be doing BNE-SIN-HEL-HAM and coming back DUS-HEL-HKG-BNE with the BNE-SIN segment on QF and the HKG-BNE on CX. Having done the same journey in May fully agree with you that AY offers great value for money and also do not mind flying the old CX business class layout (except for the viewing difficulties). Same as in May have decided to interrupt the return journey for 24 hours in Hong Kong.

Interesting comment regarding the Spa in HEL. I was under the impression entry was free if traveling in J and being a OW Emerald. I'll have to ask when in HEL but doubt I'll make it in to the Spa as I only have about 90 minutes transit time in HEL both ways.

Cheers from Brisbane,

Peter

Topic: RE: The Reindeer Route To Australia In J
Username: bcworld
Posted 2011-12-15 16:57:41 and read 19323 times.

Quoting palmjet (Thread starter):
I passed this slightly grubby looking TG 744 on the way to the gate being prepared for the return to BKK.

I have an almost identical pic of HS-TGJ parked at T3 the following month just before I boarded the flight to BKK. She looked a bit sad & grubby then too, and is getting on a bit at 22 years old. I think it may have recently left the TG pax fleet for freighter conversion.

Great report...the facilities at HEL look really nice!

Topic: RE: The Reindeer Route To Australia In J
Username: HELyes
Posted 2011-12-15 17:07:26 and read 19311 times.

Thank you for an exellent TR, great pics!

Quoting palmjet (Thread starter):
In the end, I settled for flying back via Helsinki on what I refer to as the Reindeer Route to Australia.

The Reindeer Route, what a great name, AY should pay you for that  
I've heard AY was surprised how popular the Reindeer Route (via HKG, BKK, SIN) has been, especially when the SIN route was re-opened. According to the Great Circle map HEL actually is closer to SYD than any other hub in EU, that surprised me at least.

Quoting palmjet (Thread starter):
I was keen to see what the Spa was like so I made my way over to the counter, and spoke to a lovely lady behind the desk. Her name was Jennifer, which I did not think sounded terribly Finnish, but perhaps she wasn’t?

Jennifer sounds a Swede-Finnish name, it's just pronounced a bit differently from English. A Finnish version would be Jenni.

Quoting palmjet (Thread starter):
I spent a good 1.5 hours in the Spa. It was bliss. I can’t recommend it highly enough. My favourite was the birch tree sauna. Real branches spread out on the floor of the sauna to give it that outdoorsy smell. You’d never know you were in the middle of an airport. There are showers too which allow you to clean off before heading back to the changing rooms. I felt totally relaxed by the time I left to go next door to the lounge. It was a great experience.

Oh I envy you now, I really want to try the Spa, the 45 Euros sound a bit deep but at least everyone can get in. You didn't try any of the treatments? The entrance fee is included in the price of the treatments. The birch leaves and sauna is a traditional compination, very Finnish. My supermarket sells frozen birch whisks, enjoyed them a couple of times in my tiny bathroom sauna.

Quoting palmjet (Thread starter):
I love the furniture design in the lounge. It’s very different to any other airline lounge I’ve been in.
Quoting palmjet (Thread starter):
wifi is free with a code that they give you at the desk

Yes I like the look of the non-Schengen lounge as well, I know some think the style is too light, "too Nordic". Actually the whole airport (like all Finavia airports) has a free wifi, no codes needed. Somehow a different system in the lounge?

Quoting palmjet (Thread starter):
Here’s another view of the (old) J class seats. I have been on 3 of AY 340s now in the past 12 months in J and none of the aircraft I have travelled on have been re-fitted with the new AY J class seats, as found on most of the A330s.

I wish all their wide bodies had the new fully flat J seat, but the "old" isn't too bad either I think. For some unknown reason AY use their best product on leisure routes to Thailand and Canary Islands in winter, I had a change to try the new flat bed on HEL-LPA, the TR:
Full Flat Comfort On Holiday Charter: Finnair A333 (by HELyes Apr 20 2011 in Trip Reports)

Your AY flight looked good. I think you are right, AY don't have the best long haul J product but it works, nice crews, ok meals and it's cost-effective - except ex-HEL. And yes, HEL provides easy transit.

Quoting palmjet (Thread starter):
Hello Hong Kong!

Your TR made me planning a return to HKG, what a great airport. Never tried Cathay's J-class, it's on my to do list...

Topic: RE: The Reindeer Route To Australia In J
Username: gabrielchew
Posted 2011-12-15 17:16:34 and read 19260 times.

Nice look at a trip of oneworld carriers. Nice to see the HEL lounge empty - when I was there in October is was so packed I couldn't find a seat for a while. THe spa area looks great - just a bit pricey. I flew B-LAC earlier this year from PVG-HKG in C, was my first flight in the herringbone seats.

Topic: RE: The Reindeer Route To Australia In J
Username: Emirates202
Posted 2011-12-15 17:41:22 and read 19186 times.

That Spa looked awesome! Hope I can try It someday!

Topic: RE: The Reindeer Route To Australia In J
Username: fiscal
Posted 2011-12-15 17:57:23 and read 19136 times.

Great trip report. The one thing that got my sick mind working was the picture of the ice fountain, as I immediately conjured up images of golden snow......

Topic: RE: The Reindeer Route To Australia In J
Username: 767747
Posted 2011-12-15 18:43:15 and read 18984 times.

Great report on Finnair!

While in CPH back in September, Finnair had a huge area blocked off in the terminal promoting their flights to Asia through HEL ... Looks like a great option, and the J class service looks really nice!

I also like the retro glasses - how nice when an airline has something a little different than the normal glasses to set them a bit apart.

Best,

Matthew (767747)

Topic: RE: The Reindeer Route To Australia In J
Username: ROGERBCN
Posted 2011-12-15 19:35:08 and read 18877 times.

Hola Palmjet!

What an interesting TR. Really nice to see this long Kangaroo route flight involving three different carriers.

I really like flying but the experience in the spa in HEL looks really great, what an interesting option they offer to their best customers. It sounds excellent to spend your time between flights in a sauna, getting into the water after having some ice rubbed in your body... quite refreshing. I am sure you board the plane much more refreshed than just after seating and eating in the lounge. I do not know if they inform you of their existence so you can bring in your own bathing suit, as I would not like to 'rent' one for the time there.

Both the seat and the food seem very adequate for the flight. it seems you had great crews as well, which is also a bonus nowadays, as good crews do not seem to be really handy these days.

Enjoy your time in Australia and have a great sunny and warm Christmas down under.

Salut!

Roger

Topic: RE: The Reindeer Route To Australia In J
Username: 9w748capt
Posted 2011-12-15 20:16:24 and read 18775 times.

Wow, what a phenomenal TR in every way! Outstanding pictures too, sharp, interesting, with plenty of variety. What a long trip and an interesting routing you took. Hope you have a great time in Australia. Very much looking forward to the return TR!

Topic: RE: The Reindeer Route To Australia In J
Username: burj
Posted 2011-12-15 22:04:06 and read 18552 times.

Wow very cool!

The HEL spa does look really awesome! Thanks for sharing, love all the great photos!

Topic: RE: The Reindeer Route To Australia In J
Username: Sultanils
Posted 2011-12-16 02:41:03 and read 18066 times.

Hi palmjet,

A most excellent pictured and well told story once again! It's a nice illustration of a very long haul OneWorld experience, and from your point of view it was definitely a good one. I'm no expert on this but is this route AY route really the shortest to Asia. I would've liked you however to have taken the LHR-HEL on AY as well, I wanted to see how the perform nowadays. Was that an option as well when booking?
I loved your pics of approach into HKG and BNE, they are great city overviews.

Quoting palmjet (Thread starter):
An early Kangaroo route combination by way of illustration

This must be an enthusiast's dream to fly maybe? But it had to be quite a demanding task back then, being seated in some old birds with not quite the comfort when have come to expect nowaydays.

Quoting palmjet (Thread starter):
I find HEL to be a breath of fresh air.

Having been there 2 already as well, I can only agree on this.

Quoting palmjet (Thread starter):
Each of the longhaul sectors would be operated by Finnair and the ticket was booked via Finnair’s website, so AY get most of the lion’s share of the ticket revenue.

No need to get into detail here but I wonder how the pricing was, compared to other routes/carriers? Better, worse, about the same?

Quoting palmjet (Thread starter):
I can only imagine the mediocre (if any) service the passengers received on this flight.

To be honest I only had good experiences on IB intra-Europe some years ago. The international segments into the Americas, that was a whole different ballgame however...

Quoting palmjet (Thread starter):
I will see you next week from the delights of Seat 2A when I am heading back down under again for Christmas!

That's great, I think fellow user PlaneHunter will envy you  

Quoting palmjet (Thread starter):
No way am I getting my bits out particularly when the Spa looks across the apron!

Hey come one: you haven't been in a sauna unless bu** naked   

Quoting palmjet (Thread starter):
the adjoining Spa comes with an entry fee of €45 for all users.

That's steep, at home I pay €25 for whole day of this, but alas without the apron views...

Quoting palmjet (Thread starter):
The dry sauna

That's the best one.

Quoting palmjet (Thread starter):
it had One World titles.

Bonus points for you!

Quoting palmjet (Thread starter):
to the rare Mega Air Maldives registered B767-300

Nice one, haven't heard of this carrier yet.

Quoting palmjet (Thread starter):
This was central Brisbane just before commencing our final descent.

What a great pic an impressive this city has grown so much the latest years. Something to do with the tropical climate maybe?

Sultanils

Topic: RE: The Reindeer Route To Australia In J
Username: palmjet
Posted 2011-12-16 03:10:51 and read 18001 times.

Hi The777Man
Thanks for your comments

Quote:
Finnair long-haul seems pretty good and the food looks good too. Too bad that the seats were the old ones but perhaps AY will replace the 343s with other aircraft soon rather than refurbishing the aircraft ?

Yes, they seem to be taking their sweet time about it. I wonder whether they will bother – having said that, they were only receiving new A340-300s very recently. OH-LQE is quite a new bird from memory.

Quote:
That's a long trip to BNE and I hope you got some rest once your arrived.

Thank you – I sure did but it took a couple of days to acclimatise into the new timezone.

Quote:
Looking forward to the return report!

Hopefully some time in January!

Hi Peter

Quote:
you have just made my day by posting this excellent report along with brilliant pictures. Got me all excited as I'll be doing the "Reindeer Route" in J in three weeks time for customer meetings in Germany. I'll be doing BNE-SIN-HEL-HAM and coming back DUS-HEL-HKG-BNE with the BNE-SIN segment on QF and the HKG-BNE on CX. Having done the same journey in May fully agree with you that AY offers great value for money and also do not mind flying the old CX business class layout (except for the viewing difficulties). Same as in May have decided to interrupt the return journey for 24 hours in Hong Kong.

Nice to hear from you. Thanks very much! Glad you enjoyed the report. Are you doing a trip report of your own of your Reindeer route experience?

Quote:
Interesting comment regarding the Spa in HEL. I was under the impression entry was free if traveling in J and being a OW Emerald. I'll have to ask when in HEL but doubt I'll make it in to the Spa as I only have about 90 minutes transit time in HEL both ways.

You may be right. If you are simply flying in J without any kind of elite status, then you do need to pay. However, if you are a special person in the eyes of AY, then I do remember that it may have been free. At least you will have time to visit the lounge in HEL.
bcworld – thanks for your comments too. I do like TG’s livery, still very classy amongst the world’s airlines today.
HELyes
Hi there

Quote:
The Reindeer Route, what a great name, AY should pay you for that
I've heard AY was surprised how popular the Reindeer Route (via HKG, BKK, SIN) has been, especially when the SIN route was re-opened. According to the Great Circle map HEL actually is closer to SYD than any other hub in EU, that surprised me at least

Ha! I doubt AY would pay me for anything.. but I did enjoy flying wit h them. I flew back to LHR via SIN so experienced AY on the re-instated SIN route. The take off from SIN was the longest I have ever experienced as our heavily laden A340 took forever to get into the humid night air, and then we seemed to be so close to the ground for so long before climbing!

Quote:
Oh I envy you now, I really want to try the Spa, the 45 Euros sound a bit deep but at least everyone can get in. You didn't try any of the treatments? The entrance fee is included in the price of the treatments. The birch leaves and sauna is a traditional compination, very Finnish. My supermarket sells frozen birch whisks, enjoyed them a couple of times in my tiny bathroom sauna

Yes, the fee to get in is not cheap. I’d been undecided about whether I wanted to spend that much money but in the end, I felt great. It was something quite out of the ordinary as far as airport transits go. I did not try any of the treatments – maybe next time! I loved the birch leaves. You would never know you were in an airport!

Quote:
Your AY flight looked good. I think you are right, AY don't have the best long haul J product but it works, nice crews, ok meals and it's cost-effective - except ex-HEL. And yes, HEL provides easy transit.

That was certainly my experience. It all worked fine.

Quote:
Your TR made me planning a return to HKG, what a great airport. Never tried Cathay's J-class, it's on my to do list..

Great stuff – hope you are going to do a trip report!.
Hi Gab
Thanks for your comments.

Quote:
Nice look at a trip of oneworld carriers. Nice to see the HEL lounge empty - when I was there in October is was so packed I couldn't find a seat for a while. THe spa area looks great - just a bit pricey. I flew B-LAC earlier this year from PVG-HKG in C, was my first flight in the herringbone seats

Yes, the lounge was quiet when I arrived but gradually filled up. The Spa is pricey but I felt great after it, so it was worth it, even just for one experience.

Topic: RE: The Reindeer Route To Australia In J
Username: palmjet
Posted 2011-12-16 03:37:12 and read 17908 times.

Emirates202 and fiscal
Glad you enjoyed the report and the Spa pics!
Fiscal – you are indeed sick!!

Hi Matthew

Quote:
While in CPH back in September, Finnair had a huge area blocked off in the terminal promoting their flights to Asia through HEL ... Looks like a great option, and the J class service looks really nice!

I also like the retro glasses - how nice when an airline has something a little different than the normal glasses to set them a bit apart.

Nice to hear from you. AY have been doing a lot of marketing here in the UK as well to promote their flights to Asia. The retro glasses are very cool. I was tempted to accidentally have one fall into my bag but I ended up being good and leaving them all behind. I wonder how many get taken from the aircraft?

Hola Roger

Quote:
I really like flying but the experience in the spa in HEL looks really great, what an interesting option they offer to their best customers. It sounds excellent to spend your time between flights in a sauna, getting into the water after having some ice rubbed in your body... quite refreshing. I am sure you board the plane much more refreshed than just after seating and eating in the lounge. I do not know if they inform you of their existence so you can bring in your own bathing suit, as I would not like to 'rent' one for the time there.

Both the seat and the food seem very adequate for the flight. it seems you had great crews as well, which is also a bonus nowadays, as good crews do not seem to be really handy these days.

Enjoy your time in Australia and have a great sunny and warm Christmas down under.

Thanks for your comments. Glad to see you enjoyed the Spa section as well. I felt incredibly refreshed afterwards. They don’t heavily promote the pool so perhaps they need do – clearly lots of people do not bring their own bathers, given the number of ones behind the counter “to rent”!!

I agree with you. A good crew makes or breaks a flight for me. I can happily deal with poor seating or delays if the crew makes up for it. On each of the AY longhaul flights I have taken, the crews have been consistently very nice.
Merry Christmas and yes, will enjoy the sunshine in Australia (as I look out at a bleak grey and rainy London street)!

9w748capt

Quote:
Wow, what a phenomenal TR in every way! Outstanding pictures too, sharp, interesting, with plenty of variety. What a long trip and an interesting routing you took. Hope you have a great time in Australia. Very much looking forward to the return TR!

Thanks very much! Glad you enjoyed the report and pics. I will start working on the return trip over the holidays.

Hi burj

Quote:
The HEL spa does look really awesome! Thanks for sharing, love all the great photos!

Good to hear from you. Thanks for the comments. Glad you liked the Spa and pics too. Merry Christmas!

Hi Nils

Quote:
A most excellent pictured and well told story once again! It's a nice illustration of a very long haul OneWorld experience, and from your point of view it was definitely a good one. I'm no expert on this but is this route AY route really the shortest to Asia. I would've liked you however to have taken the LHR-HEL on AY as well, I wanted to see how the perform nowadays. Was that an option as well when booking?

Glad you enjoyed the report as well. Re the shortest route to Asia claim, I guess it depends on whether you believe the AY marketing hype but I guess they must have some substance to this claim otherwise they would not be able to promote it so heavily. The flight time to HKG was certainly a lot shorter than if you commenced your journey from say LHR, CDG or FRA. I decided, for reasons of variety, to take the BA operated flight ex LHR. There were AY operated flights, which were definitely offered, but the timing of the BA flight suited me best on this occasion.

Quote:
I loved your pics of approach into HKG and BNE, they are great city overviews

Glad you enjoyed!

Quote:
No need to get into detail here but I wonder how the pricing was, compared to other routes/carriers? Better, worse, about the same?

Let’s just say that pricing was very competitive. From my experience, this OneWorld combination has been a good £500 cheaper than other routes and carriers, with less interesting options.

Quote:
To be honest I only had good experiences on IB intra-Europe some years ago. The international segments into the Americas, that was a whole different ballgame however...

You were a lucky customer! I had a shorthaul IB flight a couple of months ago from LHR-MAD and it was dire.

Quote:
That's great, I think fellow user PlaneHunter will envy you

With the forecast of bad weather for London today, I am keeping my fingers crossed that LHR is not affected when I depart tomorrow!

Quote:
Hey come one: you haven't been in a sauna unless bu** naked

You’re clearly much more “European” than I am.... the sauna would have been fine to go naked, but not the pool area. 

Quote:
That's steep, at home I pay €25 for whole day of this, but alas without the apron views..

So for €20 more, the apron views were certainly worth it!!

Quote:
What a great pic an impressive this city has grown so much the latest years. Something to do with the tropical climate maybe?

Glad you enjoyed that pic. I have a pic taken back in 1993 aboard an SQ 743 which is almost identical which I have tried to locate. I wanted to see how things had changed in that time. Brisbane is a fast growing city for sure. Every time I go back there, it’s changed again.

Merry Christmas to you!

Topic: RE: The Reindeer Route To Australia In J
Username: PlaneHunter
Posted 2011-12-16 03:42:46 and read 17890 times.

Hi Palmjet,

excellent report with great pictures! Always nice to see HKG and BNE in reports. AY's seems to offer a decent J Class product. The new layout would have been even better, of course. The catering looks fine.

Quoting palmjet (Thread starter):
Like this TK A340 presumably on its way back to Istanbul
Quoting palmjet (Thread starter):
Nice to see this QF A380 on its take off roll.

Interesting to see those in a row - a TK A343 flew me out of LHR after my QF A380 flight had been cancelled.

Quoting palmjet (Thread starter):
I also love Finnair’s retro glasses.

They're indeed beautiful!

Quoting palmjet (Thread starter):
OneWorld partners

A lame tail and a great tail...  

Quoting Sultanils (Reply 13):
That's great, I think fellow user PlaneHunter will envy you

I'll try again next year, using a QF voucher. I was actually quite glad about getting on TK after the initial trouble.


PH

Topic: RE: The Reindeer Route To Australia In J
Username: akhmad
Posted 2011-12-16 04:12:37 and read 17824 times.

Hi Palmjet,

Thank you for posting your report just before heading down under again for Christmas. I notice that you will be doing it in style.  

As usual I love your in-depth foreword about places involved in your journey with all intricate details which can be confronting sometime, but one cannot deny. Of course not without beautiful pictures.  


Quoting palmjet (Thread starter):
An early Kangaroo route combination by way of illustration

Would it not be great to go down under exactly along the track?

Quoting palmjet (Thread starter):
flying back via Helsinki on what I refer to as the Reindeer Route to Australia.

I like it. You should ask a copyright on that.

Quoting palmjet (Thread starter):
It’s a small thing, but it’s what I remember.

Now you tell me, we were indeed greeted by two crew members, Karl and Yasmine, while boarding BA 8114.

Quoting palmjet (Thread starter):
I am sure they all thought they’d been upgraded. However, after take off, they were all escorted back to their original seats!

Poor people. They had found a mare’s nest.

Quoting palmjet (Thread starter):
I never did find the alleged tree - although apparently it’s still there.

Hmm, was there nobody to help you out?

Quoting palmjet (Thread starter):
lunch was a chicken breast with grilled vegetables

Delicious. Luckily, you were not served duck.

Quoting palmjet (Thread starter):
HELSINKI SPA

Is EUR 45 for a day use? In that case, it is worth considering a visit.

Quoting palmjet (Reply 1):
The other choices were sea bass or a vegetarian tortellini.

I assume the sea bass was the Asian option?

Quoting palmjet (Reply 1):
obtaining my boarding pass from Cathay Pacific for CX103

Oh, could Finnair not issue your onward boarding pass or did you not ask for it on purpose to get a real Cathay boarding pass?

Quoting palmjet (Reply 1):
I followed this beauty, heading for the gate having just arrived: dedicated to Suryo!

Thank you. You make me feel special.  


Quoting palmjet (Reply 1):
The calm before the boarding storm... sort of

Nevertheless, it reveals the splendor of HKIA architecture.

Quoting palmjet (Reply 1):
Cathay had certainly made a positive impression on me in 2011.

You somehow make an appeal to us to fly with Cathay.   


Quoting palmjet (Reply 1):
This was central Brisbane just before commencing our final descent. The Brisbane River which snakes its way through the city, looks quite peaceful today. A contrast to back in January when this river broke its banks and flooded many areas. Fortitude Valley on the front right hand side, the suburb of New Farm next to it. Kangaroo point, the Story Bridge and the Gabba cricket ground are all in view!

I can feel your utmost enthusiasm while telling this.  


Thanks again for sharing. I would like to write more, but I feel too shivery at the moment. Have a safe journey and I wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas.

Best regards,
Suryo

Topic: RE: The Reindeer Route To Australia In J
Username: stipica
Posted 2011-12-16 04:35:27 and read 17774 times.

Hi palmjet ! ... first to wish you a safe journey and happy holidays ... right now I read your "chasing Dash 8s T.R."    ... Finnair are really trying to offer a complete experience ... Finnish design present through the entire product plus the local way of life for 45 EUR   ... right way to present your self in the uniform-global world ... Finnair beat SAS in that segment ... thanks for your time stipica  

Topic: RE: The Reindeer Route To Australia In J
Username: lychemsa
Posted 2011-12-16 04:54:08 and read 17727 times.

The AY meals in J look a bit like good Y meals still offered by a few airlines.

Topic: RE: The Reindeer Route To Australia In J
Username: infodesk
Posted 2011-12-16 06:15:47 and read 17570 times.

Hi Palmjet,

Really enjoyed this one, thanks!

AY look to have offered a good product on the longhaul flight, the meal looked particularly delicious I thought. And HEL is such a nice airport, that spa looks just fantastic, especially the pool.

I still haven't managed to get used to AY's new livery, you're one step ahead of me there!

It sure is a long journey down to Oz, but as you said yourself, better by plane than by boat.......

Happy flying
Infodesk   

Topic: RE: The Reindeer Route To Australia In J
Username: LH4116
Posted 2011-12-16 11:29:34 and read 17024 times.

Hi there Palmjet, fantastic report! A nice and enjoyable read!

Quoting palmjet (Thread starter):
HEL flights on BA are operated out of T3.

Interesting, I didn't know BA still operated ex T3. Any idea on when all BA ops will be moved to T5, if that'll ever happen?

Quoting palmjet (Thread starter):
Ugh. I can only imagine the mediocre (if any) service the passengers received on this flight.

I completely agree with you on this one! Then again, I don't exactly feel sorry for them since they made the choice to fly this sub-standard airline.

Quoting palmjet (Thread starter):
I am sure they all thought they’d been upgraded. However, after take off, they were all escorted back to their original seats!

Hehe, now that's quite a bummer. Even worse then FlyingFinn's in-your-face-downgrade   But I suppose the crew informed them well about this.

Quoting palmjet (Thread starter):
Like this TK A340 presumably on its way back to Istanbul

Lately we've all gotten so used to only seeing TK operate the A330 and B77W, that I almost forgot they had the A343. Must say it looks quite gorgeous in their livery.  
Quoting palmjet (Thread starter):
If it’s Saturday, it means no flying for this bird

So they really take this Sabbath thing seriously. The airline must loose quite a deal of money on this, but then again they tried breaking the Sabbath once. Hell basically broke loose, and the airline lost many of its loyal highly religious costumers, so they were left with no other option then to ground the planes  
Quoting palmjet (Thread starter):
My empty row shortly after departure

Was this before of after the W&B upgrade pax had left?

Quoting palmjet (Thread starter):
Shortly after the drinks service had been completed, preparations were made for lunch.

Must say that I'm not too keen in more EU airlines ditching the starter and proper dessert from the tray. IIRC only Lufthansa serve a proper starter and dessert on their Intra-EU C class trays. LX do on longer flights.

Quoting palmjet (Thread starter):
but the adjoining Spa comes with an entry fee of €45 for all users.

I thought it was free for C pax. But I've read somewhere that Finnair Plus Platinum members get access to the spa for free.

Quoting palmjet (Thread starter):
The blue J seats are very comfy, but are not 180 degree reclining, although the recline is almost completely flat.

Those seats look nice too. In fact they look much better then the full-flat new ones, at least the blue fabric doesn't give such a sterile impression.

Quoting palmjet (Thread starter):
These were designed to commemorate AY’s first flight to New York in 1969. Very cool.

That is correct indeed! And the name of this series is Ittala Thule Ultima, but I suppose you already knew that  
Quoting palmjet (Thread starter):
The food was also of the right consistency. Nothing too heavy for this time of the night. I felt full, but not stuffed afterwards.

The food looks nice, although I don't see why AY chose to have the presentation very similar to their short haul J class. Surely it's a light midnight meal, but this presentation also seem to apply on daytime flights.

Quoting palmjet (Thread starter):
Here’s OH-LQE having a well earned rest before doing a late night run back to Helsinki.

Doesn't seem too economic to just have the aircraft sitting on the apron for hours between the flights. Surely it would be possible for them to operate some 5th freedom flights ex HKG, to earn some extra revenue, hence making a reason for a.netters to come to HKG 

Thanks for sharing!
//Jonas

Topic: RE: The Reindeer Route To Australia In J
Username: bps3458
Posted 2011-12-16 12:38:50 and read 16928 times.

Quoting palmjet (Reply 14):
Are you doing a trip report of your own of your Reindeer route experience?

Hi Palmjet,

promise I will finally give it a go and do a trip report. Another 25 days 'til takeoff. Will be interesting to compare QF, AY, and CX J on this trip.

Cheers from Brisbane,

Peter

Topic: RE: The Reindeer Route To Australia In J
Username: MSS658
Posted 2011-12-16 14:29:59 and read 16733 times.

Hi Palmjet

Wonderfull trip report you've got there! Seems like AY and CX took good care of you.
I must agree on the new UA colors, it's weird to see a 763 or a 320 in those colors!
AY seems to have a nice product
Thanks for the LHR,HEL and HKG spotting pics as well

Greetings
Marc

Topic: RE: The Reindeer Route To Australia In J
Username: LGWflyer
Posted 2011-12-16 18:21:14 and read 16473 times.

Hey palmjet! Magnificent trip report, just loved it! I liked the intro where you explained about travelling to/from Australia, and I think me, you and the rest of us on A.netters would defiently fly rather than getting a boat! HEL airport looked really nice, and one thing I could never imagine is sitting in a pool watching the aircraft. Anyway thanks again!  

Topic: RE: The Reindeer Route To Australia In J
Username: HELyes
Posted 2011-12-16 18:54:17 and read 16464 times.

P.S

Quoting palmjet (Thread starter):
I also love Finnair’s retro glasses.
Quoting palmjet (Thread starter):
And the name of this series is Ittala Thule Ultima, but I suppose you already knew that

It seems the Ultima Thule glasses from 1969 are back in fashion again, available in shops (in Finland at least), also AY's web shop sells them:
https://www.finnairplusshop.com/index.php?cPath=403_405_416_717_722&language=en

Quoting palmjet (Thread starter):
Interesting comment regarding the Spa in HEL. I was under the impression entry was free if traveling in J and being a OW Emerald.

According to their web site, it's 45 Euros for all except AY Platinium members. If you choose a treatment the entrance fee is included in the price: http://media.finnair.com/spa/site/

Quoting palmjet (Thread starter):
Re the shortest route to Asia claim, I guess it depends on whether you believe the AY marketing hype but I guess they must have some substance to this claim otherwise they would not be able to promote it so heavily.

AY especially targets the "second" cities like Manchester and Hamburg that don't have non stop service to Far-East. The Great Circle routes from Western-Europe to Japan go via Finland, as does LHR-PEK for an example. LHR-HEL-HKG and LHR-HKG routes are almost equally long, there AY competes with price it seems.

Topic: RE: The Reindeer Route To Australia In J
Username: ba319-131
Posted 2011-12-16 23:59:43 and read 16126 times.

Hi Palmjet,

Another great report, thanks for sharing.

Quoting palmjet (Thread starter):
as an infrequent transit visitor to HEL, I find HEL to be a breath of fresh air. I’d must rather transfer flights here than FRA or CDG.

- Agreed, some years since I have been through HEL but I always found it quite hassel free, something CDG & FRA are not.

Quoting palmjet (Thread starter):
Continental, no United, no Continental, no United B772 just arriving and turning off 27L. I still can’t get used to these colours

- I know, I think they should have done a complete re-brand rather than do what they did.

Quoting palmjet (Thread starter):
Air New Zealand’s relatively new machine arriving from LAX on RW 27L

- The all white fuselage makes this bird look so so long and quite bland too, wish they had kept that coral swirl.

Quoting palmjet (Thread starter):
lunch was a chicken breast with grilled vegetables. Despite its small size, it was very tasty

- Looks pretty decent.

Quoting palmjet (Thread starter):
Hong Kong is truly one of the best airports for spotters

- Totally agree, along with LAX is one of my favorite airports in the world.

Cheers

Mark

Topic: RE: The Reindeer Route To Australia In J
Username: deltamartin
Posted 2011-12-17 04:58:57 and read 15909 times.

Hi Palmjet!

I really liked your tripreport. Great to read about your flights down under!

Quoting palmjet (Thread starter):
I still prefer AY’s old scheme though.

Yeah, me too. But the most beautiful livery in Finland is the KF one on their 717's!

Quoting palmjet (Thread starter):
The first leg was over, and in sum, it was standard BA Club Europe: consistent, friendly, tasty food, comfortable - although we were about 20 mins late.

I'm flying LHR-ARN with BA in January, they had an upgrade offer to Club Europe for 69 GBP. An offer which I could not refuse. So it was nice to read about your CE flight to get to know what I might expect. The ARN flight is leaving from T5, so I'm sure I'll have a nice experience.

Quoting palmjet (Thread starter):
and not only that, it had One World titles.

Nice that you got to log that one. Even though I think OneWorld has the ugliest of all the alliance schemes.

Quoting palmjet (Thread starter):
Heading out to our departure runway with a wing fuel of fuel for the trip to HKG. Gotta love the “backward” F on the winglet.

Gotta love 4-haulers.  

Thanks for posting!

Martin

Topic: RE: The Reindeer Route To Australia In J
Username: abrelosojos
Posted 2011-12-17 21:46:10 and read 15336 times.

Thanks for a great report. You should definitely trademark the term "reindeer route"! It seems AY has a pretty decent alternative product out there, though the seats are a disappointment. Also, I personally thought the meals were smaller than normal in JCL. Finally, you have a picture of the amenity kit?

Thanks again for sharing.

Saludos,
A.

Few additional comments:

Quoting palmjet (Thread starter):

I loved the views from the window. Lots of green down there. Last time I flew through Helsinki, it was -10C and covered in snow. Quite a contrast!

= Quite a contrast indeed! I have never seen HEL with good weather.

Quoting palmjet (Thread starter):
A yummy AY A330
Quoting palmjet (Thread starter):
The crew took their time to make sure everyone had what they wanted. They did not “rush” the dinner service so they could turn the lights out and hide out in the galley

= We will have to disagree here  . What time did the flight depart out of HEL? I'd be one of those that encourages a quick meal service ...

Quoting palmjet (Thread starter):
Perhaps the highlight for me was seeing this Air Niugini 763-300 in their new colours. I flew with them a few years ago between Brisbane and Sydney when they operated a domestic tag on service that was code shared with Qantas. Nice experience it was too. This aircraft would be going back up to Port Moresby.

= PX flew domestic Australia? Is there no cabotage there?

Thanks so much for this excellent report!

Saludos,
A.

Topic: RE: The Reindeer Route To Australia In J
Username: FLIEGER67
Posted 2011-12-18 08:11:13 and read 15043 times.

Hi, PJ,

what a nice read. Also my son followed you´re pictures. Not to talk about that he want to go sometimes to Australia.
We will see.
Good to follow that three airlines One World comparison and routing via HEL looks not that bad.
Also the AC to spot at HKG, pretty interesting.
Well done work, looking for more.

Greetings,
Markus(FLIEGER67)

Topic: RE: The Reindeer Route To Australia In J
Username: palmjet
Posted 2011-12-18 23:33:55 and read 14696 times.

Hi Markus

Thanks for your comments. Glad your son also enjoyed it. He sounds like he is a trip reporter in the making! I hope you guys get to make it to Australia soon. Hong Kong is a great airport for spotting. Certainly one of the best for sheer volume and variety of movements. Merry Christmas!

Hola A!

Great to hear from you. Thanks for your comments. I will have to get in touch with AYs marketing guys to see what they think!

Seats: they are not the best for sure but they do the job. They looked very similar in design to the TAP J class seats on the A330. I wanted to compare these with the new AY J seat but sadly that was not to be.

Dinner service: the flight departed at 2340 local time but a large number of passengers had connected from points in western Europe so while it was late in Finnish time, I was still on UK time, for example, where it was only around 2140. Having said that, the crew did not waste any time and ensured tables were cleared promptly so people could settle down to snooze if they wanted. I thought it was a good balance.

PX: yes Air Niugini operated domestic flights for a period here although the ticket was sold by QF, with the operating carrier being PX. The flights between Port Moresby and Australia have been code shared for a while now as QF no longer flies to POM with its own metal. It was nice trying something else for a change on the frequent trips I used to do between SYD and BNE.

Hi Martin

Nice to hear from you too. Glad you enjoyed the report. Yes, CE was fine. You will have to let us know what you think when you fly. Totally agree with you about the 717 - great colour scheme from Blue 1!

Hi Planehunter

Sorry to have read about your QF hassles recently but glad you got to your destination. I am eagerly awaiting your reports from that trip. Now, despite what you say about the AY livery, bizarrely I seem to have got used to it having stared at it for so long now. A bit more colour wouldn't have hurt though, I totally agree.

Hi Hannah

Thanks for your comments. Yes, the spa was great. I felt so refreshed when I boarded the long flight to HK. Yes! I would much rather fly down here than catch the boat. However, that could also make for an interesting trip report? I can't believe I've said that on this forum!!


Hi Mark

Nice to hear from you and thanks for posting your comments. Totally agree with you about AIr NZ removing the Pacific Wave from the side of the aircraft. It does make the otherwise timeless scheme look very bland.

Did you see any similarities with the Finnair J seat and the TAP 330 seat that you experienced?

LGWflyer : hi there and thanks! Glad you enjoyed the report. Lying in a pool and watching planes sounds pretty amazing.. I would have loved to have spent longer in the spa for sure. There is always a next time!

Topic: RE: The Reindeer Route To Australia In J
Username: palmjet
Posted 2011-12-18 23:59:30 and read 14681 times.

Hi Suryo

Always a pleasure to hear from you. Glad you enjoyed the report!

Yes I would love to have taken one of the original kangaroo route flights. What an amazing trip that would have been and would have made for a great trip report for sure!

I could have asked someone to direct me to the Elizabeth tree at Hatfield House but I thought I would be able to find it with ease as there were signs directing people to the gardens and where it was. However even then I could not find it. Will have to go back.

Yes, you can stay in the spa as long as you want for €45. No time limits at all!

When I saw that GA 330, there was nobody else other than you that the dedication could have been made to! That aircraft looks gorgeous in GA colours.  

Yes, the sea bass was the Asian option and very tasty! Glad youve been inspired by CX this year too !

Merry Christmas to you and Herman and happy flying in 2012.

hi stipica : glad to see you're enjoying the dash 8 report too. Thanks for your comments. Finnair are doing a good job in promoting their Asia flights. From one viewpoint, they seem to be doing a lot better than SAS in this regard who seem to be less interested in Asia these days. Perhaps I am wrong. Definitely consider Finnair for something a little different!

Hi LH4116

Thanks for your detailed comments too. Glad you enjoyed the report.
Not sure when and if all BA flights will move across to T5. I had read that these T3 flights are operated due to high connecting traffic but not sure whether thats true or even the real reason.

The empty cabin pic on the first sector was taken after the passengers were taken back to their original seats!

It's quite common to see a number of carriers from Europe and elsewhere with their aircraft on the ground for long periods at HK, as many of the Europe departures leave later at night, yet most arrive in the early to mid afternoon HK time. It's probably more costly to operate any tag on services and even then, that would depend on having route authority to do so.

Thanks again for all your comments everyone. Palmjet

Topic: RE: The Reindeer Route To Australia In J
Username: AlwaysOnAPlane
Posted 2011-12-19 13:46:42 and read 14217 times.

PJ.
Great to catch up on your story, as always with very detailed pictures and well presented.

The lounge and spa at HEL looks amazing. I really like the style of the place, not to mention the relaxing atmosphere it must have.

AY's long haul product looks like a winner. The seat looks ok really and the food is well presented. As you say, the glassware is very cool. I had no idea of the history surrounding its design, and well, it's good to have it topped up as often as possible. They were trying to get you to pass out for the night.

Nice to see the action from HKG during your layover. It's great to see such a mix of airlines. I always think to myself how far away some of the long haul metal is from home. It's amazing to think of the distances they cover with just a few hours of rest before heading off back home.

Really interesting stuff mate. Look forward to more of your great works, both in the writing and picture taking arena.

Cheers, Lee.

Topic: RE: The Reindeer Route To Australia In J
Username: lukeyboy95
Posted 2011-12-19 15:23:57 and read 14102 times.

Evening Palmjet,

That was a cracking report.... with just the right balance of wit and information. Greatly appreciated... in particular the photos of a spa which I regard to be quite a good deal if you were there for a long layover. Shame they don't have a G&T section in the orange juice corner.

Quoting palmjet (Thread starter):
it’s evident from the sheer volume of people travelling by air between the two countries today, that the ties between Britain and Australia are not likely to disappear any time soon.

Does the NZ AKL route also go under Kangaroo-route.

Quoting palmjet (Thread starter):
It’s bamboozling to those of us

Gosh! Don't bamboozle in the lounge! Sit back and relax....

Quoting palmjet (Thread starter):
However, after take off, they were all escorted back to their original seats!

Haha... that all seems a bit cheeky. Would it have been such a horror to have upgraded three people or at least given the seat for the flight but with economy services?

Quoting palmjet (Thread starter):
Here’s our expected routing for tonight’s flight which was expected to take 9 hours 30 minutes and cover over 4800 miles

Extraordinary. I did pretty much the exact same journey overland from Riga to Hong-ong.. . I thoroughly recommend it... it's the only true way to understand the scale of the land you fly over in 12 hours. !

Quoting palmjet (Reply 1):
our A340 was like a furnace

Should have got your swim-shorts on again and treated it as an extension of your sauna....

Quoting palmjet (Reply 1):
Nothing like waking up next to a Rolls Royce Trent humming away outside!

Well, a blonde temptress might trump it!

Thanks alot for that. Good trip all round it looks....

Rgds...


Luke

Topic: RE: The Reindeer Route To Australia In J
Username: FlyingFinn76
Posted 2011-12-23 03:17:15 and read 13378 times.

Hi PJ,

Finally managed to read through this rather epic but of course excellent report! I really like your pictures, you certainly seem to have some talent and top notch equipment for shooting photos of planes (and other things as well).

I don't like AY that much nowadays, but am still glad you have selected it to be your chosen carrier between UK and Australia. Those sweet J deals of course help a lot, I'm sure!

Very nice seeing ones home airport through the eyes of another foreigner, always helps to put things into perspective!

Quoting palmjet (Thread starter):
Despite the gripes of regular HEL users about Finavia (the airport operator)... as an infrequent transit visitor to HEL, I find HEL to be a breath of fresh air. I’d must rather transfer flights here than FRA or CDG.

Yeah, compared to those places transiting at HEL is usually a doodle, especially in your case when you were doing an non-Schengen (EU) => non-Schengen transit. No security hassle or anything. But try it on the other direction when a couple of planeloads of Asians arrive and you might be in for a nasty surprise. Or do a non-Schengen - Schengen or v.v. transit at a peak time - it can drive you crazy (but luckily if you know your act there are shortcuts to be had like doing a landside transit etc.).

Just wait until you have your first widebody bus deboarding in the middle of the winter and you might have some not so nice things to say about Finavia  .


My gripes against Finavia stem from the fact that I've been using HEL regularly for the last ten plus years and I've seen it go downhill all the time. Even five years ago it used to be a very nice and functional airports where you could show up half an hour before your flight and still have time for a pint. Nowadays they've just filled it shops which coupled with the increase in passenger numbers leads to annoying congestion and frustration at peak times. And the monopoly SSP has over the restaurant concessions means that prices for anything to eat and drink are way too much there. Plus the split between T1 and T2 is not really working at all, especially for non-Schengen flights and the fact that Finavia is just too damn keen to assign gates to T2 airlines deep in T1.

These are not big gripes, but for someone passing through as regularly as I nowadays do, every little thing starts to sort of grow out of proportion and annoy you more and more every time you encounter it.

Quoting palmjet (Thread starter):
I can only imagine the mediocre (if any) service the passengers received on this flight.

Well, BOB for economy but IB business class is actually quite nice. Even the crews I've had had been quite friendly, unlike the ones you get in economy.

Quoting palmjet (Thread starter):
This DL 764 tried to push in...no you don’t!

That's one long plane! Looks nice.

Quoting palmjet (Thread starter):
Our flight-track today was fairly standard. I’ve flown this route now 4 times in the past year and each time, we’ve taken the same route: hugging the north Dutch coast, crossing just north of Hamburg, and then pretty much a straight line north east to Helsinki.

Yeah, that is the standard route. Sometimes you fly a bit more northern route and not really touch the Dutch coast at all, just across the North Sea to Jutland, onwards to Gothenburg and across Sweden from there.

Quoting palmjet (Thread starter):
Certainly a well travelled section of the airport for a few well known A.net trip reporters!

Heh yeah, I've lost count how many times I've boarded the 8.30/45 BT 737 there! Plus the FC/BE "ATR Garden" is nearby.

Quoting palmjet (Thread starter):
The distinctive terminal at HEL. Of course this picture has to be dedicated to FlyingFinn

Thanks mate! I know it by heart nowadays. Actually that was my line to a gate agent yesterday after deplaning AY430 from RVN who was there making sure we went to the proper baggage hall. She just laughed at me.

Quoting palmjet (Thread starter):
The lounge is free to premium passengers along with a host of other invitees, but the adjoining Spa comes with an entry fee of €45 for all users.

I think AY Plus Super Duper Kryptonite card holders get in free.

But yes, I like the sight of that spa, looks very nice and exclusive. Certainly a very different the place to wait for your flight and to completely forget that you are actually in the middle of an airport.

Quoting palmjet (Thread starter):
There is a small relaxation pool so you can either bring your own swimmers, or you can rent a pair which the Spa provides. Having taken one look at the little pairs of blue Speedos for hire, I politely declined the offer. No way am I getting my bits out particularly when the Spa looks across the apron!

Come on, that's not the Finnish spirit! A real Finn never wastes any opportunity to dangle around in the nude! That's a national pasttime which we dearly love.

Quoting palmjet (Thread starter):
I don’t recall what runway we took off from, but the runway sits parallel with the non Schengen gates.

One of the 22s, 22L I think judging from your pictures. Usually you would go from 22R but at that hour they didn't have much other traffic (apart from the late night arrivals at rwy 15) so they cut you some slack I guess.

Topic: RE: The Reindeer Route To Australia In J
Username: my235
Posted 2011-12-23 23:04:46 and read 12877 times.

Superb report! Loved all the small details you added in. Made the story flow like a good short story.

Thanks!!

Topic: RE: The Reindeer Route To Australia In J
Username: signol
Posted 2012-01-02 15:09:21 and read 11917 times.

Excellent Palmjet, thanks for the report!

Good solid service from the Oneworld partners   HEL does look to be an easy transfer airport, a pity it's not on my usual long-haul route south! And some great shots of Brisbane city from the air.

Thanks again,

signol

Topic: RE: The Reindeer Route To Australia In J
Username: palmjet
Posted 2012-01-03 09:33:41 and read 11639 times.

Hi Lee

Quote:
The lounge and spa at HEL looks amazing. I really like the style of the place, not to mention the relaxing atmosphere it must have.

Really nice way to pass time during a transit stop. I can not recommend it highly enough. Shame there is not one in ARN!  
Quote:
AY's long haul product looks like a winner. The seat looks ok really and the food is well presented. As you say, the glassware is very cool. I had no idea of the history surrounding its design, and well, it's good to have it topped up as often as possible. They were trying to get you to pass out for the night.

I am sure they were trying to get me to sleep but natural tiredness solved that one pretty quickly. Finnair are not the biggest or the best out there, but what they offer, for the fare they charge, is in my view, worth it. What I hate are airlines who charge premium prices but offer mediocre service. Finnair does neither of these things.

Quote:
Nice to see the action from HKG during your layover. It's great to see such a mix of airlines. I always think to myself how far away some of the long haul metal is from home. It's amazing to think of the distances they cover with just a few hours of rest before heading off back home.

The wonders of modern flying. I also find it amazing. Thanks again for your comments.

Hi Lukeyboy95

Quote:
That was a cracking report.... with just the right balance of wit and information. Greatly appreciated... in particular the photos of a spa which I regard to be quite a good deal if you were there for a long layover. Shame they don't have a G&T section in the orange juice corner.

Very nice to hear from you - thanks for your comments. Yes! A G&T section would have been great, but not so good for rehydrating perhaps? Good for relaxing though. The Spa is a great idea.

Quote:
Does the NZ AKL route also go under Kangaroo-route.

Depends which side of the Tasman (Sea) you come from!  
Quote:
Haha... that all seems a bit cheeky. Would it have been such a horror to have upgraded three people or at least given the seat for the flight but with economy services?

Personally I would not have cared although I know some people do get agitated because they paid a J class fare so why should someone who did not get to sit in J class?

Quote:
Extraordinary. I did pretty much the exact same journey overland from Riga to Hong-ong.. . I thoroughly recommend it... it's the only true way to understand the scale of the land you fly over in 12 hours. !

Sounds like an amazing adventure. Are you trip reporting that (even if not on A.net?)

Quote:
Well, a blonde temptress might trump it!

If you say so! Personally the RR was hard to beat.

Hi FF76

Quote:
Finally managed to read through this rather epic but of course excellent report! I really like your pictures, you certainly seem to have some talent and top notch equipment for shooting photos of planes (and other things as well).

Thanks for your comments. Apologies for my belated response!

Quote:
I don't like AY that much nowadays, but am still glad you have selected it to be your chosen carrier between UK and Australia. Those sweet J deals of course help a lot, I'm sure!

Yes, very sweet deals when you consider what the competition is charging for what are, in my view, less interesting routings involving usually one stop! Not really that much fun for an A.netter.

Quote:
Yeah, compared to those places transiting at HEL is usually a doodle, especially in your case when you were doing an non-Schengen (EU) => non-Schengen transit. No security hassle or anything. But try it on the other direction when a couple of planeloads of Asians arrive and you might be in for a nasty surprise. Or do a non-Schengen - Schengen or v.v. transit at a peak time - it can drive you crazy (but luckily if you know your act there are shortcuts to be had like doing a landside transit etc.).

Thanks for the tip! Will remember that if I am doing that kind of transit in the future at HEL.

Quote:
These are not big gripes, but for someone passing through as regularly as I nowadays do, every little thing starts to sort of grow out of proportion and annoy you more and more every time you encounter it.

I am sure if I passed through HEL as frequently as you do, I would feel the same.

Quote:
Well, BOB for economy but IB business class is actually quite nice. Even the crews I've had had been quite friendly, unlike the ones you get in economy.

You've been lucky. The IB Euro flights I have done (mostly for work) have been pretty average to dire even if the BOB food is meant to be tasty.

Quote:
Thanks mate! I know it by heart nowadays. Actually that was my line to a gate agent yesterday after deplaning AY430 from RVN who was there making sure we went to the proper baggage hall. She just laughed at me.

 
Quote:
Come on, that's not the Finnish spirit! A real Finn never wastes any opportunity to dangle around in the nude! That's a national pasttime which we dearly love.

I will "bear" that in mind for my next HEL stopover!

Quote:
One of the 22s, 22L I think judging from your pictures. Usually you would go from 22R but at that hour they didn't have much other traffic (apart from the late night arrivals at rwy 15) so they cut you some slack I guess.

Thanks for that. Cheers mate.

my235 and signol - thanks both for your comments as well. Much appreciated. Glad you enjoyed the report and pics!

Cheers P/jet

Topic: RE: The Reindeer Route To Australia In J
Username: Gunsontheroof
Posted 2012-01-03 18:26:26 and read 11422 times.

Hey Palmjet!

Great TR! Nice variety of airports and really terrific spotting/cabin pics!

Quoting palmjet (Thread starter):
Yes, I am heading to your home town, but you’ll beat me there.

Hey! It's OH-LZF! I flew her on CDG-HEL back in 2007...currently the only flight I ever experienced a go-around on. Currently considering doing that trip report that I never got around to, I've got lots of pics...

Quoting palmjet (Thread starter):
When AY introduced these new colours, I was initially horrified: I nearly spat out my coffee when I saw a pic for the first time. However, over time, I hate to confess this, but the scheme has started to grow on me.

I'm in the same boat. Really hated it when it was unveiled, but I've warmed up to it since. Still not crazy about the font choice for the titles, but on the whole it's not so bad!

Topic: RE: The Reindeer Route To Australia In J
Username: allrite
Posted 2012-01-06 14:43:55 and read 11033 times.

Hi Palmjet,

I hate your trip reports, absolutely hate them, because whenever I read one I just want to go to the airport and fly!  

I rather like the clean look of the Finnair lounge and the aircraft interior. It's a nice contrast to, say, MH, and what I associate Finland with (though I've never been there). Not a fan of the exterior though.

Quoting palmjet (Reply 1):
Finnair will start a new service to Chongqing from Helsinki in 2012.

To quote Wikipedia Chongqing is 'known as one of the "Three Furnaces" of the Yangtze River, along with Wuhan and Nanjing, its summers are long and among the hottest and most humid in China'. From HEL to Hell? What a contrast! Not too different from Brissy then!   

Topic: RE: The Reindeer Route To Australia In J
Username: cam747
Posted 2012-01-07 04:35:26 and read 10850 times.

hi palmjet

thanks for this great TR, i really enjoyed reading it. great pictures and observations.

can wait to read the return journey!

cam

Topic: RE: The Reindeer Route To Australia In J
Username: palmjet
Posted 2012-01-10 07:27:25 and read 10361 times.

Gunsontheroof

Hi there - thanks very much for your feedback.

Quote:
I'm in the same boat. Really hated it when it was unveiled, but I've warmed up to it since. Still not crazy about the font choice for the titles, but on the whole it's not so bad!

Me too. The font up close is actually quite funky - but yes, it has taken me quite a while to get used to it!

Allrite

Quote:
I hate your trip reports, absolutely hate them, because whenever I read one I just want to go to the airport and fly!

Ha! Mission accomplished!

Quote:
I rather like the clean look of the Finnair lounge and the aircraft interior. It's a nice contrast to, say, MH, and what I associate Finland with (though I've never been there). Not a fan of the exterior though.

The interior decor and colours are indeed clean and classy. If you stare at the logo long enough, you will become a fan -I am sure!

Quote:
To quote Wikipedia Chongqing is 'known as one of the "Three Furnaces" of the Yangtze River, along with Wuhan and Nanjing, its summers are long and among the hottest and most humid in China'. From HEL to Hell? What a contrast! Not too different from Brissy then!

I can only imagine how long it will take the AY A340 to take off during the height of summer then! Take off roll expected to be extremely long.

Hi cam

Quote:
can wait to read the return journey!

Thanks for your comments. I am getting around to the return journey - now well overdue!


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