November 22, 2002
Finnair AY 091
Helsinki – Bangkok Intl
Gate Departure (Scheduled/Actual): 23:40 / 23:40
Gate Arrival: 14:40 / 14:10
McDonnell Douglas MD-11, OH-LGD
Business Class, Seat 2H
Photo © Ville Ripatti
Photo © Yevgeny Pashnin
I made it back to the airport at around 10 pm and cleared security quickly. Decided to ask at the transfer counter if any exit rows had become available – no such luck. I then went to gate 32 and decided to give one more try when the gate agents arrive. Sure enough, a new boarding pass with 2H was handed to me. This flight was pretty heavily overbooked in eco as a lot of bumped Beijing-bound passengers were re-routed onto this flight.
Boarding started at 11 pm and Business had its dedicated boarding gate. I was one of the first to board, Thai and Finnish flight attendants were greeting at door 2L and I was directed to the left. The cabin looked fresh and spacious with the new Finnair Business class. I stowed my roller and took my aisle seat in the second row. The seats are comfortable with 50” pitch and large 10.4” touch-screen PTVs. Pre-departure drinks were served soon, in nice Finnish designer glasses. I decided to go for the champagne this time.
Newspapers were offered and I was offered another drink, took orange juice. Boarding was completed at half past eleven and we were pushed back without a single empty seat bang on time. Taxied past a Lufthansa A300 to runway 04R and took off at 11:50 pm. The MD-11 showed its impressive climbing skills after only a 35-second roll. We then headed right towards Moscow and I was on my way to the warmer climates of South East Asia.
After the seatbelt sign went off, amenity kits, menus and wine lists were distributed. The amenity kit only has an eyeshade, socks and earplugs – toothbrushes, shaving kits and perfumes are available in the lavatories. After the flight one can use this amenity kit as a bag. Sennheiser HDC-45 noise cancelling headsets were already in the seat pockets. Mine only worked on the left hand side, no problem as new ones were brought promptly after I pointed this out. Sound quality after that was excellent.
Hot towels, drinks and pretzels followed – drinks were brought from the galley to each passenger instead of the usual cart service. Nice touch I thought. I opted for a Saint Brendan’s with ice as Finnair serves this one instead of Baileys. Soon thereafter, the supper service started. Table linens were distributed, followed by the tray with the appetizer and dessert. I opted for white wine and water to drink. People who weren’t sure about the wines got to sample the different ones before choosing. Various warm breads were served a few times and the garlic bread was delicious. Metal cutlery was on the tray, including knives, and also salt and pepper as well as butter were in nice containers instead of the el cheapo economy class versions. After finishing the appetizer, main course was brought out. Here’s the menu (nice big one with the choices in French/English/Finnish/Swedish/Thai/Chinese), I included the BKK-SIN/HKG leg:
Helsinki – Bangkok
Graved beef with mushroom terrine
A lighter choice of seasonal soup
Fried pike perch with sautéed sweet peppers
Feta cheese and spinach stuffed breast of chicken
Red currant sauce, oat risotto
Fresh fruit salad
Cheese filled egg roll and
Cold cuts – sliced turkey, salted beef and cheese
Bangkok – Singapore/Hong Kong
Parma ham, grilled peppers, mixed salad
Pan-fried red snapper with ginger sauce
Breast of duck in red curry
Seasonal fresh fruit
Coffee, cappuccino, espresso and tea available during the flight. Sandwiches also served on request.
Carte des Vins
- Joseph Perrier Cuvée Josephine 1997
- Meursault Les Casse-Tetes 1990
- Sancerre Blanc “la Grande Cuvée” 1998
- Les Fiets De Lagrange 1996
- Real De Asua Reserva 1995
- Chateau Guirand 1996 Premiere Cru Classé
- Graham’s 30 year old Tawny Port Portugal
My choice of main course was the chicken, excellent meal overall. A wide variety of liquors were available with coffee or tea afterwards. Trays were then cleared and I asked for the duvet and pillow. They were actually presented to me like on Asian airlines, not just thrown at you. She then wished me sweet dreams. The pillow was large and nice and the duvet was excellent too. I managed to get a few hours sleep and only woke up for breakfast service.
The choice was hot or cold, took the hot option, which was good. At this point we were over the Bay of Bengal, nearing Myanmar airspace. We had flown over Moscow, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Delhi, Calcutta earlier. Headsets were soon collected and the Douglas tri-jet was on approach into Don Muang. The Thai countryside and temples were soon visible and we touched down on 21R after a flight time of 9h15min, more than half an hour early and quickly taxied to gate 41, where KLM ground was ready for our arrival. I made it through the arrival procedures in record time and was sitting in a taxi on the expressway just fifteen minutes after we landed.
Finnair business class service was great in my opinion, flight attendants were friendly and seats comfortable. The service was a bit more personal than on other carriers (except Thai) that I have flown. The menu choices could be more plenty but it didn’t bother me at all.
Novotel Lotus Hotel, Bangkok, TH
My attempts to get the JW Marriott via Priceline failed and I got this one instead. Taxi trip to Sukhumvit 33 took half an hour using the expressway. Three ladies checked me in and another one escorted me to my room on the 19th floor. I was also given a voucher for a welcome drink even though this was a Priceline stay. The hotel lobby and corridors were very nice and the room wasn’t bad either. Mine had two twin beds but since they were wide enough, I didn’t bother asking for a double room. The bellboy brought my bag in a few minutes and I was off to a refreshing shower. Bathroom quite a bit of marble and shower water pressure was great (not always the case in BKK…).
My room had nice views towards Asok and Sheraton Grande. Turndown service was offered in the evening and bathrobes and slippers were available. Minibar had a lot of stuff at the usual hotel prices. Room service prices looked pretty decent but I decided not to eat at the hotel as upscale hotel food in Bangkok is overpriced in my opinion. Location of this Novotel is great, only a few steps away from BTS Phrom Phong station.
Had a great weekend in Bangkok but of course it was over way too quickly. Late check out at 4 pm was provided but I checked out around two in the afternoon and headed to a friend’s apartment in Ekkamai. I wasn’t really looking forward to it, but at 10 pm it was time to take a taxi back to Bangkok International.
November 26, 2002
Finnair AY 098
Bangkok Intl – Helsinki
Gate Departure (Scheduled/Actual): 00:50 / 00:47
Gate Arrival: 06:45 / 06:20
McDonnell Douglas MD-11, OH-LGC
Economy Class, Seat 25H
Photo © Sam Chui
Photo © Jussi Kettunen
I arrived at check in at around 10:40 pm and was checked in by a Lufthansa agent right away. Got my pre-assigned seat 25H with the middle one blocked. With my boarding pass and lounge voucher, it was time to pay the departure fee and head through passport control. No waits whatsoever there.
United Red Carpet Club / Lufthansa Senator Lounge, Bangkok, TH
I decided to give this one a try first. A very small lounge with views of the tarmac. Beverage selections were decent, I had a Baileys. Some potato salad and sausages were available in the food department as well as chips. I didn’t see an internet connection, newspapers and magazines were available. I wasn’t impressed and left for the next lounge.
Louis Tavern Business Lounge, Bangkok, TH
This one is located upstairs, almost opposite the RCC. Another small lounge, which offers pastries, sandwiches, cakes and peanuts as well as a decent selection of drinks. A rather wide variety of newspapers and magazines were available. This lounge has no windows.
Lufthansa Business Lounge, Bangkok, TH
I toured around a few duty free shops and headed to this lounge for one last Singha before leaving the country. The cheerful ladies welcomed me in and said they’d be closing at midnight – no problem. Chips and peanuts as well as a variety of drinks here too, I only had my beer.
I headed through security at midnight and made it to gate 46 in a few minutes. SK972 was operating to Copenhagen from the adjacent gate. Some drunk Finns were swearing, shouting and bashing the airport authority of Thailand for not letting them bring alcoholic drinks to the gate area. I really hoped that these idiots have seats in the back – thank god they did.
Crew boarded just after midnight and the flight attendants that worked in business a few days earlier recognized me and said hi. Same cabin crew but different tech crew on this flight. Boarding started at 00:20 and Business/Oneworld elites had their own line, so I was again one of the first ones to board. My aisle seat was in the first eco cabin and had average legroom. Stowed my roller in the overhead bin took my seat.
The economy cabin was maybe 2/3 full and mostly leisure passengers. Then this moron took seat 25E. Moron because during the whole flight he 1. tried to sleep with his feet on the traytables, 2. put his feet in my legroom or against my leg, 3. put his head on my armrest. I gave him a few nasty looks to which he replied “Wake me up if I kick you”. Damn gross and rude behaviour on an aircraft in my opinion. I feel ashamed of being a Finn when travelling – most are either drunk holidaymakers or behave like this.
Pre-departure orange juice was offered and we were pushed back a few minutes early. Took off from 21R at 1 am for the 10h13min flight to Helsinki. Cold meal was served – pretty inedible with some chicken and salad. After the trays were collected, I reclined my seat and the person behind me tried push against it. Sorry, no way dude – you pay for a seat with recline and screwed up legroom. If you are not willing to put up with this, fly business. I can’t get any sleep if I don’t recline my seat. It was very hard even with this because of the idiot kicking me etc. As I went to the lavatory, someone was sleeping with his blanket in front of door 3R…
I finally got some sleep and woke up as breakfast was served. Scrambled eggs and sausage, decent but tasteless. And why do you always need to serve it 2 hours before landing? I tried to get some more sleep with no luck and soon we were over the Gulf of Finland on approach to Vantaa. Landed on 22L at 6:15 am and to make it a perfect charter/leisure flight feeling, people were of course clapping… We arrived at gate 32 five minutes later and I made my way quickly to my car in parking lot P4.
I found Finnair economy product to be decent but the passengers make it feel like a charter really. And I would probably have had better sleep without the blocked seat… Finland weather in the morning was +1 and raining – ugh. It was a great weekend run, hope you enjoyed the report.