17th March 2002
Dublin - Paris CDG 1
Aer Lingus EI520
Airbus A320 EI-CVB
Seat 3F Premier Class
Photo © Colin K. Work
Photo © William Ronciere
(Note that there is no space after the comma or anywhere else in the code
My trip to Russia via France and Finland got off to an okay start. The check-in at the aerlingus.com hand-baggage only desk was great as it avoided all the ques in the terminal for all the early morning flights. As I reached my gate at the B Pier boarding had already commenced and at the next gate was a company A321 loading up it's passengers for Malaga. No time for the lounge.I took my seat in the small but fully occupied 3 row premier section (it was a saturday morning) and we taxied out and took off over Dublin Bay with a clear day I had a great view of the city. Breakfast was served individually by the cabin supervisor. She wasn't very friendly at all and was quite short when asked by an eldely couple in the forward row where they could stow their bags. She told them they could find space in the economy section overhead bins.
Tea/Coffee were offered with the breakfast, consisting of the usualy Irish hot breakfast, packaged brown bread, small fruit salad and plastic juice container and a scone with packaged butter. I was suprised that no champaigne minature bottles were offered at any time as has been cutomary with Aer Lingus Premier Europe breakfast flights. I was very thirsty and didn't want tea or coffee, and I had already drank my miniature juice so I asked the cabin supervisor for a coca-cola. She told me they had no softdrinks, only juice which she offered to bring with Ice. I thought it was simply ridiculous they don't even put soft-drinks on for Premier anymore. I didn't want to complain so I just read my Irish times until we reached Paris and flew straight in.
Once on the ground we had a long taxi but I was off to get my hotel shuttle bus soon as I had no hold baggage.
I had an enjoyable day and night in Paris city, but noticed the lack of tourists (especially americans). obviously signs that a war was imminant.
My hotel, the Paris CDG Roissypole Ibis was nice and comfortable. I would reccomend it and i'll probably use it again.
18th March 2002
Paris CDG 2D - Helsinki Vantaa
Photo © David Alders
Photo © Olivier Deuson
I woke up very early and availed of the express buffet breakfast layed on at the Ibis for early risers. With a spring in my step I took the shuttle to Aerogare 2D, from which I discovered the day before my Finnair flight codeshared with Air France would depart from to Helsinki.
Check-in was painless and I was given my choice of seat. Saw many Alitalia flights leaving as well as Air France flights to Italy mainly. Boarding commenced and we were bussed to our awaiting A319. The crew seemed friendly at first, and quite mature. I was greeted in my section of the aircraft by a charming, young and cute f/a who greeted me in Finnish 'Hej'. I took my seat and soon the doors were closed. The captain informed us our flying time to Helsinki would be about 2h 45mins. Safety video played on drop-down screens and our taxi and take off were shown on the nose-camera on the drop-down screens, just like on Emirates. Cool.
Not too long after our take-off to the North, the crew sprung into action. The flight was quite empty with only 1 passenger in Business Class. Breakfast was served to me my my nice f/a. It consisted of a tasty omlette with potatoes and vegitables, a strawberry yoghurt, hot breadrolls. Very tasty. Coffee/Tea were also served as was juice. Feeling slightly tired I began to doze as the trays were collected. Drinks service followed. Their bar cart looked particularly well stocked as I have always experienced on Finnair. I took a coca-cola although I was tempted to have something stronger. but it was too early, even for me I had a very long train journey ahead of me to Russia from Helsinki.
With the second drinks service as we cruised over sweden I gave into temptation and was served a cool refreshing Lapin Kulta beer. 'It's finnish' said said my nice f/a'..... I was tempted to say something smart in reply but I didn't. I watched the Airshow instead...
Decent started as we reached Turku or possibly earlier and crew prepared for landing in Vantaa. We landed on shedule to a moderately-busy airport, lots of Finnair and Sas jets. We taxied to gate 28 and I disembarked thanking the crew for what was a great flight. I've had good and not-so-good experiences with Finnair but this flight surpassed the others plus I got miles.
I took the Finnair bus to the city centre and wantered around Senate square and the port area for a while and then headed back to the station for my 15:45 'Repin' train to Vyborg in Russia.
23rd March 2002
Helsinkii Vantaa - Dublin
Photo © Arttu Laaksonen
Photo © Jussi Kettunen
After a very enjoyable week or so in Russia it was time to head back to Dublin. Luckily I was able to find a direct flight that suited my schedule and I had booked myself on it. Arriving in Helsinki on the morning 'Tolstoy' express train from Vyborg, originating in Moscow I took the Finnair Bus to Vantaa. I killed a couple of hours there reading papers about the war and had a few cokes and a rather good BLT sandwich at a cafe. Had a hangover from the night before which was quickly cured by some 'Russian tablets' I had with me. I watched the MD-11 push back for JFK and an LH A320 to Frankfurt from my comfy seat and then watched as another MD-11 OY-LGE taxied on stand from Bangkok (I think) because I saw people get on the Dublin flight with Bangkok duty-free bags. Boarding took for ages and we were bussed to our MD-82 (Didn't get the reg) in the old Finnair colours. I boared through the rear door and took my seat next to the galley in the last row. I had 2 handbaggage pieces that were way over the limit and I couldn't find anywhere to put them. I was told by a rather large and scary f/a I could find space further up the cabin which I did. At first she wasn't nice but I think she realised by my tone that I wasn't in the mood to tollerate being 'told' what to do so she became more friendly and asked the gentleman who was sitting in the middle seat to move to the window (but there really was no window, just the window seat), so I could stow one of my bags under the middle seat. I apologised to her for being well in excess of the carry-on board policy but she told me she didn't really care about it and said the overhead bins are way to small on the MD-82 anyway. The crew seemed very senior on this flight.
After the engines started (the noise.....) we taxied straight out for a quick departure. Flight time to Dublin was to be 3 hours. Our routing would take us down over Denmark, Amsterdam, accross the North Sea, Manchester and into Dublin. We took off into the sunny evening sky and flew West, then turning South-West. The seats were not as comfortable as the A319. The flight was full, save for a few free seats dotted here and there. Service was really slow on this flight and I was one of the last to be served my meal. It wasn't very good. Just some meat and rice maincourse, rolls, and a chocolate marshmallow thing for desert. Comparing the meal to what BA serves on it's Sofia-London or London-Kiev runs, of a simular or shorter flight time, it was below average. Interestingly red wine was served on the meal tray. If they wanted to save money they could stop this for example because not everyone wants it. I trank my water that came with my meal and I was pleased to have at least metal cutlery as on the previos flight it was plastic cutlery. I had another mini-bottle of red wine, followed by a Lapin Kulta before we landed into Sunny (for once) Dublin Airport and taxied onto a gate on Pier B beside that horrible Aerlingus.com aircraft in the special scheme.
Took the Aircoach to the city and 15B bus home. All in all a very pleasant set of flights. Comments and Questions always appreciated. Will probably be flying EI/BA to Kiev next week or so but I've already done 2 trip reports on those exact flights.