11 April 2003
Helsinki Vantaa – New York JFK
Finnair AY 005
McDonnell Douglas MD-11
1420-1555 – On Time
Photo © Peter Fagerström
Photo © Arttu Laaksonen
Checked in at the AY005/AA6181 business class counter – agent was rude as hell “Where’s your ticket? Well do you have an e-ticket? Do you have the print with you?” Told her that print is somewhere in my bag – that was ok for her. I only got my boarding pass for JFK – half of the times they aren’t able to print connecting passes at all…
Went to the golden gate lounge – pretty crowded and both computers taken, I was happy I didn’t come earlier. Lounge agent confirmed that all exit rows and bulkheads are taken – there is no priority whatsoever for elites, why bother… This is Finnair after all. OH-LGE, the last passenger MD11 was waiting – as were the lovely random security check rent-a-cops. Of course I got picked again – it was the same guy as exactly 3 weeks earlier… I was pretty close to saying “well don’t you already remember my name” as he asked for the boarding pass stub. These checks are ridiculous IMHO.
A flight attendant from last trip greeted me at the door “Oh, you are here again. Are you some sort of a courier or what??” Welcome aboard Finnair… I would think they’d be happy to see repeat customers when the planes aren’t so full. Next, I found myself in total disbelief looking at the el cheapo refurb that OH-LGE had got. It looked like straight from the seventies, yellowish ceiling etc. NW DC-10s look brand new in comparison. And some idiot decided that those dreaded 3-4-3 configured seats from OH-LGD will do in the back. At least the middle section had the newer seats in 3-4-2 config. The 3-4-3 section had absolutely no legroom and the seats are horribly narrow – I would quite simply refuse a seat there – those things are not designed for human beings.
Also this aircraft has no individual air vents like the rest of the Finnair MD-11s, I made a trip to the back galley about halfway through the flight – the smell in the second cabin was quite simply horrible. I was supposed to have the middle seat blocked until the woman at the window dragged her friend there – none of them spoke a word of English and filled in the U.S. landing cards completely wrong as far as I saw. There were probably 10% Finns/Americans on the flight, the rest from the East as usual.
And now onto the business class seats… They did what I feared – found some crappy old seats that have real 21st century mechanical controls for recline and legrest. As far as I could see, no PTVs at all, not even some small ones. If this awful thing is waiting at the gate Wednesday evening (flying C to BKK), I’m afraid I’ll have to empty that Baileys bottle at the Longhaul Lounge before boarding…
Pushed back and took off about on time, just to have the purser announce that the video system is down and that no movies will be shown on this flight. Lunch followed – so called chicken curry. It was quite simply disgusting. The air inside was hot and stuffy, it would be a very uncomfortable 8h07min ride to Kennedy.
The lavatories are the best part of this aircraft – if someone can find smaller ones on any widebody, please let me know. There were also no paper covers for the toilet seat, no paper cups, no sick bags and no soap and the sink was very dirty. Well at least they remembered the toilet paper and the toilet flush worked unlike on my last flight where all but one of the loos were out of service shortly after takeoff.
We took the usual route over Trondheim, Island, southern tip of Greenland, Goose Bay, Boston and over Long Island onto Kennedy airport. Snack was served before landing – tiny roll and coffee/tea, exactly same as on my three previous flights this year. They should either serve something decent or just drinks. Landed at 04R on time and JFK was wet and miserable.
11 April 2003
New York JFK – Dallas/Fort Worth Int’l
American Airlines AA 1369
McDonnell Douglas MD-82
Economy, 21A (Exit Row)
Photo © Paul Spijkers
Photo © Brian Peters
After taking the 46.2-mile hike from gate 23 to immigration and customs, I checked in at the AA First counter and headed to the Admirals Club for those two complimentary drinks. Cheese and crackers are apparently gone but hey, they still serve pretzels and try to sell you overpriced sandwiches.
I went to T9 around 5pm and the DFW flight should have been already boarding. Instead, the M80 was just arriving but the agents insisted that the flight will be on time and that dinner will be served in both cabins (obviously we have a very different understanding of that word…), so I didn’t bother getting any food at the terminal.
They finally started boarding at around 6pm and handed us those dreaded bistro bags – great dinner indeed, a tasteless turkey sandwich and 28.3g of potato chips. Took my seat in the exit row with good legroom and noticed the old look of the cabin – gotta love those SAS MD80s with new cabins. We were pushed around 1820 and taxied past a bunch of interesting machines to 04L for takeoff. I found myself staring at the Air France beauty (F-BVFB today) longer than usual – she would soon be sitting at a museum. The captain announced that we were 23rd for takeoff – the idiot sitting next to me decided it was a good moment to call a few friends so she did – right as we were taxiing on 13R towards 04L.
Took off about an hour late for the 3-hour hop down to Dallas. Flight attendants announced that they’d soon do “the” beverage service and that our meal would be the bistro bag. Feel free to disagree, but this is a joke for a flight leaving at 6pm with scheduled time of 4h11min and flying time of 3 hours.
I slept the rest of the flight and woke up as we were approaching DFW. Landed on time and had to wait about 15 minutes for a gate. While many of you hate remote stands at FRA etc., I’d much rather take a bus to the terminal that wait for a gate especially as it seems to happen every second time for my flights in the U.S.
Wyndham Dallas Market Center
Booked through Priceline for $23 a night, I wasn’t expecting much. Hotel was however very nice, I got a room with king bed, armchair, working desk and a chair, internet access, CD player etc. Bathroom was tiny but no problem for me. Not a good location for downtown Dallas but it didn’t matter as I was still a bit sick from a food poisoning that I got in BKK most likely. I asked the hotel to arrange a shuttle to the airport ($15) but they ordered a sedan ($40) – I wasn’t happy. But at least it was better than a taxi for the same price.
13 April 2003
Dallas/Fort Worth Int’l – New York JFK
American Airlines AA 1806
McDonnell Douglas MD-82
Economy, 21A (Exit Row)
1230-1704 – On Time
Photo © Michael Arcellana
Photo © Saul Loeb
AAgent was able to check me in for Finnair as well – I was pleasantly surprised as AY had given me 7J in the second business class cabin. Since my E-ticket printout said Terminal A, I obviously went there, just to find out that AA 1806 would depart from C22. Took the TrAAin to C – I can now see why many people don’t like that little thing.
I then went to Admirals Club C – nice big lounge just missing the main thing, i.e. breakfast. No alcoholic beverages served before noon, so I couldn’t even use those drink coupons. Luckily I found a computer with internet access – that helped me spend some time. I later had lunch at the McDonalds next to the AC…
This flight was uneventful – I had same seat as on JFK-DFW and same crappy bistro bag was served. No clue what route we took as nobody ever bothered to tell. Flight time was 3h07min and we were cruising at FL330. Flew right over Manhattan, LGA and JFK, then turned onto finals for 31R and landed about twenty minutes early.
13 April 2003
New York JFK – Helsinki Vantaa
Finnair AY 006
McDonnell Douglas MD-11
Business, 7J (Economy Service)
Photo © Konstantin von Wedelstaedt
Photo © Yevgeny Pashnin
With this ridiculously short connection, I had no time to go to the lounges… Security line for gates 20-23 was insane, waited for 30 minutes as there is a grand total of two checkpoints and the screeners really couldn’t be bothered to do their job any faster. Boarded OH-LGD at gate 23 and again I recognized a few of the grandmas on board – I have flown AY too much.
7J is a regular business class seat, but since this flight was booked 287/287, elites in coach were given seats in the second section of business (rows 6-7). Pushed back on time and started taxiing to 13R for takeoff – just to make an U-turn near T1 to return to gate. “We have a problem and will go back to gate” was all that they announced. I had a good look at F-BTSD – probably the last Concorde that I’ll ever see operating scheduled flights.
We waited while an AA 777 vacated gate 9 and then taxied in. I was just hoping they’d hand us vouchers for hotels but instead, we sat there for an hour with absolutely no information – one passenger then dared to ask… “Well how do you think I know?? I’d like to know too.” Was the reply of that friendly flight attendant…
We finally pushed back again over two hours late and taxied to 13R and took off finally at 8:30pm. Dinner was served right after takeoff – totally disgusting again. Rubberlike chicken with beans... Had a Baileys with ice and proceeded to sleep – only woke up as breakfast was served TWO hours before landing… They could serve this sandwich 40 minutes before landing and still have time to prepare the cabin for landing, but why bother giving good service in economy… The flight attendants were probably just pissed off they couldn’t use rows 6-7 as their crew rest area for the flight… Landed on 22L two hours late and taxied to gate 32.