SNATH
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FRA To HEL On Finnair (A321/A320), 25 Pix

Tue Dec 19, 2006 11:22 am

I haven't done a trip report for some time (almost a year now!!!) and I was itching to write one. So, here's a recent trip from Frankfurt to Helsinki and back on Finnair with my girlfriend. Enjoy!!!

Nov 23, 2006: AY822, FRA 1045am to HEL 210pm, A321, OH-LZF, Seats 25A/B

My girlfriend and I took the S-Bahn from Frankfurt Hbf to the airport. We were running a bit late and the S-Bahn was also a few mins late too, so we didn't have too much time to hang around at the airport. Up the stairs we went from the train station to Terminal 1, through several areas under construction (they have been renovating the check-in desks at FRA for quite some time), and up more stairs to reach the Sky Train to Terminal 2, hop on the train, down the stairs to reach the check-in level, and finally to the end of the Hall where the AY check-in desks are located. Phew! What a pain in the butt. At least, there was only one gentleman in front of us and we checked in very speedily by the (only) check-in agent (he had a swissport tag, so I assume that's who does Finnair's handling at FRA).

Our next task was to go through security. My girlfriend cleared it quickly. Unfortunately they saw something they didn't like in my carry-on so they had to x-ray it twice and search it by hand too. No problem, as far as I was concerned (they were very polite), but I was quit amused (apparently, it was a combination of my nail clippers along with something else that looked quite suspicious on the x-ray). At least it gave my girlfriend some time to visit the shop right next to the security area.

We eventually made it to the gate. I noticed a group of Finns sitting at the gate with hand luggage of various shapes and sizes; yep, it was an orchestra! Pretty cool. Outside the window I could see no plane so I assumed that we'd get bused to it (which has happened to me a lot at FRA). At some point, not that long after we reached the gate, the gate agent announced a 20-min delay due to the late arrival of the plane. Oh well; we had rushed for nothing! Eventually, boarding was called and, yep, we had to go down the stairs and get on the bus.

We reached the plane and it was raining. There were stairs at both the front and rear doors of the plane and, somehow, we ended up right the back of the line for the front stairs. So, we got a bit wet while waiting to get on board. We eventually took our seats and, thankfully, there was no one sitting on the aisle seat. So, we had the row to ourselves (my girlfriend had the window, I got the middle seat); very nice! The plane was maybe 70%-80% full.

AY has outside cameras on their planes so we watched the monitors while the plane taxied, lined up on the runway, and started the take off run (what a blast! I wish more airlines had outside cameras!). It was pretty windy so the take off run was a bit hairy with lots of left-right corrections. Eventually we were in the air and the initial climb was quite bumpy. The ride got smoother after we cleared the clouds though.

In terms of interior, I like the nice blue color that AY has in their planes. I think it looks quite tasteful. And the planes are always spotless and a joy to board (UA and AA, are you listening?).


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Photo © Tony Printezis



Unfortunately, I found the seats quite uncomfortable. They have this pretty hard padding, apparently, to keep your back straight, which I personally found unbearable and I was glad it was only going to be a 2-hour flight. Here's a good picture of the padding, as I didn't take one:


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Photo © Serge Bailleul - AirTeamImages



However, I have to say the legroom was excellent (I wish I had this much legroom every time I flew across the Atlantic):


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Photo © Tony Printezis



Oh, and here's the safety card, for the safety card fans out there:


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Photo © Tony Printezis



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Photo © Tony Printezis



(BTW, do you know of another airline that actually has an illustration of passengers wearing life-jackets, in the water? I found that a bit strange... and amusing of course!)

Not that long after we reached our cruising altitude lunch was served: puikula ja sip. kast. (roulade, basically long meatballs, with onion gravy, with mashed potatoes; very finnish!), small rye bread roll, and a cup for coffee/tea with a Fazer chocolate. I also had a Lapin Kulta (translation: Lappish Gold, it's a beer).


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Photo © Tony Printezis



MyAviation.net photo:
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Photo © Tony Printezis



Beer/wine are complimentary, but AY does charge for spirits (which I think it's a reasonable tradeoff; again, I hope the US “majors” are reading this). The hot food was OK, and a bit better than it looked; but it did hit the spot I have to say.

The window had iced up a bit so decent outside shots were unfortunately out of the question. Here's one just to get an idea:


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Photo © Tony Printezis



And here's the monitor with our flight path:


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Photo © Tony Printezis



Time passed pretty quickly. We read for a bit and I watched some of the random (and quite forgettable) programming that was on the monitors. I also snapped a few interior shots.


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Photo © Tony Printezis



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Photo © Tony Printezis



The latter made it to a.net!!!


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Photo © Tony Printezis



We eventually started descending with a heading east of Helsinki. Eventually we did a turn to approach HEL from the East.


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Photo © Tony Printezis



The descent was quite bumpy. The outside cameras were turned on, but it was so overcast that we couldn't see much. Eventually, the runway lights became visible. At this point, I was desperate to get a shot of the monitor but I couldn't keep my camera steady due to the bumps. This is the best I could do:


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Photo © Tony Printezis



We landed maybe 20 mins late, so not a big deal. We reached the terminal and, thankfully, we had a jetway this time. But, deplaning progressed slower than I had expected. The reason for that was that there were two immigration officials right at the end of the jetway checking passports (which is unusual, as both Finland and Germany are Schengen countries). On our way out the F/As also announced that the bridge (corridor? I can't remember) between the international and domestic peers at the airport was closed due to “security reasons”. Hmmm...

We walked to the luggage reclaim area (I hadn't checked in any luggage, but my girlfriend had).


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Photo © Tony Printezis



We waited for maybe 20 mins or so and at last my girlfriend's suitcase appeared. Interestingly, it had a priority tag on it (most likely due to the fact that I'm oneworld Ruby, on AA). But, as usual, it came out when most other passengers had already picked up their luggage; why do they bother with the priority tags given that the baggage handlers never pay attention to them (and I'm not only talking about Finnair...)?

We then jumped on the Finnair bus to go to the main train station in Helsinki. On the way, we stopped at a traffic light and got stuck there for about 20-25 mins with nothing moving around us. The driver told another passenger that Putin was in town and we had to wait until his motorcade passed before we could carry on. Aha! This explained the extra security at HEL...

Nov 26, 2006: AY825, HEL 505pm to FRA 640pm, A320, OH-LXF, Seats 15A/B

We got a cab from the center of Helsinki towards the airport. Interestingly, during the cab ride I saw blue sky for the first time since we had left Frankfurt; Helsinki was gloomy and overcast throughout our stay... but with no snow! We still had a good time though and I always enjoy visiting Finland.

We arrived at Departure Hall 1 and, for some reason, it was really busy. We quickly checked in using the automated check-in kiosks and my girlfriend dropped her suitcase off at one of the desks. We were advised to go through security at Hall 3, as the line was not as bad there. We did and, indeed, the line was more reasonable and it only took 5-10 mins to get through.

We killed some time at the terminal by doing some shopping and writing postcards. We also kept an eye on the departure boards; our flight was one time. Cool!


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Photo © Tony Printezis



We eventually made it to our gate which, amusingly, was the same gate from which we had boarded our flight to KAO about a year ago (and you can read all about that trip here)! What a coincidence!

Boarding was eventually called and we walked down the jetway and on to the A320. This time the flight was full, so we shared our row with a gentleman who was on the aisle seat (I had the window this time). Another thing to point out is that I found the seats on the A320 much more comfortable than on the A321 (they didn't have those hard back rest things). By now, it was quite dark:


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Photo © Tony Printezis



We pushed back and we were in the air a few minutes later. Sadly, they didn't turn on the outside cameras during take off... what a shame! Here is the safety cards for the safety card aficionados:


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Photo © Tony Printezis



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Photo © Tony Printezis



Shortly after take off, the F/As started the service:


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Photo © Tony Printezis



Dinner was kanaa bbg kastike (chicken with barbecue sauce, with barley) and I got a Koff (they had run out of Lapin Kulta):


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Photo © Tony Printezis



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Photo © Tony Printezis



Actually, it was a bit worse than the meatballs on the way out. Oh well...

Then the F/As came out with the "duty free" cart. My girlfriend got some chocolates and I couldn't resist getting an excellent souvenir, which looks great on my bookcase and I'm admiring it as I'm typing this!


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The ride this time was a bit worse then on the way out, but time passed quite quickly again and we eventually started our descent towards FRA. As you can see on the monitor, we approached FRA from the North-East:


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Photo © Tony Printezis



The landing was quite bumpy... but, hey, I feel quite safe in the hands of a Finnish pilot in bad weather! This time, the outside cameras were turned on for landing. We touched down, taxied towards FRA's Terminal 2, and parked next to an Iberia A320; at least we'd have a jetway.


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Photo © Tony Printezis



We disembarked into a mostly-empty Terminal 2, as you can see from the picture:


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Photo © Tony Printezis



Something else we should spot in the picture is something FRA is quite infamous for: the smoking areas!!! At the time, they were empty. However, imagine two large flights arriving from the Middle-East and hordes of passengers crowding the smoking areas and trying to outdo each other on who will smoke the most cigarettes before the next flight. Now, imagine having to walk through all that smoke. F**king disgusting. Making the smoking areas enclosed, like in all other civilized airports, would be a huge huge huge improvement for FRA, in my humble opinion. But I digress...

We walked for a bit and reached the luggage claim area, which was quite quiet, with only a handful of flights arriving:


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Photo © Tony Printezis



My girlfriend's suitcase arrived quite speedily, for a change, and we made our way back to Terminal 1 to get on the S-Bahn.

Overall, a quite enjoyable trip. And Finnair are pretty good. I'd definitely fly them again if I get the chance...

So, I hope you enjoyed the trip report. I have another one I'm working on (FRA-LYS, on the day after we returned from Helsinki!) and hopefully I'll write up my Xmas travels too.

Safe flying and happy holidays everyone!!!

Tony
Nikon: we don't want more pixels, we want better pixels.
 
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Vasu
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RE: FRA To HEL On Finnair (A321/A320), 25 Pix

Tue Dec 19, 2006 12:52 pm

Which was more comfortable? the A320 or A321? I'm due to fly both like you did.
 
KLM685
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RE: FRA To HEL On Finnair (A321/A320), 25 Pix

Tue Dec 19, 2006 4:38 pm

Hey! cool trip report, i enjoyed your pictures alot. My aunt got me an A321 Finnair safety card this summer, they are nice and a nice add to my collection.

How did you find HEL?

Cheers!
KLM- The Best Airline in the World!
 
speedbirdegjj
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RE: FRA To HEL On Finnair (A321/A320), 25 Pix

Tue Dec 19, 2006 8:04 pm

Quoting Vasu (Reply 1):
Which was more comfortable? the A320 or A321? I'm due to fly both like you did.



Quoting SNATH (Thread starter):
Another thing to point out is that I found the seats on the A320 much more comfortable than on the A321 (they didn't have those hard back rest things).

 sarcastic 

Nice report tony, looks like AY offer a decent service intra Europe!
 
SNATH
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RE: FRA To HEL On Finnair (A321/A320), 25 Pix

Tue Dec 19, 2006 9:22 pm

Hey guys,

Quoting Vasu (Reply 1):
Which was more comfortable? the A320 or A321? I'm due to fly both like you did.

I think the A321 was marginally newer than the A320 but, as I said in my trip report, I found the seats on the A320 more comfortable as they didn't have the hard back support things.

Quoting KLM685 (Reply 2):
Hey! cool trip report, i enjoyed your pictures alot.

Thank you!

Quoting KLM685 (Reply 2):
How did you find HEL?

HEL is pretty cool; I like it. It's considerably smaller than other large European airports (e.g., FRA, LHR) but that's great because you can get to your gate very quickly and you don't have to walk for miles and miles. Also, passed security, there's a good collection of shops and cafes which makes your airport stay quite enjoyable. And you get to see MD-11s... can it get any better?  Smile

Quoting Speedbirdegjj (Reply 3):
Nice report tony, looks like AY offer a decent service intra Europe!

I definitely second that. For the route, they were a bit more expensive than LH (and LH has more frequency on the route) but they were definitely a nice change.

Tony
Nikon: we don't want more pixels, we want better pixels.
 
FLIEGER67
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RE: FRA To HEL On Finnair (A321/A320), 25 Pix

Wed Dec 20, 2006 6:18 am

Hey, Tony,
real interesting report and pictures.
From my AY experiences, I agree with you, Finnair is one of the better classic
carriers around Europe, no problem for me also to fly them again.
What about your time in HEL, not the usual month to go for vacation and where do you stay?.
Regards,
Markus (FLIEGER67)
Tripreporter.net
 
EFHK
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RE: FRA To HEL On Finnair (A321/A320), 25 Pix

Wed Dec 20, 2006 8:07 am

Nice trip report! I always enjoy reading trip reports about Finnair.

We've had a few times passport checks etc. applied this fall because of some important meetings in Finland due to our EU presidency.

Shame you didn't have more time in FRA, see my signature.  Wink
One of the best places in the world: McDonald's in T2 at FRA.
 
SNATH
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RE: FRA To HEL On Finnair (A321/A320), 25 Pix

Wed Dec 20, 2006 12:04 pm

Quoting FLIEGER67 (Reply 5):
real interesting report and pictures.



Quoting EFHK (Reply 6):
Nice trip report!

Thanks guys! Glad you liked it!

Quoting FLIEGER67 (Reply 5):
What about your time in HEL, not the usual month to go for vacation and where do you stay?

I wish I had a month in Finland! Unfortunately, I work for a US company... in the US.  Smile

With respect to hotels in Helsinki, they are generally pretty expensive. This time we stayed at the Radison SAS Royal. It was not cheap, but it was very nice and easily the nicest hotel I've stayed at in Helsinki.

Quoting EFHK (Reply 6):
We've had a few times passport checks etc. applied this fall because of some important meetings in Finland due to our EU presidency.

Ah, I see!

Quoting EFHK (Reply 6):
Shame you didn't have more time in FRA

This was actually the first time I flew out of T2 (but I've spent many many "happy" hours at T1). It looked quite new, but there was nothing much to do passed security. Having said that, I'll be spending 6 hours in T1 this Saturday morning!

Cheers,

Tony
Nikon: we don't want more pixels, we want better pixels.
 
infodesk
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RE: FRA To HEL On Finnair (A321/A320), 25 Pix

Wed Dec 20, 2006 6:24 pm

Great report and very interesting. It seems that Finnair do offer a very good service, although I'm not sure I'd have done too well with the food!

I really hope to try the airline out myself next year.

Thanks for sharing with us!  spin 
"Do nothing in haste, look well to each step and from the beginning think what may be the end" - Edward Whymper
 
A340600
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RE: FRA To HEL On Finnair (A321/A320), 25 Pix

Thu Dec 21, 2006 2:26 am

Quoting Vasu (Reply 1):
Which was more comfortable? the A320 or A321? I'm due to fly both like you did.

Did you read the report?!

Nice report, good to see hot meals on European flights in Y too,

Sam Smile
Despite the name I am a Boeing man through and through!
 
andaman
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RE: FRA To HEL On Finnair (A321/A320), 25 Pix

Thu Dec 21, 2006 10:38 am

Thanks for the report!

AY offers a good European product with Airbus and Embraer170/190, though their long hauls in Y are just ok. I was In Asia in Nov and noticed once again how AY competes with price there at the moment. With their prices I was able to fly BKK-HKG in C-class, for just 270 euros return. Very nice experience.

True, nice they offer atleast some food in Europe though very basic Nordic stuff.
My meal HEL-MUC last Nov:

Big version: Width: 410 Height: 308 File size: 75kb
AY807 HEL-MUC Y-class meal



..and a starter in C-class HKG-BKK later in Nov:

Big version: Width: 640 Height: 480 File size: 154kb
AY MD11 biz class HKG-BKK



Never tried FRA, a lot more crowded than lovely MUC?
Chinese cookie in SFO: "You're doomed to a life of forever travelling abroad and to be able to afford it!"
 
SNATH
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RE: FRA To HEL On Finnair (A321/A320), 25 Pix

Thu Dec 21, 2006 10:52 am

Quoting Infodesk (Reply 8):
Great report and very interesting.



Quoting A340600 (Reply 9):
Nice report,



Quoting Andaman (Reply 10):
Thanks for the report!

Hey guys, thanks again! I'm glad you enjoyed reading it!

Quoting Infodesk (Reply 8):
It seems that Finnair do offer a very good service, although I'm not sure I'd have done too well with the food!

Yeah, as Andaman pointed out in his reply, the food is oriented for Nordic tastes (as a comparison, I usually got pasta on LH on the same route). But, it's fine.

Quoting A340600 (Reply 9):
good to see hot meals on European flights in Y too,

Yep, in the times of the disappearing service, I try to stick to the airlines that still try to make a bit of effort!!!

Quoting Andaman (Reply 10):
though their long hauls in Y are just ok.

You know, I've never flown AY long-haul. I'm in two minds about it; It'd be maybe my last chance to fly an MD-11 (which is a good enough reason!). BUT, a 10-abreast MD-11 really doesn't appeal to me I have to say.

Kiitos for sharing the meal pictures! The C class meal looked really nice!

Quoting Andaman (Reply 10):
Never tried FRA, a lot more crowded than lovely MUC?

I've only been through MUC exactly twice and through FRA many many times. FRA can really get crowded. And making connections is a real pain sometimes due to the size of the airport. MUC is really beautiful and much more straightforward to find your way around in my opinion... Both my experiences there were positive.

BTW, in case you hadn't noticed, this was your 666th post... just letting you know.  devil 

Tony
Nikon: we don't want more pixels, we want better pixels.
 
andaman
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RE: FRA To HEL On Finnair (A321/A320), 25 Pix

Thu Dec 21, 2006 11:13 am

Quoting SNATH (Reply 11):

You know, I've never flown AY long-haul. I'm in two minds about it; It'd be maybe my last chance to fly an MD-11 (which is a good enough reason!). BUT, a 10-abreast MD-11 really doesn't appeal to me I have to say.

Kiitos for sharing the meal pictures! The C class meal looked really nice!

True, 10-breast not good, noticed the same on Emirates too. But actually the first 29 rows on AY MD-11 has 9-abreats so you just have to book right. A mystery to me why is it that way.
A different story on their A340 of course, 8-abreast there. Not tried that personally yet. Two more A340s coming for next summer, meaning some new destination in Asia I guess, after KUL in spring.

Quoting SNATH (Reply 11):

BTW, in case you hadn't noticed, this was your 666th post... just letting you know.
Tony

A Devil    without the horns from HEL  

[Edited 2006-12-21 03:27:55]
Chinese cookie in SFO: "You're doomed to a life of forever travelling abroad and to be able to afford it!"
 
SNATH
Topic Author
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RE: FRA To HEL On Finnair (A321/A320), 25 Pix

Thu Dec 21, 2006 11:54 am

Quoting Andaman (Reply 12):
But actually the first 29 rows on AY MD-11 has 9-abreats so you just have to book right.

Yeah, I had noticed that. Someone on the board had said that they reserve those seats for flyers with full-fare tickets... So, No Way Jose for me!  Smile

Quoting Andaman (Reply 12):
A different story on their A340 of course, 8-abreast there.

Yeah, I do like the A330/A340 due to the nice config with two seats by the window (nothing beats the B767 though!!!). But, it'd be nice to get to fly on a MD-11!!! The way things are right now, my best bet is JFK-HEL, if I need to get to Helsinki from here (Boston) any time soon...

Quoting Andaman (Reply 12):
A Devil without the horns from HEL

It's all coming together!  bigthumbsup 

Tony
Nikon: we don't want more pixels, we want better pixels.
 
ba319-131
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RE: FRA To HEL On Finnair (A321/A320), 25 Pix

Tue Jan 02, 2007 6:25 am

Nice report, thanks.

Quoting SNATH (Thread starter):
In terms of interior, I like the nice blue color that AY has in their planes. I think it looks quite tasteful. And the planes are always spotless and a joy to board

- Agreed, it is a nice colour, though I wish European Business Class had leather seats, I prefer them for some reason.

Quoting SNATH (Thread starter):
Beer/wine are complimentary, but AY does charge for spirits (which I think it's a reasonable tradeoff; again, I hope the US "majors" are reading this).

- US majors listening? - No chance!  Wink

AY is one of my favorite carriers soit is nice to read this.

Rgds

Mark
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SNATH
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RE: FRA To HEL On Finnair (A321/A320), 25 Pix

Tue Jan 02, 2007 4:24 pm

Quoting BA319-131 (Reply 14):
I wish European Business Class had leather seats, I prefer them for some reason.

You should try LH!  Smile Leather seats and only 4-abreast.  Smile

Quoting BA319-131 (Reply 14):
- US majors listening? - No chance!

My feelings exactly.

Quoting BA319-131 (Reply 14):
AY is one of my favorite carriers soit is nice to read this.

I've flown AY a few times and I definitely have no complaints.

Tony
Nikon: we don't want more pixels, we want better pixels.
 
UpperDeck79
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RE: FRA To HEL On Finnair (A321/A320), 25 Pix

Thu Jan 04, 2007 8:28 am

Quoting Andaman (Reply 12):
Two more A340s coming for next summer, meaning some new destination in Asia I guess, after KUL in spring.

No new destinations for next summer after KUL -- only increases of frequencies.  Smile
AY and ANA rock!
 
andaman
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RE: FRA To HEL On Finnair (A321/A320), 25 Pix

Thu Jan 04, 2007 8:53 am

Quoting UpperDeck79 (Reply 16):

No new destinations for next summer after KUL -- only increases of frequencies.

Yes of course not for the summer, we would know that already.
Next winter will be interesting, I just hope HEL is not getting too crowded.
Chinese cookie in SFO: "You're doomed to a life of forever travelling abroad and to be able to afford it!"

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