My last trip report I uploaded was a domestic trip in February 2007:
LBA to SOU and LHR to LBA Trip Report
The following month, I went on a week long Geography field trip to Finland (I was a student at the time). Everything was organised for us, apart from the flights, allowing us to find the best deals from our local airport. Some flew from STN to HEL on Blue1, some from MAN to HEL on AY and some from LHR to HEL on BA. LHR was most convenient for me, and I managed to book me and a friend for GBP100 return each.
As BA and AY are oneworld partners, the route between LHR and HEL is operated as a codeshare. Many passengers originating at HEL connect to BA's worldwide network at LHR and, to a lesser extent, vice versa. In 2007, before Terminal 5 opened, BA used a mix of A319s, A320s and 757s on the route. Now BA only puts 757s on the route as the Airbus fleet have all moved to Terminal 5 and, in the future, BA will base all of its 757s at Terminal 3 to operate the majority of its codeshare routes, alongside its oneworld partners.
There are two daily BA departures from LHR to HEL; one at lunchtime and one late afternoon. The lunchtime flight returns the same evening, whilst the late afternoon flight overnights in HEL and returns to LHR early the following morning. I booked the cheapest flights - the lunchtime outbound and the early morning inbound.
London Heathrow (LHR/EGLL) – Helsinki Vantaa (HEL/EFHK)
Airbus A319 G-EUPO
Tuesday 27th March 2007
Scheduled departure: 1220 Actual departure: 1256
Scheduled arrival: 1715 Actual arrival: 1730
Photo © Jussi Seppala
Photo © Joel Vogt
As a student, I was (and still am!) used to the low cost carriers, so it was an absolute pleasure to have full inflight service, very professional staff and an exceedingly comfortable aircraft. Travelling on BA is worth every penny.
Before the flight I checked in online and chose my seat - the Club Europe converter seats at the front of Euro Traveller. We then arrived at LHR Terminal 1 a couple of hours before the flight and proceeded to the fast bag drop, then straight to security.
At LHR, passengers are free to walk around the airside areas of both Terminal 1 and Terminal 2, so I wandered around to see all sorts of European short haulers at the gates.
Boarding was absolutely fine - as everyone had already chosen their seat there was no pushing or shoving to get to the gate like there usually is when travelling U2 or FR. As we walked down the jetbridge, I noticed G-EUPO was our aircraft today.
I took my seat, and this was the view from the window:
Does anybody know why half of the engine was the wrong colour?
I flicked through highlife and businesslife magazines, and awaited the safety demonstration. We were slightly delayed waiting for the bags to be loaded (bags and LHR don't seem to be a great combination... but at least ours weren't lost!) meaning we didn't turn onto the runway (09R) until 1255.
We started the roll straight away, and just after we rotated, we got some good views of Terminals 1 and 2, including some BA 744s:
We'd barely reached the airport perimeter before banking left to avoid climbing over Central London. I looked back and got a rather hazy view of LHR:
Wembley Stadium was the next landmark:
The flight itself was farely uneventful; we banked right over North London to head east, crossed the North Sea, and passed Denmark and Sweden.
I was hoping we would get a hot meal, but we just got a snack lunch with beer, then coffee:
The flight went passed very quickly, and before long we were descending over Finland.
We approached Helsinki from the north, so there were a number of right turns before we were set up for finals. We touched down at what looked like a very small FR style airport at 1730, some 15 minutes late.
We taxiied past a KL 737 on our way to the gate:
Once we'd disembarked, I took a picture of the plane (note the Change for Good sticker):
HEL is one of those airports where arriving and departing passengers mingle in the same airside area so it was most odd passing the LHR bound passengers as we were looking for the exit.
The week in Finland was fantastic - my only criticism of the country is the price of everything, but I suppose the whole of Scandinavia is expensive. I do love the Finnish culture though - the saunas, the reindeer soup.... all brilliant.
During the trip, my camera broke, which was most annoying. The pictures that follow were taken on a tacky disposable camera, so many apologies for the quality.
Helsinki Vantaa (HEL/EFHK) - London Heathrow (LHR/EGLL)
Airbus A319 G-EUPX
Tuesday 3rd April 2007
Scheduled departure: 0740 Actual departure: 0744
Scheduled arrival: 0900 Actual arrival: 0843
Photo © Paul Townsend
Photo © Knut Raddatz
On the return journey, we had to leave Helsinki on the first airport bus of the day. We hadn't managed to get to a computer during the week so we hadn't checked in online, but the chap at the desk gave us the only remaining Club Europe converter seats, this time on the right.
Silly me forgot that reindeer soup is a liquid and I had some in my handluggage so got that confiscated at security. Never mind though, as I managed to purchase some more at one of the duty free shops.
The departure lounge at HEL is very upmarket - clean and airy. We had breakfast (coffee and a croissant if I remember rightly) and headed towards the gate around 0700.
As we walked down the airbridge, I peered through the window to see G-EUPX waiting for us:
Most of the passengers on today's flight were businessmen, many of whom were connecting at LHR for flights to North America.
As we entered the aircraft, the cabin crew member at the door checked our boarding passes and said "Good morning, sir", and directed us to our seats. Little touches like that put BA high above the rest.
We pushed back early at around 0730 and taxiied to the active. Unfortunately our departure was then slightly delayed as we waited for at least three or four AY A320s to taxi past us and take off ahead of us. Finnish ATC is biased!
We started the roll at 0744 local and turned right (to head west) immediately after take off, giving us good views of HEL:
We soon entered the cloud, and didn't see much for the rest of the flight. The food was good - a sausage and onion brioche with coffee. I did peer through the seats in front and notice the Club Europe passengers being served pastries and fruit smoothies, and thought they looked rather nice.... ah well.
As we had such a busy week, I was exhausted, so after I'd finished my brioche I fell asleep.
I woke up as we were circling in the hold - we continued stacking for around 25 minutes, extending out flight time somewhat. I suppose it was a busy time of day at LHR.
We soon popped out of the clouds, and I noticed we were on finals for 09L, giving us good views of Terminal 5 construction:
This picture is fairly self explanatory:
We walked through arrivals fairly quickly and I awaited my lift home.
In conclusion, BA provided a good value, comfortable and professional service. The flights were pretty much on time and I have absolutely no cause for complaint.
The following day, I daytripped to ZRH from LGW (on G-GFFH on the way out and G-GFFD on the way back) but unfortunately I didn't take my camera so a full trip report would be a little boring. Needless to say, BA provided an excellent service again - we were served bacon brioche on the way out and the infamous BA birdseed on the way back. I have to say though, BA's fleet of 737s are getting tired on the inside; the quicker their replacements come the better.
Watch this space for more trip reports... next up is a flight from INV to LGW on U2 in June 2007.
Thanks for reading. Comments welcome.