For a business trip I had to go to Jakarta, Bangkok and Delhi (all within 6 days). My company booked about one and a half month in advance. We were looking for flights in economy (with more rest days at the beginn and the end oft he journey) and for a business class variant, were I could be at home as much as possible. As Finnair had some very good business fares for Southeast Asia, we went for Finnair. So we told our travel agent to book on Finnair the legs from Vienna to Jakarta and from Delhi to Vienna (I always prefer booking my trip at a travel agency, as they can help me, if there are problems).
For the flights form Jakarta to Bangkok and Bangkok to New Delhi, we booked via Internet as the fares were much cheaper, than booking it from Vienna, where we had just the „european“ fares and not the local fares. Booking on Thai was complicated, as it was only allowed to use the credit card with your name, and not the company credit card. For the flight from Jakarta to Bangkok, I had to go with Malaysia Airlines, as the booking system of Garuda was not working for this flight during the days of booking and Thai International had no morning flight on this particular day. The other possibility was with Royal Brunei, but the flights were more expensive than on Malaysian.
Now the finals flight plan turned turned to be out:
1st leg: Vienna – Helsinki – Singapore – Jakarta on AY and GA
2nd leg: Jakarta – Kuala Lumpur – Bangkok on MH
3rd leg: Bangkok – New Delhi on TG
4th leg: New Delhi – Helsinki – Vienna on AY
June 04, VIE – HEL, AY768
Airplane: Embraer 190
Load factor J cabin: 30%
Schedule: 19:20 > 22:40
I arrived at the airport in Vienna one and a half hours before take off and there were no people at the checkin counters / baggage drop off. I didn't get a boarding pass for the last leg on GA from SIN to JKT, but as usual they checked my luggage through. They told me, that the lounge gets refurbished, so I got at the counter of the lounge a EUR 4,- voucher for some restaurants (a little bit lousy, but in fact I was not hungry). Days before the trip I was already a little bit nervous about the one hour connection in HEL, especially as there were thunderstorms predicted for this day. When I arrived at the airport, there were some showers around, but nothing special. I went to the gate and saw the Finnair Embraer landing (with maybe 10mins delay) – so my short 60min connection at HEL should be OK. But the one minute later I saw lightning in the proximity oft he airport – I turned on my laptop in order to login at the lightning detection system and I saw a broad storm-front with lightning arriving at the airport.
> Thunderstorm at Vienna Airport
Now the agents at the gate got the information, that all ground handling was suspended because of lightning danger and that the Finnair passengers on the plane from HEL could not leave the plane, as it was parked at a remote stand. Now time was running and all passengers, mostly passengers connecting to Hong Kong or Bangkok, were nervous. As I was the only passenger transfering from Vienna to Singapore, one agent came and told me, that my connection will be critical. If we will get too much delay, they will try to rebook me. I ask them, to find a connection, arriving not much later at JKT than the original plan, because of a important business meeting. They said, they will try their best, and will keep me informed.
10 Minutes later the agents told me, that they found one connection with OS via BKK, but the flight form BKK to JKT is only available in economy (would have been OK for me) or that they can rebook me on Emirates (my preferred option). They said, that they will call Helsinki, in order to get the approval.
Finally the gate got the info, that the ground handling started again, and that the delay should be not more than 30 minutes. So the connection at Helsinki should be secured. Nevertheless they recommended me to ask the cabin crew, that I will get I direct transfer from the plane from Vienna to the plane to Singapore, as the planes from Vienna are nearly always parked on a remote stand in Helsinki.
The ground handling (Fraport) was extremly attentive and tried their best to secure me a alternate route to my final destination.
> Finnair evening flight is waiting for us
On board of the E90 everything was very quick settled and we started into the turbulent sky. The captain came on the speakers and told us, that the expected arrival time at HEL would be 23.10h (the connections to SE-Asia are taking off at 23.40h). En route I asked the crew about my connection, and they said, that they'll call Helsinki. I heard her talking on the phone in the galley an some minutes later she said, that they will wait for me. This was a great relief – even if my baggage wouldn't make it.
> Takeoff RWY 29
> Flying through a sky of cumulus clouds
> As more often I see the clear white Finnair livery, the more I like it
The service in general was good (normal economy seats, seat 1B has the most legroom) and the food fine, but not excellent.
> „Business Class“
> At nearly every airline I make my Ginger Ale test – Finnair failed on the first leg, as they brought me Gin tonic
> Meals service – beef an root puree
> Ice forming on the window
> Now I know from where they got their inspiration for the wall decor ,-)
> 11 PM in Scandinavia – approaching Helsinki
> South Finnish impressions during descent
From touch down until the bus transfer from the remote stand to the gate it seemed to take hours. We also got bumped off at the opposite site of the Airport and had to cross nearly the whole building in order to get to the international gates, where they were waiting for me at the check in. I wanted to ask for my luggage, but didn't make it, because in this short time, they would not have it in the computer system.
June 04, HEL – SIN AY81
Airplane: Airbus 340-300
Load factor J cabin: 90%
Schedule: 23:40 > 16:10
On board I was first disappointed, because the FA where a little bit frosty – OK, this will be a “good” flight. I was offered a welcome drink and went for an orange juice. Then they arranged the overhead bins, in order to find a place for my hand luggage.
> Inside the A343 – as the overhead bins in the middle are missing, the J cabin looked really roomy.
> Real time flight data – unfortunatly in metric units, but so I one gets trained in mental arithmetic
> VIDEO of takeoff: http://www.youtube.com/user/StefanEisenbach#p/u/8/XF4gyx1bUB8
We started punctually and I expected no real meal service, as they wrote on their webpage, that Finnair provides a dinner buffet at the lounge, so that they can make a reduced dinner service on the late evening flights to BKK, SIN and HGK, so that the passengers can rest.
But after we reached 10.000 ft and the fasten seat belt sign was switched off, we got a menu card with three choices. Soon the FA started to prepare the tables for dinner. I went for the salmon, wich in fact was really faboulus, and a white wine from the Malbourough region in New Zealand, wich was suprisingly very good! They asked me if I want a soup, wich I approved . Some passengers didn't wanted dinner and went immediately to bed.
When I finished my meal, the FA came and ask if I want something to drink or to eat? I went for some tea and said, that I would like some grapes, as I saw a large fruit basked on their trolley. The FA laughted and said, if I also want this and showed me a nice desert.
After that everyone went to bed.
The plane seemed to be quiet old, especially at the not very fancy bathrooms you could see her age a little bit. The seats were in my opinion comfortable - with a lot of options for adjustments. First I tried the sleeping position of the chair, wich was not so convenient. I played around with the controls of the seat and after 3 or 4 minutes I found an ideal position. After a good sleep with only some interruptions I woke finally up (that's a novum, I never sleep on planes) over Pakistan and India and got some nice views of the distant himalaya ranges. Time to look at the PTV. I found already at the start oft he journey some nice classical music, now I wanted to watch some movies, finally I get caught at some TV series. In general the selection of the movies is not so large as on Emirates, but sufficient. Maybe if I travel in economy, where I cannot sleep, I would need more movies. In between I watched the air-show and the real time flight deck data.
> Seat adjustments
During the night the PA's were very present – when I woke up in between, they were immediately around in order to ask me, if I need something to eat or to drink, or if I want something from the snack bar or a botte of water for the night. Now they where also more friendly as in the begin. But as they are nordic types, I think their attitude is naturally different compared to other carriers like Emirates or Royal Jordanian.
> Over the Gulf of Bengal
Over Thailand we got breakfast – an omlette filled with mozarella and tomatos (good).
We landed in Singapore some minutes too late, because of thunderstorm deviations.
> Thunderstorms ahead – we deviated tot he left (East)
> VIDEO landing at SIN: http://www.youtube.com/user/StefanEisenbach#p/u/7/K1IHtzL2h70
June 05, SIN – CGK GA833
Airline: Garuda Indonesia
Airplane: Boeing 737-800
Load factor J cabin: 100%
Schedule: 18:30 > 19:15
Now I had to find the Garuda transfer desk at Changi, wich was not so easy and I think I was walking for half an hour (what a large airport). At the transfer desk, I got my boarding pass, a priority lane pass for the immigration in JKT and the lounge pass. Then I asked the ground agent, if she could find out if my luggage is still in HEL, so that I can arrange a delivery to my next destination in BKK. It needed some time to explain and the agent seemed not to be very happy about my concern and couldn't find out anything in the computer system (in the past when this happened, it needed only one mouse click). She told me to wait at a bench as she will try to find out more. After 15 min I said, I will go to the lounge and will return later.
In fact I had not a lot of time, so I just got to the lounge for a chicken curry, some coke and the restrooms. The longe (SATS, Kingfisher,...) was not very nice – dirty and worn out, but at least they had warm meals. After 30min in the longe I went to the desk, in order to ask if they could call the Grauda transfer desk about my luggage. The guy was not very happy and seemed not to understand my request, so I decided to go back to the desk. There the lady told me, that my luggage is in Singapore and that the baggage handler saw my bag personally - I was really surprised how efficient Helsinki airport can be (if there is no strike).
At the Gate for the Garuda flight to Jakarta was still no plane and 10 minutes after official boarding time, the agents said, that we will have 30 minutes delay.
The plane came and boarding was a little bit chaotic, as many people didn't understood that first families with children and business pax are allowed to board.
On board of the Garuda 737 I was surprised how nice the business class was – real nice „grandmother-chairs“ with a lot of space – no sight of the European business class. Business class was 100% full, so I couldnt make a lot of pix. Economy must have been also nearly 100% full. The only thing I didn’t like about the chairs are, that they seemed to be built for smaller persons (the legrest and seating area was a little bit too small for me).
The food service was excellent – even on this 1,5 hour hop the food was better than on Finnair (and the Finnair food was neither bad). The service was excellent with pre flight drinks and the 3 menu choices were presented live by the purser (so you could choose without menu card). The only bad thing about this presentation is, that the purser has to go after every passenger decision back to the galley, as (logically) one menu is missing after the passenger took one. This is OK on the 737, where you only have 12 buisness seats, but on long haul, I thinks that doesn't work. I made also my ginger ale test, wich was passed by Garuda.
As desert we got a Häagen-Dazs ice cream … unfortunatly it was very, very frozen, so that everyone have to wait until descent until he could start eating it.
To my surprise the personal entertainment system on this short flight worked (personal, screen in the armrest) – but I hadn't time to have a closer look and unfortunately I didnt‘t find a moving map.
Approaching Jakarta, I saw a lot of lightning and the indonesian pilot told us in accent free english, that we have to enter a holding pattern because of weather related congestions.
The landing was a little bit bumpy and it rained cats and dogs.
> VIDEO (not much to see): http://www.youtube.com/user/StefanEisenbach#p/u/6/4zhbVdk14mQ
Jakarta airport is a “nice” concrete buiding. The immigration was free of people – so no need for the priority lane. We had to wait 30-40min for the luggage and unfortunatly mine was amongst the last – but it arrived
June 07, CGK – KUL. GA726
Airline: Malaysia Airlines
Airplane: Boeing 737-400
Load factor J cabin: 25%
Schedule: 05:00 > 08:00
Delay: on time
June 07, KUL – BKK. GA726
Airline: Malaysia Airlines
Airplane: Boeing 737-800
Load factor J cabin: 90%
Schedule: 09:10 > 10:15
Delay: on time
Next day, next airline – Malaysia Airlines. The first leg JKT-KUL was by an agening Boeing 734 (MME). The seats looked worn out and not very welcomeing. I think for longer flights they will get quiet uncomfortable. Service was average – the stewardesses (in fact only one served the 3 J-pax, the other one, was just sitting in the galley) were not very entusiastic and didn't offered a second drink beside the welcome drink and the drink with the meal. The serving system is different from GA – before takeoff the stewardess ask what do you want to eat (beef or chicken) and what do you want to drink with your meal. When reaching cruise altitude the ordered items are served. The food was OK, but not famous – the ginger ale test was passed.
> VIDEO CGK takeoff: http://www.youtube.com/user/StefanEisenbach#p/u/5/yWw5E9wWVak
> Malaysia Airlines Business class on their 737-400s
> Wing view
> Landing at KUL
A positive surprise was KUL Airport an the Malaysian Lounge, which in contrast to SIN and JKT was clean and had a lot of (hot) meal joices.
The next (little bit shorter) leg KUL-BKK was on a new 738 (MLI). The seats were new but very simmilar to the seats on the 734 – fortunateley they were more comfortable, but they still had no food rest. The Cabin was nearly full (just one seat free).
The service in this leg was much better (kind crew) – we got Menu cards and like the flight before during taxi they wrote down the orders of the passengers. The captain informed us about the flight time (1:45h) and that the weather will be fine – cruising altitude will be 40.000 feet.
Short after takeof the captain came again on the PE and talked about the nice waether, but also announced after that, that they had experienceed during the gear retraction an abnormal behavoir. After a system reset everything seems OK. He also said that we are now heading as planned to BKK and should arrive on time.
> Takeoff at KUL
> Brunch – I took the local Malaysian dish (coconut rice, eggs and some fish curry???) – not agood choice
> Clouds and clouds
> Approaching the Thai coast
> Bangkok in sight
> Aeral view of BKK
At the descent the captain went into the cabin, but I didn't saw what he was doing (in fact it was just one minute). Short before lading we lowered the gear and everything sounded fine. We landet on time without any problem, only the braking was stronger than usual.
June 08, BKK – DEL, TG315
Airline: Thai International
Airplane: Boeing 747-400
Load factor J cabin: 90%
Schedule: 17:55 > 20:55
Delay: on time
I checked in with the delegation travelling with 1,5 hours before departure. The Silk lounge was nice and quiet clean, with a good choice of food and beverages.
When boarding I figured out that this was a B747 with old interieur. I had was at the last row oft he upper deck. The seats were similar to the Garuda seats, they are in fact fine for not so long journeys, for longer flights I think they would get uncomfortable (hopefully TG uses this planes only on shorter flighst as in BKK-DEL).
Before take off, the flight attendants wrote down your order for dinner and brought pre flight drinks. I went for New Zealand lamb, unfortunately the food was not very good and the meat not very soft. I didn’t use the PTV (in the armrest) extensively, I just watched the moving map.
> VIDEO: http://www.youtube.com/user/StefanEisenbach#p/u/4/F0rCAHxxEt8
> Some views of Bangkok
> Upper deck business cabin
> First dish
> Over India
> The 747s upper deck
June 10, DEL – HEL, AY22
Airplane: Airbus 330-300
Load factor J cabin: 10%
Schedule: 10:20 > 15:10
Delay: 3 hours
The morning I was supposed to fly back I woke up at 5.30 - half an hour before my alarm bell should ring – a huge thunderstorm was passing by. OK I thought, thunderstorms are my destiny. At about 7:00 I got a call from Finnair that my flight was diverted because of the weather, and that I should be at 10:00 at the airport. So my connection was again pending, as I had less than two hour transfer time, and 10.20 was supposted the take off time of this flight. So I went to the concierge of my hotel, asking him to call Finnair in order to get a status and to ask them if they could rebook me to another airline. Finnair told the concierge (it needed two calls, in order to get to an competent Finnair employee) that the plane landet in Mumbai, and is heading now to Delhi. The delay should be not so large, that I will miss my connection.
Arriving at the airport with a taxi winked down from the street and a racy drive, I was greeted at the check in, and asked if I was called, that the flight is delayed. I told them yes, but I don't know how much the delay will be. They told me it will be 40 minutes, and Helsinki will take care, that I will get my connection to Vienna.
After checking in I was made familiar with immiration by a member of the Finnair ground staff, and told, that someone will wait for me after the security check, in order to show me the way to the Kingfisher lounge.
All happened as told and I arrived at the Kingfisher lounge, which was very, very nice and clean – they even had showers (wich, indeed I didn't needed). The lounge was only inhabited by the about 10 Finnair pax and seemed not to have waked up now. The bar had only limited choices, but warm food and breakfast was availaible. As I was not hungry, I didn't try one.
Logging in into wireless was very tricky, they wrote the login and the password at the boarding pass, but in fact it didn't worked. Then I was told, not to log in into the Kingfisher WiFi, but into Lounge1 Wifi, which in fact worked, even though the connection was not stable at all. In general the women at the lounge where not soooo suportive, the men in contrast really cared about you.
When I was sitting in the lounge I was told, that the flight had a further delay of about 20-30 min
Later on things at Finnair turned out very bad. At 10.20 the supposed departure time the crew came in. I asked the cpatain about the delay, he was very kind and told me, that they will have a lot of delay (arriving at 6 PM at Helsinki). I immediately asked now the ground staff, if the can rebook me onto the Emirates flight to DUB and VIE. After 5 Mintes they came back and said, that the Emirates check in has already closed, and reloading the bags, going again through the customs would need too much time. As there are no other flights from DEL to VIE on this day, I was told, that I could be rebooked on any flights from HEL to VIE, if there are late flights. So I looked into Amadeus, and saw that the last connection to VIE was with LH via FRA – so I told them, that I am quiet sure I cannot make it. They were very sorry, but said that they couldn't make anything for me. Even the captain apologiest again, although it‘s not his fault.
The only thing I am angry about is, that the must have known at the check in, that the delay will be more than 40min – when I would have knewn it, I would have ask for a rebooking to the Emirates flight.
At around 12.45 the Finnair passengers, at this time more and more Kingfisher pax came into the lounge, were personally welcomed to go to the boarding gate. Boarding was quick, with seperate lines for business/special need pax and a Economy line – even though the people didn't figured it out very well.
The plane was a a330 with “new” interieur, even though on some places the seats did look as they were used for quiet while. When seated I first was disapointed, because in upright position the seat is not as comfy, as the AY A340 seats. Also has the A340 seat more possibilities in adjusting the single parts of the seat individually. The large advantage of these seats comes in account, when going in to fully horizontal position, where I found it very comfortable to sleep. Some people complained about the seats beeing to hard, but in fact, when sleeping I like it more this way, than too soft. The legroom and the “box” for the feed where more than sufficient for me. I choose a L seat directly at the window, as I am mostly looking out of it. I found it cosy, but you don't have very much space.
> New Finnair business cabin
> VIDEO: http://www.youtube.com/user/StefanEisenbach#p/u/3/HdncWtk4CLw
> I like it
Working with the laptop was easy, first I thought the power outlets were just for 110V and american/britich sockets, but the purser showed me, that for the european 230V sockets, you just need to push in the socket hard.
Food was very good, with indian chicken and european stile garlic chicken and a vergetarian choice. The ginger ale test was passed
The flight was quiet uneventfull with some nice views of Kabul and Afghanstan.
> Over Afghanistan / Kabul
> Error on the map – I don’t think that the Kyrgyz are happy, calling their capital still Frunze
Halfway I was asking a FA, about my status. When returning back, she had a list from Helsinki ground about the status of the connecting pax. I was told, that the ETA is 17.45h, and that I have been rebooked on SK and OS via Stockholm, arriving at 22:45h in Vienna. I really apprechiate the Finnair service in rebooking me into other airlines, even they are not in the same alliance.
A half hour before top of descent a light meal (pasta) was served.
> Over Russia
> Landing at Helsinki, after making a flyover throgh the city centre
> VIDEO of the landing. The breaking was very hard, as the captain seemed to come as quickly as possible tot he gate.
In Helsinki the passengers had to go tot he transfer desk at gate 25. Even though the passengers had already been rebooked, the agents at the desk, ahd to print out the tickets and/or new boarding passes, which in fact was not very efficient. I don’t know, why they didn’t print it out in advance and just hand it out the passengers. I was handed out a 8 Euro voucher for restaurants and the Finnair Shop. When I asking about the possibility to make a call, in order to tell my pick up service in Vienna about the new arrival time, the lady was a little bit overstrained finding some special coins, so I told her that I will call from the lounge.
The lounge was very, very nice and comfortable, with many different rooms and a good view onto the runways. I made my calls and headet off fort he departure gate to Stockholm. There I showed my ticket, which I got from Finnair and got a boarding pass fort he SK flight to ARN and the OS flight to VIE. I was told, that the inbound flight to HEL was still not here, but the delay should be OK, so I can get my short connection (45min) in Stockholm (oh no – not again!).
June 10, HEL – ARN, SK709
Airplane: Boeing 737-600
Load factor J cabin: just me
Schedule: 19:45 > 19:45
Delay: 10 min
The 736 looked from the inside not very welcoming and worn out and the flight attendents were quiet reserved. As usual in Europe, business class were just normal Y-seats. The food on this 45min hop was a potato salad and smoked salmon on rye bread. SK failed unfortunately on the ginger ale test.
> Food service
> Scandinavian is cutting back costs even on ther letters
> VIDEO of takeoff and landing: http://www.youtube.com/user/StefanEisenbach#p/u/1/u9HTOnN7JPY
June 10, ARN – VIE, OS316
Airline: Austrian Arrows
Airplane: Fokker 100
Load factor J cabin: 40%
Schedule: 20:25 > 22:45
Delay: 10 min
I finally reached my last flight – now I should finally arrive at home (halleluja) with only 4 hours delay (thank you Finnair for rebooking me).
As usual the Austrian (short haul) planes looked fine and fresh inside, the business class setas were just normal Y seats again. The crew was from the beginn very, very friendly and the hot food (salmon) very good. Only the the ginger ale test was not passed.
> Takeoff VIDEO: http://www.youtube.com/user/StefanEisenbach#p/u/0/iFs32ua4i2s
> Austrian Fokker 100 cabin