Woeful IB, Wonderful Binter - The Canaries W/pics
Baby 737 to Dresden and Back - W/pics
Shorthaul Austrian 738(w) VIE-LHR W/pics
I was fortunate to be able to fly to Hong Kong to meet up with a good friend, whilst at the same time, arrange for my sister to fly up from Australia to meet us there. I would be flying from London, she from Brisbane, and my good friend and his wife from Orlando. I’ve been to HK a number of times, but this would be a new route for me.
I would be flying Finnair from LHR - HEL - HKG, and then on the way home, HKG - HEL - ARN - LHR. Finnair’s website for some reason allowed me to add an extra sector via Stockholm Arlanda for no extra cost. Having never been to ARN before, I thought, why not? Thanks Finnair.
Why Finnair? I’ve never flown long haul with a Scandinavian airline before so it would be a new experience for me. I’d also never touched down in HEL or ARN before so it would mean two new airports to add to the list. There are certainly faster ways of getting to HK, but Finnair is heavily marketing itself in the UK as the fastest airline between Europe and Asia, and at the same time, promoting the convenience of ease of transit in HEL.
Departure day soon arrived, and I found myself at LHR T3 for my first flight to Helsinki. I was able to do OLCI the day before and once I arrived at LHR, printed out my boarding passes at the machine. There was little activity in this part of the terminal when I arrived - no queues at all. I was able to get rid of my bag very quickly and was soon on my way through security.
LHR seemed fairly quiet this Saturday and once through security, I managed at short circuit of T3 to see if anything interesting was in. Not much to note although I expect if you don’t fly out of LHR often, the variety of aircraft at their gates was quite impressive. Nothing like T3 at LHR !
All Shiny All American 772
Emirates B773ER pushing back for Dubai
Virgin B744 again with No Way BA/AA titles
The late morning flight to HEL was today being operated by OH-LXL, an A320 delivered to AY in December 2003.
LHR - HEL
1 May 2010
The flight looked to be almost full. Unfortunately I was unable to get a decent shot of the aircraft at the gate. Terminal 3 is not great for pics with all the clutter of ground equipment and the angles of some of the gates.
OH-LXL at the gate, getting ready to fly to Helsinki.
Weather was OK for our Saturday departure with a few dark clouds, but no rain. View from my window seat. This AC 763 was almost ready to go at the same time as us. We managed to push back first.
Cabin crew on this flight at first impression seemed very friendly and were helping passengers get settled. It was my first time hearing Finnish (well perhaps not my first time) over the PA but first time actually knowing it was Finnish I was listening - and it sounded like a very interesting language - nothing like I’ve ever heard before and no way I’d be able to understand anything that was being said. Having said that the crew also spoke good English.
Today we would be departing from RW27L, and a line was forming for departure. Having said that, it did not feel like we were waiting too long, and it was nice to see the procession of aircraft outside my window, departing to near and far flung places around the world.
Getting closer to RW27L
A BA 772 following behind us
We did not hang around once it was our turn. Airborne and passing T3 and then T5.
A couple of Air India 773s on the ground
Leaving terra firma behind
Whilst climbing, and in between gazing out of the window, I took at look at what was in the seat pocket. In addition to Finnair’s current inflight magazine, “Blue Wings”, I was very surprised and impressed to find the Finnair “Logbook”, which set out a number of interesting articles about Finnair in 2009, as well as some very interesting historical information, including a great story about the introduction of DC-8 flights to New York. It was a great read. Thanks Finnair.
Seats and seat pitch were pretty good. I don’t remember feeling cramped throughout the journey. The seats were slim line Recaro, which I know some people don’t find terribly comfy.
View from my seat
Seats (taken after we landed in HEL)
Unfortunately, the weather was mostly cloudy over Northern Europe that Saturday afternoon so not much to see from the air but clouds.
I was wondering whether there would be any onboard service on this flight and not expecting anything, was astonished to be presented with a hot lunch ! I did not take any pictures, because I think I was in shock for a number of minutes….. If I remember, it was some kind of beef stew, with potatoes and veggies. It came with some bread and water, and the crew were then serving drinks. So far, very nice first impressions of Finnair.
There was no IFE on the flight although it did not really matter given the relatively short flight time. I was eagerly awaiting my first glimpses of the Finnish landscape, and as we began our descent, the wait was soon over.
On descent into HEL
Chasing our shadow
Touchdown in HEL. Not hard to see who is king here. Note the retro AY 319 at the gate. Sadly it departed soon after we arrived.
Welcome to Helsinki Vantaa Airport
OH-LXL at the gate in HEL, having just arrived from LHR. Still did not manage to get a good pic of the aircraft, sadly.
Overall, I was very impressed with Finnair and my first flight with them went like clockwork. On time arrival, nice crew, interesting reading material in the Logbook, and a hot meal on an intra European flight. Can’t ask much more than that these days.
I had several hours transit in HEL (as I had planned it this way) so took some time to wander around the terminal building and take some pics. The terminal is very easy to navigate, and whilst some of the gates are not particularly good for pics, with a bit of exploration, you can find some nice places to watch the action outside.
Finnair 757, OH-LBR pushing back
Finnair A319 OH-LVF in One World colours
Czech Airlines A320
Blue 1 OH-BLD MD90 at the gate
With sistership OH-BLF in Star Alliance colours next door
Finnair OH-LZA A321 pushing back
Nice EM190 OH-LKE heading out to the runway
KLM PH-BGI 737-700 arriving from AMS
Some of the domestic action as well
Finncomm ATR42 OH-ATA
Finncomm ATR72 OH-ATL
As I had a few hours to spare, I headed for the VIA lounge (and Spa) which is located in the new extension to T2 and is operated by Finnair. Both facilities are named to correspond with Finavia’s and Finnair’s ‘Via Helsinki’ marketing campaign that emphasizes Helsinki Airport’s suitability as a connecting hub between many Asian cities and western and central European cities. Whilst I did not visit the Spa, the lounge itself was lovely. Lots of eye catching Finnish designs, including lighting, I spent about 3 hours in the lounge just relaxing and watching the sun get lower in the sky. Given it was May, it was still bright outside even at 9pm. Food and drink choices were varied and well presented. I also had time to take a shower. Great job HEL, I really enjoyed the VIA lounge.
What does one do in a lounge waiting for a flight? Read A.net trip reports of course ! I think this was one of Planehunter’s excellent reports !!
Finnair’s HKG flight, AY67 does not leave until close to midnight. Around the same time, the BKK flight leaves. Tonight, our flight and the BKK flight would be leaving from adjacent gates, which slowly filled up as the boarding time approached.
Looking through the glass, I could see that an A340 would be taking me to HKG this evening. Closer up, I can see it was OH-LQB. However, I was unable to get any pics because of the reflection in the glass and the lights from inside the terminal.
OH-LQB - delivered in May 2007
Our flight was called for boarding, and by all accounts, it looked to have a healthy load (although I was secretly praying that the seat next to me would be free).
I had a window seat toward the rear of the aircraft and found my home for the next 9.5 hours and was greeted by this message on my seat back TV. Welcome onboard!
The planned flight routing for today’s flight
IFE options including camera!
The aircraft was immaculate inside. Clean and fresh, with lots of blue - unsurprisingly! I found my seat to be comfortable and the seat pitch perfectly adequate.
The doors closed and the seat next to me remained free. Yay. Having said that, there was a lady with her small child sitting directly behind me. As is always my luck, I seem to end up sitting next to, behind or in front of the one family on the aircraft with small children. No idea why this always seems to happen! Thank goodness for noise cancelling headphones. No delays and soon we were pushing back and heading for the runway. I did not take any pictures as by now, it was too dark. Again, the crew on this flight, as per my earlier one, presented a very professional and friendly first impression. The captain also made an announcement and welcomed us onboard.
After a long-ish departure roll (this was an A340-300 after all), we launched into the night skies over HEL and set course for HKG. Finnair’s flying map is the latest generation type which is great. My first experience of this type of map was back in 2007 flying Air NZ to HKG. I could stare at this thing for hours (and probably did).
Heading past St Petersburg
A late meal was served, although there was no choice - it was Beef Yakiniku or nothing….. . Although it looked slightly odd (to a Brit) it was actually OK. I had friends who had flown AY in the past and said that one thing AY seemed to be known for was serving up strange food concoctions! Perhaps the Finns would disagree. Having said that, I’d stuffed myself silly in the lounge so I was not that hungry to begin with. Service was with a smile, and drinks were served along with the meal.
From another angle
I tried watching some TV but was feeling very tired by this point, so switched on my headphones and attempted to get some Zzzzzz.
I managed to get quite a bit of sleep and after waking up, it was the middle of day in central China when I slid up the shade. Gradually the cabin began to stir and a couple of hours out of HKG, the cabin crew started serving breakfast. The flight was extremely smooth - very little turbulence for pretty much all of the flight.
This time, for breakfast, a small omelette although again, I was not that hungry.
Our progress - getting close to HKG
Some winglet and wing action…… I really like Finnair’s livery - it’s very classy, even though the “backward” F sometimes makes me do a double take. I heard they are changing it at the end of this year. I hope they don’t ruin it.
Descending over southern China, we flew over Macau and I could see the airport down there through the smog, but pics were not very clear.
View from my seat as we were getting close to HKG
Our approach into HKG actually took us around HK Island and past the old Kai Tak airport - which was still clearly marked, before circling back and approaching the airport from the north.
Humid air outside produced some nice contrails from our wing
And more trails
Welcome to Hong Kong. The outside temperature was in the 30s, which was of course 100 times hotter than London had been when I left. Quite a contrast. We tracked back toward the terminal passing a few of the locals on the way.
China Eastern 737-700
We parked next to a Cathay A330 and that marked the end of my first Finnair longhaul flight.
Here she is at the gate, OH-LQB having just arrived from Helsinki. Sorry for the glare, it was just after 3pm in the afternoon and the sun was almost directly in front of me.
My first encounter with Finnair was incredibly positive. Being the cynic I can sometimes be when it comes to flying these days, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed flying Finnair. Some might argue that service on Finnair has tended to be basic, but really, that’s what I want these days when flying. As long as the airline gets the basics right, that’s what counts. The Finnair flights I was on actually went beyond that, in my view, and I really enjoyed these two flights. My experience was replicated on the homeward journey to London which was equally good. I would certainly recommend flying Finnair, especially if it means it might be the fastest way between Europe and Asia.
A few snaps taken in Hong Kong, which continues to be one of my most favourite cities on the planet.
Evening light show
Hong Kong Convention Centre
Lippo Centre, Hong Kong Island
Hong Kong Island architecture
Giant Buddha, Lantau island
Thanks for reading. Please feel free to leave a comment.