Ever been looking for something at home, and found something else you’d forgotten all about? This is how this trip came around. I was looking for places to go over the Christmas break, when Vilnius popped up. I had visited a couple of years ago, and found it to be a pleasant enough place. As an extra incentive, I could book flights on both the Finnair Airbus A350 and A330 services from/to London.
Therefore, my attention shifted to a week or so before the Christmas break. Hotels can be had for a very reasonable price in Lithuania. And for an airport hotel, the Hilton at Helsinki Airport wasn’t too outrageously priced. So that was that sorted!
Finnair Airbus A350, London Heathrow – Helsinki, Economy Plus
Hilton, Helsinki Airport
NoRRA ATR72, Helsinki – Vilnius, Economy
Courtyard by Marriott, Vilnius
Vilnius: In Pictures
NoRRA ATR72, Vilnius – Helsinki, Economy
Finnair Platinum Wing, Helsinki
Finnair Airbus A330, Helsinki – London Heathrow, Economy Plus
London Heathrow – Helsinki Vantaa
Airbus A350-900 OH-LWM
Seat 21L, Economy Comfort
Being a Friday evening departure, and knowing how the M25 traffic is, I set off a little earlier than needed.
The fast track in Terminal 3 can be a bit hit or miss. A lot of the time, there’s quite a queue. Other times, you’re the only person there.
This afternoon it was busy but efficient. I made it from the shuttle to airside in just over five minutes.
Cathay Pacific First Lounge, Heathrow
After this, I made my way up to the Cathay Pacific First Lounge. Whilst I find the breakfast offerings here to be nothing too spectacular, the meal options in the restaurant for the rest of the day are amongst the best on offer from the OneWorld lounges in terminal 3 at Heathrow.
I did review this lounge separately previously, so won’t go into too much detail on this occasion.
The lounge was extremely busy on this occasion. To the point where I even had to queue up to get the lift up to the lounge.
Luckily I managed to snag a seat just as someone was leaving.
It was a similar situation when I wanted to eat too – no spare seats, so I ended up having to put my name on a waiting list.
When it came to leave for the gate, it just so happened that the Finnair flight was announced at pretty much the same time as the Cathay Pacific flight. Not only did I have to queue up to get into the lounge, I was now queuing to get out of it too.
One major flaw of the Cathay Pacific lounge is that it’s only accessible by lifts. Meaning a huge bottle neck when most of the lounge complex is trying to leave at the same time.
Boarding began around half an hour before departure. Group boarding was announced, but due to the mass scrum towards the door, I suspect it would have been near impossible to enforce all that well.
One of the perks Finnair give to OneWorld status holders is free selection in its economy comfort cabin. This isn’t quite premium economy. In fact it’s your standard economy seat with a few inches extra legroom. At the front of the cabin the layout is 2-3-2 as opposed to 3-3-3 for the rest of the economy cabin.
Boarding was completed in around 20 minutes and it appeared to be a pretty healthy load.
Departure was delayed due to the ground crew taking their time loading the cargo. I had a good view of everything going on outside for the tail camera. Flying time was given as 2:15.
Pushback finally came 35 minutes adrift of schedule. Liftoff came around 30 minutes after that.
As standard, Finnair offers tea, coffee, water or juice on board it’s intra European flights. However, another perk that it gives OneWorld Emerald card holders is their choice of drink from the buy on board menu.
Shortly before the service got started, the purser welcomed me on board and reminded me that I was entitled to a free drink from the onboard menu. Including champagne and wine. Well, I guess it would be rude not to…
One thing that was missing from previously though is the newspaper offering. Come to think of it, I’ve not had this in at least a year on Finnair now, so maybe they don’t do that any more. Although having never taken them up on the offer, it wasn’t a huge deal to me personally anyway.
The full range of IFE was available on this flight, although as usual I didn’t pay much attention to it.
WiFi was available however. Due to this being a long haul aircraft, the price was a little on the high side. I did attempt to see if the free WiFi for economy comfort passengers was available, but I was out of luck.
Descent started at the time we were scheduled to arrive. As Helsinki airport is a little in the middle of nowhere, plus the fact it was cloudy, there wasn’t too much to be seen on approach.
Despite the hour late departure, due to some decent schedule padding we only touched down 25 minutes later than anticipated.
Although we were then held on the taxi way for a good few minutes whilst we waited for our gate to become free. Once it did, it was a situation that I’d not experienced before. The E190 that was on our stand was moved out of the way, and then immediately parked on the stand adjacent. Could they have not done that just a few minutes earlier in order to give us a clear run in?
Even once it was out of the way, we then had to wait another minute or two for the gate area to be prepared for our arrival. The end result being we pulled on to stand 35 minutes late.
Helsinki is a very easy airport to navigate. There are no separate departure and arrival channels. And the terminal itself isn’t overly big. So connecting or arriving, it’s a very easy process. Basically you either head for your next gate or follow signs to the exit.
As ever, a very strong flight with Finnair. In fact, I’m tempted to say this was one of the best I’ve had with them. The purser on board was extremely professional, warm and genuine. Sure, the delay at Heathrow was a bit of a disappointment, but it seemed to me as if that was more the fault of the ground handling not being organised as opposed to anything to do with the airline.
The economy comfort seats are ok if you can get them for free, or at least a low price. I must admit, I have no idea how much they sell for, but on this sub 3 hour flight, it’s probably not worth it. On a longer sector to the Far East, maybe if you can get them for a good price. It’s worth noting that the seats themselves are virtually identical to the standard economy seats. The major selling point is a few inches extra leg room.