First of all, who are NoRRA? NoRdic Regional Airlines. Founded in 1993 as FinnComm Airlines, in 2011 both FlyBe and Finnair agreed to purchase FinnComm and operate under the FlyBe Nordic banner. By the end of 2015, FlyBe had sold its share to Finnair and all flights have been operated under Finnair’s flight code since then. These days the airline is owned by Finnair (40%) and Danish Air Transport (60%). NoRRA operate ATR72 and Embraer E190 flights for Finnair. Whilst the ATR 72’s previously wore a NoRRA livery, more recently, they have been painted into the Finnair livery. The most interesting part of the NoRRA fleet is (or at least was) that the Embraer fleet is owned by NoRRA – yet have always flown in Finnair livery. Where as the ATR fleet is owned by Finnair, and up until around a year ago wore NoRRA livery.
Anyway, I digress…
The day starts out making the short walk back from the Hilton to the airport. As there is quite a lot of building work going on at Helsinki airport currently, the route up to security was a little bit around the houses. But as it was all indoors, there were no complaints.
The whole airport seemed pretty quiet this morning. This was certainly true of the premium security up on the first floor. I was the only person there and was processed in seconds.
It was then to the Finnair Schengen Lounge for breakfast. I plan on reviewing this one at a later date, so won’t say too much. Other than it was a lot quieter this time around than on my previous visit.
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
Helsinki – Vilnius
From experience, I knew that the NoRRA flights departed a long way from the lounge. So around 15 minutes before boarding was due to start, I started walking. And walking. And walking. Sure enough, around 15 minutes later, I arrived at the very end of the terminal where my flight was departing from.
Hopefully a few moving walkways are part of Helsinki’s improvement plans.
Boarding began from the automated gate around 20 minutes prior to departure. Although there wasn’t any mention of priority boarding – just the standard all aboard. With the new addition to the Helsinki terminal, this meant just a short walk over to the plane rather than a bus.
Not only did this ATR wear the Finnair livery, it also featured the new cabin. This was the first time I had experienced it, and it was a big improvement from what I could remember of the previous cabin.
The flight wasn’t particularly busy, meaning there was quite a bit of seat shifting going on. Myself included, meaning I ended up with the whole of row 2 to myself.
The engines started exactly on schedule at 11:30. An interesting feature of the ATR is that it can push itself back. Therefore, within a minute or so of the engines starting, we backed out on to the taxiway, spun around and made for the runway.
Just 5 minutes after we started our engines, we departed into the grey skies.
Once we had cleared the pretty thick cloud layer, the onboard service started. It was identical to mainline Finnair. Free tea, coffee, juice and water. Everything else is paid for. Although also like Finnair mainline, OneWorld Emerald card holders are entitled to a free premium drink.
Once the service was complete, the two crew members disappeared for the rest of the flight.
With 25 minutes left to run, the captain gave a brief update. The first time we’d heard from him today. The weather was given, an arrival time but not much else was said.
Whilst there are jet bridges in Vilnius, this ATR was far too small to use them. Therefore, it was a bus ride across to the terminal.
As this was a schengen arrival, it was a case of following the signs for the exit. One thing I remembered most about this airport was the very impressive arrivals hall.
The last time I visited Vilnius, I took an Uber into town. As I was arriving much earlier this time around, I took a short walk to the train station. I was only waiting a few minutes, and the fare was only €0.70, so can’t argue with that!
Not an awful lot to be said about the flight itself, especially seeing as the crew were absent for the most part. Could they not have made at least one pass through the cabin to see if everything was ok?
The refurbished NoRRA aircraft was the most notable part of this flight. Not only did the cabin look much improved over the previous generation, I found the Finnair paint scheme really suited the ATR.