“Finnair for British Airways” – trip reports x 2

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  • sparkyflier
    Participant

    Some may recall a few weeks ago I started a thread querying what product or service was provided on “Finnair for British Airways” flights, so thought to share my findings here, with my experiences of recent flights. Given it is a trip report/s I thought a separate thread would be preferable.

    Some of what I report will be familiar with regular passengers on BA’s EU flights but hope some comparisons are helpful.

    Outbound

    LHR-ATH Finnair A320

    Check in, security and lounge

    I checked in online the day before and in the morning trecked to LHR to the First Class check in area (as a BAEC Gold member). The check in lady was very warm and efficient and I went through security, which was a bit tedious but that is a First World problem.

    The Lounge was very busy and has been refurbished with new seats in the last months. Frustratingly it was very hard to find a seat with a plug for charging my phone. Really had to hunt for one and eventually did. However worth mentioning is before the refurb not many of the plugs actually worked!

    Made full use of the buffet breakfast which I always enjoy and IMO is good offering. Saw that there was a former UK Foreign Secretary in the lounge who will remain nameless.

    On check in/bag drop I asked which gate the flight was currently listed to leave from and she suggested it may well be a bus, but I looked at FR24 for Finnair A320 and then saw one coming into an A gate and that turned out to be my flight.

    Boarding

    Was on time although we had to wait in the queue and then on the jetbridge for ages. Anyway was one of the first onboard. here was a warm welcome from AY crew and the Business Cabin seemed clan, fresh and spacious – slightly more so that BA anyway. Lots of light grey and the seats were cloth covered rather than “leather” and the AY seat pitch is 31″ rather than the BA product which has 30″. This is immediately noticeable on sitting down.

    Also worth highlighting is that there are no plugs under the seats, unlike on a BA A320. This is poor IMO and I expect more from an airline from a country with deep mobile phone heritage!
    However BA does not have plugs on their A319 or A321 CEO but think all A320 are fitted.

    Seating was of course 3-3 with the middle seat not taken. Flight pushed back late for some luggage reason which was frustrating as had things to do on arrival

    The flight

    Crew came around with a drinks run but perhaps not as quickly as the BA crew would do (BA in my experience are very good at getting the service started). And annoyingly there was no menu card.

    Just to clarify – flights which are “Finnair for British Airways” are operated by Finnair A320 and crew but BA’s Club Europe and Euro Traveller catering. Just what is BA’s policy on menu cards? Seems totally random.

    A menu card is a sign of intent, quality and structure to a flight and also practical at helping you choose what you want to eat and drink! If you are even slightly hard of hearing or English is not your first language knowing what goes with the chicken or beef is helpful.

    Anyway it seemed the choice (when the food eventually came) was some lentil offering, lamb and I chose the salmon, which was a sort of large dollop of it with not much else. My neighbour had the lamb which looked hearty was a very generous portion and had it been beef would have been jealous but am not a lamb fan.

    Service was very pleasant but I would not say outstanding. Crew were not tight with the drinks which is good and reassuring..

    I must say on a 3 hour flight the Finnair seating was more comfortable than the BA product! The cabin however had no warm colours, with the exception of when one of the FAs came through the cabin with a particularly bright lipstick.

    Landing

    Luggage to take ages and as a result of the late flight and that factor just missed a metro to the centre. Be aware for anyone heading to Athens that the metro only goes twice an hour and takes 40-55 minutes to reach Syntagma Sq.

    Return

    I booked this trip relatively late and so some of the fares were pretty high. On the return flight had I gone direct from ATH they were very high so looked at other options from neighbouring countries, and found a very good deal coming back from Tirana, Albania! The local flight from ATH-TIA was on Aegean which I intend to do a separate report on (very good as a spoiler alert).

    TIA-LHR AY A320

    Check in , airport and boarding

    I was not able to check in online the day before, which did make me wonder if the flight would happen. But looked at FR24 in the morning and was pleased to see it was en-route.

    Check in at the airport (which I really liked) was quick but not that friendly – very procedural and was advised that the lounge was not open “today” but he did not know why. Just to mention the staff were airport or handling agent staff. Went through security which was easy and looked though various shops, and then saw the Finnair A320 landing – early, which seemed to be a good sign.

    I did try and find the lounge anyway in case I could get a view of it, an it turns out it is closed “until January” as opposed to just “today”.

    However once at the gate all seemed good and then… the sign switched to “delayed” – which rather cheesed me off. Anyway we boarded about an hour late.

    Boarding

    Boarding was walking from the terminal across the tarmac and to the stairs about 20 – 30 metres away.

    Crew looked very smart and were very welcoming and I was pleased to be in an AY Business seat given the cloth covering and of course extra inch of legroom. Crew were pleased to be there. However it still took ages before we got the green light to go (reason was fog in Uk affecting visibility of aircraft and so more space was need between each landing).

    The crew however came around with water and nuts and I saw in economy they were doing the same. I popped into Y as had made a friend whilst queuing to board who had onward connection concerns and wanted to reassure him and give advice.

    The flight

    Once we took off the crew came around with Menu Cards! Wahay! About time. These should be standard on all flights in all classes. And the choice was good – all 3 mains looked tempting.

    The drinks trolley came around and then soon after the food. The crew I must say were excellent – very warm, friendly, efficient and professional. Lots of drink top up offers and no sign of any “temperance” inclinations….

    Food (BA food once again) was tasty and as I had mentioned to one FA that I might need more than one meal she actually came back as had a spare, which was good of her to remember and offer. I was comfortable by then however.

    Before landing the crew also came around with chocolates – I think that is an AY thing rather than BA, but it added to the experience.

    Landing

    Was late of course, and into a B gate, and once again the luggage took ages and ages. The Piccadilly line despite the TFL website saying “good service”, was certainly not, and so landed back into London with a “bump”.

    Summary – the AY cabin is more comfortable than the Club Europe standard seat, but without the plug for charging, the catering option is reliant on what BA come up with on the day, but the crew were either good (on the outbound) or excellent (on the return).

    Apologies for any typos – too often once posting something I see a typo, editing or spelling error which makes me cringe! Anyway hope this report is helpful and of some interest.


    Echo3#5
    Participant

    After hearing about your experience, I think I’ll pass on those Finnair for British Airways flights. The lounge hassle, lack of plugs, hit-or-miss food, delayed flights, and slow luggage just don’t sound appealing. I’ll look for other options. Thanks for sharing your honest thoughts!

    1 user thanked author for this post.

    sparkyflier
    Participant

    Echo3#5 – to be fair to Finnair most of the things you list they have no control over

    Lounge hassle – the lounge at LHR T5 is the BA Galleries First with direct access from the private security channel, with an extensive food and drink choice and runway views. At Tirana – the airport is a very small one with only one business lounge altogether – operated by the airport and nothing to do with BA/Finnair or even Oneworld. It was closed for refurbishment. The bloke who checked me in was an airport worker and he should have known it was closed for some time rather than just “today”.

    Lack of plugs is an inconvenience, but as I said I have been on BA A319, A321 as well as an Iberia A320 and Aegean A320 in the past weeks/months and they did not have plugs either.

    Hit and miss food – well that is BA not Finnair, and the food was good. What is irregular is the menu cards – randomly supplied and I do not know their (BA) logic for giving them out or not on different flights.

    Delayed flights – I think the delay outbound was luggage being taken out the hold as the passenger did not board. So a security issue and on the return the delay was due to UK ATC – air traffic control due to fog – so safety. And the staff and pilots were good at giving updates.

    Slow luggage – well this is also often down to the airport operator and I detailed that as I was frustrated and was sharing my entire experience of each journey.

    I hope this is helpful for you when considering flight options from UK to EU..

    1 user thanked author for this post.

    ASK1945
    Participant

    Sparkyflier, thanks for your two reviews. You wrote: “Lack of plugs is an inconvenience, but as I said I have been on BA A319, A321 as well as an Iberia A320 and Aegean A320 in the past weeks/months and they did not have plugs either.

    I arrived back to LGW from TFS last night, Club Europe (as usual). It is a route I have travelled several times in recent years. Outward was a BA A321 which did have plugs. Return was a BA A320, which didn’t.

    “Hit and miss food – well that is BA not Finnair, and the food was good. What is irregular is the menu cards – randomly supplied and I do not know their (BA) logic for giving them out or not on different flights”.

    Outward, we were given menu cards – however, not relevant to my wife and I as we had ordered special meals. As frequently happens (to me), mine was not onboard although was on their manifest. No menu cards on the A320 return but both our special meals were onboard anyway. Both these meals were absolutely awful.

    Slow luggage – well this is also often down to the airport operator and I detailed that as I was frustrated and was sharing my entire experience of each journey”.

    Our luggage upon return to LGW was almost the last to be delivered to the carousel. As usual it was marked “Priority” by the BA checkin lady at TFS. This is ignored by the baggage handlers at LGW. Indeed, we noticed that no priority tagged bags were delivered in the first 5 minutes of the carousel going around; it was almost as if they had purposely placed these last.

    1 user thanked author for this post.

    stevescoots
    Participant

    very interesting and good reports! i would do some but i have the ability to make anything boring or sound like a moan when its not meant to be!

    1 user thanked author for this post.

    cwoodward
    Participant

    Often when I post I am in ‘business mode’ and come over as too aggressively making my point(s) while imparting views or information.
    I finally retired last week and will endeavour to be less so.


    Nick Pike
    Participant

    Congratulations on your retirement. Don’t do what I did and start a new business!


    justloveflying
    Participant

    I am truly astonished at the level of detail in this flight report ! I don’t know if the OP has photos that were taken, but there is a really great flight review website flight-report.com where your review would really sit well alongside other flight reviews ! Really impressed at the way you have delivered this review and it is so nice to see you are so passionate about flying !

    1 user thanked author for this post.

    sparkyflier
    Participant

    justloveflying – thank you so much for your kind words and sorry for the late message. Glad you enjoyed my reports.

    I do like to travel and follow many aspects of airlines – where they fly and what they do to differentiate themselves. But I also consider that people who travel frequently are very fortunate indeed and we should not take this for granted. And the airline industry has some fantastic people across all roles and so I like to celebrate and acknowledge it when people are so good at what they do. Their professionalism and energy can impact on so many and they can be ambassadors not just for their employer but also country too.

    1 user thanked author for this post.

    justloveflying
    Participant

    Hi sparkyflier 🙂

    Firstly Happy Festive Season to you and your loved ones !

    Indeed I am new here and you might have missed my somewhat turbulent arrival where I was alleged to be racist.

    Hopefully the playground bullies have since realised that I am nothing of the sort.

    I admire your enthusiasm and hope to see your work on flight-report.com !

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