CHECK-IN I arrived at London Heathrow Terminal 1 at 0820 for my 1020 departure to Helsinki and then Hong Kong. Check-in for Finnair is in Zone R, which is where BA’s premium passengers used to check in, and where all British Airways passengers now check in, along with Air New Zealand passengers, since the latter moved from Terminal 3.
Finnair’s business class check-in is at the far end of the room on the left. Internet check-in had not been available for this flight but in only a couple of minutes I was checked right the way through to Hong Kong, starting with the AY832, 1020 departure to Helsinki (arriving at 1515). I went quickly through security (shoes off but laptop stayed in bag).
THE LOUNGE As a member of Oneworld, Finnair uses British Airways’ Terraces lounge by Gate 5. It was reasonably full on the Sunday morning I was travelling, with BA passengers heading off for Nice, Madrid, Barcelona and Helsinki. My flight wasn’t visible on all screens in the lounge but I was assured that it would be called, and so had a late breakfast of cereals and fresh fruit from the buffet, along with a couple of lattes. I used the BT wifi internet access, now offered free in all of BA’s UK lounges, and then at around 1000 I walked down to Gate 31. There were two queues for boarding, one for business and one for economy, and an airbridge took us straight onto the two-class A320 aircraft.
THE FLIGHT Finnair has 12 A320s in its fleet, seating between 111 and 159 passengers. On this flight, the first six rows of the aircraft were sectioned off as business class. I was in an aisle seat 5C. The configuration is the same (3-3) but in business class the middle row is blocked off, giving you a bit of room to put papers etc.
The seats look lovely, with bright blue upholstery to match the paler blue of the flight attendants’ uniform. However, legroom is poor (as in economy) so although the seats are comfortable, tall passengers will have their knees against the seat in front.
We were offered drinks, and both English and Finnish newspapers, before the flight pushed back 15 minutes after the scheduled time. We then waited a further 15 minutes, taking off around half an hour late, although we did make up most of this time on the way.
Shortly after take-off, there was a drinks service, and then a full hot meal with a starter of perch (which I didn’t sample), beef in some kind of barbecue sauce (which was delicious) and a chocolate pudding (which I also resisted). Beverages included beer, soft drinks and a choice of red or white wine, all presented in rather attractive Seventies-style glasses. There was no in-flight entertainment, although screens overhead showed the progress of the flight and, shortly before arrival, some of the onward connections including my 1650 departure to Hong Kong. When this disappeared, we got a very clear view of the ground and then the pilot’s view as we came into land.
ARRIVAL We arrived at Helsinki-Vantaa at around 1530, and were disembarked using a bus, which took us quickly up to the international departures terminal (small enough to explore in a five-minute stroll). I could see that the Hong Kong flight departed from the second floor (at Gate 31) and the business class lounge was opposite, close to Gate 33, so I went in there to wait.