Flight-Report

Review of Finnair flight Manchester Helsinki in Economy

Airline Finnair
Flight AY1362
Class Economy
Seat 23A
Aircraft Embraer E-190
Flight time 02:41
Take-off 13 Mar 18, 10:34
Arrival at 13 Mar 18, 15:15
AY   #67 out of 126 Airlines A minimum of 20 Flight-Reports is required in order to appear in the rankings. 129 reviews
TheWindowSeat
Published on 2nd April 2018
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​I have always wanted to explore the Scandinavian /Baltic countries. Flying with Finnair to Helsinki to connect with my JAL flights to/from Tokyo would mark my first foray in the Scandinavian/Baltic region and also my first flights on Finnair ( operated by Nordic Regional) or NORRA with a view to exploring Scandinavia more !

It was April 2017, just weeks after I had returned from my triple holiday in Pakistan,Thailand and Turkey. I had often heard that flying via Helsinki saves a lot of time when flying to Asia so I thought I would look at some fares on Finnair. Initially, for a late March 2018 departure, the fares were showing close to GBP800.00. It then struck me to look for fares a few days before. And I am glad I did !

I could not believe what I was seeing and had to double and triple check the Finnair website…but it was true….I was about to get a bargain to fly Manchester-Helsinki-Tokyo Narita !
It is a great feeling when you have a nice budget and you can fly with proper airlines to one of the world's most exciting cities !

I had an option to fly Finnair for the entire itinerary however the thought of sitting on a window seat on a Finnair A350 where there are 3 seats by the window did not appeal one bit.

So for the same price and after finding out about the amazing Economy Class configuration on JAL's 787-900s I settled on a Finnair/JAL combo.

With this itinerary, I would fly my Tokyo segments exclusively on JAL- Japan Airlines,an airline I have long had an ambition to fly with and the flights would be on their hi-tech 787 aircrafts with Sky Wider II Economy Cabins !

And so I proceeded to book my ticket. I swiftly received two emails from Finnair with my confirmation details ; one was a 1990's style memo whilst the other was a PDF file with a modern E-Ticket.
During the booking process I inputted that I wished to book a Halal ( MOML ) on the Tokyo sectors and that my seat preference was a window.

It took a while but I also got a text

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I tried in vain to join Finnair Plus and it took two days to do so. I entered my Finnair Plus number in the booking. And so I would encounter my first "Oneworld" experience which is really TwoWorlds or Different Worlds.

I contacted Finnair on Livechat to ask if they can assign window seats and they advised I must contact JAL as they are the operating carrier. I thought this was no big deal as indeed JAL is operating the Tokyo sectors.

I called JAL London as that is JAL's European Headquarters and my "local" office and was told I can only do seat assignment via Finnair.

So, just to summarise, Finnair and JAL are both in the Oneworld alliance and the Alliance motto is "An alliance of the world's leading airlines working as one".

Taking the above statement into account and based on my booking, Finnair advised they can't do anything as the Tokyo sectors are operated by JAL.

JAL advised they can't do anything as the ticket is booked via Finnair.

I guess it speaks volumes if JAL staff tell me they have conveyed many times to Finnair,to assist JAL codeshare booked passengers with seating yet they ( AY) never seem to get the message.

I had no hope for Finnair after my 2 disastrous experiences on Holland and Belgium's flag carriers ( the latter more on the customer relations side) I was to get a shock in December 2017. Whilst randomly checking my seat assignment on checkmytrip.com, when I found my seat had been unassigned on the JAL flights. The Finnair Facebook team promptly assigned me 56A from Helsinki to Narita. Finnair advised that JAL had unassigned the seats and JAL have never advised why. The aircraft type didn't change so it is a great mystery.

Many weeks later whilst watching videos of JAL's 787-9, I was gutted to see that 56A is a non window seat ! I really didn't want to spend close to 10 hours with a wall panel as a companion.

During research, I found that Mount Fuji can be seen on the right side of an aircraft flying Helsinki-Tokyo Narita.

The Finnair social media team,whilst making me wait 3 days for a reply ,emailed me on 10Feb18 that my seat had been changed to 55A.

On Saturday 17th February 2018 I messaged Finnair on FB and 5 days later I was still waiting for a reply so I did a Livechat was made to wait a few moments and then a clueless person told me seats cannot be changed as they are JL operated flights. I felt like banging my head on a proverbial wall.


My main connection with Finnair is that I once trained as Cabin Crew for a Manchester/Gatwick based Holiday airline called Air Scandic which had taken over two A300 aircrafts from Finnair ( hence the imaginative name ). I didn't end up working for Air Scandic and the A300s have since gone to MNG of Turkey or been scrapped. Shown here is an Air Scandic A300 with MEA stickers whilst operating Hajj flights on behalf of MEA from Beirut to Jeddah.

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Funnily, the 757s which Air Scandic leased from Finnair operated in full Finnair livery
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I recall visiting Finnair's ticket desk at Manchester Airport in the late 90's to collect printed timetables and leaflets. How times have changed !
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A funny story about Finnair flights to Tokyo. In 2008 I worked in BA. Finnair ( due to a computer glitch ) was advertising Manchester-Tokyo Narita return for GBP111.00 !!! Needless to say many people snapped up this crazily low offer including some of my colleagues and Finnair had to honour the price ! In 2014, Singapore Airlines had to work hard to recoup its losses after a computer error in the global distribution system ( GDS ) used by travel agencies caused about 900 Business class tickets from Australia to London to be sold at Economy Prices ! Ouch !


Finnair Facts and Social Media Profile



Finnair began flying passengers from Manchester Airport in March 1994, and since then has increased the frequency of flights from just a few flights per week to twice daily today.

Finnair flies between Asia, Europe and North America with an emphasis on fast connections via Helsinki, carrying more than ten million passengers annually. In 2017, Finnair's extensive
network connects 18 cities in Asia and 7 cities in North America with over 60 destinations in Europe. Finnair's strategy is based on the growing markets in Asia, the fastest connections
between Europe and Asia and cost-efficient, punctual operations. Founded in 1923, Finnair is one of the world's oldest continuously operating airlines. It is a member of the oneworld alliance.


In conjunction with Finland’s 2017 centennial anniversary, Finnair launched three new food collaborations for its onboard meals. The collaborations, which intended to promote Finland’s healthy and hearty food culture, were done in cooperation with the ELO Foundation, an association dedicated to the promotion of Finnish food culture.

Read more at https://www.businesstraveller.com/news/2017/05/24/finnair-celebrates-independence-day-new-inflight-meals/


In another move to diversify its booking channels, the airline has recently rolled out a Facebook chatbot named “Finn”. The bot helps passengers book flights, check status and learn more. Finnair is initially offering English replies on the bot, but it plans to provide Finnish and Chinese responses later this year.

I personally find Finnbot frustratingly slow and of no use whatsoever !The airline also looks to bring the Finn bot to China’s WeChat platform. The Facebook team take many days to respond and even then it is hit and miss if you get someoen knowledgeable or a "computer syas no" type of person who makes no effort to assist.


In 2012, Finnair Cabin Crew on flight AY201 to New Delhi decided to do a Bollywood dance routine on the flight to mark India's Republic Day complete in Indian clothing and inadevrtently became youtube stars !

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/article-2092691/YouTube-video-Bollywood-dance-board-Finnair-flight-hit.html


My Finnair Memorabilia collection
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A picture worth a thousand words !
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What Finnair stands for !
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Before I even begin this review, I have a very important but obvious tip to share with you all.

As seasoned travellers we are well aware to be at the airport to allow enough time to check in,clear security/immigration and be at our boarding gate.

My extra 10 minutes in bed on this day almost cost me my trip.

Ok I am being a touch dramatic but it is not very nice to have that feeling that you will miss your flight when that very flight is to connect you to your dream holiday.

Always allow enough time to get to the airport taking into account traffic and weather, as well as checking in / dropping bags,clearing security and immigration. It is much nicer to board in a relaxed manner than rush like a mad person and board huffing puffing and all worked up.

The bus to Manchester Airport seemed to take forever and I arrived at bag drop just 15 minutes before check in closed ! I would say to be at the airport 3 hours before a long haul flight and at least 2 hours before shorthaul flights. I always adhere to this but let myself slip on this occasion. Never again !


Check In and Boarding



The Checkin process was rubbish,for want of a better word.

The agent was miserable and had zero interaction. He clearly did not want to be there.

But in all honesty,this is my image of Manchester Airport anyway. For the few good staff there are 10 more who have no passion for aviation or customer service yet choose to work in frontline customer facing roles.


I arrived at the bag drop and smiled and said I nearly thought I would miss the flight. I was blanked and not even looked at. As I located my PNR ( Passenger Name Record / Booking Reference ) teh agent muttered "Passport".

I asked if he needed my PNR and he said,with no eye contact " It's ok". There was no other passenger at the check in desks for this flight.

I was checked in quickly enough and he gave a bag tag receipt on a Finnair branded card and told me the gate number. No smile, no have a nice flight, no nothing.

I was a lot more focussed on catching my flight otherwise I would have stopped to ask him if he enjoys his job and if he feels his service is something to be proud of. It is always sad to see frontline staff finding their job a chore and making others feel bad. However I had underlying excitement about visiting Japan. But this guy certainly wouldn't be winning an award for helping a passenger get into the holiday spirit. People choose their jobs so why they behave this way is a great mystery which I will never understand.


I proceeded to the usual security entrance in the middle of Terminal 1 but that is now apparently only for Premium passengers. So I had to go to the far left of the hall and take stairs down into the security area where a reasonably big queue had formed. By this time it was 0930am and I had around 20-30 passengers ahea dof me. I prayed I would make it to the gate on time. And that is after clearing security AND collecting my foreign currency.


Boarding was to commence at 0940am and having worked a lot of my career in Terminal 1 I knew wasn't very far away however this didn't stop me being worried about missing my flight.


A security officer was going up and down the queue asking people to remove watches,liquids,belts etc etc. He was having to repeat this over and over again to speed up security but some passengers were grumbling. I didn't see that the Security Officer was doing anything other than helping speed up the security process. He wasn't rude and it is amazing that some people seemed annoyed.

Anyway, I then saw the Officer go one further and ask a few people their departure times. Most were around 11am. I politely asked him if it was at all possible that I could be allowed to clear security. I was overjoyed when he lifted the barrier strap and let me through. I turned around and said thank you, before quickly being cleared through security. I didn't have to remove my shoes and as I had spearated my tablet,liquids,belt I was through in 30 seconds !


The Travelex counter was just outside the security area and I got in line just a s gentleman was leaving. I showed my passport,confirmation email and card which I had paid with. Currency in hand I joined a queue at gate 6 where I was in Group 3 ( the last group ) to board. It was raining outside so I had to make sure I got my selfie with the aircraft without rain on the lens !


Fast Facts




AY1362

13th March 2018

Manchester to Helsinki Vantaa

Embraer 190

Registration OH-LKM

Engines on at 1010am

Pushback 1020am

Rotated 1034am

Previous flight Brussels - Helsinki aircraft overnighted in Helsinki

Next flight
Helsinki-Manchester-Helsinki then Stockholm and Paris


A few facts for this flight





• My 1st time flying Finnair ( essentially Norra with Finnair livery/onboard service/seat fabric and headrest covers ! )
• My 1st Embraer 190 flight
• My 1st time to a Scandic/Baltic country !



Boarding started at gate 6 at 0950am for Business Class and Priority Passengers.

I went down the stairs to enter the apron and managed to get a nice selfie with the Finnair branded aircraft behind me !

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I boarded at 1000am and wished Good Morning to a Smiling Purser.

The Cabin smelt ( no joke ) of roast veggies but was clean !

An Airhostess at the back smiled as I stowed my hand baggage and I said Good Morning to her.

Upon request an extension seatbelt was offered after several passengers around me had lifted their heads to hear what I am saying !

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An automated announcement advising to stow hand baggage accompanied by background and Lilting Carribean style music was being played.
There was a welcome Aboard announcement 1015am in Finnish and English advising we are codesharing with AA,BA,CX and JL and operated by Norra

During the cabin secure check a young Japanese guy a few rows ahead and to my right was huffing and slowly putting his belt on as if it was a chore but the Airhostess stayed at his seat until he fastened it. Very good and not sure why some people deliberately flout safety rules. The same guy and his female cmpanion would later be on my JAL flight.

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Nice spacious legroom for 6 foot me !
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My favourite kind of seatmate !!

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Spotters by the well located Airport Runway Pub ( Public House )

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After a very fast take off , gone was the miserable Manchester rain as we burst above the clouds and into blue skies and glorious sunshine.

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Seatpocket Contents



Blue Wings Inflight Magazine, Sky Bistro menucard in mint condition and Shopping Magazines

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How appropriate to see this of the Tokyo Skytree considering I am connecting to Tokyo !
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Inflight Service



Newspapers were being sold for EUR3 - I cannot remember the last time I "bought" a newspaper.

Then inflight service began and as well as a buy on board service, free blueberry juice,water,tea and coffee were also offered. Needless to say these were very popular with most passengers and reminds one of the "olden days" when all European airlines all offered free snacks and drinks in economy on short haul routes

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A look at the Boarding Passes or should I say Receipts !

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For all the Finnair logo fans in the house - spot the logo !
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Almost an hour after take off and partway through inflight service, the Purser came into economy to help ( bear in mind there are only 2 crewmembers onboard )

The Finnair / Norra training is perfect in my eyes as not only are the crew very friendly but they pick up beverage from the base and not the rim ( a pet hate of mine and also unhygienic to put your finger on the rim when someone will put their mouth on it to drink )

As we commence our journey over Norway - I would love to know which airfield is visible towards the end of the photo section. The Purser checked and confirmed we are over Norway. After last year's flights which saw me fly over India,Iran and Israel, Norway is a new overflying country for me !

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The Airhostess of my section offered more blueberry juice when I complemented it.

I chatted to the pleasant crew in the narrow and low rear galley of the Embraer - they work for Norra but operate all Finnair branded flights

The First Officer came on the PA at 1420pm ,just as we were outside Stockholm ( another new overflying city ! ) with details of arrival and told us to enjoy the rest of the journey.

Our ETA was 1505pm local time due to a weather delay.


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We landed at Helsinki at 1515pm Finnish time. My first ever view of Helsinki was runway…we landed in dense cloud/fog so the tarmac is my first view of the capital of Finland !

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The Captain took picture of me with crew as a mementoe as I left the aircraft - no paranoia or racism like in KL or SN. Nice to see this as I genuinely believed all European airlines view anyone of ethnic origin with suspicion and negativity.

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The bus arrived at the actual bus gate for where the bus for JL414 would depart shortly !

AY1365 for Manchester was also being announced as I took my seat. At the next gate area the BA flight to London Heathrow was gathering passengers to be bussed . I saw the Cabin Crew and I am sure the Senior Crew Member was the same as for my BA1395 last year ! She looked at me as she walked past hence why I wondered.

I was able to connect to the Wifi with ease
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See you onboard JL414 and Kiitos ( thanks in Finnish ) for reading ! Please do comment and like my report :)


See more

Verdict

Finnair

7.5/10
Cabin5.0
Cabin crew10.0
In-flight Entertainment8.0
Meal/catering7.0

Manchester - MAN

8.8/10
Efficiency7.0
Access10.0
Services8.0
Cleanliness10.0

Helsinki - HEL

10.0/10
Efficiency10.0
Access10.0
Services10.0
Cleanliness10.0

Conclusion

A lovely efficient flight with friendly crew and nice onboard service ; exactly how Finnair perceives itself and delivers.
The aircraft however could do with a cabin refresh as it is badly needed. Not too keen on the washroom which faces into the cabin rather than inwards like on other aircraft.
A great introduction to Finnair / Norra although I am confident that Norra is a strong brand independently from Finnair.

Related

2 Comments

  • Comment 439419 by
    KL651 TEAM 4296 Comments

    Thanks for this FR.
    In the end we don't know how much you paid for this trip.
    Contrary to the belief I've rarely seen AY being cheaper than LH or LX for flights to Asia, but I guess it depends on the origin airport.
    The BoB is pretty expensive, I wonder if it has many takers.

    • Comment 439812 by
      TheWindowSeat AUTHOR 102 Comments

      I paid GBP630.00 which at t eh time of booking was cheaper than the usual rates of GBP1000.00 ! From what I saw theer were passengers making purchases but overall the complimentary beverages were very popular !

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