The airline with the best average rating is Finnair with 7.2/10.
The average flight time is 9 hours and 27 minutes.More information
As someone who has very limited experience in Europe (with just a trip to Budapest and a 10 hour layover at Frankfurt under my belt), I was giddy at the thought of visiting another European city, even if I barely scraped the surface.
After several hours in Helsinki, it was time for me to return to Vantaa airport and board my flight to Osaka Kansai. I hadn't made the most of my visit of the city, but thankfully I have a 23 hour layover coming up there, which I hope would be enough to at least get a better feel for the city.
Despite some ongoing construction, Helsinki airport's reputation as a compact, efficient airport certainly seemed true during my visit. I was able to use the priority security lanes, located on the separate floor. I was in and out in several minutes, despite a considerable amount of passengers passing through the area.
A cafe with a terrace in the Schengen-area of the airport offered some nice outdoor spotting opportunities, so it was a shame that it was overcast. That being said, the skies did clear up later, right as the doors closed on my flight…go figure.
As a Japanese citizen, I was able to use the expedited lanes for exit immigration, although I'm not sure how much time it saved.
One thing that i wasn't thrilled, was how all passengers for my flight were herded into a separate area once at the gate. They did have separate areas for general boarding and priority, but seating was severely lacking for a wide body airliner. I did use the 10 minutes or so I spent in the gate area to snap a photo of the flying raccoon that would be taking me to Osaka.
I visited the Finnair lounge, although it was woefully lacking in capacity at the time due to construction. There was even a sign saying that JAL passengers were not eligible for access because of the crowding. Fortunately I was able to snag a seat, but the place was a zoo, and perhaps even noisier than the terminal.
Eventually I decided I needed a shower (since HEL would probably be my last chance until I got home), so I headed to the Plaza Premium. Food spread looked better, but I was surprised to find that the shower had an additional fee for Priority Pass customers.
Since then, the Platinum Wing and parts of the Business Lounge has apparently reopened in the non-Schengen area. Hopefully my experience will be better on my return flight.
Once on board, I was greeted warmly and given a glass of that addictive blueberry juice. I may or may not have had several refills before boarding was complete! I personally enjoyed the "Nordic" interior, and felt that the plane felt sleek and clean. The omission of overhead bins in the middle also contributed to an airy feel in the cabin.
It was my second time in a reverse herringbone, and my first time in a proper long-haul flight (the other being an Air Canada 787 from SFO to YYZ) . My impressions from the Air Canada flight was that I preferred staggered layouts seen in UA or NH. But having flown it on long-haul, I now see the merits of the reverse herringbone layout. It was nice to be facing a window by default at all times, and (especially being in the bulkhead), not having to see anyone else meant I could relax quite a bit.
Actually, I'd relax so much that I actually missed the main meal, and only woke up for breakfast. I suspect that travelling for 2 days straight might have also played a role, however.
The tail cam was a great gimmick, especially during landing. I haven't got much more to say about the entertainment, as I fell asleep…
I always pick the Japanese option for breakfast, when available. Bread in the morning just doesn't cut it for me…
A slight crab on approach to rainy Kansai…
And soon enough we were on the ground.
Honestly, Finnair's emerged as one of my favorite carriers from this trip. The A350 was certainly an improvement over their product in the A330 (which I flew ORD-HEL) although I did enjoy the throne seat in the latter.
Not much I could say in terms of service, however, since I spent most of it asleep. If one were to be generous, suppose that could be seen as a testament of the comfort of AY's J product. I was probably just exhausted though,
I'd fly them again in a heartbeat, especially considering that their J pricing between the Americas and Asia is often several thousand USD cheaper than the competition.