Review of Finnair flight London Helsinki in Economy

Airline Finnair
Flight AY1340
Class Economy
Seat 21F
Aircraft Airbus A321
Flight time 02:20
Take-off 27 Jun 22, 07:45
Arrival at 27 Jun 22, 12:05
AY   #32 out of 69 Airlines A minimum of 10 flight-reports within the past two years is required to appear in the rankings. 176 reviews
Jett Tyler
By SILVER 419
Published on 31st July 2022

OneWorld Sapphire- THE FINAL PUSH!


I was four flights away from gaining OneWorld Sapphire with my Finnair Plus program, so I opted to make use of Finland reducing its entry requirements with a Finnair mile run. I thought this would be also a good chance to chase some aircraft types I've not flown with on Finnair as well as visit another city in Finland, having only really done visits or connections in Helsinki.


British Airways used to compliment Finnair flights with at least two flights to Helsinki from London Heathrow themselves, but since 2019 BA pulled their Helsinki services favouring to codeshare with Finnair, which also coincided with Finnair launching two wide body services to London Heathrow on a near daily basis with the Airbus A350-900 & A330-300.


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These would be my first flights with Finnair since September 2019!


I went onto the Finnair website and found an itinerary that would work for me and £230 (€270/$280) later I had the following line up for what I hoped would make up an incredible 3 day trip across the countries two biggest cities!


Finnair Airbus A321 (LHR-HEL) 27/06/2022 (THIS REPORT)
Finnair Airbus A319 (HEL-OUL) 27/06/2022
Finnair/NorRA ERJ-190 (OUL-LHR) 28/06/2022
Finnair Airbus A350-900 (HEL-LHR) 29/06/2022: Business Class upgrade via miles


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The Finnair Airbus A350 would close this trip in a touch of Nordic Style!


On an interesting side note, during the Summer of 2022, British Airways leased in crews and Airbus A321 from Finnair to operate some of their European services.
Including; Prague, Nice, Copenhagen, Faro and Zagreb.


So lets start off with the first flight of this adventure, London to Helsinki!


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London Heathrow Terminal 3


Terminal 3 at London Heathrow is where Finnair have usually operated from in the last few years. They did move to Terminal 5 during the pandemic for a while as they are a OneWorld Alliance partner and to allow connections onto BA, IB, AA and Qatar flights. Pretty much every Finnair trip I've done with London Heathrow has either originated or terminated in Terminal 3.


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Since the closure of the original Terminal 2 and Terminal 1, London Heathrow's Terminal 3 is the oldest Terminal facility, having in opened as the Oceanic Terminal in 1961. The facility is showing its age in the 21st Century despite renovations carried out in the late 1980s and 2007. 


The Terminal facilitates multiple airlines of the OneWorld Alliance as well as Virgin Atlantic with it's Skyteam partners Delta Airlines, KLM-Air France. With four OneWorld Alliance lounges at the Terminal (BA, AA, Qantas & Cathay Pacific) it is a great place for lounge hopping on a OneWorld ticket with the entry requirements met! I look forward to putting the lounges to the test in September!


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I didn't have to check in for my flight, which I did successfully online the previous evening, but I quickly found my biggest challenge security. The priority lane (which I was able to access) was gridlocked and a few security staff suggested that some of us near the back of the que would be better off going through the regular lane, which I did. Good decision as I got through in about 25 minutes, I don't know how the backlogged priority lane would have taken and I dare to think!


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Whilst it's far from being a bad Terminal experience, T3 is showing signs of not being able to keep up with 21st Century travel.


I got airside and found my flight had been allocated Gate 28, so I opted to make my way over as it would be a ten minute walk, plus extra time to stop at a good window with a decent view- which unsurprisingly happened!


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Whilst BA mainly operate from Terminal 5, they offer a small selection of European and Long Haul flights out of T3.


It didn't have a lot of hassle getting up to my Gate, and I quickly found Gate 28 with ease where the ground crew were preparing to get the passengers ready for the flight up to Helsinki!


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Finnair A321 (AY-1340)



Today I am taking the 07:30am departure (AY1340) to Helsinki Vantaa with Finnair Airbus A321-ceo(WL) OH-LZO.


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Normally I would use the 10:20am departure from London Heathrow which is operated by the nicer Airbus A350, however as I was connecting onto Oulu that afternoon, I wanted the earliest flight to allow for a better chance with flight connections, as well as being able to enjoy some time around Oulu. Personally I had not flown the A321 with Finnair, so I was more than happy to get a new aircraft type off the list.


This Airbus A321-ceo(WL), registered as OH-LZO, was delivered to Finnair brand new in April 2017. The plane did get stored during the pandemic from August 16th 2020 to October 21st 2021 at Helsinki and Prague. The aircraft is configured to carry 209 passengers with the standard set up for a European short/medium haul airliner. Finnair has been suggesting a new order is coming to replace the older 1999-2004 built Airbus A319/A320/A321-ceo fleet, but these newer Airbus A321-ceo with Sharklets as so new- they will likely not be affected. This small batch of A321 were ordered to replace 1997-2002 built Boeing 757-200 that saw service on routes to the Canary Islands and streamline the airlines fleet commonality.


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The cabin of the Airbus A321 was pretty standard when compare to other European carriers in the 2020's. A grey fabric seating was the choice for the slimline seats, though I find this to be more appealing when considering that Finnair can operate A321 on European flights ranging from 3hr to 6 1/2hr. I personally had enough legroom. the upper section of the seat could be used to hold a personal tablet for streaming, Wi-Fi or watching pre downloaded films/series off line.


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The forward seats in the business class still showed BA head covers from its time being leased for BA European operations.


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My seat that day was 21F, which I had managed to snag for free at check in. I wasn't able to select a seat for this flight for some reason prior to check in. If I had, I would have gotten a 50% discount off Seat Selection (standard only) as a then OneWorld Ruby tier flyer. My view was pretty nice as it covered the rear end of the wing and allowed for a nice view around it, so I was happy there!


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For Window Seat views that are AvGeek friendly, I can highly recommend Seat 21F on the Finnair A321-ceo.


There was a slight delay on our flight before we finally pushed back and started the taxi down to Runway 27R. We departed at 07:45am and made our way North-West towards Helsinki, Finland. After our departure and once we left UK airspace, we flew along the coast lines of the Netherlands and Germany, before flying across Denmark and Sweden. Our flight path would take us into Finland just south of Turku and bring us in from the North into the Helsinki Vantaa. Flight time would be in the region of 2hr 20min.



Selection of images from the taxi and climb out on this Finnair flight.


Once we had gotten to a cruising height, the crew was released to perform the in-flight service. Finnair in a bid to reduce waste now only serve snack items on board on demand, anything more substantial or fresh has to be pre-ordered, so I took the time to pre order something prior to check in!


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The crew did a drink service first which I opted for a cup of the iconic Blueberry Juice. The most notable change to the Finnair service is that only Blueberry Juice & Water is free to all economy passengers, hot tea & coffee now has to be paid for, but you get a bigger serving and some new hot drinks in the range including a cappuccino which I thought I'd try!


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My pre-ordered main was a margarita (cheese & tomato) pizza, for an in-flight pizza- it was really nice and tasty. Quite expensive at 5EUR, it came with "sustainable" cutlery made of bamboo wood as well as napkins and a wet wipe.


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I used my phone to log into the Wi-Fi which I was able to browse through a free website link via Finnair showing the flight map as we progressed across Northern Europe and to see an e-copy of the Finnair on board magazine- something they don't provide at the time of flying. I quite enjoy the read of an airline magazine, but in the post-pandemic world and Nordic/Scandinavian based airlines serious about their Co2 footprint- it appears to now be a relic of the past!


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A duty free service came by and given I couldn't buy a Finnair Airbus A330 model, I opted for what could arguably be the next best thing… A large bar of Karl Frazer chocolate! I love this stuff and its a treat to get my hands on some in Finland or Scandinavia where its buyable. Finnair sells a smaller chocolate bar serving for 2.50EUR, but this big guy is worth 4EUR, it would keep me going through my 3 day trip, despite starting with a section of it on this flight!


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I enjoyed a nice relaxing flight, and despite being on the European Narrow-Body service, the flight passed quickly for nearly 2 1/2 hours flight time! We began our decent into Helsinki around the 1hr 50m mark, well over Finland by now. It was a nice clear day with some minor cloud scattering, turned out we were arriving into a lovely heat wave that was gripping Helsinki and much of Finland!


Well, love is like a Heat Wave after all!


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We landed at Helsinki Vantaa Airport on time and had a short taxi over to the Airport Terminal, parking up next to an Airbus A350-900 (and ode to my last flight on this trip), we parked in the non-Schengen side, which positioned this aircraft ideally for its next flight, oddly enough, back to London Heathrow with a new crew. The landing on the runway offered a great view of the internals of the Airbus A321 wing section as the flaps & spoilers separated for the view!



Welcome to Helsinki Vantaa- the home of Finnair!


Before leaving I grabbed some last photos of the Airbus A321 cabin before exiting, I had a connection of just over 2 hours before the second flight of the trip. It would allow me time to enjoy a nice connection in Helsinki Airport, and I was eager to see what updates had been introduced since my previous visit in September 2019!


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Thus concludes my A321 experience on Finnair, which I have to say was probably better than most the A321 experiences I've had on BA or Iberia. I am really going to be putting the AY A321 to the test in early 2023 with an upcoming 6+ hour journey from Helsinki to Tenerife!


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Verdict

Finnair

6.6/10
Cabin8.5
Cabin crew7.5
Entertainment/wifi3.5
Meal/catering7.0

London - LHR

6.8/10
Efficiency5.0
Access7.0
Services6.0
Cleanliness9.0

Helsinki - HEL

9.4/10
Efficiency10.0
Access8.5
Services9.0
Cleanliness10.0

Conclusion

Finnair- Not a lot of change in the European service other than the introduction of charges to all hot beverages. Still a good service. Helsinki flights can be quite pricey out of London at times, but the service can be worth the while, especially if you hold status levels within the OneWorld Alliance (or the Finnair Plus program itself).
Heathrow- Nice overall airside experience, the issue with security is something we will just have to adapt to and ride out until the airport hires more staff. Hopefully the senior managers at LHR are hanging their heads in shame over the matter!
Helsinki Vantaa- My thoughts? You'll have to wait for the next Flight Report guys! ;)

Information on the route London (LHR) Helsinki (HEL)

The contributors of Flight-Report published 7 reviews of 1 airlines on the route London (LHR) → Helsinki (HEL).


Useful

The airline with the best average rating is Finnair with 7.2/10.

The average flight time is 2 hours and 52 minutes.

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2 Comments

If you liked this review or if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to post a comment below !
  • Comment 609033 by
    KévinDC TEAM GOLD 5845 Comments

    Almost flew on one of the wet-leased AY A321s LHR-TLS a few weeks ago, but ended up moving to a different flight operated by BA directly. Coincidentally, your a/c in this report is one of the AY A321s BA have on lease currently. In a way I'm kind of glad I didn't fly the AY metal, IMO the BA hard product is better in general (In J anyway). AY have a bit more legroom due to the less-dense configuration, but lack in-seat power and adjustable headrests that BA have up front.

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Comment 609128 by
      Jett Tyler SILVER AUTHOR 252 Comments

      To be honest all three of the European OneWorld airlines have pros and cons of flying them within Europe. The best services are in the long-haul airliners on those routes, where the airlines make the bulk of their money.

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