EMD to HEL and everything in between. A Trip of firsts on QF1.

Ron Calls

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You mentioned you are coeliac, did you take a guess about what was gluten free on board or were they able to tell you?
Yeah, I just guessed. I've found the gluten free meals are extremely bland and basic. In J and F there's usually more than one meal choice and 90% of the time there's one that's gonna be pretty close to GF. I have actually never asked about GF whilst on board. Are you coeliac? How do you go on board? I requested a GF meal on Finnair as they only serve one meal option to the entire cabin. The GF option was tasteless and I barely ate any of it. GF meals are definitely something I think airlines could improve on.
 
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MelMel

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Yeah, I just guessed. I've found the gluten free meals are extremely bland and basic. In J and F there's usually more than one meal choice and 90% of the time there's one that's gonna be pretty close to GF. I have actually never asked about GF whilst on board. Are you coeliac? How do you go on board? I requested a GF meal on Finnair as they only serve one meal option to the entire cabin. The GF option was tasteless and I barely ate any of it. GF meals are definitely something I think airlines could improve on.
I detest gluten free meals on airlines, sometimes you get edible slop most times very bland and dry. The best GF I had was Thai J the lamb melted in your mouth 96A472AE-BDBA-4685-8694-A73235A073F5.jpeg
 

Black Duck

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Some years back after I became gluten intolerant, I was on five flights in Australia in one journey. Needed GF and ended up with all meals as bowls of fruit. I like fruit but these were trays of the same fruits with a starter of fine chopped pieces followed by the main of some fruit cut slightly larger and a dessert of a whole piece. Had the same FA on several flights and it got to the stage of both of us were just laughing. Last flight back across country they were able to find me a steak. A week later I was heading to BKK on Thai and rang the office to find out if they could do better. They gave me the chefs number. When I explained to him why I was ringing he also burst out laughing. Anyway that flight had the best food of any flight I have been on.
 
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Matt_01

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A friendly staff member was there to great me, "First class and platinum, you got it all" he says with a smile and a handshake. I was smiling ear to ear at this, he was very accommodating.
Was the staff member Nestor? If it was do not be surprised if on your next visit he remembers you, and by your 3rd-4th visit he will know your name and welcome you in by your name before he has even looked at your boarding pass. I lovely chap.
 

Ron Calls

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Some years back after I became gluten intolerant, I was on five flights in Australia in one journey. Needed GF and ended up with all meals as bowls of fruit. I like fruit but these were trays of the same fruits with a starter of fine chopped pieces followed by the main of some fruit cut slightly larger and a dessert of a whole piece. Had the same FA on several flights and it got to the stage of both of us were just laughing. Last flight back across country they were able to find me a steak. A week later I was heading to BKK on Thai and rang the office to find out if they could do better. They gave me the chefs number. When I explained to him why I was ringing he also burst out laughing. Anyway that flight had the best food of any flight I have been on.
Wow... that sounds cheap and nasty. You would definitely get over fruit pretty quickly. I remember some years back on QF there used to be the option of pre selecting your meals in the premium cabins. It was called Q something. That wasn't bad because you could at least see what was on offer before getting on board. I wonder if that will that return?
 

Ron Calls

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Was the staff member Nestor? If it was do not be surprised if on your next visit he remembers you, and by your 3rd-4th visit he will know your name and welcome you in by your name before he has even looked at your boarding pass. I lovely chap.
Quiet possibly. I know I'll remember him if I see him again that's for sure. Great bloke.
 

Black Duck

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That was a good while ago and in J not F but I agree with you that GF choices are very bland. I usually check where I can now but few seem to have available menus to access. JAL menu for GF looks horrid but I can eat soy sauce so can get around a standard menu with that a bit better. I would not be brave enough to eat a sausage though just in case.

I am really enjoy your report thank you. I hope to one day get a chance at a good long haul F.
 

Ron Calls

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The flight from LHR to HEL is on a A321 which has all economy seats in a three three layout. The first six rows were designated J which just had the middle seat blocked. J was full for this flight and the Finnair crew were very friendly.

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Champagne was free flowing from the small individual bottles which were being handed out liberally. Finns definitely know how to drink. I got the obligatory blueberry juice which was served in the signature Finnair Glass.

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Followed shortly by my pre ordered Gluten free meal as discussed. It was very ordinary.
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HEL is a huge airport and the arrival gate was a long walk to the passport control desk. After handing over my passport, I was given the third degree by the officer. I'm not sure what he didn't like about me. Perhaps it was the vague answers I was giving trying to reconcile time and dates etc and how long I had been travelling and how long I was staying in Finland. After collecting my bag I was then stopped for a "random bag search", I was so tired by this time, but these guys were just doing their job. I had nothing to hide and after a few questions and quick bag x-ray I was outside and getting a taxi to my hotel.

The price of the taxi was 39 euro, which was a flat rate from airport to city centre for the cab company I took. I stayed at the Holiday Inn City Centre which is right next to the central train station.
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The train station is the building on the left looking down from my room.
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It is in a great location and in relatively easy walking distance to the waterfront, pedestrian shopping areas and of course transport options. Here is the front of the train station.
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I will take the train to the airport and let you know how it goes.
 

Ron Calls

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Airport trains from Helsinki Central Station are the I and P trains and require an ABC zone ticket which was 4.10euro. The trains are regular and takes about 30mins. It stops directly under the airport. 20220708_053451.jpg
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Check in for Finnair is all self serve kiosks and bag drop, which was fairly simple. To get airside, you need to scan your boarding pass at automatic gates which allow you to join the security line. The airport is absolutely packed and the line moved really quick, which was assisted by the fact you don't have to remove anything from your bags. Once through security it was straight to the Finnair Lounge which is above gate 22. The lounge was packed and seating was at a premium. I didn't grab a photo here due to the amount of people.
My flight to Stockholm was departing from Gate 13 which was about a 10 minute walk from the lounge. A short forty minute flight on an E190 had us touching down in ARN on time at 07:45.

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The quickest way to the city centre is the Arlanda Express train. I bought a return ticket for 579 SEK from the bright yellow hard to miss automatic ticket machines in the arrival hall. Then straight down the lift beside the ticket machines to the platform.


I checked into my hotel the Scandic Continental which is directly across the road from the central train station main entrance and was exploring Stockholm by 08:30.
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Stockholm is extremely busy, there are people everywhere with summer holidays in full swing.
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I'm off to Oslo tomorrow and I'll be flying Norwegian Air Shuttle. I know they're not OW and it will mean no lounge.... sad face, but it was the most practical and direct flight I could find at the time.
 

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craven morehead

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The flight from LHR to HEL is on a A321 which has all economy seats in a three three layout. The first six rows were designated J which just had the middle seat blocked. J was full for this flight and the Finnair crew were very friendly.

View attachment 284149

Champagne was free flowing from the small individual bottles which were being handed out liberally. Finns definitely know how to drink. I got the obligatory blueberry juice which was served in the signature Finnair Glass.

View attachment 284144

Followed shortly by my pre ordered Gluten free meal as discussed. It was very ordinary.
View attachment 284145

HEL is a huge airport and the arrival gate was a long walk to the passport control desk. After handing over my passport, I was given the third degree by the officer. I'm not sure what he didn't like about me. Perhaps it was the vague answers I was giving trying to reconcile time and dates etc and how long I had been travelling and how long I was staying in Finland. After collecting my bag I was then stopped for a "random bag search", I was so tired by this time, but these guys were just doing their job. I had nothing to hide and after a few questions and quick bag x-ray I was outside and getting a taxi to my hotel.

The price of the taxi was 39 euro, which was a flat rate from airport to city centre for the cab company I took. I stayed at the Holiday Inn City Centre which is right next to the central train station.
View attachment 284147

The train station is the building on the left looking down from my room.
View attachment 284146

It is in a great location and in relatively easy walking distance to the waterfront, pedestrian shopping areas and of course transport options. Here is the front of the train station.
View attachment 284148
I will take the train to the airport and let you know how it goes.

Thoroughly enjoyed my stay at the Holiday Inn some years back. Excellent location :cool:
 

Ron Calls

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Jun 14, 2021
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Sorry for the long delay between posts, things have been hectic, or I've just been lazy. Probably the later if I am being completely honest. I have been doing a heap of walking at the by the time I get back to the hotel I am genuinely knackered. Having said that, the sun here is like endless. It really doesn't start getting dark until 11pm ish. Back to the TR.... so after a quick couple of days in Stockholm I headed back to the airport via the Arlanda Express. Although it is on the exy side, it is so quick and easy I would recommend it if you're visiting Stockholm. You travel at around 200km/h from airport to city centre.

I stayed at the Scandic Continental which is across the road from Central Train Station. This is looking back at the hotel from the front of the main entrance of the station.
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It was a busy hotel with a diverse mix of old and young. There is a roof top bar and viewing area.

Back at Arlanda I checked in for my Norwegian flight which was on time and boarding process was hassle free. Although there is no status here I was boarding group 2 and they have boarding via both the jetway and rear stairs. Soon we were pushed back and off to Oslo. 20220710_084728.jpg 20220710_090720.jpg 20220710_090733.jpg

Arriving in OSL I again took the dedicated airport train called Flytoget which makes one stop before getting to the city centre. It is sorta in your face as you walk through the arrivals hall, but the local VY trains are also quick, with maybe four stops and a fair bit cheaper.

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Arriving at Oslo Central Station, I had again booked the Radisson Blue Oslo Central Plaza which is next door to the station. It was a short walk, some stairs were involved. Check in was not available to after 3 unfortunately due to the busy summer holiday period.
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I really rated this hotel on both location and comfort. The elevator setup is a bit strange, you can't get into one and request a floor, you have to request it from a terminal in the lobby and it will allocate an elevator to you. Other than that, it had huge rooms, comfiest beds thus far, and for my coeliac/gluten intolerant followers, the best breakfast selection by far.

It will be a short trip in Norway, with a quick day trip to Lillehammer and some short sightseeing in Oslo Proper.
 

Ron Calls

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If you are in Oslo and have a spare hour, a tour of the royal palace I thought was worth it. It is a working palace and they take you through a heap of rooms and you get a real sense of what life might be like as a royal. It is a small palace, but I enjoyed it. There is no photos or videos allowed so I have nothing to show you unfortunately. Unlike the Swedish Royal Palace, you can photograph till your hearts content. Oslo is a pretty cool town, out of all the Nordic capitals I have visited this one stood out as having the most homeless/beggars on the streets. Having said that, Norwegian people are extremely friendly and accommodating. If you have a spare day, you can visit Lillehammer and ride the bobsled track from the 1994 Winter Olympics. Unfortunately, being a solo traveler I was unable to ride as you need minimum of two passengers. It looked fun though.

Departing OSL I headed to Billund, Denmark again using Norwegian Air Shuttle. There was a delay with this departure as there were limited ground crew and whilst passenger loading had been completed we had to wait about 20 minutes for ground crew staff to load the bags.

Arriving in BLL there was again a slight delay due to shortage of ground staff. The handler driving the rear stairs was wearing her Danish safety boots, I had a little chuckle. 20220712_150239.jpg

The reason for my visit to BLL is for no other reason but to visit the home of the brick....
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That's right Billund is the home of Lego and the town is pretty much Lego everything. For a fan it was great, but if you aren't a fan there probably is not a lot here. I only had the one night here and was scheduled to fly out on the following evening BA LHR service departing at 21:40hrs.

Unfortunately, due to lack of ground staff at LHR, the inbound aircraft was delayed two hours. This meant my flight could not return to LHR. Panic stations.... although there was not a lot I could do at midnight, my concern was getting to LHR for tomorrow evenings QF2 home. BA were pretty good in the grand scheme of things and so were the BLL ground staff. They arranged a bus and hotel for us in the neighbouring town of Herning, (Billund was fully booked for summer holidays) which was forty minutes away. They scheduled the bus trip back to the airport for 9am and had us on a scheduled outbound flight at midday. Another small delay but landed at LHR about 13:30 local.

So I missed my stay at the Hilton Garden Inn T3 which has great runway views apparently, but made it back to LHR in time for the QF2 service. I booked the Aerotel Hotel in T3 for a few hours to have a quick nap and a shower before checking in for QF2.
 

Ron Calls

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Jun 14, 2021
Posts
33
The Check for QF2 opens at 17:05 at the C departures in Terminal 3, which is four hours before scheduled departure at 21:05hrs. The security lines are long, even with Fast Track it was about 15-20 minutes. Though to the lounge and it filled up pretty quick. Being an F passenger, a table is reserved for you in the dining room. Here is the evening menu.
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I'm definitely no photographer, apologies about the quality. Couple of dishes, the chicken from the kitchen section and the cheesecake from the buffet.

Here is the upstairs lounge buffet menu.
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I did a quick walk next door and had a look at the BA first class lounge. This was their buffet offering, there is no menu just individual name cards.

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and the BA Champagne bar.
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Righto, time to kick back for a bit and wait till boarding. I will probably do an update once I get to SYD before my flight to BNE. If there's anything about F or the A380 you want to know, sing out and I will see if I can answer you questions. I'm sure most of you are more seasoned at this than I anyways.... Cheers.
 
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