To HEL via the city of SIN; a trip report for those considering Finnair (AY)

Status
Not open for further replies.

knasty

Active Member
Joined
Mar 11, 2010
Messages
936
Points
5
Let me start by saying I’m not much of a photographer so I’ve only included a couple of snaps in the individual reports. I’ll concentrate on the experience rather than the hard product as details on the hard product are readily available from other sources. I am AA Platinum (Oneworld Sapphire).

More detailed reports of each leg to come individually, but here’s a summary:

Booked all flights excl. BA on the one AY PNR, sold as AY codeshares on QF.

SYD (QF81 A333) – SIN (AY82 A343) – HEL (AY831 A321) - LHR
LHR (BA696 A320) - VIE
VIE (AY768 A319) – HEL (AY81 A343) – SIN (QF6 A333) - SYD

Pros:

Price – Was $1818 return in peak season (last week of August), booked during the AY sale in March/April. $400 cheaper then the next best Oneworld option being BA.

Mileage – AY fares credit very well to AA which is my preferred program. Lowest fare class R credits 100% EQMs and 150% EQPs but all fare classes credit at least 100% EQMs.

Flexibility – Because AY flies to SIN/BKK/PVG/HKG/NRT amongst others there are a lot of options to choose from to get to the Asian port to meet up with the AY flight. Open jaws don’t seem to cost any more within the same region.

Transit – Helsinki Vantaa has to be one of the best longhaul transits in the world with short MCT, compact design and good facilities. Allows for shower/refreshing before flying to final European destination.

Upgrade potential – With only 1 flight per day from the Asian ports there’s a decent chance of an op-up (occurred on AY82).

Cons:

Flexibility – The flipside of the codeshare flexibility is that they seemingly shift their codeshares around if the partner has a full loading, which can mean you leave at an entirely different time of day with only 1 day’s notice.

Extra stop – There is definitely a time penalty with 2 stops vs 1 on other carriers which serve the final destination directly.

Hard product – I found the AY entertainment system to be quite lacking in variety. The new business class seat was pretty good and flat but Finnair’s design seems an odd choice when compared with the Cirrus CX-style seat, which I note they are going to use in the A350X.

Soft product – This I found the most underwhelming on the AY longhauls. Service was vastly inferior to QF, even when in AY business. Food and drinks service was quite ordinary. In contrast the QF codeshares were both excellent in terms of service and food (not so much entertainment) – this was a real surprise to me.

Potential for mechanical faults – with only 1 AY flight per day to each destination (AFAIK) if there is a mechanical fault there’s not many other options, as happened when AY81 had a 2.5hr technical delay.

Verdict:

I definitely view the Finnair experience as inferior to CX/BA/QF etc, but not vastly so. I would fly Finnair again in Y so long as the price was at least a few hundred dollars cheaper than a more direct option on CX/BA etc (assuming same miles accrual rate). For J it would have to be a much greater differential as I think the Asian carriers have a distinct advantage (unless you're just interested in sleeping on a flat bed). As good as the QF connections to SIN were I think I would try for the HKG option instead of SIN as there is more redundancy with a greater number of Oneworld flights each day to HKG vs SIN/BKK etc.
 

knasty

Active Member
Joined
Mar 11, 2010
Messages
936
Points
5
SYD-SIN (QF81 A333)

I was meant to be on BA16 as explained in this thread:

http://www.australianfrequentflyer....-ever-really-confirmed-62564.html#post1104752

To QF81. After a far earlier start than I had hoped for I found the SYD QF Intl lounge fairly busy but not overly so. Used priority boarding and sat at 49K. The person in front of me got an op-up at the gate but no beep for me. Flight was fairly full so no one had a lot of room to move.

Generally I prefer the 777 to A330/A340 but with window seat being my preference I’ve changed my view somewhat as it’s much easier getting up over one person rather than two as a single traveler, and is a good option for a couple.

It had been a few years since I flew QF Y longhaul and I had low expectations but I must say I was very impressed. The A333 looked in pretty good shape except for the IFE screens which are small by modern standards. I found the food and drink service to be particularly good; menu below.

Not much more to say except that my prior view of QF staff being a bit surly has changed and really the size and speed of the IFE are the only things I could fault.

Landed in SIN 10 mins or so early and off to the QF SIN lounge.

In the lounge I tried the ‘plate of the day’ being chicken wings which were quite ordinary. The rest of the food was average at best. Things improved dramatically when I sat at the bar and bar manager Ronaldo entertained me with his drinks and a few anecdotes…

DSC_0070.jpg
 

knasty

Active Member
Joined
Mar 11, 2010
Messages
936
Points
5
SIN-HEL (AY82 A343)

Hurray! The beep at the gate and ‘please use the first door rather than the second.’ So I’m now 1/1 with upgrades on AY, seat 9A on one of their newer birds with new J product. Of course everything about business class exceeds economy and I was very happy to be there vs economy but I’ll write this report in the context of AY’s business class product.

First thing that hit me – the staggered design just seems to have a lot of wasted space. I would love to know why they chose this over Cirrus – is there much of a difference in density?

I found the selection of movies to be very limited. What let the whole experience down though was the food and drink service. No personal greeting, no drink service until immediately after the food was served 1.5hrs after takeoff, no menu – just choice of ‘chicken or beef’; I chose beef and it was very ordinary. No selection of wine; just red or white. All seemed very economy-ish, but having said that the QF economy food was better. Wasn’t given a water bottle. Throughout the night 2 FAs in the galley constantly chatted at a volume which was annoying even though I was two rows away. I found the seat pretty good – flat but lacking in cushioning as a bed.

With an on time arrival and approx 1.5hrs connection I was in a hurry to get to the lounge. No need to – deplaning to security 1 minute. Security to lounge 1 minute. Lounge to departure gate….you get the hint. Finnair operate two lounges in the non-Schengen area, one for their own members equivalent OW Ruby, and a premium lounge for OWS/OWE and business class. There are about 4 showers which are OK but a bit worn and regular servicing was lacking. In the lounge the breakfast selection was good with 3 bottles of champagne within easy reach but I resisted given it was pre-7am. Lots of comfy chairs to relax in.
 

knasty

Active Member
Joined
Mar 11, 2010
Messages
936
Points
5
HEL-LHR (AY831 A321)

Easy priority boarding and into seat 10A, and exit row with no seat in front. Not much to say about this flight. Legroom was good for standard seats, aircraft new, nice FAs, brekky light but OK.

An afternoon of work in London, overnight at Sofitel LHR T5, then back into it.

LHR T3 – VIE (BA696 A320)

Brekky in the T3 Galleries lounge; bacon buttie and egg muffin with HP sauce; what a delight….

Seat 10A, exit row but no extra legroom; a poor choice in hindsight. Bus required to get to the aircraft. As expected T3 departures just aren’t as nice as T5. BA’s A320s are really starting to look tired but she got us there OK. Breakfast roll was OK.

4 days in Vienna soaking up the culture and enjoying the wedding of a good friend, then it began again.

VIE – HEL (AY768 A319)

Had use of the JET Lounge in VIE; basic but did the job. Seat 5F - Flight was uneventful; only thing of note was the meal at ~19.45 was a roll and I was still quite hungry after eating it.
 

knasty

Active Member
Joined
Mar 11, 2010
Messages
936
Points
5
HEL– SIN (AY81 A343)

Slightly longer transit as I was leaving Schengen to non-Schengen hence different side of the terminal and Customs stop, but still no more than 10mins from deplaning to lounge. Had a shower, again most showers had used towels and were not serviced.

At the lounge desk they informed me that the aircraft had a tech issue and the scheduled departure time of 23.55 would be now be no earlier than 02.00. I settled in to sampling the excellent canapés and the selection of 4 reds inc a 2010 St Emilion which was my favourite. A DYKWIA kicked up a fuss in the lounge and received a new boarding pass shortly after – I guess that approach can work some times.

We boarded approx 02.00 and no beep – I was in 54L. Flight was packed. Dinner @ 03.00 was a novelty but at least the chicken was better than the previous flight’s beef, though still not great. A combo of the red wine and sleeping pill meant I got a few hours of sleep. Breakfast of scrambled egg, chicken sausage, tomatoes and a disgusting potato cake was OK on the whole. Landed at SIN 2.5 hours late, but just enough time for those with connections on to BA15 or QF82 to make it as they held those departures.
 

knasty

Active Member
Joined
Mar 11, 2010
Messages
936
Points
5
SIN – SYD (QF6 A333)

My scheduled transit of ~7 hours was now about 4.5. Into the Sin QF lounge and after a shower (well serviced) it was a meal exactly the same as the week before, so I quickly headed over to the bar and spent several hours chatting with other passengers and Ronaldo, who kept the lychee daiquiris coming. At T-50 mins I asked the service desk to check if there was a block of 4 seats available and there were several so I swapped 25K for 26D.

I’d say this was only about 25% in economy. As soon as the seatbelt sign went off I made up a bed with 3 blankets and received a personal greeting from the CSM. Menus out and I chose the goulash which was pretty good, accompanied by very attentive service inc FAs giving personal attention throughout the flight. Brekky was a pastry and juice which was OK but boy does BA do brekky better than QF.

DSC_0076.jpg
 

knasty

Active Member
Joined
Mar 11, 2010
Messages
936
Points
5
I mentioned the pros and cons in the summary. I do think that OWS/OWE status is positively recognized on both QF and AY in terms of op-up (AY) and service (QF). Glad to be home and still awake after ~36 hours travelling in whY!
 

biba

Intern
Joined
May 20, 2006
Messages
99
Points
175
Regularly use AY from SYD to BRU or GVA - usually connect in HKG or BKK.

Pros:
$5k J fare beats QF/BA. A330 from BKK better configuration that A340 from HKG. HEL transfer is fantastic
Cons:
Connection at BKK is bad since QF pulled out of the Kangaroo route. Service is reasonable but not up to CX/QF
 

RooFlyer

Enthusiast
Joined
Nov 12, 2012
Messages
17,765
Solutions
2
Points
2,800
Qantas
Platinum
Nice report, thanks. I think the AY product (like LH) is well priced for the service (I'm talking more J than Y) and their specials can be really good.

Haven't had a negative service experience, and tucker I have praised previously (the cold fresh pea soup!) but that's the way things go.
 
Trying to access your favourite Australian websites when overseas only to discover they have been geo-blocked? Concerned about your internet privacy especially when using unsecured wifi? NordVPN will solve both these common problems.

Recommended by the Australian Frequent Flyer

Bindibuys

Established Member
Joined
Jul 5, 2011
Messages
1,417
Points
520
Experienced AY J to London earlier this year. I am no foodie, or wine person, so long as I am fed and watered, I am a happy camper.
We have never experienced such a fun trip with the staff as we did with AY.
Extra pillows handed to me, as my husband was winning the pillow fight and taking mine. High fives and laughter the whole trip.
I do like the new layout, but then I also like BA's backwards seat too. (yes I am strange....)
Would fly AY again without hesitation - even booked boss on AY (she is mid air HEL - SIN as I type)
 

djd

Junior Member
Joined
Apr 14, 2011
Messages
26
Points
55
Recently had J with AY return BKK HEL BKK in an A340. Little to recommend it - non lie flat, limited choice of IFE, meals ok, but served by gruff stewards. Got me back to BKK but without my luggage!
 

boomy

Senior Member
Joined
May 10, 2013
Messages
8,289
Points
1,120
Recently had J with AY return BKK HEL BKK in an A340. Little to recommend it - non lie flat, limited choice of IFE, meals ok, but served by gruff stewards. Got me back to BKK but without my luggage!

Wow that's bad!
All this on top of the terrible noisy A340.
 

Austman

Established Member
Joined
Sep 21, 2007
Messages
3,591
Points
705
Qantas
Platinum
Wow that's bad!
All this on top of the terrible noisy A340.

Noisy? I've been on A340s lots of times and wouldn't say they are particularly noisy. The reverse in my experience. Maybe not near doors.
 

knasty

Active Member
Joined
Mar 11, 2010
Messages
936
Points
5
A note of caution. As expected the points for the AY codeshares on QF still haven't credited after a month and AA wants copies of boarding passes so make sure you keep them as they are notorious for not posting automatically.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.

Community Statistics

Threads
86,913
Messages
2,117,326
Members
54,155
Latest member
buraqautomotive
Top