Travelling hopefully to Basel

And so to make the journey home. BSL is not so well connected and I was flying of ZRH.
It was no problem catching the No.2 tram to Basel SBB train station from right outside the Congress Centre. The Swiss seem to do their public transport well.
I always consult Man in Seat 61 before going by train in Europe. He said no need to prebook tickets, no point in first class and be prepared for cost to be double headline price (as Swiss get a 50% discount). He was right of course.

One change at Zurich and then a short journey to the airport and all well. I do get a bit nervous travelling to foreign airports by bus/train that I will go the wrong way and have a nightmare unpicking it.


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I was at ZRH in plenty of time both due to anxiety above but also in the hope that I could check in and go back into town.

However, my plans were thwarted by Finnair only opening check-in 2.5 hours before. My maternal genetics still made me look into the bus/tram timetables but I was able to overcome the urge to squeeze out every last travel minute.

Just as well, as despite priority security it was a fair old queue.
I had prepaid (using an Amex Edge travel credit) but being flustered, I fell for the 'kind' favour of a more suitable car that would hold all my bags l ended up paying a hefty surcharge 😠 and the resultant Renault Captur still would only fit one bag in the boot. At least it was a hybrid so ended up mitigating with less fuel used. They also had the cheek to ask me to give them a 5* rating when the quality email came through.
I just had a Renault Captur from Sixt in the UK and was astounded at how small the boot was. At least there was no spare tyre so I could put some stuff in there

I'm sorry but you have that around the wrong way - cream first like butter
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I also had my first ever BA shower. Nothing fancy but the queue was short
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Nice to see those photos of Basel - bringing back great memories of a trip there
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The lounge for Finnair J is the Aspire Lounge but they are not alone (essentially everything bar *A which I accept is a hub)
As such it was full-on Taronga when I arrived and it looked like they were turning Priority Pass away.

I must say they didn't miss much. It's a bit of a dog of a lounge and there was certainly much better value to be had in an outside restaurant than a paid admission.

The best food option was the vegetable soup (if you added worcester and tabasco sauce). There were a few spirits but minimal ice.

To be fair it did quieten down after a while

I did venture out to try to go to the more-highly regarded PrimeClass lounge but this seems to be accessible for non-Schengen flights only and would require the appropriate boarding pass
AY1514 ZRH-HEL Airbus A320

Ah. Eurobusiness. The seat pitch seemed better than on the BA Y flight but it's still a Y seat.
Leaving ZRH
Food was only moderate but they were generous with the drinks (in pretty glasses)
And into HEL
They have an odd system with taxis in HEL where you choose between 3 different queues for each firm (2 cost the same flat fare while the third is 'green' and pricier

I was staying at the Crowne Plaza and was pleased to have been upgraded from Base to Junior Suite. I would have had lounge access but arrival was (again) too late. Chose breakfast as welcome amenity.

Room was very good and free chocolate and water. Big bathroom but who puts in a double basin but has a shub?
The view to the Olympic tower
And the bar
I've been to Helsinki before (and transited some more)
The first time was after I had won a prize for best scientific poster presentation at the equivalent conference 23 years ago.

The prize gave free registration, flights and accommodation to the Stroke Summer School where middle-grade doctors and researchers had an intense teaching course delivered by the great-and-the-good.

There was also a social programme in the evenings and we went to some excellent restaurants.

One of the evenings was a Finnish sauna. It was certainly one of the weirdest professional moments of my career sitting starkers in the steam room with 3 eminent professors.
The hotel is a little out of the centre. The lady at the desk suggested the bus, but there were some roadworks going on outside which made it difficult to identify the stop. I took the No2 tram which was fine. You can download the HSL app to pay for a time-limited zone AB ticket.

Some pics along the way
I just had a Renault Captur from Sixt in the UK and was astounded at how small the boot was. At least there was no spare tyre so I could put some stuff in there

I'm sorry but you have that around the wrong way - cream first like butter

Nice to see those photos of Basel - bringing back great memories of a trip there
Nope. @andye was right. Jam then cream.
I know the Finnair lounge reasonably well. Don't make the mistake of going to the lacklustre Schengen lounge after security but before passport control (it's not made clear in airport signage).

I've never had the chance to enter the OWE Platinum Wing as was always closed when I was eligible

Still it's one of the decreasing number of J lounges that still serve champagne and I like the bar



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JL48 HEL-HND Boeing 787-9
It's the same seat as the first leg. I am in the window again and I didn't find it claustrophobic. The seat/bed is firm but I found it comfortable. We flew over Canada/Greenland again which is an even longer way round.
I'd prechosen Western food which I regretted given how much I'd enjoyed the JL food the first time. However it was very good (especially the warmed bread rolls)
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I had a 6 hour layover. I'd visited the JL Sakura J lounge on the outbound so thought I'd explore my other options.

The CX lounge two floors above was my first stop. There's something about CX lounges that chimes with me, and this was no exception. Calm, apron views, variety of seating, dark wood decor, a pretty bar and noodles.

It wasn't perfect. Cremant not champagne, there were no showers and, noodles aside, quite limited food but I spent most of my layover here and felt thoroughly relaxed. It closes at 5pm.
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I then went in search of the Priority Pass options

I tried to enter the Tiat Lounge half way down T3. However, despite appearing on the PP app, the small print only says from 0100-0500.

The adjacent Skylounge had an Amex sign outside but I was told it was for Japanese-issued cards only.

The Skylounge South is at the far end of the terminal past the ANA lounges. The sign outside said it was full, but I was let in. It wasn't full but not very inviting. It's down a level and has little natural light or ambience. There are some basic food (the fried chicken and the meatballs weren't bad) and drinks but I wouldn't have been too happy if I'd had to pay anything
I returned to the North end lounges

Amex Plat is said to have Delta access but I was knocked back from their Lounge on the 5th floor as you need to be on a DL flight

I went back to the JL Sakura on level 4. I requested a shower and had instant access. I was shown a list of optional items that could be provided; they giggled when I pointed out I had no need of a shower cap or hairbrush

The shower was top-notch with rainfall, hand-held and side-jets
There were a few different food options from my previous breakfast visit but nothing very inspiring
The last lounge to check was the JAL J Sky View lounge on the 5th floor. This is open 0700-1200 and 1800-2300

It has essentially the same F&B as the floor below. However more of the space is dedicated to seating and there is more window-space to the runway.

It wasn't busy when I went and instead of calm, felt a bit cavernous. I not sure it adds much to the Sakura except as an overflow

JL51 HND-SYD Boeing 787-9

My final flight was on the Dreamliner again. Again I was in a window seat. Annoyingly, neither the plug or USB charger were working but the adjacent aisle seat was empty so used that.

I dozed off quickly. I assumed I had missed the main meal service and ordered a pork sandwich but crew then told me as I had prebooked, they were happy to serve me later

Pics are a bit dark I'm afraid
I didn't enjoy the meal as much as my first flight but suspect this was to do with body-clock

I continued to sleep well afterwards landing on time in SYD at 0600. Although I gambled wrongly on my choice of automated immigration machines, I was through very quickly



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I entitled this Travellingly Hopefully as I thought the journey might be more interesting than the conference. However, for me, the work component turned out to be fascinating.

I credited my flights to Iberia (an airline I've never flown). They were more than enough for me requalify for (or attain for first time) One World Sapphire which is quite hard to do with a single business trip. I also picked up a predicted 50k Avios (not all have landed yet) which is a decent haul from a non-home airline.

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