HKTravelBlog

Helsinki to Hong Kong on Finnair’s A350: Review of Finnair AY99

We have reviewed Finnair from Hong Kong to Helsinki in economy class and reviewed the airline’s business class here. Here we review the economy class experience the other way, from Helsinki to Hong Kong.

Ticketing

This was part of a one way ticket from Paris to Hong Kong I had bought a month and a half previously at Travel Expert in Cochrane Street for $2,424. Some weeks later, Finnair had cancelled the original flight and my travel agent put me on this one instead. The timing wasn’t what I had wanted, but I had no real alternative at that point. I have had the same experience with another upcoming Finnair flight between Hong Kong and Helsinki, when I had no option but to substitute a day time flight for a redeye I didn’t want (or rebook or a much more expensive ticket with a different carrier, as this as some months after booking) so this seems to be a watchout to consider when booking with Finnair.

One additional advantage of using a travel agent instead of booking directly with Finnair was that I wasn’t subjected to Finnair’s annoying stream of pre-departure e-mails.

At the Airport

I had checked in at Paris and my boarding pass had been printed there, upside down. There was a delay ex Paris meaning that the connection in Helsinki would be tight. Annoyingly the boarding pass showed only the boarding time not the departure time, so I had to dig out my reservation to know how much time I would have to transfer – as the reservation had changed that was inconvenient, it would be much smoother if Finnair listed the departure time on the boarding pass, in addition to the boarding time.

Helsinki airport was emptying for the night so it was a smooth trot straight over to gate 53. Quite a few fellow passengers from the inbound flight were doing the same; I expect that if the delay is not too long Finnair likely holds some connecting flights in such cases. Passing the door of the Finnair lounge I wondered if I had time for a swift nip but caution got the better of me so I went immediately to the gate. The plane was boarding so the connection was tight, but with the benefit of hindsight, I would have had time for a nip.

Equipment

The flight was operated by an A350 (tail number OH-LWN).

Finnair’s neutral décor in these planes makes them feel restful and clean. I find the white hues very calming. Finnair’s A350s have a new feeling to them which Cathay’s somehow lack. I think the main reason is the colour scheme rather than the actual condition of the interiors, though Cathay’s A350 toilets are in far worse condition than those I have seen on Finnair.

As I have One World emerald status I had been preassigned an extra legroom seat for free, which was 21J. It was underneath an equipment baggage rack which was used often by cabin crew to get blankets and the like, so it wasn’t great. It did, however, have good legroom and these seats came with a blanket, pillow, small bottle of water and also an amenity kit which I thought was a generous touch on Finnair’s part. Additionally, there was even a set of proper noise cancelling headphones. As the armrests are fixed, the seat felt quite poky.

Service

The cabin crew serving economy class was all Asian, except for one Finnish stewardess. I find that odd, although it does help Asian passengers, of whom Finnair carries a lot. Announcements were in English, Cantonese and sometimes Finnish. The crew were neatly attired, and attentive. They weren’t great – several things fell on me, so I think more training is needed – but they were at least friendly.

Food and Drink

There was no printed menu. Shortly after takeoff, the crew came around with dinner and drinks. There were two dinner choices. I had a beefburger and potatoes.

Before landing, breakfast was served. There was only option, potato boat with eggs and tomato.

Both meals were tasty. Finnair has a western bias in its menu, which suits me fine though others may not like it. Their main dishes seem to be consistently decent, not overcooked or dried out, even if they are not very imaginative.

Previously I had been told that alcoholic drinks between meals were chargeable on Finnair, in economy class. In fact Finnair cabin crew on a different flight told me that things are a bit more nuanced than that – on most routes, including this one, alcoholic drinks such as beer and wine are free throughout the flight in economy class. On a select few leisure heavy routes where our Scandinavian friends celebrate leaving their heavily taxed drinks at home by drinking a lot, such as Thailand and Shanghai, drinks after the first meal are chargeable. In any case, on this flight, drinks and very light snacks were available in the rear galley free of charge.

Flight

Economy class looked full. Being in northern Europe in late Spring, there was still a little light in the sky close to midnight, and as we flew eastwards it was never completely dark outside. It was a smooth flight.

I had checked two bags in Paris and both arrived on time, despite the tight connection in Helsinki.

Conclusion

Finnair has an excellent safety record, its cabins feel calm and the service is good enough though not world class. It is also often excellently priced.

The change in times quite a while after buying the flight ticket was annoying and something to look out for when considering whether to fly them if one’s times are inflexible. Given their low flight frequency to Hong Kong, a missed connection could turn into a long transfer.

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