Flight date: 25 June 2017
Operating as AY74 from NRT to HEL
Footage with highlights from the flight can be seen in the links below. www.youtube.com/watch?v=1PKOFBDo7DMwww.facebook.com/pg/AirlineTraveller/ph ... 6596012157
Finnair is the 3rd largest airline in the Nordic countries, after SAS and Norwegian. Finnair's hub is Helsinki Vantaa Airport, from where it operates an extensive network throughout Europe, Asia and some routes to North America. Finnair operates up to 2 daily flights between NRT and HEL.
I travelled with the Narita Express from Tokyo Station. It is a very comfortable and reliable train service between the major train stations in Tokyo and Narita Airport. The train's first stop was Terminal 2, which is the terminal Finnair uses at NRT. Check-in was very efficient, and the check-in lady was very cheerful and made sure everything was in order. There was no line, so it went very smoothly. I then proceeded to security, which was also surprisingly efficient. I didn't spend more than 5 minutes before I was through to the other side. The gate was a bit far away, so it took some time to walk. Lots of different shops and restaurants were available on the inside, so there was lots to do before my flight would depart 2 hours later. During that time I also did some plane spotting, as I guess most aviation geeks do when at an airport. The gate was quite crowded as today's flight would be completely full. The boarding process seemed somewhat chaotic at first, but it was surprisingly efficient. All passengers were boarded by groups.
The seat had a pillow, blanket and ear phones provided, as well as a bottle of Evian water. Very nice to have your own water bottle right from the start. Once boarding was completed, the captain and purser welcomed us onboard in English, Finnish and Swedish. They announced a flight time of 9 hours and 40 minutes. Shortly after we were pushed back from the gate, and the safety video was played and the engines started. It didn't take long before we started our taxi towards RWY 34L. There were quite a lot of planes waiting for take-off, so it was a nice view of all the heavies in front of us. During the wait, it started to rain. Once it was our turn, the trip down the runway was quite bumpy, but the heavy A330 took off smoothly. It was very cloudy during the climb, and it took quite a while before we were above them.
It turned out to be quite a bit of turbulence over the Sea of Japan, so the flight attendants had to delay the lunch service. The air finally calmed down once we reached Russia, roughly 2 hours into the flight. The lunch was quite tasty, and the crew went through the cabin at least two times to refill people's wine, coffee and tea. After lunch, it was time to enjoy the scenery as there were barely any clouds for hours. It was also time to check out the IFE, which was fairly good, but could have featured a wider selection of movies and TV-series. The flight maps were however very nice and modern, and it was quite enjoyable to follow it. The IFE also had quite a few episodes of the Moomins, which I felt gave a Finnish vibe to Finland's national carrier. A midflight snack was provided, which was a vanilla ice cream. It was quite delicious, and a nice complement to the overall flight. About two hours before landing, dinner (or the 2nd lunch) was provided. It was almost as extensive as the first meal, and it was very tasty. Again, the flight attendants went through the cabin to refill people's drinks.
The approach to HEL was somewhat bumpy. There was a lot of turning on approach. The landing was however quite smooth except for the bump when we touched down. I will say it again, HEL has some of the smoothest runways out there. They are lovely to land on and take-off from. A short taxi to the gate, and I was off to catch my short connection to OSL.
Overall, my impression of Finnair is good. The flight itself and onboard service and comfort is of a good standard, although the leg-room could be better. The cabin was very clean, and the flight attendants were polite and cheerful in a Nordic manner. I especially appreciated how one of the flight attendants took good care of an elderly couple on the first row in the rear cabin section, as they seemed to be nervous flyers. I can recommend Finnair if you are traveling between Asia and Europe. HEL is a very nice airport to transit through, even when if it is somewhat crowded during the rush hours.