Norway is quite a distance away from Hong Kong. At the peak summer season, I was worried it would be a costly flight even if going the long way through the Middle East. Luckily, Finnair had a very affordable fare of just over HKD$5600 with a short stopover in Helsinki. While I have visited Helsinki before, I was flexible to take a 2-day break here to head outside the city, where I wasn't able to cover last time.
Advertising themselves as a quick way to Europe, the advertised flight times are great - 10.5 hours into Finland and just 1.5 hours more into Oslo. This journey into Europe would be far less punishing than through Dubai.
After a nice walk in the city centre, it was time to head back to the airport. The P and I lines make the trip from the Art Deco-strewn main railway station in about 30 minutes.
My last connection here was quite pleasant with few people in the empty terminal. Today was a completely different story. The check-in desks had long lines but security was luckily manageable. Air-side, the hallways were full of people. A look at the departure boards gave the answer. There were several long-haul departures between 4-6pm - San Francisco, Fukuoka, Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka, and Shanghai. Helsinki has become a victim of its own success.
At the shops, I pondered whether to get some weird and querky souvenirs. However, elk and reindeer are a bit too exotic for my taste.
Staff were around to direct the crowds through the corridors but there are nasty bottlenecks at some spots, especially at immigration.
At this airport, this international burger chain serves you alcohol!
My gate would be 50, which they oddly subdivided into a lot of letters.
After a long walk, I found the 50s downstairs in a seemingly new pier of bus gates.
There wasn't much of a proper seating area although there is enough food available to get you full while waiting to board.
It was a busy pier as many flights were departing close to each other.
Despite the added hassle, I enjoyed the ride out to the A350 with ssome unique views of the airport.
Off we go into the late afternoon. I was hoping to see St. Petersburg from the air but the clouds came in quickly.
The trip home is much faster. Not that long after we left Finland, we were over Russia and only another 9 hours to go!
Meals on Finnair's long-haul flights are free. Dinner was a rice dish with a designer napkin.
After getting fed, the skies faded although at this time of year, it never gets fully dark.
Breakfast was served as the sun rose higher over a brand new day in Asia.
In the old days, playing cards were free.
Scanning the in-flight shopping selection, there was a big selection of items, including electronics and fruit candies.
The in-flight entertainment system shows a nice timeline of the flight's various stages. I liked how they marked off the 2 meals' times.
While I never pay good money to surf the net on board, they loaded other content to the wifi system which can be useful.
With crowded airspace around the Pearl River Delta, we had to head past Hong Kong and over the South China Sea before looping back for landing from the west. There were a lot of fluffy clouds this morning.
With so many flights to Asia, Finnair has loaded some local content to cater for these passengers. With twice daily service to Hong Kong, they even have a Cantopop channel.
Finnair is a great choice for this affordable trip to Europe. They are indeed a fast way to reach Europe, being much closer to the great circle arc than through the Middle East. The cabin crew taking care of us are all local Hong Kongers, so it doesn't feel like flying on a foreign carrier at all. While the amenities and food were not as good as Cathay, the A350 is spacious and new so it was an overall pleasant experience.
The Previous Leg : AY 912 Oslo - Helsinki
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