Flight Report : AY 102 Hong Kong - Helsinki

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.

Finnair used to fly only once a day and it was a red-eye. In recent years, they added a second daily flight, this time during the day. While the 9am departure is quite early, they informed me of an almost 1 hour delay in advance so I wouldn't need to wait needlessly at the airport.

The plane is luckily parked at a good gate near the entrance. I didn't need to go through the length of the terminal plane spotting to get there.

It wasn't that long ago when Finnair held out being one of the last airlines to fly the DC10 into HKG. Now, they fly brand new A350s.

With a window seat on the right, the sun would be behind me for the duration of the daytime flight, allowing many photo-taking opportunities.

The TV screen is a good size and the reading material pocket is embedded into the seat. There was still a pocket in front and there was already a bottle of water in there for everyone.

Finnair's accessories are themed on a luxury line's design.

Aeroflot offers great value for money and a similar short northern arc to Europe.

The flight timeline gives a good preview of the 2 meals ahead as well as the duty-free shopping start time. Simple and effective.

As usual, it was a long taxi around the airport for departure.

Off we went towards the west.

The Pearl River Delta has many airports with several major cities being so close to each other. The hazy skyline in the distance is Shenzhen, and their airport is also just off the coast behind the hills.

We turned south past the bridge to Macau and Zhuhai.

We then turned north again to enter Chinese airspace and towards Finland!

With many clouds lurking around, it was hard to spot the various cities below. No luck for aerial photos of urban areas today!

The first meal was nothing to boast about. This is Economy Class after all. It tasted all right and looked simple but filling. It's not right to expect too much in Economy Class.

The flight map can be turned and zoomed using the touch-screen.

The northern and western stretches of China are quite arid with many deserts and badlands. Despite being a heavily-populated country, these parts are pretty much empty as far as the eye can see.

The flight map has many different features showing your location from above, left, right, and even the cockpit's view.

Browsing the IFE, the selection wasn't the greatest although they have a wide variety of Asian content to cater for its many routes to the region. They even have an arrival video specific to Chinese travelers. I liked the arrival time counter at the top right of the screen.

While meals are free on this long-haul flight, there was a paid-for food menu as well. The basic items are free, such as white wine, but the heavier stuff such as vodka and gin would cost you.

After finishing the 2nd meal, we were within a stone's throw of Helsinki.

Wifi is also available on the plane, although I preferred the larger PTV screen over my phone. Before arriving, connecting flight information was listed as well as our arrival gate information. Many fly Finnair to connect to the rest of Europe, so all this information is quite convenient.

My short 2-day visit to Finland would be spent in Porvoo, a small town to the east of Helsinki. As I waited for my bus connection, I explored this relatively small airport a bit more, knowing when I return tomorrow for my flight, I would have far less time and would need to rush through.

Labour is expensive in this part of the world. Do-it-yourself check-in is becoming an increasing prominent part of the airport experience.

Then haul your luggage to the belt and figure the rest out yourself.

The Finnair building next to the terminal has a public observation deck, but this isn't the best airport to find a variety of birds. I liked the historic photo display a lot more than the views outside.

The Next Leg : AY 917 Helsinki - Oslo
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