Flight Report : AY 917 Helsinki - Oslo

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 less than 24 hours in Finland and a good recharging break in Porvoo, I headed back to Helsinki well ahead of my departure, squeezing in a little more sightseeing before my evening flight to Oslo. Having pre-booked one of many buses that ply the short distance between Helsinki and Porvoo, this part of my trip would only set me back 4.2 euros.

My budget bus would not depart from inside Porvoo's bus station, but on the main street bordering it. There was a crowd already at the stop ahead of the departure time so it's hard to miss.

An hour later, I arrived at a nice underground bus station in the heart of Helsinki.

My flight out would depart just past 7pm, so I had a whole afternoon to explore a bit more of Helsinki. Having been here a few times before, including a multi-day detailed visit back in 2009, I looked for a new place to explore, as well as returning to my favourites from the past for a more in-depth visit.

The airport is conveniently connected to the city by the ring commuter rail, a new development since my first visit almost a decade ago. The travel time is a perfectly manageable half hour. They run frequently enough in either direction so that you don't have to worry about the schedule. But before you board, explore around the architectural masterpiece at Helsinki's main station.

The airport train station is deep underground. Being new, it has all the necessary equipment to help heavy luggage-laden passengers reach the surface.

Once air-side, I noticed a mix of wide corridors like in a typical international airport, as well as more cozier corners with elegant designs and lots of natural light. There isn't enough space for everyone to sit comfortably though.

I was surprised it was not necessarily a sea of Finnair jets.

Browsing the departures board, Helsinki is quite well connected to the rest of Europe.

In this part of Europe, they know how to use wood furnishings right. This space looks elegant yet simple.

However, the airport is not able to cope with its success. There are occasional crowds at the various bottleneck points. Finding a seat at the gate is a challenge already.

My flight would leave from a corner gate.

I snatched up a window seat at the front of the plane. Similar to my prior regional flight with Finnair to Warsaw, today's flight is operated by Norra, a subsidiary. We took off into a cloudy sky. It seems the weather has deteriorated during the day and I was lucky to have gotten some sunshine in the morning.

Finnair's blueberry juice is a unique offering and tastes quite good.

There is no free food on these short haul flights. The to-pay food menu on board has a lot of options but at only 1.5 hours, I didn't have an urge to eat dinner on board.

Finnair advertises itself as offering a fast route to Europe from Asia. From this schematic, it does look the case along the great circle route.

The weather cleared out nicely over Norway as we descended into Oslo, but I couldn't spot the fjords along here.

Gaining an hour, I arrived shy of 8pm with the sun still blazing wonderfully above. This is indeed land of the midnight sun.

Oslo's airport is also a nice facility with good use of wood and a bit more variety in planes.

Once land-side, I looked for the cheaper NSB trains into the city. As I read online, the "express" Flytoget is much more expensive with only a few minutes' saving.

I arrived in the city in about half hour, and the main station also looks sleek and clean as well.

The Previous Leg : AY 102 Hong Kong - Helsinki
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