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Thursday 21 May 2015

Flying on Finnair's Airbus A330-300 from Helsinki to Seoul (Part 2)


Welcome to part 2 of Finnair's trip report. Hope you guys enjoyed the Part 1! This time, I am not returning to Tokyo Narita but instead will be heading to Seoul. There are 3 reasons for this: To fly the Airbus A330-300 and to catch the Peach Aviation flight from Seoul to Osaka - new airports for me - I have been to Seoul but I couldn't remember much, only thing I remembered was a stopover on route to Vancouver on the old SQ's A340-300 route which I think some of you can remember. Lastly, I could also meet up with 2 friends over there, Julia (Korean friend) and Niki(From the Quality hunter workshop 1).

For part 1, click here.

A little brief summary of my short trip to Helsinki.

Quality hunters workshop 

This workshop was the reason why I was able to fly to Helsinki. A big thank you to the lovely Finnish hospitality by the airline and airport. The event turned out to be quite fun with lots of ideas being discussed and I can't discuss them here. Here are however some of the photos taken during our discussion.

             7 of us from all around the world were invited to this workshop.

              There were a few others from the airline who participated as well.

Having dinner at Gastone with the group. The food was excellent, so was the company!

This is Maria, she organised the hotel and air ticket for all of us. 

The event took about 2 days and both days were filled with lots of thinking exercise, discussions and presentation. The ideas kept flowing, partly because the topic this time around - On board- was probably easier in the sense that there were more areas to discuss than the previous two topics - At home and At the airport. 

More photos could be found here! 

Quality hunters Workshop 3 day 1
Quality hunters Workshop 3 day 2

Time passed fast, the event was over. All of us were departing on different days. Some had to depart as early as Sunday while for me, I would be departing on Monday, would have loved to spend more time in Europe but because I had already made my booking in Japan and Taipei, I had to fly back. 

On the day itself

Leaving Helsinki was hard, the weather at that time was just nice, 14 degrees. It was perfect for exploring the city.  I didn't explore much though during this trip, but only the neighbourhood near me. As my flight departed at 1730 hours, I had time to do some exploring in the morning. I woke up at around 0630, did some walking but it started raining heavily at that time so I came back to the hotel, had breakfast at the K Klaus Hotel (Excellent breakfast). Met up with Holger and Jason ( from the Quality hunters group) who were leaving on the same day, 4pm and 2pm flight respectively. The time of our flights was closed but we went on our own to the airport. I decided to leave earlier to the airport to check out the new observation deck and also the book swap at the main terminal. 

Directions to the Observation Deck (Sorry for the poor quality)

Photos were taken at the Observation Deck

 There wasn't much traffic at that point so I didn't stay long. 

   In the airport terminal

About Helsinki Airport

There are 2 terminals. Finnair is based at Terminal 2. The airport is not as big as the likes of Frankfurt or London, so getting from one end to the other is not far. There are things to do at the airside, just like any other airports, you have lounges, restaurants, shopping areas and resting area where you can charge your phone, sit down read a book, hook up onto the wifi and 'skype' with your loved ones..etc. For aviation enthusiasts, you will be happy to know that the airside itself has many spotting areas to photography planes. You are able to capture take-off and landing photos from there too! For a heavy 3G user like myself, you will be pleased to know there is free WIFI at this airport. You just need to accept the terms and condition and you are online. However, the WIFI connection I used at that time wasn't good. It kept disconnecting especially when I was walking from one part of the airport to the other. But if you stay at one location and just do your normal surfing or emailing, that shouldn't be a problem. Anyway, I have more photos of Finnair's airport over here, please enjoy!

                                 Book Swap @ Helsinki Airport

The books here are for swap, no one is there to check so you are being trusted to do the right thing by swapping your own with others. Not many airports have this and I think its a good idea if you ask me.

After a little tour around the place, my lovely friend Aku met up with me at the airport's Starbucks. Nice to see you again, my friend! 

Once that was done, I made my way back to the departure hall. Greeted the same security folks, they recognized me at once but were friendly. I made my way to the lounge to check it out, before heading to my gate 32 and there was the beauty, OH-LTO, a GE-powered Airbus A330-300 waiting. This would be my longest A330-300 flight so far! 

Just 5 minutes in the lounge and I was out. Didn't have much time and when I reached the gate, boarding had started not too long after.

A lot of Asian flights are taking place during this period, so it was pretty busy around this area.

Gate 32 onwards is for international flights, so you need to pass through immigration to get here. 

My flight route for the day: HEL-ICN

My ride: OH-LTO

Formerly in this special livery

My photo of this beauty 

Carrier: Finnair 
Flight: AY41
Route: HEL-ICN
Gate: 32
Aircraft: Airbus A330-300
Configuration: C42Y229
MSN: 1013
Registration: OH-LTO
Delivered: 15th May 2009
Engines: 2X GE CF6-80E1A4
Flight hours: 8 hr 20 mins
Seat: 7A 
Departure time: 1730 
Take off time: 1745
Arrival time: 0820
Actual arrival time: 0805
Departure runway: 4R
Arrival runway: 33L

Time to board

Judging from the look at the number of passengers at the waiting room, it looked like a full flight on both Y and J class. It was indeed a full flight after exploring around the cabins during the flight. The usual boarding announcement was made and I was one of the first to board the aircraft. Making my way down the aerobridge and I was greeted by a pair of crew welcoming me on board. I realized that the interior is different from the A340-300. The seat colour and the size of the PTV was bigger and if you ask me, I pick this interior over the A340's. This airline also has a new business class cabin. 

There are 3 different configurations for Finnair's A330. 

The old cabin - OH-LTM to OH-LTP (42 Business Class and 229 Economy Class seats) 
The new cabin (part a) - OH-LTR (45 Business Class and 218 Economy Class seats)
                     (part b) - OH-LTS to OH-LTU (32 Business Class and 265 Economy Class seats) 

Do take note that OH-LTT is the only aircraft with wifi installed! (Updated on 26th September 2013) 

                                My A330-300's interior (Old cabin)

                              The new A330 Cabin (OH-LTR to LTU)

You can see a big difference in the interior, no prize of guessing which one I would pick. I would definitely have to try this cabin one day, will be able to do a comparison between this and the old product. Looking at the photo, it looks more spacious especially the ones on the side, 1-2-1 configuration, more privacy definitely. 

Once everyone was on board, the crew came around and handed us the menus and asked each of us for our pre-flight drink. I had a glass of champagne and then I started taking notes of the cabin. Comparing this cabin to the A340's, it is quite similar. More on this in my later part of the report. 

The aircraft pushed back on time and after engines were started up, we made our way to runway 4R for taking off. This time, despite the load of the aircraft, the take-off was much more powerful and we reached our assigned attitude faster than my previous A340 flight. You can really feel the difference between the A330 and A340 take-off performance, especially for long flights. 

Some cabin photos

The bigger screen on this Airbus A330 compared to the A340.

The seat at the window is my seat for the next 8 hours or so. 

I like the colour of the seat, it blends in well with the cabin interior.  Once again I managed to catch some good sleep during the flight. Apart from the colour, the rest of the seat is the same as the A340. 

Y class cabin 

J class toilet 

Always nice to have a window in the toilet. 

Once my work (for my trip report) was done, I went back to my seat and took a short nap until the commencement of the meal service. 

The lovely crew came and set up our table and soon the food was served. 

I apologize for the lack of details about this meal as I had forgotten to record down the names of each dish.

My first Finnish Vodka and believe me this stuff is strong! 

This appetizer is absolutely delicious! You can trust Helsinki's catering! 

 I believe this is beef steak with rice. Absolutely delicious!

Had tea and a small piece of dessert cake. I was quite disappointed with the portion. I feel that that there should be more choices and definitely a bigger portion too. 

Nevertheless, I had enjoyed the meal. After the meal, I watched a couple of movies before dozing off for a couple of hours. One observation I took notice was the cabin noise was slightly quieter than the A340. 
Just a couple of hours before arrival, we were served breakfast! 

To be honest, I was quite disappointed with this meal. The hash-brown wasn't nice, the egg omelette was bland and the vegetable was disappointing. I would have gotten the other meal if I had known.  

In-flight service

There was a mixture of Korean and Finnish crew, can't remember the total number but once again, I had another positive service with the airline. The Korean crew mistook me as a Korean and one of them, later on, made a guess that I was a Chinese, pity I didn't get to talk much to her. After the meal, I went to talk to a few of them about their job and some ideas that I thought might make their job easier. It was nice to hear from them and that certainly gave me some ideas. Just before descending, a Finnish crew who was serving in Y class section came to my seat and introduced herself, she knew me because her colleague whom I knew on Twitter, mentioned to her about me. Overall, I enjoyed the service on this flight. It is hard for me to decide which flight service was better. 

My ride was mostly smooth and the seat belt sign didn't turn on at all during cruising.
                                       From take-off to landing  

Soon-to-be-retired 757. This aircraft will be replaced by A321 with sharklets.

Landing in such beautiful weather - it was a perfect day for flying, I wished the flight could continue on and on. However, all good things have to end. We landed on runway 33R and it took about 15 minutes to reach the gate. The trip adventure with Finnair may have ended, but the wonderful service of both flights and the workshop experience stay with me.

     I have to admit this livery is growing on me. I didn't like the livery when it first came out of the paint shop.

Incheon Airport is a very pleasant airport, especially for photography.

The arrival hall of Seoul Incheon Airport.

My rating

Website: 6/10 
On-ground service at HEL: 8/10
Finnair's lounge: 8/10
In-flight service: 9/10
Seat comfort: 8/10
Aircraft cleanliness: 10/10
Cabin Ambiance: 10/10
In-flight meal: 7/10 (Breakfast ruined it) 
PTV: 7/10 
Punctuality: 10/10
Total score: 81/100


Another enjoyable ride with Finnair and the ride on the A330 has definitely won it for me. Both of my flights went pass too quickly for my liking. Flying with Finnair is recommended, even though the airline at this time doesn't have the latest technology on board, you will be pleased to know of its excellent safety record, good service and reliability. Helsinki Airport is a unique airport, I like it a lot as it has almost everything for everyone. Perfect place for transit! So if you are considering which airline to fly to Europe whether you are in the US, Asia or Australia, do check out Finnair and Helsinki. 
For part 1, click here.

Hope you enjoyed my trip report.

Best Regards,

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