“ Country: Finland „
I've never encountered such terrible customer service on any airline anywhere in the world. The website is poor and seldom updated, the helplines are expensive and poorly manned, and there is little help if there is an emergency and you need to rebook. We were stranded at Heathrow during the snow and nobody helped us and we were left to our own devices while the staff went home. Eventually we got through to someone who just told us there wasn't much chance of getting on a flight this week. There was no communication between the airline and the customers and it was as if they couldn't care less what happened to them. I can't believe that this is the national carrier because it is run like some two bit bargain basement Ryanair knockoff. Finland should be embarrassed to have this airline flying its flag.
I have flown with Finn Air on a couple of occasions in economy class and have always really enjoyed the experience. First of all, airlines such as Qantas, should really take lessons from Finn Air's customer service. I've never had any real problems with them and the majority of the time, I get the impression that the air crew are not really putting on an act with their friendliness. They smile, are polite, and efficient and unlike Qantas, they bring you water when you request it.
The seats are more comfortable than British Airways for sure, but with just about the same amount of leg room. Again unlike some other airlines, the pilot always seems to land a lot more smoothly. I can't really comment on entertainment, as they don't have any of that for the short haul flight to Helsinki and back, but then that's because its not really needed. Just bring a music player and you're sorted.
As far as meals are concerned, the first time I had no issues with my vegetarian diet. I really enjoyed the curry that I had and it was actually like a meal. They even added Karl Fazer Chocolates which was definitely a bonus! The second time didn't work out as well as they didn't order me a vegetarian meal. We'll see what will happen about that on my next flight with them in a couple of weeks.
Finnair depart from the same terminal - London Heathrow, 3- as British airways and share the same area for check in. Although the aircrew in BA have always been great, I prefer to fly with FinnAir as they are definitely a better company. Sometimes, their economy class can be cheaper than BA's Euro Traveller but then it can work vice-versa. If you can though, fly Finnish ;)
UPDATE 06/08/09- Well as mentioned I did fly with FinnAir again and, although I am rather gutted at the thought that I could have saved hundreds if I had known to go with Easyjet, I was completely happy with the service. There was a bit of a longer que than usual to check in, but that's probably just me arriving later than usual. Friendly service as usual, flight was nearly to schedule. No problems with them reserving me a window seat...and the best bit, no problems whatsoever with serving me Vegetarian meals, and rather tasty they were to!
I'd never flown with Finnair before, but recently they've been strongly advertising their fares to Asia and they are actually cheaper most of the time than other airlines. The only disadvantage is that you have to stop off in Helsinki, but that's fine with me if the airline is decent and it saves me some money. My trip took me from Amsterdam to Seoul and back.
Finnair are Finland's main airline, based at Helsinki-Vantaa Airport. Founded in 1923 they are currently majority owned by the Finnish government. They are a member of the Oneworld alliance.
With Finnair being a major scheduled airline you can find them on all the usual online booking sites and they can of course be booked via a travel agent. I found that the cheapest way to book with them was directly via their website (this is not always the case with scheduled airlines). The booking process was simple enough. You get a decent baggage allowance (20kg) for no extra charge.
Finnair allow you to check in and pick your seats for you flight online 36 hours in advance, you're able to print your boarding pass but if you are without a printer then you can ask for it when you get to the airport. On my outbound flight I was able to check in both sectors, but on the return I was only able to check in for the first sector. At the airport I was given a boarding pass for my connecting flight as I boarded the plane. There was no requirement for me to check in at Helsinki. At the baggage drop in Amsterdam and Seoul I didn't have to queue for long, bags were checked all the way through.
Helsinki airport is modern, but not very big. There are plenty of shops selling duty free and Finnish merchandise. If you arrive from the UK you'll be arriving into the international area, on my trip I arrived into the Schengen area and had to go through passport control to reach the international area. It doesn't take long to pass between the two.
On arrival from Seoul we had to pass through a security screening again, as this was our entry point to the EU.
The aircraft were pleasant enough. I was only flying in economy but the seats were pretty much as you would expect. Knees weren't quite hitting the back of the seat in front. Unlike some airlines (BA for instance) the seats are designed so that anyone sat behind you messing in their seat pocket or little kids kicking the seat won't be prodding or kicking you in the spine, such a simple thing to do to have the seat designed this way, why doesn't every airline do it!
The European sectors were on A320 aircraft, they seemed clean and quite new. The intercontinental sectors were on A340's, very new and spotlessly clean cabin. Everything looks newly fitted.
I liked the way that they made use of the cameras on the outside of the plane for take off and landing so that you could watch the take off and approach on the screen, not every airline bothers with this and it's much more interesting than just looking out the window (and a bit nicer to your neck).
Flight information was shown on the cabin screens on every flight.
Entertainment within Europe was whatever you brought on board with you, but on the intercontinental service it was on-demand with recent and classic movies, TV shows, games and some music available. I didn't run out of stuff to watch. The screens in the back of the seat were a good size (9 inches I believe but could be wrong). If you're planning to bring your own headphones they operate a system that requires 2 connectors, so standard headphones won't work without an adapter. They do provide free earphones.
There was a hot meal on the European sectors, an increasingly rare thing these days.
On the intercontinental sector there was a choice of Korean or European meal shortly after take off, followed by another meal 2 hours before arrival. The meals were not spectacular, the usual chicken with rice or pasta and a strange sauce, small salad, bread roll and if you're lucky a small chocolate bar too. We were also provided with metal cutlery, another rare sight in economy. In between the meals the crew regularly walked through the cabin with water and juice. Tea and coffee were served in conjunction with the meals. Small sandwiches were also available if you got hungry between meals.
I was very happy with the cabin crew on the flights, they seemed very helpful and with the regular drinks round you didn't feel abandoned in between the meals. When one of the crew spilled a small amount of orange juice on a passengers shirt he was rewarded with a very sincere apology and a duty free voucher.
In conclusion I'd be very happy to fly with Finnair within Europe or beyond. The inconvenience of stopping in Helsinki for a long haul flight may push me towards other airlines flying direct, all depending on the price difference.
[review also posted on ciao]
Finnair's business class in its new Airbuses in Europe is quite simply the worst I have ever experienced in the world. The brand new, razor thin, smaller than bus seats are exactly the same ones as in economy and are RUBBISH. How many times does one have to complain to Finnair before they fix this national cheapskate embarrassment? it waas miles better before they replaced the planes. Now Business is only about a quart full as everyone who wants t sit for 4 hours in a modicum of comfort London-Helsinki knows to fly BA if the times work out. Avoid like the plague.
A few years of regular business class travel at the expense of the company i worked for, has left me with the unfortunate and expensive affliction of being unable to face the coach class experience for long haul trips. So for the last few years i have permitted myself the extravagance of one business class flight a year to long haul destinations.
For the last two years these trips have been with Finnair. In 2004 i travelled London - Beijing via Helsinki and my return leg departed Bangkok and again was via Helsinki. At the end of last year i took a return flight to Bangkok.
I had never flown Finnair before in either economy or business. The largest factor in my choice of carrier was price. The 2004 flight cost £1,400 and last year the flight cost £1,500. Flight prices obviously fluctuate but British Airways or Thai Airlines could easily be £1,000 more if not double. I always research flights thoroughly and typically find the earlier you book the better the price. I have found the best deals can be found with Trailfinders dedicated business service or on www.airline-network.co.uk.
Finnair is part of the OneWorld partnership, which includes BA, American Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Aer Lingus, Iberia , Swiss and others. I have an American Airlines membership from my work related travel days and i add the Finnair points to this account to keep them in one place. The Finnair flights by themselves have accumulated almost enough points for a couple of European flights which can be booked with any member airline.
At Heathrow, check in is managed smoothly by British Airways and Finnair passengers use BA lounge facilities. All four of my flights have been via Helsinki, all left on time and the connections were very conveniently timed (about an hour wait). Transfering in Helsinki literally could not be easier, each time i stepped off one plane to find my next flight was departing from a gate 20 metres away.
The inflight experience is mixed. The cabins are comfortable, in good condition and provide a very generous seat pitch. Unfortunately the seats are not flat beds and indeed do not recline quite as far as i would have liked, which was frustrating as there was plenty of room for further reclining. I believe that flat beds are set to be introduced however.
The food served was a bit hit and miss and i have to say one or two of the dishes i was served were quite unidentifiable. One was a violent burgundy mousse type substance for instance. The wine is to die for though and in fact i think on my last flight i was served one of the finest wines i have ever tasted. And i have tasted many :-)
Entertainment also should be improved, there is limited choice on each flight, i think only two English language options which i generally found a bit too alternate. I did see some films i would have liked to have watched in the inflight magazine but sadly i was not flying to the right destination. On my last trip i did not use the entertainment facilities at all, although i was not unduly troubled as it was an overnight flight.
Flight attendants are charming and provide excellent service.
Despite the areas for improvement i have mentioned above, I have nevertheless given this a 4 rating as flying business class made an extremely positive difference to my holiday and Finnair put it within reach financially. I have thought recently that their prices might be creeping up, if they are i would have to think harder before using them again but if not i would definitely fly Finnair Buiness again.
Last Wednesday I returned home from a short trip to Helsinki. We flew there, and naturally also back again, with the Finnair, the national carrier of Finland and around those is to be today in my review.
1. First of all...some general information
As said, Finnair is the national carrier of Finland. 60% the Finnair belong also to the state. The home airport is the airport Helsinki Vantaa and the IATA code, which one finds before the flight number of each Finnair flight, reads AY. Official name of the Finnair is today Finnair Oyj. in former times, at present their establishment in the year 1923 was called it still aero O/Y, since 1953 carries it only for the names Finnair. It is by the way the fifth-oldest airline of the world. The first flight went 1923 from Helsinki to Tallinn, at that time still with water airplanes in the summer and skids at the flier in the winter. Later Finnair had then normal airplanes and starting from 1947 flights with the first air hostesses.
Since 1999 Finnair is in the alliance OneWorld, as reaction on the fact that the arch-fiend in Scandinavia, which became Scandinavian airlines, joint founders of the StarAlliance.
1.1. The route network
Finnair flies mainly withhin the thinly populated Finland and also to many European cities.. Outside of Europe they fly to New York, Miami, Peking, Bangkok, Osaka, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Tokyo only.
The airplane fleet of the Finnair appeared to me in Helsinki as terribly enormous, because Helsinki is the home airport of the Finnair and it landed and started constantly. Small one, large, medium sized, some with the old Finnair colors, the majority however with "new" painting, which they have now actually already since 2002. Those which have still the old colors are the smaller planes that fly within Finland.
Exactly taken the fleet contains the following airplanes:
6x MD-11, used on long-haul flight
5x airbus A321, flies within Finland and European
12x airbus A 320, still another airplane for short and "middle"-haul flight
10x airbus A319, for example on the way between Berlin Helsinki
12x MD-82 and MD 83, likewise in Europe on the way
9x ATR 72, flies within Finland and also to Tallinn, Estonia
To the age of the fleet is to be said that Finnair has both quite new planes, like the airbus A319, which is to a large extent just was build in 2000 but some planes ae also a bit older, above all the MDs. These airplanes however are maintained well, so this is no problem and therefore I would not mind flying with an older Finnair plane.
Safe is flying with the Finnair obviously also. In the last 40 years not one Finnair plane crashed and also otherwise there hardly were any occurrences, just two hijackings which ended bloodless.
The web site of the airline can be found at www.finnair.com, from the welcome side you can just surf to website that is in the language of your country.
The websites for ever country are obviously well maintained and are frequently updated. An advantage of the German Finnair web page is that on-line reservations are booked in Germany (at the Finnair agency in Germany) and so you don´t have to pay the fee for using your creditcard abroad.
There are just a few airlines, which fly from Germany to Finland. Lufthansa, Scandinavian airlines, Sabena, Czech airlines, British Airways, air Botnia, Germanwings and Finnair offer flights after Helsinki. Lufthansa, Germanwings, Air Botnia and Finnair are the only one, which fly directly from Germany, without stopover and Finnair the only one were there, which fly directly from Berlin and showed also still reasonable prices, we these then booked :).
Finnair flights can be booked in any travel agency, in the Finnair offices at airports, via telephone or in the internet. We booked online since that offers you the opportunity to try out different dates and times, so you can find the lowest price.
Booking online was easy and after just a few minutes it was done. We got an automaticly written email, on the next morning a personally written email by the stuff of Finnair follewed-that really surprised me. The email just confirmed the online booking.
When you book online you get an e-ticket, so you have no paper ticket that could get lost or stolen. When you check in on the airport, you can do that on a check-in maschine or on the usual check-in desk. Instead of a ticket, you use your creditcard and ID when you show up.
On the website you can pay for the ticket only with a creditcard. They take almost every popular creditcard, in our case we used VISA.
Finnair is not a lowcost carrier and that becomes obvious when you look on the prices.
But we were lucky and paid just 190 per person for the trip from Berlin to Helsinki and back. Only Germanwings would have been cheaper. The rate which we had booked, was the Happy Hour rate, these is the lowest Finnair fare and the offer it on every flight, it does not depend on the day of the week or the time. With the happy hour rate a oneway flight from Germany to Finland is 95, if you also get the happy hour rate for the way back, you pay all in all 190 (including all taxes). The next more expensive rate is the tourist rate, that is 165 for a one way flight from Europe to Finland (or the other way around). And of course there are also more expensive rates. Its nice that you can see on the website of Finnair how their pricesystem works.
Sometimes Finnair also offers special rate which are extraordinary low. For example last year there was the "EU-Welcome Special" for flights to Tallinn, Estonia.
5. Check In
In Berlin-Tegel the check-in was not accomplished by Finnair but by the staff of the local airport company GlobeGround.There were also no check-in maschines from Finnair in Berlin.
In Helsinki it was different. There were many check-in maschines, but we decided to check in at the usual counter. A friendly, but elliptical man gave us our boarding passes and we gave him our suitcases. The landed safely with us in Berlin :-)
6.The most important...the flights...
Fairly late arrived the Airbus A319 with the registration OH-LVC Berlin and I was actually sure that our flight to Helsinki would be delatet. But after a very short stop we were allowed to enter the airplane. With such short stops the airlines save a lot of time and money.
Eventhrough the short stop the aircraft looked cleaned and in the seat pockets were an inflight magazin Blue wings, a safety card and an airsickness bag. The Finnair airsickness bags are bigger than the bags from other airlines.
We took a seat on the beautiful blue seats. The blue cloth covered all three seats together, making it look like a sofa with armrests in the middle. Because of the cloth it is not possible to remove the armrest, it can not disappear between backrests. The seats are also very cramped so you can snuggle against your neighbour. No, you have to snuggle against your neighbour ;-). Anyway the distance between your seat and the seat in front of you is quite big, so have much space for the legs.
The breadth of the seats is the same in the business class. I saw an air hostess who made something really funny before our departure. She put the typical business/economy class curtain one row forward. So I was sure that the seats in the business class are really the same. Funny was to see how a man who was sitting in the business class first (and looking like he was very proud off that) was sitting in the economy class after the airhostess moved the curtain...he became an economy class passenger without even moving...
Before we took of we looked on both floght the safety film in Finnish and English. Some of the most important things, like the advice that you have to fasten your seatbelt during take off was also told in German by a German speaking air hostess. On our flight home also the pilot tried to speak German, the made all announces in German, but it was easier to understand him when he spoke English ;-)
On the way to the runway with many airlines the small monitors disappear in the ceiling, that happens not on Finnair flight. No, now its getting exiting. Now you can see the runway under you and than the take off, lakes, forests and meadows...there is a camera in the airplanes belly :-)
Later on the monitor you can see a map that shows were you are and we were also shown a movie about Finland with English subtitles. Unfortunately there were no earphones, so it was a silent movie. But that did not really disturb me on the short flights which lasted just 1 ½ hour.
If you want to entertain yourself, take a look on the inflight magazine. It´s written in English and Finnish, in the middle you can find the catalogue of the inflgight shop (and also the duty free bordshop). You can buy most items in the plane, but you have to tell the staff that you want to buy something. They do not go through the plane, offering the items.
Even on short flights you get beverages and a warm meal. When it comes to beverages they offer almost everything, tea, coffee, sorf drinks, wine and much more, everything for free and as much as you like. Actually I had to resist not to get more coffee or wine...
The meal on the outward flight was just digusting. They offered hash browns with very spicy beans and small sausages. In addition a muffin that tasted like candy and a roll. On the flight back to Berlin the meal was a lot better, it was chicken with rice and carrotts, a roll and a small piece of cake. I took pictures of both meals.
Furthermore I took a picture of the nice Finnair bear in his natural enviroment. I bought him on the flight back to Berlin (I collect teddybears from airlines). In addition the air hostess gave me the little bear sitting next to the Finnairbear for free. That was really nice!
All in all the flight were calm, we even did not hat any turbulences. More than punctual the Airbus A319 OH-LVC brought us back to Berlin, we reached it 10 minutes earlyer than sceduled. Of course the landings were also shown on the little monitors :-)
Well, I believe, I have a new favourite airline;). The flights were very pleasant, punctual, I felt safe, the staff was very nice, they even gave me a small gift! The only thing that I criticise is the fact that the seats are so cramped that you have to snuggle against your neighbour...
When a last minute business trip to Helsinki meant I had to grab a flight, I had the opportunity to fly Finnair. Normally I always fly with Austrian, but because I was booking only 48 hours before take off, and did not want to pay the 850 that Austrian wanted for a direct flight between Vienna and Helsinki, I had a look around and flew Finnair instead. I paid out 335, which was somewhat embarrassing for my boss who had shelled out the 850 and whose flights were both delayed, whilst I arrived on time both coming and going. As well as the price advantage, there was another motive - it meant that I could accumulate points on my British Airways frequent flyer card, as Finnair is part of the OneWorld alliance (and get points on my Miles and More card from my hotel stay!).
I am of the belief that there is no such thing as a good flight apart from one where the plane takes off and lands without incident, and tend if possible to sleep through flights when on business if possible this has an added bonus of the fact that I am being paid to sleep, and if flying on a Sunday am being paid double time to sleep. However, given the attentive service on my 2h30m flight from Vienna to Helsinki, I didn't sleep on the way there mind you the generosity regarding alcoholic drinks might have been a reason for this.
As the national carrier of Finland I believe it is still mainly state-owned the airline has a large number of internal flights around Finland, as well as flights around Europe and longer haul flights. I intend to use them again next summer, when I plan another odyssey through Finland and Russia the thought of taking the train between Rovaniemi and Helsinki does not appeal when Finnair fly between the two. One of the appeals of flying with them is that they have a blue sky approach to ticket pricing - their prices do not increase on flights between 60 days and 3 days before the flight goes and they also believe that off-peak flights should be cheaper. Add this to the fact that Internet bookings (from Austria at least) only have an 8 service fee most airlines are closer to 20 and you can start to make a healthy saving. I always take a eTix and Finnair also offer them paper tickets are available for a surcharge.
Their booking portal for example also offers you a choice of flights around the date so you can easily make a saving if you are willing to be flexible. As a hypothetical example I entered flights for next summer flying out and returning on a Saturday. When calculating the fare it showed me what I would pay as well as if I was flexible about the dates that I was flying out and back on - the difference in price was up to 100 - certainly good to know for leisure flights. Moreover, the possibility to have open-jawed tickets was a very welcome thing not many airlines offer this, and there are also low prices on single internal flights. In a word they understand the need for people to move around freely and not have their movements dictated by price.
In flight, the catering was good - a more generous meal than on Austrian over a comparable route - by flying for just longer than 2h30 minutes there are different requirements than flying for less than that time. The alcohol flowed and the flight attendants seemed very happy to top up my coffee at regular intervals too - great! Announcements are generally given in Finnish and English on all flights there were also announcements in German to given the flights originating in Vienna. It was a pleasant change to the usual in-flight "silent entertainment" that the monitors were showing the flight from the outside of the plane including the take off and landing so we could see ourselves landing - a novel concept. The in-flight magazine Blue Wings was informative and interesting there was an article about Brussels which I had to rip out as I am heading to Brussels next month. The magazine is in English and Finnish and well a quick leaf through. Cattle class (economy) was comfortable enough although wherever possible this is due to the fact that I tend to sit by the emergency exit first class leg room in economy class...
All in all I found the service entirely satisfactory and particularly appreciate their policy on ticket pricing what a shame that not all airlines have the same blue sky thinking approach as Finnair. I'll be flying on them again - especially as their flights are at more agreeable times than Austrian's for the Vienna-Helsinki route.
Having the advantage of having to fly all over the world in my job, I have travelled to many places and flown with many airlines. I have flown to beijing on Finnair, consisting of flights, Heathrow to Helsinki, then Helsinki to Beijing. The Heathrow to Helsinki part of my flight was done in economy class, and as far as economy flights go this one was slightly above average, general services levels but the food was far better than most european legs i've been on. Just for note, if you get stuck at helsinki airport, on a transfer take plenty of reading material as theres nothing much to do, and the coffee is very expensive. For my flight from Helsinki to China, I had the pleasure of being upgraded to business class. I found the flight attendants to be charming and attentive, as well as the seating being well spaced and comfortable. We were served food and drink at regular intervals during the 16 hour flight that equalled some of the quality restaurants I have eaten in. Although nobody can rival Cathay Pacific in my book, Finnair is up there in my top ten.
Finland - birch trees, mixed saunas and ... Finnair. This airline is also keen to take you much further afield, and will carry to to the likes of Bangkok, Singapore etc, for less than BA, if you don't mind changing planes in Helsinki. Where is the best place to buy tickets on Finnair? This is my best advice based upon 10 years experience of selling discounted airline tickets - but if you think you already know everything, and just want to find out the cheapest place to buy it for this airline, then skip to the last paragraph! Lets face it, all airlines can get you from A to B, sometimes you have to change at C, sometimes you have to hang around at C, but if price is your main concern, read on .... First, as an ex-travel agent, let me explain how the system works. Nearly all airlines belong to a cartel known as IATA, which amongst other duties, helps to regulate the official prices between each pair of worldwide destinations. My first piece of advice is, never phone the airline for the official fare, except as a last resort - their staff are trained to extract the highest fare they can get away with, and they are never going to tell you that one of their competitors has a better deal, or that you can save money going the next or previous day. Furthermore, they can only sell at the officially agreed price. Luckily for us consumers, and unluckily for the airlines, they cannot sell all their seats at the official price, especially if a much better, more direct airline has the same price. For example, if the official fare to, say, Bangkok is £600 from airline A (non-stop in 12 hours) and the same price from airline B (19 hours with a 7 hour wait changing planes in Karachi airport) then it is obvious which will sell out first. In order to generate market share, less popular airlines will unofficially discount their fares through wholesalers known as "consolidators" - these can s
ometimes save you more than half of the official fare. These consolidators appoint specialised agents, and sometimes you can even save more money if the consolidator will deal with you direct. You may be surprised to learn that, depending on the length of the journey, the consolidator is only charging you £10 - £40 more than the "factory" price given to them by the airline. Contrary to popular misconception, it is not risky to deal with these so called "bucket shops" - If they let you down, they can be heavily fined or even jailed - everything is covered by the government ATOL scheme, so it is a lot safer than, for example, paying for a three-piece suite in advance to a High Street furniture chain. To summarise, these are my recommendations: Contact the airline for their best official price, on 0990 997711 Call the consolidator on 0207 434 1523 (Air Travel Guide - ATOL 3086).