Date: 02 June 2016.
Flight time: 2 hours and fifty minutes.
Seat: 2D, aisle on the right side of the aircraft.
The bus drops us off somewhere in the bowels of Helsinki airport’s terminal building. Immigration takes place on the ground floor and once more, the scanners for biometric passports work swiftly and efficiently.
From immigration I go one floor up, only to find myself – I think – landside again. But the security checkpoint is right next to the exit from immigration and there are no queues. So within a matter of five minutes after entering the terminal building, I am already airside again and on my way to the lounge.
I am already holding my boarding pass for the flight to Zürich.
Location: One level above the public airside area. The stairs are located near gate 22.
Type of Lounge: Finnair Schengen lounge.
Facilities: Toilets but no showers. Other than that, I must say the lounge does remind me a lot of an IKEA showroom…
Catering: As in the non-Schengen lounge, the food options are not bad and there is a good selection of hot and cold dishes.
Internet: Free wifi is available throughout the terminal. No password required.
The lounge is still quite empty when I arrive. Just after reception I make a right turn to get myself a seat near the window, figuring this is where I will have the best apron views. The only problem though, is that this is the side of the terminal that was facing the sun all day, so despite the air conditioning, this part of the lounge is starting to feel decidedly like a Finish sauna. Alas, by the time I give up and decide to look for a new, cooler place to sit, the lounge has filled up completely.
Priority Boarding: Priority boarding is ignored to speed up the boarding process.
Boarding for the flight starts with a delay of about fifty minutes. Apparently, our aircraft was struck by lightning and before we continue for Zürich, the aircraft’s avionics will need to be checked.
Configuration: 2 + 2. Classic set up for a European Business Class, with the middle seat on a row of three kept empty.
Seat: On the Airbus A321, there is a row 1 on both the port and starboard side of the aircraft, contrary to the A320 which has no row 1 on the starboard side. Other than that, the seat is identical to that Finnair has on the Airbus A320. Seat pitch is good though, and even on row 2 I have enough space to stretch out and I can even open my MacBook Air without any problems.
According to the Finnair inflight magazine, their Airbus A321 has a seating capacity of between 196 and 209. As the passengers board the aircraft, the cabin crew announce that the flight will be nearly full. And indeed, there are four rows of Business Class on this aircraft, which makes a total of 16 seats, 12 of which are occupied.
Pitch: 31 inches.
Width: 18 inches.
Facilities: No power outlets.
Audio and Video: There are video screens which descend from out of the overhead bins. On this flight though, the screens are only used for the safety on board demonstration video.
The crew on this flight are truly excellent. The service in the Business Class section is done by the purser, a middle-aged lady with a very charming and endearing personality and a good sense of humour.
Welcome drink on the ground: No.
Towel before the meal: Scented hot towel.
Pre-meal drink: Diet Coke, served with ice and a slice of lemon.
Delivery: Tray service.
Type of meal: Early supper.
- Starter – sea buckthorn marinated Baltic herring and dill potatoes.
- Main course – beef meatballs and turkey chorizo, gratin potatoes, red wine sauce and vegetables.
- Dessert – chocolate brownie and strawberry coulis.
- Selection from the breadbasket.
- Tea or coffee.
The first part of the service goes well, right up until the glasses for the aperitif are removed. But then the turbulence kicks in and even the crew are obliged to remain seated. By the time the aircraft has climbed to a calmer level and the service resumes, we are only forty minutes out of Zürich. But still, the cabin crew do an excellent job and get everybody served without rushing.
At 18h20 Swiss local time, the pilot in command decides to check out the A321’s capabilities as a fighter jet. We start our approach into Zürich and what starts out as a shallow descent gradually turns into a nosedive. But still, like this we manage a straight in approach and land eventually only a few minutes behind schedule.
The aircraft comes to a stop on its parking stand at the A concourse at 18h50. By 19h05 I am already standing on the platform of the airport’s railway station waiting to catch the train home.