The Traveling Steve's

Flights to London and Helsinki in Business Class

In our last post we had just finished dinner in the British Airways Lounge, and were heading out for our flight. I was a bit rushed getting that post done before we left, and by the time I got to the gate they were paging my name for “Last Call”! Not to worry, I also had Steve (DOS) texting me as well as he went ahead and boarded before I did. No worries though, I made the flight with 25 minutes to spare.

The flight was fairly empty in Business Class, and DOS ended up changing seats to the center section on this British Airways 777 jet. British Airways has a “funky” Business Class arrangement, with actually 8 seats across, meaning it’s fairly tight, especially considering Coach is 9 seats across.

Uniquely odd British Airways 777 Business Class seats

British Airways staggers the seats in an alternating yin-yang frontwards and backwards layout to make this work, but it’s awkward having a divider (that goes up and down to allow the Flight Attendant access for drink and meal service) separating the seat next to you, especially since that person is facing you directly from the backwards seat. The seats are truly lay-flat seats, however the arrangement means that with most seats, your seat mate will be crawling over someone’s legs when they have to access the aisle.

DOS was originally seated in the aisle seat next to me, but switched soon after takeoff as the center two seats next to me were empty. Fortunately my bulk head row meant I didn’t have to climb over anyone to get out.

Two Center seats in Business Class – DOS switched here next to my aisle seat as both center seats were empty.
My aisle bulkhead seat. DOS sat to the right of me after moving to the middle two seats which were unoccupied.  DOS sat backwards and we left the partition down (where my elbow is sticking thru) so we could talk.

The flight itself was excellent with decent food and great service from the many Flight Attendants attending to the Business Class Cabin. Oddly, this plane was equipped with a First Class Cabin, but it was not available for sale or upgrades; it was an equipment swap a few weeks ago from the 787, and all the seats were blocked out. It seemed like a waste having that whole cabin go empty, but I guess they didn’t have to cater that cabin or have extra flight attendants, and anyway the Business cabin was only 1/3 full.

The flight from Toronto was a speed six hours, almost an hour less than the scheduled time allotted for it.

DOS preparing for bed in the lay-flat seat.

Here are a couple photos from the meal service showing the shrimp appetizer dish, main beef course, and after dinner cheese selection.

Since it was a short flight, DOS and I both skipped watching the movies, as well as the wake-up breakfast service. We arrived into London Heathrow Airport terminal 5 shortly after 6am. With the sleeper seat and skipping the movie we managed to get a good 3 1/2 hours sleep, and weren’t too awfully tired upon arrival.

Good Morning DOS! It’s 5:45am – rise and shine!

At Heathrow, we had to transfer terminals for our connecting flight, so we took the airport bus from Terminal 5 to Terminal 3, going thru security once again as we did so. We walked thru the terminal fairly quickly, not shopping for anything, but did take a couple pics along the way.

We then headed up to the Airline Lounge areas, stopping briefly at British Airways Lounge while waiting for Cathay Pacific’s Lounge to open at 6:30am.

Cathay Pacific is a One-World airline partner, and in my humble opinion is one of the nicest lounges at Heathrow. As we both have One World Emerald status, we were allowed to access the First Class lounge at Cathay. We both like the fancy ala-carte service there, and had a nice breakfast of Belgian Waffles, yogurt, berries, bacon and sausage, plus a couple cups of coffee to perk us up a bit at this early hour.

Cathay Pacific also has nice lounge chairs to relax in or take a nap in a quiet setting.

Cathay Pacific First Class Lounge relaxation area

After nearly a four hour layover, our next flight was on FinnAir, which left around 10:45am, slightly delayed by 15 minutes. The flight on FinnAir was two and a half hours, but with the two hour time change, we arrived around 3:30pm into Helsinki.

Even on this short flight, a decent beef meal was served in Business Class, on the Airbus 350 Aircraft. This plane also had lay-flat seats, but was arranged much more efficiently with the reverse-herringbone design.

I was in 3A, while DOS was right behind me in 4A. As the layout is 1 X 2 X 1, we both had a window and aisle seat in the seat module, with a fairly large individual TV screen.

While I didn’t watch any movies on this flight, I did leave the TV on, tuned to the plane’s camera channel, or alternating with the map channel. FinnAir provides live views of the flight from two different angles; one with a tail-mounted camera, and one facing below.

We arrived into Helsinki about 3:30pm, and were surprised to see that the plane did not stop at a jetway, but rather remotely on the tarmac. After a few minutes, two large sets of stairs were rolled up to the plane which everyone had to depart from. We then took a bus to the terminal for immigration and customs.

Even with slight lines at immigration, we were on our way to the hotel by 4:15p. We are staying one night only at the Helsinki Airport Hilton, which is a “short walk” from the airport terminal.

The part that is left out in the description is, it’s a mostly snow covered trail which is very hard to push a luggage cart thru. There is also major airport construction going on, which requires a bit of a detour, including pushing the cart up a huge and steep ramp which was downright difficult to do, not to mention dangerous.

We ended up taking all but one piece of luggage off the cart and made three trips up and down the ramp so we wouldn’t fall down!

Once we got checked into the hotel, we were upgraded to an Executive Suite, thanks to my Hilton Diamond status.

Our in-suite sauna at the Helsinki Hilton Airport

We were on the fifth (top) floor and also had access to the Executive lounge, which we ended up making a dinner of it. As it was a long day on Trans-Atlantic travel, we headed to bed early.

Welcome to Helsinki!

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