Finland Trip Report: Flight to Helsinki SJC-ORD-DUS-HEL

Did you know that Finland has the highest per-capita consumption of coffee on the planet? Although we don’t normally drink coffee, it was only fitting that we started our journey enjoying a cup of joe. After a delightful caffe latte, we headed to the airport.

The SJC-ORD flight has a surprisingly good movie selection

I wasn’t expecting such a good seat-back Inflight Entertainment system (IFE), but American’s 739’s exceeded my expectations. I rarely watch movies at home, so it was great to catch up on Allegiant. Staff was friendly; service and food were good. Next thing you know, we were in Chicago.

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The ORD Admiral Lounge staff provided excellent service even when faced with irregular operations

The lounge has good views of the tarmac, and space for more than 700 people. That’s a big domestic lounge! I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves:

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TWI ORD Lounge3

This guy looks comfortable.

ORD lounge ORD lounge2

When we arrived at the ORD lounge, TripIt alerted that our ORD-DUS flight had been delayed by three hours due to mechanical issues. I don’t know how they get information so fast, often before the airlines notify me. I baked in the safety net of a two-hour layover, so I pulled out the laptop to start looking for alternative flights. 

I worked with the Admiral Lounge staff to find an alternate route through JFK that departed around the same time as the new ORD-DUS departure time. But by the time we were going to ticket the flight, release my previous flight, and reroute the luggage, the original flight looked to be departing only one hour later. We decided to stick with the original flight and started walking towards the gate, where we found a pleasant surprise.

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K9 @ Gate K9. Coincidence? I think not.

We taxied for about an hour before finally taking off, but we were glad to stay with the original itinerary because there were significant weather delays.  I later found out that the alternate flight (even though was on a 777-300ER) was also delayed by several hours, and we would not have made the second connection.

AA242 ORD-DUS: AA’s international in-flight service is fantastic

Meals: steak was a little on the dry side, but the sauce made up for it. The stewardess even helped me to plate the mac and cheese that was supposed to go with my steak onto the Mrs.’ fish plate. I told her that the Mrs. loves mac and cheese, and these kind gestures made the trip very pleasant. The staff smiled and greeted us by name most of the flight.

TWI AA ORD-DUS Meal TWI AA ORD-DUS Meal

Seat: both in the lounging and sleeping positions, the relatively new J seats worked. I was so comfortable lounging that I fell asleep watching a movie after dinner. Here is a picture of the seat in front of mine – that lucky passenger got the bulkhead where the leg-cubby was twice as big as usual!

TWI AA ORD-DUS seat

We arrived in DUS with an hour to spare, so just stopped by the DUS One World lounge to use the restroom (which is often cleaner than the general airport bathroom). Interestingly this restroom held a personal record for most number of doors between the main room and the place where I could ‘rest’. I don’t know if the architect who designed the bathroom was trying to deter people from using it. I had to open five doors to finally rest. Good thing Gandolf wasn’t at any of those gates to say “you shall not pass!”

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After the relief, we quickly went to the gate for a straight-forward flight to HEL.

Finnair AY704 DUS-HEL: Very Finnish

On this short, two-hour flight, the drinks were served in Alvar Aalto china, the best-looking glasses in the air, for sure. The Finnish-design cups were also affordable, as the flight attendants shared that people often purchase them, and they only cost about $15 each for beautiful and functional hand-made glass.

TWI AY DUS-HEL food

TWI AY DUS-HEL food

Oops, was hungry, so food is gone. But look at those the unique glasses!

We enjoyed Finnish meatballs (similar to Swedish meatballs) with lingonberry sauce and steamed cabbage. The crew was efficient and friendly, though their face did not always show their happiness. Finns are known not to exhibit emotion often. They are generally calm and steady – not too happy, not too sad. If there was an emoji for a Finn they would look like this most of the time, neutral:

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The inflight service gave me a good preview of the culture and soon, I was looking at a view I had not seen in more than ten years…

TWI AY DUS-HEL Finland3 TWI AY DUS-HEL Finland TWI AY DUS-HEL Finland2

My next post will be about the top five things to do in Finland. Stay tuned!

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