Finnair’s Embraer E-190 flight review on the way to Helsinki

Finnair (AY) has been fascinating me for many years but I never really had a chance to travel on board of this airline. I was always very impressed by the progress, which made this carrier over the years, becoming a specialist in Europe to Asia flying. The slogan on its homepage says it all, describing the airlines as “Your shortcut to Asia”.

In my first flight with Finnish national carrier I didn’t had a chance to check its long haul product because I flew only from Warsaw to Helsinki. I hope to find out a lot more about the company and its long-haul planes, while testing it’s incoming A350 fleet. New Airbus machines will start arriving in the middle of 2015 and will be deployed to various Asian destination.

Webpage.

 My first impression about the page is really good. You are able to select your location from among 33 countries. The site looks very modern and intuitive. All buttons and sections are clearly marked and visible. The central part of the page is dominated by unified book, check-in manage booking and flight status section. It is very convenient and elegant and enables to focus on most important things first.

Finnair website

Finnair website, source: http://www.finnair.com

The booking page itself, where we are redirected after choosing desired destination, is slightly less transparent but still offers one of the best experiences in the industry. Users are able to find all the important information with a blink of an eye, which makes you feel comfortable and relaxed during booking process. I really like the quality, so as well thought out layout and structure of the webpage.

Booking process.

I didn’t have a chance to find it out as I booked my flight through Japan Airlines webpage. JAL is having a codeshare with Finnair on the flight to Warsaw. Maybe next time when I decide to fly Finnair, I will be able to check all features of the airlines website and tell you more precisely about managing booking online or online seat reservation process.

Quick facts about the airline.

Finnair (AY) was created in 1923 and according to specialists is one of the safest airlines in the industry. It has one major hub located in Helsinki Airport (HEL). In 2014 the airline carried 9,63 million passengers which is around 4% increase from 2013. This however hasn’t prevented the airline to report a 36,5 million EUR loss in 2014.

IMG_4332_Fotor

The 2014 was the year of restructuring and preparing the carrier for the arrival of brand new and ultra modern Airbus A350-900 XWB planes. Additionally Finnair has recently bought Flybe stake in Flybe Nordic becoming the sole owner of this airlines. The carrier will be renamed for Nordic Regional Airlines which will operate its flights under AY code.

At the airport 

I was flying to Helsinki on Easter Sunday, so the Warsaw Airport (WAW) was rather calm and empty. I decided to try self-check in kiosk but as my ticket was booked through Japan Airlines I couldn’t find my e-ticket number. I had to use check in desk instead. The whole process was very efficient despite surprisingly long queue, caused by large Chinese group returning from holidays in Europe. I was served by dedicated Warsaw Airport staff member as there were no Finnair employees in WAW.

Warsaw airport, Chopin airport

Chopin airport Warsaw

By the counter it turned out that my ticket was mistakenly issued for the false surname which was mixed up with my name. That is why airport staff was not able to find my reservation in the system at first. Once they have gen up on what had happened they were very helpful and printed my boarding passes for both WAW-HEL and HEL-NRT sectors. This is where my short name and surname became useful enabling to print it in whole. I started to worry about the return and even considered changing my ticket but as the staff gave me the green light to fly, I decided to go with the flow and stopped thinking about the way back. It was a very good decision though as in Japan I didn’t have any problems too. Service was very pleasant and soon I was ready to go.

Plane livery / outside view

Honestly I didn’t like it so much. The livery was very simple and in my opinion too minimalistic. Blue and white colors matched very well but despite the shape of Embraer E-190 is very dynamic and elegant, it looked too boring and stale for me.

Finnair Embraer E-190

Finnair Embraer E-190

There was too much of white paint used. This is of course a matter of own taste and just my subjective impression. The plane looked very well maintained and clean from the outside.

Boarding

As the plane was small getting in wasn’t very long and complicated. After 15 minutes boarding was completed. All the passengers were disciplined and punctual.

The plane

The plane I flew was Embraer E-190 with 100 seats. It was about 5 years old, registration OH-LKN and was delivered to Finnair in 2009. It was configured in one class but first 2 rows in front seats were used by business class or privileged passengers and were separated from the main cabin by thin curtains.

Finnair Embraer E-190

Finnair Embraer E-190

Embraers E-190 capable of hosting from 98 to 114 passengers and its bit larger brother E-195 (108-124 passengers) are the proven planes, which were produced in the number of almost 700 machines so far. Finnair currently uses 12 of this aircrafts.

First impression on board

The flight attendants welcomed passengers very warmly with and with a friendly smile. I liked the interior decoration, with a nice grey seats. The overhead bins were a bit worn out, having plenty of scratches. However, apart from that, the plain looked very fresh and relatively new. It seemed trustworthy and capable to fly safely. The interior was very clean.

Seating comfort

I was really pleased by a very nice and comfortable seats in Finnair’s Embraer. First of all the Brazilian manufacturer equipped the plane with a very convenient 2-2 configuration, which I like very much and gives more privacy then Airbus A320 or Boeing 737 standard 3-3 layout.

Seats in Finnair’s Embraer E-190

Finnair Embraer E-190

The seats were light grey and got very interesting texture, which was soft and nice to touch. They were clean, fresh and had a nice slim design which used less space. The seats had a pitch of 31 inches and width of 18 inch which is pretty decent result and with my height of 185 cm I felt comfortable enough for 1,5-hour flight. What I found very useful were very large tray tables. Although there was nothing to put on it except for a glass of water and the in-flight magazine, it is definitely worth mentioning.

In-flight meals

It was a short European flight and no food was served free of charge. The flight attendance gave us a very nice looking menu with various sandwiches and salads, however I haven’t dedicated to order anything. The selection of soft drinks was very basic and of course alcohol was extra paid. If you are interested in the meals prices, please see below photos.

Finnair menu

Finnair menu

Finnair menu

Finnair menu

What I found unusual was that I didn’t get even smallest snack which is quite common in other regional or legacy carriers.

In-flight Entertainment

There was no IFE in the cabin. Embraer E190 serve only short to medium haul European routes and lack of in flight entertainment is a standard in Europe.

Service quality 

Flight attendants were very kind and friendly. My wife was accidentally filming the plane interior during the safety demonstration and she didn’t know it is forbidden. The stewardess just came and politely asked her to delete the movie from the phone. During the conversation she was very persuasive but very good-tempered in the same time and I was very happy to see such type of attitude. Drinks and duty free service was fast, good and professional. Before the flight I considered Finnair’s flight attendants to be cold and distant but after it I completely changed my mind about them now perceiving them as really open and cheerful.

Toilets

The back toilet was the only one I was able to use and it was very small and uncomfortable. It is of course the result of the size of an plane but it doesn’t change a fact it was not easy to move around and claustrophobic passengers may not be pleased with it. What I didn’t like, the toilets seat covers storage unit was empty during whole flight. The bathroom was clean and smells nice but nothing more then that.

Finnair toilet

Pilot

There is not much I can say about him as he was perfectly silent during the whole flight. He performed a very good flight but lack of PA announcements was a bit irritating for me as I like to listen to the basic information about the flight, altitude etc. I didn’t memorize his name. The funny fact is that on our way back the captain’s name was Tommy Makinnen. I don’t have to explain how exiting it was for every rally enthusiast onboard. Of course our pilot was not a former rally driver but the coincidence of “Flying Finn” nickname and our plane captain job was pretty funny.

The flight

The flight to Helsinki was smooth and both start and landing were close to perfect. On the way back the weather was very windy and the plane was dancing in the air fighting to remain on course. Both take off and landing was terrible and plenty of passenger were anxious and nervous. Despite that my general flight impression about E-190 is positive and I could recommend this airplanes which are nice to fly.

On-time performance

 On both flights the airline was punctual or even a bit ahead of schedule which is very good.

In-flight magazine

Blue Wings

 IMG_2777

Frequent flyer programme. 

Finnair Plus. As I am not a member I decided to use my Emirates Skywards card instead while booking the flight with Japan Airlines.

We liked the most 

Great manners of flight attendants

We disliked the most

Tight bathroom

Summary 

I liked what I saw and experienced onboard of Finnair. Its Embraer E-190 planes are modern, clean and the staff is professional and nice. I would gladly use this airlines again if needed. If only they gave us nice snack free of charge I would give them even higher rating.

highflyers Regional and Short Haul Airlines Rating 7/10

highflyers Airlines Webpage Ranking 9/10

…Post scriptum

…We entered the plane and took our seats as one of the first and waited for some time for late passengers. Some of them turned out to be really nice to watch. First two very drunk and very “big” Finns drew our attention as they were squeezing though the aisle, talking laud, nudging other passengers and trying to chat up the stewardesses. I started to worry that our flight will become a nightmare because it turned out they had their seats just behind ours. They were extremely noisy, speaking the language I was not able to understand with the unnaturally low voices. The smell of alcohol filled the cabin and I suspected troubles as they seemed to be in the mood to party and kid around. Luckily and completely unexpectedly once their bodies hit the seats they immediately fall asleep, both in the same moment. Since then they become completely silent and quiet. I really couldn’t believe our luck. My astonishment lasted only for couple of second because another fellow travelers entered the plane. I was shocked again as this was a Polish national team in some more or less important sport. Each time I travel somewhere I am flying with a different Polish national team. This is really funny as I didn’t suspect Poland has so many national teams. This one was female team but the coaches and trainers were only male. And this was problem as they thought they know everything about everything and tried to impress young sports women. The worst were however jokes about plane crashes, which are common among Polish male while flying. I had to listen to it although I hate it. Well, different people differently react to fear. Some remain silent and try not to move like myself, the others say very stupid things….

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