Madrid 2013: Finnair JFK-HEL-MAD, Layover in HEL
This was my last flight before making EXP for 2014. I wished I took this trip a bit earlier so I could apply my SWU earlier but I didn’t have much more vacation time. It was definitely exciting to finally reach top tier status after this flight.
I took this flight Wednesday afternoon so I went back to NY Tuesday night. There was some heavy rain Tuesday night so I didn’t get home until about 2am. I took a few naps along the way as I was really tired and didn’t have coffee during my drive.
Usually my dad drives me to the airport but this was a weekday so he couldn’t drive me. This is probably the second time I took the Airtrain to JFK. Next time, I’ll use Will Run for Miles’ tip about going to JFK via the Q10 to save $5 bucks.
I got right through security on the Premium Lane. Right in T7, there was a display advertising Wicked, which was a great play. I saw it in Boston earlier this year.
I went to the Admirals club for a quick drink and sandwich before my flight. It was also interesting that before Thanksgiving, they had a lounge for Mastercard holders.
I boarded behind the business class passengers. The first picture is of the business class while the rest are of coach.
There was ample leg room and there was an AC charger between the seats. I used it to keep my phone topped off.
A few screenshots of the inflight map.
We were served a quick breakfast before landing. I managed to sleep for a few hours but was still pretty tired when I landed.
The most amazing part about flying through Helsinki is that you get to go into the non-schengen area right after you land. No need to clear customs or immigration. I am not sure if this applies to all flights but at least the one from JFK applies. As I did have an onward flight with oneworld later that day, I got into the lounge. There were two people in there (I’m not even sure why. They weren’t on my flight) but the rest was empty. The lounge review will be in a separate post.
After eating and getting some beer at the lounge, I set off to take a quick tour of Helsinki before I bring my wife here two days later. I read up on the shuttle and took the public bus into town. I had taken out some Euros from the ATM but didn’t get any coins for the bus. I asked a few people at the bus stop and two ladies had enough change for me to get on the bus.
The bus to take is the 615 and when the 615 isn’t running, take the 620. 620 is the early morning/late night version of the 615. As of December 2013, the fare for the 615 is 4.50Euro and 620 is 6EUR.
The last stop is the city center adjacent to the main train station there.
Below are a few pictures of the train station.
The metro station is just below them main train station. You have to buy your ticket at the machines at the lower level before going all the way down to the platform. There are a few tap sensors to pay for the metro when you go into the station.
I had lunch at a restaurant at the mall near the city center. It was called Kaarna. It was a bit expensive but it was local Finnish food. I had a reindeer burger wrap with a beer. The reindeer was good but the wrap was difficult to eat. I had to cut and eat it in pieces.
Afterwards, I walked down Alexandersgaten, which seems to be one of the main shopping areas in the city, besides all the malls lining Mannerheiminte and Brunnsgaten.
In front of Stockmann, which I would presume to be a large department store like Macy’s, had a large Lego display in the front. As you can see from the second pictures, there were kids who stopped to stare at it, despite them both being just a tad too short to see the whole thing.
There were also various lights that were strung up along the streets. They are much more visible at night. I also found Hotel Kamp, which was not very easy to find. The main entrance is on Kluuvikatu and not very visible from the main street of Pohjoisesplandi.
Once I found the hotel, I made my way back to the airport for my flight down to Madrid.
The premium line at HEL was very short so it took almost no time at all to get through security for the schengen flight. At this time I only had access to the schengen lounges so I went to the Finnair business class lounge. A full review will be in a separate post.
The boarding process was very smooth. In the middle of our flight, we were served a quick snack that was meant to be dinner.
We were flown into a remote gate, which I thought was kind of odd seeing that the airport terminal we landed at is brand new. It also took about 15 minutes to drive from the runway. I swore that we landed in Portugal and were driving to Spain.
My wife was already waiting for me outside the terminal exit. She flew on Aer Lingus, which was at another terminal. She landed about 30 minutes before me so she had plenty of time to take the shuttle over to my terminal. Once I got a sim card and found where my hotel was (which was nowhere near downtown Madrid), we hopped onto the metro and went to our hotel.