RTW: Day 2: Helsinki to Delhi

Boy am I tired! The flight from Helsinki to Delhi took an extra 1:30hrs as Pakistani airspace is still closed. But I have arrived in Delhi safe and sound so mustn’t grumble 🙂

The Flight HEL-DEL Finnair A330-300

The weather at Helsinki was very cloudy and very wet for the departure and with the temperature only 1C the aircraft needed to be de-iced before we could go. I have never seen de-icing done before. Obviously Helsinki gets a lot of snow and ice and so de-icing in a normal occurance there and so we taxied to the runway but there was a de-icing station near the holding point, we went in a little like a carwash, they drove the de-icing vehicles up to the aircraft and sprayed, 5 mins later we taxied straight out of there and onto the runway for departure. All very efficient.

I have not flown on a A330 before and to be honest all I can say is that it was OK. The business cabin lacks any kind of character in my opinion and the seat/bed was not comfortable. How much of that is to do with Finnair and how much with the aircraft type I don’t know but it hasn’t wowed me. The seat was quite hard and when in the bed mode it made sleep difficult.

The arrangement of the “foot coffin” I didn’t find a problem but if you want to put your knees up then watch out! You might bash them as I did the first time.

Personal storage was very limited with a small space where the headset plugs in and the magazine rack. There was also a small space at ground level for shoes but it is pretty useless for anything else. There was quite a bit of worktop though which was good once airborne but it has to be clear for take-off and landing. I found myself having to keep things in the overhead lockers in my hand baggage and bring them down when I wanted them. More usable storage space would have been nice.

I know that we all moan at the British Airways Club World cabin not have direct access to the aisle but it is a much better cabin and they are much better seats/beds. I have heard that there are much better business class cabins than BA but with this as a comparison BA isn’t bad.

The food for dinner was pretty good. I went for the fish starter and main and it was nicely presented and not over-cooked. The Riesling went well with it too! The champagne was a Joseph Perrier and very good it was too. Aren’t the Finnair glasses pretty.

However, the breakfast was not great. I went for porridge thinking that it would be the quick type made with boiling water as seen in Costa and Starbucks at home which isn’t too bad. But, firstly, it was NOT porridge but some kind of Ready Brek. Secondly it was made with non boiling water and it tasted awful with a rather disgusting consistency. I knew I shouldn’t have gone for porridge… whatever was I thinking! I was very tired and just pulled out of a slumber when the lights came on so I put it down to that! The fruit and croissant were fine but the so-called porridge put me off and I lost my appetite for anything at all after that.

The service through the flight was similar to my first Finnair flight… friendly, polite, understated and efficient. They did an excellent job keeping my needs for food and drink satisfied.

The dinner service finished about 3 hrs into the flight and then the cabin lights went off and time for bed. I didn’t get much sleep but I did get 4 or 5 hours of dozing rest. Not enough though and now I can see how trips like this can be exhausting. I am only 2-3 days in and I am feeling very tired indeed. A good sleep in a decent hotel tonight should fix that, at least until the next flight!

So, overall, a pretty good flight and the A330-300 is obviously a good aircraft in many ways but I was underwhelmed by its cabin. I hope the A350 is a better experience for the flight to Kuala Lumpur tomorrow – I am not holding my breath!

Arrival at Indira Gandhi International Airport

Indira Gandhi International Airport, Delhi is big and the walk from the gate to arrivals was most welcome after such a flight although the brown carpet is enough to bring on airsickness if you didn’t have it on the airplane!

Immigration was a bit weird. The sign said “All visa types” so I queued and when I got to the front the officer pointed me to another area behind that said “e-visa”. Fortunately I was in the priority lane so it didn’t waste much time but if I had queued in the main line for nothing I would have been a bit miffed. Anyway, through immigration quickly after that and out into the arrivals area to be greeted by a welcome Costa Coffee shop and a welcome latte while I sorted out how to get to the hotel.

I am staying in the Radisson Blu Plaza Delhi Airport and the best way to get there is a pre-paid taxi. There are lots of pre-paid taxi concession booths in arrivals. You choose one, tell them where you want to go, they give you a price and you pay. They then give you a chit that you take to the taxi stand and give to the driver, tell him where you are going and off you go. Not seen that before but it worked quite well and it does prevent the uncertainty of wondering if you will get ripped off by the driver which is always a risk at any large airport. This way only official taxis are used. Cool!

This is my first time to India and so for me the taxi drive of just 3 miles was interesting. A lot of lane wandering and hooting of horns but we got there and no one was shouted at or bumped. It obviously kind of works here for the locals but I’d hate to drive here myself. I’d have a nervous breakdown!

So I am now checked into the hotel where the nice Salam on the front desk gave me early check in and late check out for tomorrow. Today then is sleep first and relax. I shall spend most, if not all, of my time in Delhi in the hotel and so I want to make use of the facilities and I will do a separate post on the hotel probably tomorrow.

Off to get some zzzzzz…..

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