I was invited by Korea Tourism Organisation (KTO London) to fly to Pyeongchang, South Korea. The purpose of this journey was to promote the ‘Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games’ and to get an insight into South Korean culture. This pre-visit to the Gangwondo Province which includes PyeongChang,
My past flying experience varied from ok-ish to unpleasant, anxious and can’t get out of the plane fast enough. I thought here is another flight that I have to endure in order to get to South Korea, something which I was not excited about. Little did I know that this was the flight that was going to change my view for the rest of my travel years.
As always, I normally fly economy class, however, this time I was sponsored to fly business class. The KTO London in cooperation with Finnair sponsored MenStyleFashion to join this exclusive trip. I found out that the fastest non-direct route from London to South Korea’s capital Seoul is with Finnair via Helsinki.
My original journey started at London Heathrow. However, due to a last-minute booking, business class at Heathrow Airport was full. My business travel experience began in Helsinki, Finland. Of particular note is that on leaving London, I was faced with Valentines day air traffic which explains why business travel could not start earlier. The number of people at the business class lounge demonstrated that this was a worthy flight to chose given its popularity. I felt immediately hopeful and positive at the perfect opportunity to experience the world of business class in contrast to first-class travel.
A sneak peek at the London Business Class lounge provided me with a good view of its spacious and modern decor. The perfect lighting did not go amiss and I was immediately attracted to the relaxing atmosphere and warm aura of the lounge at this venue. There was an abundance of newspaper and magazines for all types of readers, which is always an added bonus if I wanted to relax in the lounge before flying. There was unlimited and free wi-fi while in the business lounge which was easily accessible.
Cocktails Wine & Beverages
The business lounge in Helsinki offered an abundance of alcoholic beverages. There was a selection of wines, Riesling, Champagne, Port and liqueur which helped calm the nerves of the anxious traveller and make the flight enjoyable. In addition, there was a choice of snacks which consists of crisps, nuts and dried fruits. It was interesting and refreshing to see a selection of fresh fruits which, in a world where convenience means ready food, this is something unexpected and truly unique. Valentine’s day highlighted the promotion of specially made cocktails for the enamoured and for the singles it gave hope and a need to quench their thirst. So everything enticing for a romantic signature cocktail, made perfect sense on this particular day. The service with the cocktails was quick and very refreshing. I also noticed plenty of soft drinks and beer on offer. Alongside this, there was a nice selection of teas, vanilla being my favourite, and a proper coffee machine which is very important for me. The bar was always sparkly clean and tidy and the dirty cups and glasses were swiftly taken away.
I prefer eating before my flight, so once I get on the plane and up in the air I avoid it. Having the fresh fruit options before the flight provided light and ultimate choice before boarding the plane. The salad bar was always topped up with a variety of hot and cold dishes. When in Finland, I felt privileged to taste the local Finnish cuisines from Finland. The food seemed fresh, clean and was presented in a unique and sophisticated way. I tried ginger and carrot soup, which turned out to be very tasty and left me craving for more.
On a dessert front, a very international choice of cakes and sweets were there for the taking. Once again there was a fresh selection and a nice treat.
In case you need a rest or a lie down before the flight, there is a dedicated area in where you could sleep, known as a sleeping pod. The view from the sleeping pod overlooks the runway with comfortable lounge chairs with a sophisticated and personal touch. The lounge chairs and tables are luxurious and clean.
Bathrooms are clean with refreshing facilities, which is essential when travelling for almost 11 hours to South Korea.
Helsinki provides great priority boarding which enabled me to relax while the rest of the passengers board the plane. The priority boarding was worth the money given the treatment service I received. Business-class lounge on the plane was separate from the access of other passengers which provided for a more comfortable and relaxing boarding. To top it all off, this experience was further enhanced by being offered options of red wine and champagne, which was very special indeed.
South Korea I am confused, No Priority?
I was shocked to be told that there was no priority boarding in the business class in Seoul on my return flight. So no priority going through security and when I was about to board Finnair, again there was no business class queue for boarding. Further, on my way from Helsinki to London, I was informed by a member of staff that, due to Helsinki being a small airport there was no priority boarding available on European flights. As a business class customer and given the amount of money I pay, it makes business sense to have access to a business class service both ways.
I was very intrigued to experience the food quality on Finnair. There was a variety of options available to choose from. The presentation was great and the food tasted scrumptious and sophisticated entirely. Alongside the food, the wine and beverage choices were fantastic. I love how the salt and pepper were presented in a very unique way which adds to the practicality of using it. Beverages were served in a proper glass which makes you feel posh and special. An additional service, which felt like a special service, was the use of table cloth. The latter provided a specific touch and gave me a feel of top hygiene.
I was served by Mina from Korea, not only was she beautiful in looks she was also very attentive. Mina was quick to provide services which went untold. She was eager to please and checked throughout my journey if there was anything else she could do to assist me. Mina was observant of my working trip and ensured that I had a drink and snack at hand if needed. Just 30 minutes before landing in South Korea, it seemed I could not locate my glasses. My eye-wear is important and exclusive to me and not having them nearby meant I was a bit panicky. Mina was readily helpful and determined to find them for me, including pulling the chair apart. She knelt down on the floor with a torch and 10 minutes later, Mina found them. For me, this was impressive on all fronts. She assured me during this eyewear adventure, that if we could not find them, she would call the engineer once landed.
I was once again greeted by Mina on my return to Helsinki. I sat in business class and after take-off Mina greeted me warmly with a big hug. Mina was serving in a different section, however, I felt extra special knowing that I had developed a connection with Mina from my original trip. I am hopeful to see her again very soon.
The Seating Space
Imagine flying 10 hours in economy, so for me, the space that Finnair business class offered was wonderful. The access to dedicated shoe space was sweet. I had full access to a massage chair, which made my flying experience pain-free and comfortable. The chargers were in a perfect spot and the TV screen was big enough for any movie buff. The proper noise-cancelling headsets came in great use when I slept to keep the snoring noises out. The headsets were a great asset and soft on the ears which added to the perfect experience.
Travelling for 10 plus hours would have normally lead to extreme exhaustion and jet lagging. However, in this instance, this was not the case. I felt refreshed, comfortable and rested. In addition, I had the bonus of a personal massage chair which was the highlight of this flying experience.
Free Wi Fi On Board
For me having access to Wi-Fi all the time is important as we are an online magazine only. It was so much fun and brilliant at the same time to communicate with my team and family members during my flight. I was given one voucher, but due to me needing access to WiFi both on my computer and mobile phone, I was given two. Extra service without the fuss is why I would fly again with Finnair. Having the use of the massage chair, meant I could work on my laptop all the way and not feel cramped or tired. I noticed there was a dedicated mouse spot, which can be located on the table in which is used both for eating, while covered with a table cloth, and for working when the cover was removed.
Toilets were always left clean and there was no indication of unpleasant smells left behind from other passengers. It was significant to mention that the staff gave me complimentary Clarins facial cream, lip moisturizer and eye refreshing cleanser, which came in very handy given the length of the trip. The latter was a pleasant and unexpected addition to the entire business class experience.
Flying Business Class with Finnair has changed my entire perspective of flying. Finnair has managed to not only promote its expertise but also to persuade and convert me to become a flight lover and not an anxious passenger. Thanks to Finnair, who clearly understood my needs, my view of air travel has been changed forever. For all the reasons mentioned throughout this journey, my next promotional tour to Seoul and South Korea would be flying with Finnair all the way. Finally, I would like to thank Mina and the rest of the flight staff and tell them that being in their company made me feel like I am floating on Finnair.