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Irregular Operations on Finnair: What Is It Like? What Should You Do?

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On my recent trip to Europe, our flight from Bangkok to Helsinki was delayed for two hours, and we missed our connection on our onward flight from Helsinki to Bangkok. Here’s a recount of how Finnair handles irregular operations, as well as some tips as for what you should do in case this happens to you. 

My Experience

Finnair sent out an email prior to departure informing my family that our flight to Helsinki had been delayed for two hours, and told us to arrive at the airport three hours prior to the new departure time.

IMG_9814.jpgFinnair Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport Airport Drop-Off Area

When we arrived at the airport, the Economy queue was a bit of a mess. Thankfully, I was able to head over to the Priority queue. The agent was very helpful and gave us two options. We could check our baggage all the way to Amsterdam and hope that three seats open up on a KLM flight which left two hours after our original Finnair flight, or we could check our bags to Helsinki and risk not making a same-day connection if seats happened to open up, spend a night in Helsinki, and rebook ourselves to Amsterdam at our own cost.

IMG_9821.JPGFinnair Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport Check In 

The agent checked with one of her colleagues and confirmed that KLM was not selling seats on their from Helsinki to Amsterdam which departed 2 hours after our original flight. Given the fact that the flight looked fully booked, we decided to check our bags to Helsinki.

IMG_9827.jpgFinnair Airbus A350-900 Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport

Fast forward to around 6 hours into our flight to Helsinki, I checked out our ticket status and saw that we had been rebooked onto Finnair’s morning flight to Amsterdam the next day. Some other passengers also heading to Amsterdam weren’t quite lucky and had to connect in Tallinn to get to Amsterdam. At this time, we started planning our alternate travel arrangements.

Throughout the flight, we were kept updated on our connection status through the helpful in-flight entertainment system – just in case our connecting flight ended up getting delayed.

IMG_1121.jpgFinnair Airbus A350-900 In-flight Entertainment System Connection Information

As the second meal service started, the Chief Purser made an announcement detailing connection information for flights. This was helpful for anyone who had missed their flight due to the delay.

Upon arrival, Finnair staff were on hand to provide connection assistance for passengers with a same-day connection. Those having to stay the night in Helsinki were directed to the customer service counter at the baggage claim hall, where the staff at the counter had already printed out connecting boarding passes..

Unfortunately, they seemed to have forgotten to print our boarding passes. So, it was after another 10 minutes at the counter that our new boarding passes and hotel/meal vouchers for the Hilton Helsinki Airport were printed out. It appeared that Economy passengers were being placed at the Holiday Inn while Business passengers were placed at the Hilton, which is within walking distance from the terminal building.

IMG_9971.jpgFinnair Helsinki Airport Connection Support 

We were directed to the lovely Hilton, and we spent the rest of the day doing a quick tour of Helsinki.

IMG_9987 2.jpgHilton Helsinki Airport Deluxe Room 

The next morning, we caught our new flight to Helsinki and arrived in Amsterdam around 15 hours late.

IMG_0004.jpgFinnair Airbus A321-200 Business Class Cabin 

Overall, I was very satisfied with the way Finnair handled our delay. Throughout our entire experience, the delay and missed connection was extremely well communicated and handled. Every single staff member that we interacted with throughout was very helpful and provided valuable assistance. Finnair connects passengers between Asia and Europe through its Helsinki hub, so they’ve very clearly nailed down how to deal with irregular operations.

Some Tips for Misconnecting on Finnair

1. Be Polite To Frontline Staff

This goes without saying. However, I cannot stress this enough. It’s not the fault of the staff that a flight is delayed/cancelled. It is important to treat staff members with respect, especially irregular operations are equally stressful for them. I mean, who likes dealing with hundreds of angry customers? Being calm, especially in the most stressful of times, is crucial to making such a stressful experience as smooth as possible.

2. Be Prepared

If you know your flight delay will mean a missed connection, it won’t hurt to do your research about availability for some other options. By doing your research, it’ll be much easier to figure out an alternate travel arrangement with a check-in agent. In my case, I did a dummy booking on KLM’s website to check for availability on their evening flight from Helsinki to Amsterdam (which was the last flight of the day), which I found was completely sold out.

IMG_9820.jpgFinnair Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport Priority Check In

With this information, we were able to establish, even before even arriving at the check-in counter, that we were most likely going to be arriving in Amsterdam a day late. By having this information, it also helps you make the right decisions about where to check your bag. We checked our bags to Helsinki, which allowed us to have a change of clothes for our overnight in the city. Some other passengers weren’t quite as lucky.

3. Use The Inflight WiFi

It might be a good idea to splurge on a couple of hours of WiFi ( or if you’re in Business Class, use your one hour of complimentary WiFi) to check out Finnair’s alternate arrangements for you when you’re at the rear end of the flight (2-3 hours prior to arrival). This gives you some time to start planning your alternate travel arrangements. In our case, we shortened our stay in Luxembourg and shifted our two-night stay in The Hague by one day to compensate for the delay.

IMG_0123.jpgHotel Des Indes The Hague Luxury Room 

3. Contact Your Hotels and Travel Insurance Provider

If you’re going to have to spend a night in Helsinki, it would be a good idea to contact your hotel and notify them that you’re going to have to amend your stay in some way due to airline irregular operations. You might have to pay an extra charge to make these amends. Most travel insurance plans include some form of compensation for extra costs as a result of airline irregular operations, so it would be a good idea to check out your plan and figure out how much you can get in compensation.

4. Don’t Forget About EC261

If your arrival delay exceeds three hours, you are entitled to compensation under the European Union’s Flight Compensation Regulation 261/2004. However, note that delays under “extraordinary circumstances”, such as a massive IT failure grounding all flights, are not covered under the regulation. You can find more specifics at the Wikipedia page about this regulation. 

IMG_9995.jpgI guess you could say we were paid to spend a night in gorgeous Helsinki

Bottom Line

Look, a long delay followed by a missed connection sucks. However, I was really impressed with how well Finnair communicated and handled the delay. There wasn’t a moment throughout our experience where we weren’t in the know. The whole fiasco really wasn’t all that stressful, and I’m a naturally highly stressed out person. If anything, this experience has solidified my opinion on Finnair’s operational excellence.

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