LH4481 BCN-MUC A320-200 seat 5D

And then back to The Prat. Once through check-in and security, the airside shopping mall side of things seems quite modern, if sadly lacking in mailboxes. Fortunately, the kind lady at the (well-hidden) Info desk promised to take care of my postcards, and I could devote myself to eating olives in the Spanair lounge. Alas, these pickled globules were pretty much the highlight, as there was no wifi, only a few power-equipped PC spaces and not much in the way of available seating. Somebody earlier on FT praised the lounge as being of one of the few to still use announcements, but I’m not sure what’s to celebrate: I’ll take a nice quiet monitor of flight status info over trilingual (Catalan, English, Spanish) announcements of every Spanair flight to some corner of the peninsula.

A momentous flight: as my qualification period for KrisFlyer started on 1 May, this is the first one I’m putting on my KF account instead of SAS. Lufthansa made a pretty good pitch for themselves though: it was just a 2-hour flight, but I wazs positively surprised to receive a free sandwich, a chocobanana granola bar thingy, a drink, and refills on each to boot. See, SAS? This is what you should be doing too.

As LH crews tend to do, I was spoken to in German, but as the questions were on the level of “Kase oder Schinke?” I obliged and tried to Deutsch them right back. Counting SMSes, this means I’ve used five languages — English, Spanish, German, Finnish and Japanese — today. Hooray for multilingualism!

 

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KF847 HEL-BCN MD-90 seat 1C

Not many changes at HEL were visible, but lots are afoot. The Helsinki Hilton Airport will open in another few months, work on the expansion of the non-Schengen wing is well underway, and even the long-awaited rail link is nudging forward and might start construction next year, for theoretical completion in 2013.

Check-in was quick and painless, security was neither — with only one point open, there was a long queue, and for the first time on this trip, I even had to remove my laptop from its protective padding. Once on the other side, with last-minute souvenir duties taken care of (reindeer meat? check. Moomin toy? check.) I headed for the SAS lounge, where I was positively surprised to find an approximation of real food in the form of meatballs and potato salad, plus free wireless. Alas, the meatballs were still frozen on the inside, but you get what you pay for…

More MD-90s, this time in Blue1 colors. It’s a four-hour flight to BCN and the only service that doesn’t cost money (yet?) is using the bathroom. Those salads were looking and those pizzas were smelling surprisingly good, but most of my fellow passengers seemed to stick to liquid refreshments. (Counting the number of glasses on his table, the hardy fellow in Seat 1H was up to 7 Jack & cokes before two hours were up.)

I can’t remember the last time I’ve caught myself staring at an SAS group flight attendant’s shapely … — but then again, I can’t remember the last time I flew an SAS flight where the average age of the crew was below 60. This is evidently one of the advantages of running sister airlines that don’t have to hire legacy staff.