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.