Tier Point Run to Las Vegas in Feb 2022

Enjoying getting back into flying after the awful last few years. Managed to sneak in another trip in Feb with Las Vegas in my sights.

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An airy-feeling Budapest Terminal 2B Airside
An airy-feeling Budapest Terminal 2B Airside
An airy-feeling Budapest Terminal 2B Airside
An airy-feeling Budapest Terminal 2B Airside

Tier Point Run to Los Angeles in May 2024: Day 2 – Budapest (BUD) to Helsinki (HEL)

By Nige on Wed 15 May 2024 at 14:32
Type: Post
Story: Tier Point Run to Los Angeles in May 2024
Tags: BUD | Budapest | Finnair | HEL | Helsinki | Trips

Having turned off the light at around 1:30 a.m., I was awake at around 6:30 a.m., thinking about whether Mango had allowed her mum to get some sleep last night.

She had been naughty over the previous few nights, waking us at all hours by meowing and scratching outside our bedroom door.

The Plaza Premium Lounge at Budapest Terminal 2b
The Plaza Premium Lounge at Budapest Terminal 2b
The Plaza Premium Lounge at Budapest Terminal 2b
The Plaza Premium Lounge at Budapest Terminal 2b

By the time we spoke later on, Vick confirmed she had enjoyed a peaceful night. Whether that was down to Mango being good or the ear plugs that The Vickster had deployed, we were not too sure.

Either way, a good night’s sleep was enjoyed in the Billingham household.

After doing some admin, I packed up and headed back to the airport, looking forward to the real start of my trip.

It was a beautifully sunny day, and Terminal 2B was hectic. Fasttrack Security was open and not too busy, but there was a family with a pushchair and numerous kids ahead of me.

One of the seating areas in the Sky Court Lounge at Budapest Terminal 2b
One of the seating areas in the Sky Court Lounge at Budapest Terminal 2b
One of the seating areas in the Sky Court Lounge at Budapest Terminal 2b
One of the seating areas in the Sky Court Lounge at Budapest Terminal 2b

Each had to be patted down individually to make sure they weren’t smuggling something airside at Budapest airport. That delayed things by 10 mins. Consequently, there was a fair queue by the time we started moving.

Flight: BA6064 Equip: A320
Sched Depart: 12:05 Actual: 12:11
Sched Arrival: 15:25 Actual: 15:39
Takeoff: 12:25 Landing: 15:36

Terminal 2B has an airy, clean feel to the departure lounge. It is a pleasure to walk through it.

Food and drink available in the Sky Court Lounge
Food and drink available in the Sky Court Lounge
Food and drink available in the Sky Court Lounge
Food and drink available in the Sky Court Lounge

Having walked through the duty-free shop, the Schengen lounges were to the right and up the escalator on the mezzanine level.

I started in the Plaza Premium Lounge, which was small and desperately dull. I picked up a coffee and debated whether it was worth popping to the Sky Court Lounge to see whether that was any better.

It was hugely better. It’s about 3 times bigger and has a more interesting layout. It also has a much better selection of food and its lighter too. I was pleased I’d made the effort to change lounges.

A perfect combination: fluffy pastries and coffee
A perfect combination: fluffy pastries and coffee
A perfect combination: fluffy pastries and coffee
A perfect combination: fluffy pastries and coffee

Although I wanted to abstain from some attractive-looking pastries, my will-power was found wanting yet again. They were very tasty…

The lounge soon filled up to beyond bursting. I was pleased I had a comfy seat and had access to fluffy tasty pastries!

My flight to Helsinki was due to leave from Gate A8, which was no more than 5 mins away.

I headed down there a good 45 mins before departure, and I was pleased to see a well organised gate.

Finnair clearly knew how to manage a boarding area!

Gate A8 at Helsinki airport - well organised and well managed
Gate A8 at Helsinki airport – well organised and well managed
Gate A8 at Helsinki airport - well organised and well managed
Gate A8 at Helsinki airport – well organised and well managed

There were three clearly separated boarding queues: Priority Boarding for Groups 1 and 2, and then two follow-on queues. The two follow-on queues had a tensa barrier across.

A gate agent checked the boarding passes of those in Priority Boarding. It only took 2-3 mins and it was all very civilised.

Boarding started about 35 mins ahead of departure time, and I got an initial red light since Finnair needed to check my passport and confirm I was travelling under an ESTA.

A beautiful view from seat 01F on the Finnair flight to Helsinki
A beautiful view from seat 01F on the Finnair flight to Helsinki
A beautiful view from seat 01F on the Finnair flight to Helsinki
A beautiful view from seat 01F on the Finnair flight to Helsinki

I should have thought about that and gotten everything checked before boarding commenced. Such is life!

Anyway, on into seat 01F and I had the entire row to myself! Nice!

I was hoping that the flight would arrive into Helsinki earlier than it has previously. I only had 35 mins between flights anyway, so any delay, and I knew I’d be struggling…

It’s recent arrival times showed a consistently late arrival and, in some examples, as late as 4pm.

Fab view of runway 13R on my way to Helsinki
Fab view of runway 13R on my way to Helsinki
Fab view of runway 13R on my way to Helsinki
Fab view of runway 13R on my way to Helsinki

Looked like the flight into Helsinki was due to arrive into Gate 24 and the flight leaving for Heathrow was likely to be leaving from Gate 46.

That involved getting through Passport Control to enter the non-Schengen area of the airport as well.

That connection was easily doable, but it was going to be tight. The fact that I was hand-luggage only could have been an advantage. More likely that Finnair would have waited for me rather than offloading me.

We pushed back 6 mins late. The captain advised it would be a 2 hr 15 min flight, so how long it was going to take us to taxi might be critical.

Lunch onboard the Finnair flight to Helsinki
Lunch onboard the Finnair flight to Helsinki
Lunch onboard the Finnair flight to Helsinki
Lunch onboard the Finnair flight to Helsinki

We didn’t take off until 12:25, so with a 2 hr 15 min flight time, it seemed highly unlikely that I would make my connection.

Lunch was served soon after taking off. There was no option as such, but it nevertheless, it was really tasty.

I had a personal description of the dishes that had been served, and the milk jug was left for my use for my cup of tea.

The starter was a bit odd: pesto and mint covered feta cheese. All I can say is that I tried a bit of it.

The main course was more mainstream: chicken with creamed carrots. Very nice indeed.

A patchwork quilt of fields somewhere in Europe
A patchwork quilt of fields somewhere in Europe
A patchwork quilt of fields somewhere in Europe
A patchwork quilt of fields somewhere in Europe

It was an excellent service. BA could learn a thing or two from Finnair…

I had a really nice chat with the lead cabin crew member. We talked about my tight connection and how she had crewed some of the BA wet-lease Finnair aircraft a while ago.

I told her that the service she offered was far superior to BA. Apparently, Finnair were told off (by BA) for offering a service that was better than BAs.

On final approach into Helsinki
On final approach into Helsinki
On final approach into Helsinki
On final approach into Helsinki

We landed at around 15:35, and luckily, it was a short taxi into Gate 24.

They were quick in attaching the air bridge, so I had around 15 mins to get to Gate 46.

I estimated it was about half a mile, but I was carrying a heavy rucksack, and I knew there would be plenty of people getting in my way!

I said goodbye to the excellent crew, and I started running up the airbridge and on towards Passport Control.


Follow the whole story here: Tier Point Run to Los Angeles in May 2024


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Author Bio: About Nige

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Nige is one of the co-founders of The Billingham Blog and works as a freelance management consultant. He loves to fly in his spare time!

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