Tier Point Run to Sofia in Dec 2023

This is another installment of my series of TP runs to Sofia. In June and July of 2023, I did a number of trips out to Sofia, just to collect TPs. There was another opportunity in Dec 2023 to collect more cheap TPs, so here I am!

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As close as I got to Starbucks at Helsinki airport
As close as I got to Starbucks at Helsinki airport
As close as I got to Starbucks at Helsinki airport
As close as I got to Starbucks at Helsinki airport

Tier Point Run to Los Angeles in May 2024: Day 2 – Helsinki (HEL) to London Heathrow (LHR)

By Nige on Wed 15 May 2024 at 17:14
Type: Post
Story: Tier Point Run to Los Angeles in May 2024
Tags: Finnair | HEL | Helsinki | Hilton | LHR | London | Trips

Passport Control (allowing access to the non-Schengen gates) was really busy with a long queue tailing around a tensa barrier structure.

Luckily, I was shepparded through to the next available border control guy, and after some basic questions, I was allowed through.

A Finnair aircraft sat at Gate 44
A Finnair aircraft sat at Gate 44
A Finnair aircraft sat at Gate 44
A Finnair aircraft sat at Gate 44

I was starting to tire by this point, but I pressed on, stopping briefly at my beloved Starbucks (which I didn’t have time to visit) before pushing on to Gate 46.

I’ve not been in this situation very often, but every time, there is a gate agent standing looking for someone running who might be their final passenger.

I was warmly welcomed by the gate team, and amongst my coughing and spluttering, I thanked them for waiting for me.

I wandered on to the aircraft, and I settled into seat 08A. A few seconds later, i heard the announcement that the final passenger was now on board.

A view of the main business class cabin from seat 08A
A view of the main business class cabin from seat 08A
A view of the main business class cabin from seat 08A
A view of the main business class cabin from seat 08A

Business class wasn’t that busy. It is probably a lot less busy nowadays that prices have sky rocketted after BA pulled out of the route.

Flight: BA6033 Equip: A350-900
Sched Depart: 16:00 Actual: 16:01
Sched Arrival: 17:05 Actual: 16:51
Takeoff: 16:14 Landing: 16:43

The business class seat has been upgraded since the last time I flew Finnair’s A350. It’s been used on the Heathrow-Helsinki route as a sales promo for Finnair, encouraging passengers to book long-haul tickets to the Far East. And it is a great tactic.

A late lunch onboard the Finnair flight to Heathrow
A late lunch onboard the Finnair flight to Heathrow
A late lunch onboard the Finnair flight to Heathrow
A late lunch onboard the Finnair flight to Heathrow

Drinks were served shortly after take off, and I asked for an orange and lemonade. I was offered a blueberry juice as an extra, which was surprisingly nice. Especially considering I don’t like blueberries.

Late lunch/early dinner arrived, for which there was no option. It was another chicken dish. This time with pasta and a tomato sauce with some green beans. That was nice.

The starter was weird. A bit like a pate with a tarragon sauce, perhaps? Not great and I didn’t bother eating much of it.

Finnair's new business class seat has a lot going for it
Finnair’s new business class seat has a lot going for it
Finnair's new business class seat has a lot going for it
Finnair’s new business class seat has a lot going for it

I played with the new Finnair business class seat. It’s a different design to the norm. Rather than all of the seat converting into a flat bed, they have a small panel which rotates up to fill the majority of the gap between the seat and the space under the suite in front.

Then there’s an additional gap which can be filled in through a manually adjusted narrow panel in front of the seat. It’s bit of a mess to be honest, but I guess it does reduce the amount of mechanics involved that might potentially go wrong.

Waiting for the Elizabeth Line train at Heathrow T3
Waiting for the Elizabeth Line train at Heathrow T3
Waiting for the Elizabeth Line train at Heathrow T3
Waiting for the Elizabeth Line train at Heathrow T3

The rest of the flight “flew” by. We arrived into Gate 3 at T3 about 10 mins early and although there was a delay in getting the airbridge attached at door 2L, I was soon off and heading through to passport control.

No issues with using the kiosks – that’s becoming the norm now and about time too.

I headed down to the Elizabeth Line and waited for a train to T5, which was only a 3 min wait.

Up a couple of escalators and a walk down to bus stops 17 and 18 and it appeared I had timed it perfectly. It was 17:18 and the next H5H bus was due to leave at 17:21! Wowser!

Waiting for the Hoppa Hotel bus H2H that should be heading to the Hilton T5 - it's gone AWOL!
Waiting for the Hoppa Hotel bus H2H that should be heading to the Hilton T5 – it’s gone AWOL!
Waiting for the Hoppa Hotel bus H2H that should be heading to the Hilton T5 - it's gone AWOL!
Waiting for the Hoppa Hotel bus H2H that should be heading to the Hilton T5 – it’s gone AWOL!

Of course, I spoke too soon. Lots of Hoppa Hotel buses came and went; none of them being the Hilton bus. Some drivers showed some interest in trying to help out; others couldn’t care less.

A number of us came up with a plan that if the 17:51 didn’t arrive, we would get some Ubers and share the cost, aiming to claw it back from Hilton.

I decided to look after a family of 4 who had a load of luggage and were from overseas. As it happens, we were just off to find an Uber and one of the waiting buses changed its route to head to the Hilton. Job done?

Room 428 at the Hilton T5
Room 428 at the Hilton T5
Room 428 at the Hilton T5
Room 428 at the Hilton T5

It would have been if the Hoppa Hotel e-ticketing system actually worked.

I had had problems with my ticket’s QR code being read yesterday on the way to Heathrow; this time I couldn’t find anyway in which I could activate the return portion of the ticket. So I had to pay for a single.

Managed to get to the Hilton in the end. It only took an hour of messing about with Hoppa Hotel buses, but we all got there eventually.

I had room 428 stored as a digital key on the Hilton app. I had access to the Exec Lounge so I indulged in a few freebie beers on Hilton’s pocket.

Interestingly, having a digital key means you can’t turn on the lights in the room (unless there’s a dummy key left in the slot near the room door). Defeats the point of having a digital key really doesn’t it? So I insisted on the front desk sending up a key.


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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