I should say an alliance voileipäpöytä since the trip was to Finland, but the Swedish smörgåsbord is a more familiar term. Welcome to my next trip report, which covers a trip in late February that included flights on oneworld, SkyTeam, and Star Alliance carriers.
As with most of my review trips, it all started with one flight. Air France-KLM Flying Blue ran a special on business class awards and I booked a one-way trip from Helsinki to Toronto via Paris for 32,000 miles. Why Toronto? A chance to try the Air France A350, which turned out to be one of the highlights of the trip.
With that initial puzzle piece in place, I built a trip around it. While taking a Virgin Atlantic A350-1000 to London would have been the better deal, a one-way revenue ticket on United was less than the fuel surcharge alone on Virgin Atlantic, so I just flew United and upgraded (flight was not full). I wanted to visit London since I now have oneworld emerald status and wanted to review all of the oneworld lounges in Heathrow Terminal 3. I enjoyed each one…even the American Airlines lounges.
From there, I flew to Helsinki to check out the Platinum Wing, which I liked even more than the lounges in London. I spent one night in Helsinki at the Hilton Strand before heading flying to Paris and then Toronto. Flying Blue partners with Finnair, so the Finnair segment from Helsinki to Paris was included on the Air France ticket.
In Paris, I finally had a chance to use the sauna in the Air France 2E, Hall L Lounge and will write a review comparing the Finnair sauna to the Air France sauna.
The A350 flight to Toronto was fabulous and I spent the night at the Hyatt Regency in Toronto. The original plan was to continue on to Los Angeles on Air Canada, but a last-minute business trip arose in South America, which proved the perfect opportunity to try out the Air Canada Signature Suite. The trip ended up falling through (and whether you want to believe or me not, this was a real trip and such last-minute inspections [and their last-minute postponements] are a routine part of the import-export business). In the end, I continued back to Los Angeles as originally planned.
The Alliance Smörgåsbord
Here’s what to expect for this trip report and what it cost:
- Ticket #1 – United Airlines 787-9 Polaris Business Class LAX-LHR – revenue ticket – $451 economy + 40 PlusPoints
- Cathay Pacific First Class Lounge London (LHR)
- Cathay Pacific Business Class Lounge London (LHR)
- American Airlines International First Class Lounge (LHR)
- American Airlines Admirals Club (LHR)
- British Airways Galleries First Lounge (LHR- T3)
- Ticket #2 – Finnair A330 Business Class LHR-HEL – 16,500 British Airways Avios + $98
- Finnair Platinum Wing (HEL)
- Finnair Business Lounge Non-Schengen (HEL)
- Public Transport In Finland
- Hilton Helsinki Strand – $120
- Finnair Business Lounge Schengen (HEL)
- Ticket #3 – Finnair A321 Business Class HEL-CDG – included
- Air France Sauna Review
- Ticket #3 – Air France A350 Business Class CDG-YYZ – 32,00 Flying Blue miles + $243
- Hyatt Regency Toronto
- Air Canada Signature Suite (YYZ)
- Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge (YYZ – Transborder)
- Ticket #4 – Air Canada 787-9 Business Class YYZ-LAX – 25,000 United miles + $52
Bonus: LAX-LHR 787-9 In United Polaris Business Class
I’m not going to write a separate segment for the United flight, since I’ve reviewed the product several times and nothing had changed (up to that point…we’re in a whole new era now). Here are some pictures from that flight:
Of course the shelf life of this trip report is up in the air right now…who knows whether this will be useful beyond a stroll down memory lane if the pandemic permanently alters service on flights, hotels, and lounges. But it’s not an old review…hopefully this will resemble what you can expect once the pandemic is better understood and brought under control.