First published in 2007, this article was originally called “I Broke The MD-11!” for reasons you’ll see. Originally published without pictures, I have managed to find the menus plus other pictures to illustrate the experience. Flying on board a Finnair MD-11 was certainly memorable! I hope you enjoy it!

AY098 – Singapore to Bangkok to Helsinki (SIN-BKK-HEL)
23 April 2007
McDonnell Douglas MD-11
Seat: Business Class 1L

I’d had an excellent experience flying Finnair J from Amsterdam to Helsinki back in 2005, so when it was time to go back to Sydney to visit my family, I worked out a way to use Finnair again on the way back to Dublin. The price for the SIN-BKK-HEL-LHR flight was € 1,300.00, which was the best price available for oneworld flights from Singapore to Europe one way. I also wanted to fly the MD-11 for the first time, try the Finnair business class seats, and to have a Boarding Pass with 1L on it, as most airlines don’t have L seats.

Finnair uses a third party lounge in Singapore, and I didn’t bother using that – I went to the Qantas lounge instead. While I waited for my flight, I freshened up by having a shower. You’re handed a large white fluffy towel, and off you go. The shower areas are large – with toilet, a place to put your stuff, large mirrors, and a well equipped shower. Quite luxurious really. I had drinks and eventually went to board.

Boarding Experiences

I was first down the jetway, and boarded through door 2. There was no flight attendant at the door, so after waiting a couple of minutes, I turned left and sat myself in seat 1L. Cabin crew spotted me sitting there, but didn’t seem to care. I found it weird I wasn’t greeted on boarding. What I did enjoy was the oversize MD-11 window – they are noticeably bigger than the Boeing windows – quite nice!

As more people boarded, someone noticed a wet stain in front of the middle row of J seats near a bulkhead. Something was leaking! A pilot had a look, and before we left a mechanic of some kind had a look. Didn’t seem too serious, and all I thought was, “great, we’re going to crash” in an amused way 🙂

Next, we had pre-take off drinks, then we were offered a choice of newspapers. The J cabin was about half full. I had a drink (as I do) but not the newspapers. The Asian crew members on this sector seemed quite bored – not cracking a smile, looking a bit dishevelled. Not very good all round.

The safety video is of computer generated people doing all the evacuation things, which is standard for Finnair. They’re the same people as on their safety cards. Once that was done, we were into the air.

Those Giant Finnair Menus!

We were handed a very large menu in several languages, and you can see the offering below. I had the snapper for a starter and the beef for the main meal. I thought the food was very nice, however the presentation left a lot to be desired. Instead of full size plates like you get on other airlines, the meals were in economy class-esque porcelain dishes.

Now, Finnair has a reputation for having a decent wine list. There was one champagne choice (Joseph Pierre Cuvee Royale Brut Vintage 2000), two whites (one French, one New Zealand), three reds (one Canadian, two Spanish) and two dessert wines (one French, one Portuguese).

The wine list came in a booklet the same size as the regular menu, and had the audacity to list Finnair’s accolades in booze over the years. The fact that their last prize was given in 2004 doesn’t seem to faze them in the slightest.

Breaking The Finnair MD-11!

Anyway, once dinner was done, I went to put my tray away in my armrest. As I did so, the entire tabletop part (which is attached to a swing arm) came off in my hand. I couldn’t see a flight attendant, so I stood in the aisle, tray in hand, and caught the eye of one of the Finnish crew and I waved the tray in the air. Of course, the entire cabin thought I was mad, but who cares! 🙂

She came to my seat and tried to put it back on – and snap – success! Unfortunately, she’d put it on backwards so it wouldn’t stow. It stayed half stowed for our landing in Bangkok.

Staying On Board During Transit

Passengers going on to Helsinki were asked to remain on board. Three from J did and about 10 from Y. During my little exploration, I had a look at the Y cabin – half of it is 9 abreast and half is 10 abreast, which is unusual. Anyway, three mechanics came on board and proceeded to attempt to fix my tray table. Meanwhile, thousands of people boarded the plane and began stowing the duvets in the overhead lockers, cleaning things, catering the aircraft, it was a hell of a lot of fun to watch!

A Thai television presenter, his cameraman and producer were travelling in J with us and were filming on board the aircraft just before the Bangkok passengers started to board. The cabin crew also changed – it was all tall blonde good looking Finns, and the service ramped up a couple of notches compared to the previous sector. Just as I was beginning to despair, my tray table was fixed (took three mechanics 45 minutes to do it!) and we were into the air again.

Supper On The Way To Helsinki

As usual I was keeping myself well filled with champagne. On this sector, we were offered a supper menu – and though I’d just had dinner, I tucked in. I had the soup and the cod, and once again the meal was very nice.

I pulled out my television screen and watched a movie on this sector. The quality was very good and I enjoyed it. By this stage, it was night time, so after the movie I put the seat into the flat bed position, popped a pillow under my head, laid my duvet over me and had a bit of a nap.

I got up a couple of times (stepping over my seatmate who was asleep – difficult when in row 1 as there’s no handle to grab onto) to use the bathroom or get something to drink. Eventually, all the lights came back on and people woke up. Breakfast was then served. That was all lovely, and we descended and landed in Helsinki on time.

Overall Thoughts

To sum up, Finnair was patchy, it has both good points and bad points. The food was tasty, just could have been presented better. The angled flat seat was quite comfortable, nice fat pillow and the duvet makes things very comfortable and nice compared to a crappy thin blanket like on some airlines (hello QF!). The Finnish crews were excellent, the Asian crew members rather less than excellent. For the price, Finnair can’t be beat – and of course I’d fly them again.

Hope you enjoyed the report – any questions, ask away!

The Finnair MD-11 is the only time I ever got to experience that type of aircraft. With broken trays, staying on board during turn around and big windows, I won’t forget it in a hurry.

Did you ever fly on board the Finnair MD-11? How about another airline’s MD-11? What was it like? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.

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Featured image by Javier Bravo Muñoz via Wikimedia Commons.
Business class seats image by ScreenNameComesHere on Flickr.