Tag Archives: Finnair

Customer Experience on Finnair


First impressions count. Being offered with a smile a small bottle of water can make a difference. It brought a smile on my face. I had heard quite a bit about the new aircraft (mostly via #Finnair itself and its advertising, not from customers, which would be more convincing!). Entering the plane it stroked me as new. It’s always nice to try something new, and I noticed that it brings a certain kind of a feeling of security. New plane = advanced technology = safer flying. But no “wow” effect whatsoever, just an aircraft. The newness could even be smelled. How does new smell? What about bringing the wow effect into that by adding some scent?

Out of all senses smell leaves the strongest memorable touch or engram.


Service and everything was ok. Critically looking the staff (presumably Chinese) could attend equally to all passengers rather than three of them attending to just one with a baby. Second, I wonder afterwards that what kind of a message it conveys that the English accent of flight attendant(s) of a Finnish/ European airline only reminds as if travelling in China?

The food was good, maybe the best I have eaten in Finnair and one of the best in any airline. And we weren’t even hungry so it cannot explain the good appetite. The overhead lockers appeared truly the smartest I have ever seen!

The content of flight entertainment was nothing special, but the browsing system was nice. The chairs were as comfortable in tourist class as they can be and you could tell that there was a bit more leg room than in most planes, or felt like it. Sadly, however, the plane travelled only maybe about 70% full. Good for us as we occupied three seats instead of two. But for business, such capacity is too low. Furthermore, this wonderful new aircraft flies half empty? Shouldn’t it be full? What could be done to gain at least 95% occupancy year round?


I know we have flown #A350 – it is reminded on almost all announcements. What’s there for a customer who is not an aircraft enthusiast? And isn’t that a bit of old news already? Are we talking about engineering technology, benefits it brings, or how the customer perceives it? The benefits are not explained to passengers. Instead of saying “new A350”these benefits should be emphasized: ecological flying, environment saving, safe flying and landings, comfortable atmosphere, more leg room and nice sliding chairs to accommodate the best seating experience, easy-to-use-flight entertainment (special notice from the teenager), etc.

The light show would have been better without announcing it as a light show: let the passenger make meaningful observations. Now it ended up being childish. If the atmosphere – cleanliness, scent, and lightning – is simply created, the customer buys it as a feeling.

Feelings are longer lasting than words.

Overall, the flight was just what Finnair is to me: safe, steady, reliable, but a bit indifferent.

One World or Separate?

A team is as weak as its poorest link. If someone faces problems in the team, you would think that other team members would come to the rescue. That’s how a good team should work. That’s what you would expect from an airline alliance, especially as aspiringly named as the One World Alliance.

I had a bit of bad experience some years back, to begin with, flying via over-crowded Heathrow airport, but I decided to give the route a second chance. I bought the ticket with best and most affordable connections, which meant that my ticket was sold by American Airlines, although the flights were operated by Finnair and British Airways.

The Supersaver-online travel agency did not give me a chance to include my frequent flyer number, so I tried to do so at the AA-website. Nope, no can do, because the flight was not sold at the AA-website. Instead, no problem adding it on Finnair website plus I was able to choose my seat. Checked BA-site: I was able to access my ticket information, and add e.g. my contact details and emergency contact person, but not choose seat.

24 hours before departure, I enter BA-online-check-in, which according to them, should be now available, but be it bad luck or being an AA-customer, the site continuously informed that I can’t check-in. Luckily, Finnair online-check-in worked just fine.

Trip to San Francisco was smooth (despite the one hour delay at LHR). Flying back is yet another story.

As I am on train at the Bay area travelling to a business meeting early afternoon, I receive a text message from my sister who is already at SFO airport ready to take Lufthansa, saying that my flight is leaving 00.34, i.e. 4hours later than scheduled. While looking from the Caltrain window LH aircraft landing (and sighing that at least my sister’s flight will be as punctual as expected of Germans), I decide first to deal with the meeting and later think of my flights. Likely, I will miss even the last flight of the day to Helsinki, if the flight from SFO leaves four hours late. “BA apologizes”, says the sms I receive. Supersaver’s messages come way after.

After the meeting, I call up BA customer care, wait in line for an hour, after which I ask the agent for my options and possible re-routings. She puts me in hold as she tries to figure out the best suggestion. 16 minutes pass until she says, BA can’t help because my ticket is issued by AA, which should be contacted instead. I try to say that it is the operating airline (BA) which is causing the problem, and thus, I hold BA responsible. I get a minutes-long lecture on liabilities. Were BA and AA in One World or Separate Worlds? She even refuses to transfer my call to AA customer care and urges me to start the round again. No service, no solution. Only wasted time.

I call AA customer care, where I am guided by voice-directed menu (what if the system wouldn’t have recognized my accent?!). Minute and I am blessed with the voice of Daniel. He is pleasant, but immediately, says that since the flight is operated by BA, I should contact BA. Can you guess the colour I see? I demand he at least transfers me directly to someone at BA; I will not line up! “No can do”, he says. But nevertheless, transfers my call to something like “AA-BA -passage-trunkline”. I am now served by Lorraine at BA. She has all the time in the world to me, is very fair, gives me realistic options (although she neither knew that LON-HEL flight leaves from Terminal 3, not 5, which makes a difference in possibly catching the last flight of the day to HEL). Weighing the options, I choose to take the super-delayed flight and overnight in London.

Once I arrive at SFO airport, I find out that the plane is flying quite empty, (yet with estimate departure time of 00.58). In the sardine section, it means more space and service. Lovely for an extremely tired passenger.

Heathrow. I get a hotel room near the airport, bus ticket to/from, night time –survival kit, dinner & breakfast, and nice service. At the hotel, I email my appointments of the next day saying that they need to be postponed. And I sleep like a baby.

Next day everything goes well. Except my luggage does not arrive until a day after.

Flight delayed by 4.5 hours, confusion on AA/BA-responsibility, had to get a babysitter for another night, postponed a few appointments, more sleepless hours, and the souvenir that was more awaited than myself arrived almost 2 days later from the expected. Let’s see if the airlines can work unified as One World and if their team can change poor experience to superior customer service…I’ll keep you posted.

Hunt for Service Experience

Another season of Finnair’s Quality Hunters is on the runway this time together with Finavia (Helsinki airport). As Finnair’s CEO Mika Vehviläinen put it: “we wish the Hunters are with an open mind and write constructively.” There are high hopes for the Hunters, but higher hopes for Finnair and Finavia to execute the results.

This Quality Hunt does not seem (only?) a marketing gimmick, but actually a part of Finavia’s & Finnair’s strategy to bring their service to a higher level. Finnair’s Jarkko Konttinen sums that “good service no longer is enough, we are building an excellent one.” Service is taken for granted, the next level of service is experience. One of the hunters, Mette Hansen, has actually studied Experience Economics at Århus University (and due to this, I will certainly set my observation on her) says: “Experience is service of a higher level.” Hail to that!

Experience. Is it personal or can it be common, and how to distinguish them from one another? Did F&F just launch seven individuals to the world to experience something of their own that they will report openly? Or can the hunter sniff the experience that touches most of the people? Most importantly, F&F’s biggest task is to interpret these personal hunches to practical solutions. A huge amount of data of observant minds is nothing without proper analysis. Boy, I look forward to that!

Quality Hunters –project uses social media and interaction therein to bring out the common mind: out of conversations and comments provided by the Hunters solutions may be born. According to Finavia’s Johanna Metsälä at least one task born out of this Hunt will be carried out. Sounds like quite a lot of hassle in creating a “hassle-free and smooth passenger experience.” Anyway, I do hope F&F attain good results and experience out of which many can be brought into practice.

Moreover, I wish that many more companies would look into their services to interpret the seen and hidden factors therein.