A few years ago Finnair launched a cooperation with Swedish regional airline Malmö Aviation, which later became the current airline BRA – Braathens Regional Airlines. A few months ago it was announced that the two airlines would enter into a partnership, even extending to some sort of a wet lease agreement where some flights between Sweden and Helsinki would be operated by BRA, on behalf of Finnair.
The flights would be operated by Swedish pilots and cabin crew but flown on behalf of Finnair, with a Finnair flight number as primary flight number and not as a codeshare. Today it was time to test one of these services.
Finnair fly from Helsinki to both the international airport of Stockholm called Arlanda and the city airport of Stockholm called Bromma, the latter also being the hub of BRA. Most flights between Stockholm Bromma and Helsinki are operated by Finnair ATR-72 aircrafts, flown by subsidiary Norra, but the early afternoon departure from Bromma is now flown by BRA, on behalf of Finnair.
After spending some time in the BRA Lounge, which Finnair uses, I went airside for boarding. It was a rather lengthy walk in the cold but sunny weather from the terminal building to stand number 7 where the BRA ATR-72 was waiting.
The cabin crew waiting in the galley were indeed Swedish, from south-eastern Sweden based on their accents. So they had probably flown to Stockholm from Kalmar or Växjö on one of the morning domestic services and were now working on the international service to Helsinki.
The cabin was the standard BRA interior with the grey leather seats and the BRA Koll inflight magazine. Nothing whatsoever in terms of Finnair branding and no Finnair boarding music.
With BRA being mainly a domestic airline with mostly Swedish passengers you could notice the cabin crew being somewhat unused to making all the announcements in English. On the domestic flights the safety demonstration is usually only held in Swedish unless they know there are international travellers onboard.
Up in the air the service fully followed the BRA service concept. On the Finnair mainline services between Stockholm Arlanda and Helsinki there is usually coffee, tea, water and the signature blueberry juice on offer for free. On the Finnair regional services between Stockholm Bromma and Helsinki operated by Norra the same drinks are offered (and for free) but there is also a sales cart with snacks and alcoholic drinks for purchase.
On the BRA service from Bromma to Helsinki cookies and apple juice were offered, just like they would have served on one of their domestic flights. Usually coffee and tea are also offered but apparently due to the very cold weather and some problems with the heating system they were unable to provide any hot drinks during the flight.
Also as a OneWorld Emerald member you can usually order something else for free from the cart, such as wine or a cocktail, but as there was no sales cart onboard this obviously did not happen. There was no status recognition whatsoever.
But Bromma is a very convenient airport, the flight departed and arrived on time, lounge was provided, the tier points were credited to the account a few days later, and the service from the cabin crew was friendly and pleasant. And of course the service increases the frequency between Stockholm and Helsinki, which is a good thing. It was really just a bit odd that they had the BRA service concept onboard, which must be a bit confusing for some passengers.