I stayed at the Hilton airport hotel just across the street so after breakfast in the hotel restaurant it was very easy to head over to the terminal, which took less than five minutes from the hotel lobby to the Finnair check-in area.
It was very easy and straight-forward to check in the day before on the Finnair webpage and select a seat. As I did not have access to a printer I used a self-service machine in the departure hall to print a boarding pass. There was also a premium check-in area with a dedicated Finnair Platinum and OneWorld Emerald desk I could have used, but I had only hand luggage anyway.
There is usually a fast track channel through security in terminal 2 but as the morning rush was already over and there were just a very few flights leaving around 10 am only the regular line was open, which was nearly empty anyway.
Finnair has three lounges at the airport. In the non-Schengen area there is the Finnair Lounge for business class passengers and Finnair Premium Lounge for top-tier frequent flyers. In the Schengen area there is a Finnair Lounge for all eligible passengers, both business class passengers and frequent flyers.
The lounge was recently renovated and is now both significantly larger and much more elegant than before with a cool Finnish design from Vertti Kivi, the man and the design firm who also designed the new cabin interiors on the Airbus A350.
As expected there were very few passengers in the lounge as nearly all Finnair morning flights had already left.
The lounge also has a very nice view of the apron and the runways and the weather was really the best possible this morning providing a lovely view. Beautiful sunshine and not a single cloud in the sky.
Breakfast was still on offer in the buffet area and although I already had breakfast in the hotel I went for a second smaller breakfast in the lounge. The breakfast offerings were surprisingly good with meatballs, sausages and scrambled eggs, and of course coffee and orange juice to drink.
Finnair flight AY 627
Boarding started just before 10 am. As the flight was operated by a propeller aircraft, which never park by the terminal at Helsinki airport, boarding was at a bus gate and we were to be taken the short distance to the aircraft by bus.
The flight was operated by NORRA on behalf of Finnair. NORRA stands for Nordic Regional Airlines and they operate most (if not all) flights operated by ATR-42, ATR-72 and Embraer 170/190. These are used for domestic flights in Finland, flights to the Nordic and Baltic countries and occasionally also for slightly longer European flights outside the Nordics where there is not sufficient demand fo fill an Airbus A319/A320.
Visby on the island of Gotland is a popular summer destination for holidaymakers in the Nordic countries but as the flight took place in the middle of the August, when many people had already finished their summer holidays, the load onboard was extremely light. In fact we were only eight passengers on the flight so there was more than enough space for both the passengers and the hand luggage.
This was the last week this seasonal route was operated for the 2015 season. Although the cabin was quite empty on the outbound flight it was nearly fully booked on the return flight back to Helsinki with holidaymakers returning home to start school or work.
With only eight passengers onboard boarding was completed well ahead of timetable. The flight time to Visby was expected to be just over one hour.
Seat and cabin
A standard 2-2 configuration was used on the ATR-72 with 17 rows meaning 68 seats in total. On all Finnair/NORRA flights operated by an ATR-42 or ATR-72 there is just one class of travel onboard, economy class. There is no business class on these flights but on the other hand these aircrafts are never used for flights longer than about 90 minutes and most are much short than that.
The seats were in dark leather with a legroom and seat comfort about standard for the aircraft type.
I had selected 15A for the flight but could easily move around and later moved to the opposite side, 15D, to get a better view during the approach.
Food and drinks
The standard Finnair economy class service was offered with free coffee, tea, water and blueberry juice. On longer flights there is also a buy-onboard menu with sandwiches, snacks and other drinks but it was not offered on this flight to Visby.
Two flight attendants were working on the flight and with only eight passengers they had a very easy job. The service were friendly and they happily offered me refills of the coffee and blueberry juice.
With the excellent weather and an approach from the north-east the flight provided a magnificent view of the island of Gotland during the approach.
We landed a few minutes early at Visby airport. There are no passenger bridges at the airport, just a short walk on the apron to the arrivals hall.
There were exactly two checked bags in the hold from Helsinki so the bags arrived on the belt in the arrivals hall just about at the same time as we got there.
A quick regional flight with Finnair/NORRA with a very light load. Friendly service, plenty of space onboard, nice breakfast in the lounge and a magnificent view during the flight.