Connecting in HEL vs MAD vs LHR

Discussion in 'oneworld' started by Tenmoc, Mar 27, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. Tenmoc
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    Tenmoc Gold Member

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    I am wondering which airport you all would pick to connect in with 4-6 hours.
     
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  2. MSPeconomist
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    MSPeconomist Gold Member

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    If you have access to good LH lounges, I'd pick FRA because it's usually efficient. I'm not a fan of MAD at all, even more so when one must change terminals. I've never been in HEL, but it could be a good place to pick up some smoked salmon in duty free.

    Where are you going and what airlines?
     
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  3. Tenmoc
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    Tenmoc Gold Member

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    Sticking to the OW options. HEL would be AA and AY, MAD would be AA and IB while LHR would be AA/BA.
     
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  4. Gardyloo
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    Gardyloo Gold Member

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    To me it would depend on whether you have lounge access. If the LHR connection is through T5, the lounges are hard to beat, but schlepping from T3 is still a nuisance. the IB lounge in MAD T4S is superb, one of my favorites in Europe; however T4/T4S changes at MAD can involve endless walking.

    HEL is a small airport, so connections are very easy and quick. Less attractive on the lounge front, however.

    If your question involves leaving the airport, then with 4-6 hours you could get to Windsor from LHR; or the train to Madrid. HEL only has bus access to central Helsinki; I don't recall how long it takes, but a little while.
     
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  5. edison
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    edison Silver Member

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    If you have not been to Finland then I would suggest transit via HEL and go to the city. It is a smallish city so it is easily finished in a few hours. The bus takes about 30 minutes to the city.

    http://media.finnair.com/files/pdf/FINNAIR_CITY_BUS_TIMETABLE.pdf

    Good lounges is always a plus to an airport but I would always prefer to visit a new city if possible. You will never know if you will ever go again.

    If you can, stay 2-3 days at Helsinki, and do a day tour to Tallinn, Estonia by catching Tallink Silja across the sea (2 hours). It has beautiful old town that is very much worth visiting.

    http://www.tallinksilja.com/en/
     
  6. tw116
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    tw116 Gold Member

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    i would avoid MAD if i were you. it was probably great in it's day but i found it very disconnected and confusing to get around. HEL is small, but nice. LHR definitely has better lounges.
     
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  7. jbcarioca
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    jbcarioca Gold Member

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    With 4-6 hours any of these will work fine.

    Personally I'd try to avoid LHR because of the xfer from T3 to T5, which is not pleasing.

    MAD will be fine and the lounges are OK, shopping is quite good to excellent. Unlike some I have no problem at all between terminals at MAD. That is a problem only if you've a conenction of an hour or less.

    HEL is my favorite of them, as it is for a couple of others. The connections can be done in 30 minutes, no problem. Going into Helsinki via bus or taxi is easy, fun and pleasant. I absolutely agree with other posters about that.

    Given that this is about your connecing carrier as well as the airport, I rate those as AY, IB and BA in that order for business class. I don't know about Y. AY is very professional and efficient, a pleasure indeed.

    thus, I'd go with AY, were I able to do so I'd fly them from the US also.
     
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  8. CoconutPete
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    CoconutPete Silver Member

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    As a follow up to this all, you're rating AY and IB over BA in J? Could you go into why you rate AY so highly? I have no experience with them but am looking at options that will allow me to avoid LHR/UK taxes/surcharges.
     
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  9. boxedlunch
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    boxedlunch Silver Member

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    I find this thread to be timely, as I'll be transiting all three airports on my next Oneworld award redemption :) MAD on the way to IST, LHR on the way to OSL, and HEL on the way back to SEA!
     
  10. anabolism
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    anabolism Gold Member

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    My one and only time in HEL was in 2008; there were two lounges next to each other, one for OW and one for AY, but identical inside. Both had smoking and non-smoking sections, separated by nothing, which was quite a shock to me in 2008.
    Yeah, that is annoying.
    For intra-Europe flights, BA J is nothing special: the seats are the same as Y, but the middle seat is left open in J, and you always get food. It beats Y, of course, but not by that much. Long-haul, BA J has true lie-flat seats, and if you can get 64 window upstairs on a 747, you can get in and out without climbing over or being climbed over. Plus, when traveling with a friend or partner, you can lower the divider and be together.

    I've not flown long-haul on AY, and not flown anything (yet) on IB.
     
  11. Tenmoc
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    Tenmoc Gold Member

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    As a follow up, is 5 hours enough time to leave MAD and still make my return? Luggage would of course be checked through so not an issue.
     
  12. Mike Reed

    Mike Reed Gold Member

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    If you're looking at OW, there's also BUD.
     
  13. WilCo
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    WilCo Silver Member

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    and BUD has just redone much of the airport and it is quite enjoyable, even without lounge access. Comfortable seats, great natural lighting, very bright, decent food choices. (Kid's play area, in case that applies).
     
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  14. jbcarioca
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    jbcarioca Gold Member

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    I do know YMMV, so this is my personal view. BA opposing cocoons (love seats) in J allow minimal storage and privacy and i find them uncomfortable too.
    IB is less consistent but the seats are more spacious than is BA(that may change) and MAD is a comfortable transfer airport, even when the distances are long. (I made a MAD-SVO interline connection recently with 45 minutes before the scheduled and actual departure of my SU flight.). The crews are quite pleasant, always, and the food is decent. The seats are fully reclining comfortable sleepers.
    AY has the class of the bunch, coupled with the Finnish style. Never effusive but always efficient with excellent full sleepers and the fastest easiest transfers I know of in Europe. My colleagues and I have routinely made connections with 30 minutes, sometimes less. AY is the unheralded class of business class.

    BTW, intra-Europe nobody comes anywhere near SU. Aeroflot has excellent ontime performance and the biggest seats, best menu of any intra-Europe carrier I have seen. I have not flown them inter-continent.
     
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  15. Tenmoc
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    Tenmoc Gold Member

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    Thanks for all the replies. In my case I can't find the award tickets for less than 180k each in J. That is a no go, so I think we'll buy the cheapest available (not one world) and worry about miles another day.
     

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