This is the second of several trips to Helsinki in 2019, flying out on Saturday and back to Heathrow on Sunday. It’s another 11:00 flight from Heathrow Terminal 3, so for a stress free start to the day I’ve got a room booked at the Hilton Garden Inn at Hatton Cross on Friday night, and take the tube there after work.
Much like airlines, major hotel chains have their own loyalty and points collection programs. The Hilton program is called Hilton Honors. Similarly to earning points from flying, you can accrue Hilton points for staying at their hotels, which you can then redeem for free or reduced cost stays. In addition, and again like frequent flyer programs, it’s possible to acquire “status” via affiliate credit cards or numerous stays. A no longer issued Hilton Honors Barclaycard gives me free silver status, which means two free bottles of mineral water per stay! One of the benefits of achieving Gold Guest List status with BA will mean free Diamond status with Hilton – their top tier which has some much nicer benefits. Hilton are also running a special promotion, with 2000 bonus points per stay, and 10,000 additional points after five stays, which is a nice extra when the room didn’t cost much in the first place. For reference 1000 points is worth about £3-4.
Heathrow T3 Lounges
With plenty of time before the flight on Saturday, there’s the opportunity to spend some lounge time in T3. With BA Silver or Gold status (OneWorld Emerald and Sapphire respectively) you’re spoilt for choice in this terminal, with American Airlines, BA, Cathay Pacific and Qantas lounges all available. All of them except Qantas have separate First Class lounges, meaning a choice of seven lounges if you happen to have a BA Gold Card.
The Qantas lounge opened in November 2017, and is extremely well presented and comfortable with attentive service. It makes even the BA First lounge feel quite old and tired.
Heathrow to Helsinki (80 TP)
After some time in both lounges it’s time to head to the gate. The aircraft today is G-EUUW, an Airbus A320 approaching its 11th birthday.
The flight is smooth, and there’s plenty of white in the fields on the approach, but the airport itself is clear of snow, unlike when I arrived here in January.
Accomodation for the night is the familiar Helsinki Airport Hilton, located just 5 minutes walk from the terminal. The return flight on Sunday is at 07:45, so there’s little opportunity to head to the centre on this trip.
Helsinki to Heathrow (80 TP)
The Hilton has a cut down breakfast offering from 03:00 for guests who have an early flight, but the full breakfast service at the hotel starts at 06:00. As is quite typical in Scandinavia, the choice and quality is excellent, and it’s definitely worth minimising time at the airport to eat in the hotel.
At the airport itself, BA business class and status passengers are being directed to the Escape Lounge for breakfast and pre-flight drinks. It’s comfortable and has a reasonable selection, but is no match for the Hilton.
It’s back into an A320 NEO for the return flight, this time G-TTNI which has over-nighted here having flown in late the previous evening. This particular aircraft is literally brand new, having been delivered to BA just 4 days earlier.
It’s a pleasant flight back, and as we descend into Heathrow, it’s just possible to make out some of the buildings in the City and in Canary Wharf peaking through the clouds. With another 160 tier points in the bag, the total now stands at 2775, well over half of the 5000 total that’s needed.