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Old Aug 8, 11, 5:58 pm   #1
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: New York, Paris
Programs: AA ExPlat 4MM, AA Life Plat, Lufthansa FT, Delta Basic
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Paying Drinks in Helsinki Long Range Lounge !!!!

Hello all,

As a Oneworld Emerald (AA) passenger on a full fare Business Class ticket on the AA/AY codeshare flight to Chicago, I find it unacceptable to be told that the lounge charges for a glass of real champagne but has a free sparkling wine which is nothing short of the old Soviet type "Tchampagnskoie".

This was in the far-away lounge beyond immigration near HEL gate 35, you essentially need a drink just to recover from the long trek. I am not sure that AY realizes that the FC lounge in Heathrow Terminal 5 (accessible to all OW Emerald pax, even in Y on a 35 GBP ticket to Paris) offers for free 5 kinds of champagne, and that even the AA Flagship lounges in JFK and ORD offer a quite acceptable US product.

My experiences this summer with AY have been extremely poor in Business Class, especially intra-European as the BC has been very much downgraded from only 2 years ago, and the detour via LHR on BA/AA has become very worth while. This is the first time that I tend to consider AY as a OW "second tier" airline, very much a la Malev, Royal Jordanian and former Mexicana. It is of course not the end of the world, especially as I have no stock in AY.
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Old Aug 8, 11, 11:56 pm   #2
 
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Just curious, which sparking wine was offered?

AY's lounge alcohol policy is a bit strange (due outsourcing?), especially considering drinks are not a problem on their business class flights. Last month we flew to Barcelona in C and had three bottles of champagne -- each. Folks on the other side of the aisle asked for sparkling wine and the purser joked that he'd have to go to the economy class to fetch sparking wine but would champagne be ok..

It had been a while I had been in AY C and I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the food in general and the lack of plastic. Perhaps pure luck but our best flight quality-wise in many years in Europe.
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Old Aug 9, 11, 2:39 am   #3
 
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Unhappy

It is the one of the better versions of the Spanish Freixenet cava. Similar that KLM used to serve on their lounges and onboard their European Select class. I have not tried their new European profuct. And better than Lufthansa offers in their senator lounges and onboard their European föights. So not so good as BA lounges but at least as good as most European carriers and even better than most of the carriers onboard. I havent seen champagne in the AF lounges either (first lounge I have not tried and I admit that they serve a drop of cgampagne in long-haul Y).
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Old Aug 9, 11, 3:07 am   #4
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
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On European business class, AFAIK:

- Hot towels cut from shorter routes under two hours (f.ex Berlin)
- No more napkin clip with AY logo
- Proper starter was cut very recently and replaced by a salad
- Cheese course was cut some time ago (1-2 years maybe)
- Can't say if it's a downgrade but the traditional French red wine (Burgundy) in J has been changed to Spanish this year

Last edited by mosburger; Aug 9, 11 at 8:28 pm.. Reason: structure
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Old Aug 9, 11, 5:48 am   #5
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cofyknsult View Post
This was in the far-away lounge beyond immigration near HEL gate 35, you essentially need a drink just to recover from the long trek. I am not sure that AY realizes that the FC lounge in Heathrow Terminal 5 (accessible to all OW Emerald pax, even in Y on a 35 GBP ticket to Paris) offers for free 5 kinds of champagne, and that even the AA Flagship lounges in JFK and ORD offer a quite acceptable US product.

This is the first time that I tend to consider AY as a OW "second tier" airline, very much a la Malev, Royal Jordanian and former Mexicana. It is of course not the end of the world, especially as I have no stock in AY.
Poor you, long trek, sparkling wine and second tier airline. Luckily you don't have to use giant airports, fly third tier airline like AA or fly dry airlines.

More seriouly BA lounges cannot be compared to any other OW carriers lounges' including CX. AY's wine and spirit rules are weird in their main lounge. Products for sale should be better separated of free ones.
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Old Aug 9, 11, 11:20 am   #6
 
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Agree that Finnair helsinki lounge alcohol for sale policy is strange. Due to the timing of my flights, I usually don't eat or drink much at Helsinki lounge, but the feeling of selling stuff to business customers seems weird.

I come to think about one time when there was a delay, only announced after boarding, on a short intra europeean flight. It was a monday morning and the FA offered champagne. I accepted (and that work day turned out just fine:-). But my point is that the FA was focusing on making my day better by exceeding my expectations.
The alcohol for sale policy works the exact opposite.
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Old Aug 9, 11, 11:42 am   #7
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Anselmi View Post
Poor you, long trek, sparkling wine and second tier airline. Luckily you don't have to use giant airports, fly third tier airline like AA or fly dry airlines.
- Honestly, I did not find anything particularly good (including showers) when visiting AY lounge in HEL. If you try calling AY directly they will charge you for that. No wonder, they charge you for champagne. If you miss your connection you have a good chance to be stuck in HEL for 12 hrs or more (it is a small airport with limited connections).
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Old Aug 9, 11, 12:11 pm   #8
 
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Old Aug 9, 11, 12:19 pm   #9
 
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Hehe, welcome to Scandinavia . I agree that the AY lounge alcohol policy is strange. I would think they would be better off by not offering champagne at all, instead of letting you pay for it.
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Old Aug 9, 11, 8:34 pm   #10
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alex_I;16889028-
Honestly, I did not find anything particularly good (including showers) when visiting AY lounge in HEL.
Could you please name a few examples of a good lounge then? So that we could compare a few key aspects.

Quote:
If you try calling AY directly they will charge you for that. No wonder, they charge you for champagne.
Cant you call a local office?

Quote:
If you miss your connection you have a good chance to be stuck in HEL for 12 hrs or more (it is a small airport with limited connections).
I am quite sure you would be rerouted on other OW or Alliance carriers if no earlier AY connections is available.

Last edited by mosburger; Aug 9, 11 at 10:31 pm..
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Old Aug 9, 11, 10:28 pm   #11
 
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Why do you compare LHR BA F lounge to AY J lounge?

AA offers decent US product? So why is Freixinet not a decent European product? Both are sparkling wines.

Finnair non-Schengen lounge is perhaps the nicest European Business Class lounge after new TK lounge and BA facilities.

And with status basic drinks are free.

If you need a poor lounge, try AF in CDG 2D or Aeroflot in SVO F. Skyteam's finest.
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Old Aug 9, 11, 10:48 pm   #12
 
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So what drinks are free and what are for sale in AY lounges? Is it just the champagne that's for sale or all alcoholic drinks? It sounds like they may have adopted the policy of most US domestic lounges: free lower tier alcohol drinks but a charge for premium drinks.
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Old Aug 9, 11, 11:13 pm   #13
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stripe View Post
So what drinks are free and what are for sale in AY lounges? Is it just the champagne that's for sale or all alcoholic drinks? It sounds like they may have adopted the policy of most US domestic lounges: free lower tier alcohol drinks but a charge for premium drinks.
Yes much like UA RCC policy. I don't know the brands as I rarely fly AY these days but basically your gin&tonic is free but if you specifically want Tanqueray it costs you.

Although this only applies to status holders I think, plain J pax pay for anything but wine on tap/beer. THAT is unacceptable.
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Old Aug 10, 11, 4:04 am   #14
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
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See Carfield's excellent lounge report with a picture partly showing the price list!

Extracted from the pictures and from own experience

Along with the tapped wine there are also two bottled red wines and two bottled white wines. Not very fancy.

From the bar (not open early in the morning) status holders get free:

Koskenkorva
Smirnoff vodka red 21
Gordon's gin
Bacardi superior
Meukow VS Cognac
Bushmill's Irish whiskey
Johnnie Walker Red Label Whisky
Campari
Bailey's original Irish cream
Lakkalikööri Cloudberry liqueur
Jägermeister
Sparkling wine (Freixenet type?)

The sortiment may change

Last edited by nordic; Aug 10, 11 at 4:31 am..
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Old Aug 10, 11, 5:46 pm   #15
 
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Well, I agree that there may be a special problem involving the Finns' relation to alcohol and alcohol prices in Finland. I do not think I have ever seen so many 15-20 year olds getting smashed at 10 AM as on the ship between Helsinki and Tallinn. It even seemed to me that they have bouncers on those ships, just in charge of kicking out passengers who can't make it to the exit at the other end... I also imagine that there must be people purposely doiing the round trip. Is there a special known vomit-free place on their body where they can display the return ticket so as not to be bounced off ?

I still believe that normal status passengers who pay the full fare Business price and JUST want to have a glass of good champagne before their flight should be able to get it for free...

While I cannot comment on the SU lounge at SVO and although I am a very reluctant and occasional Skyteam flyer, I seem to recall that good quality champagne is available for free in all AF lounges, particularly at CDG 2. I even drink it regularly at the Orly West AF lounge in Hall 2 where the most glamorous flights are between Paris and Nice.
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