My journey back home started at 3:00am last Sunday, and it was just every bit exciting as I expected. The minute I landed at Schiphol airport in Amsterdam, I realized how much different it was compared to the serene Vantaa airport that I was so used to. Suddenly, I was surrounded by a sea of passengers, and the invisible personal bubble seemed to completely vanish. It took me a minute or so to readjust and calm myself, but then that would be another story for some other time. Today I’d like to share my experience & tips on how to make certain that your travels would be as smooth as possible.
Early-morning or late-night departures
I had an early flight from Helsinki airport at 8:00 am, so I would need to be there at least 1 hour and a half in advance. What I did was booking a bus ticket at 3:38 from Turku Bus Station to Vantaa airport, so I would be there around 5:45am or so. Now the tricky part was how to get to the Bus Station at 3:15 on a Sunday morning with a huge luggage and a heavy backpack. After some researching, I decided to book a taxi in advance, and turned out it was a great idea.
Since weekends’ nights are usually busy times to order taxis, one might need to wait at least 15-20 minutes, sometime even more than that. Though it costs a bit extra to reserve a taxi in advance, it is still much better than missing your bus to the airport. The taxi number in Turku is 02-10041, so if you need to plan ahead just give them a call during the day. For a short trip (1-2km), it costs around 8-12Euros – plus the reservation cost. The taxi driver spoke perfect English, and he told me that it was in fact a good idea to reserve a taxi before hand, because 3:00 am on Sunday morning is a busy time since people start to go home from bars and clubs.
Check-in online in advance
I arrived in Vantaa airport at 5:45 am. I thought that there wouldn’t be as many passengers at the check-in counters, security control gates and such as usual hours, yet it was still slightly crowded. Fortunately, everything went smoothly according to my plan, so I had plenty of time. Even though I already checked in and had my boarding passes ready, I still needed to drop my check-in luggage. Usually, I travel with a smaller suitcase, or even without a check-in baggage, so I can just proceed to my gates.
Depending on your airlines, most of the time – you can check-in online in advance, choose your preferred seats, and download your e-boarding passes to save time. This way, it is not only environmental friendly because you do not consume extra papers to print out the actual tickets, but also you do not have to worry about dropping it because it is stored in your phone. Of course, it is possible for you to self-check in at the airport, but in case you are not familiar with the airports, or not knowing where the transfer points are, then it is best when you can just do that on your phone.
My online boarding passes collection. Isn’t it fun to store them this way?
Using the airlines’ apps
Most major airlines have their own apps nowadays, or at least I have fantastic experiences using Finnair, SAS, Lufthansa & Norwegian Air apps to keep updates of my travels. Also, as I tend to travel with some certain airlines, I’d like to keep my membership accounts in check. By using the apps, I don’t have to remember my account information for each and every airline, or having to worry about missing bonus points. More importantly, the apps would notify me immediately if there is any change in terms of gates or boarding hours, so it is also greatly convenient. In fact, I get so used to using these apps, I find it difficult to imagine otherwise.
As you can see, I can check-in online one day in advance before my trip back to Finland using the Finnair app.
The way back to Turku
There are numerous ways to get to Turku from Vantaa airport. Usually, I would like to book my tickets with Express bus in advance through this website since it is always cheaper (there are always some online discounts from 7-9Euros) even compared with the student price (12-14Euros). Recently, Onnibus has opened new routes from Turku to Vantaa airport and back, and their prices are even cheaper, like 4 Euros per ticket. Can you imagine that? However, their schedules are not as frequent as Express bus, and you definitely need to book in advance with Onnibus if you want to catch those low prices tickets.
From Vantaa airport to Turku, buses often stop at several major stops as: the Turku cathedral, Turku Bus Station, etc. Like all kinds of public transportation in Finland, they are all so on-time like 90% of the time. You can of course purchase the ticket from the bus driver in case you are not sure of the time, however the prices would be a bit more expensive. When you travel with Express bus, you can also ask for the student discount since it is usually 50% cheaper.
So if you want to travel during your spring break, it would be a good time to plan now 🙂