TRIP REPORT: Travelling from Ljubljana in the age of corona


Written by Rok Cernac

Route: Ljubljana (LJU) – Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG)
Airline: Air France (operated by HOP)
Aircraft Registration: F-HBXG
Flight: AF1037
Class: Economy
Seat: 15A
Aircraft: Embraer E170STD
Flight time: 01:46
Take-off: 04 March 2020, 12:23
Arrival at: 04 March 2020, 14:09

Route: Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG) – Helsinki-Vantaa (HEL)
Aircraft Registration: OH-LXA
Flight: AY1578
Class: Economy
Seat: 8F
Aircraft: Airbus A320-214
Flight time: 02:21
Take-off: 04 March 2020, 19:53
Arrival at: 04 March 2020, 23:13

Route: Helsinki-Vantaa (HEL) – Amsterdam Schipol (AMS)
Airline: KLM Cityhopper
Aircraft Registration: PH-EZH
Flight: KL1166
Class: Economy
Seat: 25F
Aircraft: Embraer E190STD
Flight time: 02:20
Take-off: 12 March 2020, 11:17
Arrival at: 12 March 2020, 12:36

Route: Amsterdam Schipol (AMS) – Ljubljana (LJU)
Airline: Transavia
Aircraft Registration: PH-XRV
Flight: HV6819
Class: Economy
Seat: 7E
Aircraft: Boeing 737-7K2
Flight time: 01:19
Take-off: 12 March 2020, 13:30
Arrival at: 12 March 2020, 14:49

In June 2019 I met a couple from Finland in Slovenia, saving them from a burning car on the petrol station on the highway. So, we started to hang out and they invited me to their village in Finland.

On 18th September 2019 I booked a flight from Venice via Paris Charles De Gaulle to Helsinki, to fly on the 4th March and return on 10th March. Then at the end of February the mighty coronavirus came and my flight from Venice to Paris was cancelled. The situation in Slovenia and in Italy was not that bad at the time so I decided to call the Air France office in Zagreb and asked for a rebooking from Ljubljana, all done in 5 minutes.

I arrived at the airport as early as possible, to have time to buy some magazines and for a coffee.

Departure was at 12.20 and there were no other flights during my time at the airport, only the arrival flight from CDG. So, the airport looked pretty empty. Since I carried some gifts for my friends, I had 23kg of luggage and 10 kgs of hand luggage, right on the limit.

Boarding among Ari France group airlines is done in zones. By my logic, first business class and families and then the others. I flew in economy class, so I was in the last zone, zone 4.

Once reaching cruising altitude, the steward started service by offering some drinks and a small sandwich, on a short flight, which lasted only an hour and 46 minutes. During the flight, the Alps were very nicely visible and of course I took some photos. Later on, approaching Paris, the weather was not so stable and there was some light turbulence.

HOP, which operates the flight between Ljubljana and Paris, arrives at Terminal 2G, which is not connected with Terminal 2 C, E and F. Everyone transferring from Terminal 2G to T2 C, D, E, F has to take a free shuttle bus which brings you to Terminal 2E and then you have to follow the signs for the terminal you are departing from – in my case Terminal 2D.

The terminal is very small and does not offer a lot of entertainment or shops, only a magazine shop - WH Smith and two restaurants. This terminal is mostly used for easyJet flights. Finnair flies five times a day between Paris and Helsinki, two flights are operated by Nordic Regional Airlines, but the Embraer 190LR are leased to Finnair. Originally, I was to fly with an Airbus A321, but since my flight was changed, I flew with the Airbus A320.

I fly with LCCs more often so not having food or drinks during the flight is completely normal, but since I flew with Finnair I expected some service. With no additional payment they offer only tea and water, and maybe one more thing. All the rest passengers had to pay for.

After a two hours’ flight in the dark we reached Helsinki Airport. When I was here the last time, there was no railway connection with the city centre. This is now the best and the fastest option to reach Helsinki railway station, the journey takes only 28 minutes.

My original return flight was on 10th March, but I got an e mail that my flight was rescheduled for the day earlier, on the 9th. I planned my whole trip and on the 9th I really could not make it to the airport. In addition, my flight was rebooked via Amsterdam to Venice. I contacted KLM on Facebook and asked them if they could rebook it again to Ljubljana (only Transavia flies from Amsterdam to Ljubljana). KLM confirmed the change and sent me my new tickets.

On 12th March 2020 I departed from central Helsinki at 8.00 AM to reach Terminal 2 at around 8.30. My flight to Amsterdam was to depart at 10.45. As soon the flight from Amsterdam arrived, the pilot and co-pilot also went into the gate and I soon knew something is wrong. It was just a delay, but not very good one for me because I had only a one-hour connection in Amsterdam and the delay was programmed for an hour.

The pilot and the co-pilot announced that the delay was due to strong winds at Amsterdam Airport. I soon checked the Flightradar web page and the wind was blowing at the speed of 25 knots. So, I was expecting quite a bumpy flight but I was mistaken. Everything went very smoothly until we reached the Frisian islands where we started descending from 38.000 ft (11.500m). Thankfully I had a window seat and could see out of the window, especially the party from Danish coast to Amsterdam.

The steward on board announced the gate for three shortest connections and said we would all make it, even we were delayed. In the end, I only had 15 minutes or less to catch my flight to Ljubljana. I started to run through the terminal from gates B to C. As soon I reached the gate after one minute it opened, and we started to board. This time, I was not so lucky with the seat, and got the middle seat on a Boing 737. The seat was in row 7, next to two women.

Once I arrived at Ljubljana Airport, I soon knew that my luggage was not travelling with me, so I had to contact the lost and found office. The luggage came safe and sound the next day, with the Transavia flight from Amsterdam to Ljubljana.

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  1. Hey Rok,

    All 4 flights lasted 9 months plus some change? And how can you write this report if you’re not due to land until December 2020? :)

    On a more serious note, if the story of you saving this couple from a burning car is true that I hope your courage and humanity is formally recognised. My hat off to you champ!

  2. Anonymous09:31

    Nice trip report. Seems like Finnair has gone down the path of most European airlines with hybrid product.

  3. Anonymous12:14

    Thank you, interesting report!
    I see the HEL - AMS flight was with KLM Cityhopper, not AF HOP.

  4. Nice report, thanks Rok!

    It seems that AY is doing quite well in LJU. Does anyone know if its O&D or transfer to Asia traffic?


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