Last May Finnair opened a new route to Chongqing, Finnair’s newest destination in China and one of the fastest growing cities on the planet.
This month I personally had a chance to fly there and see this amazing city and (most importantly) meet the passengers on this route. You see, the fun part of my job is the fact that every route has its own kind of passengers that, already before the flight, you kind of expect and mentally prepare to see and serve. Flights to Japan are totally different to, let’s say, from flights to New York or London. Beijing clientele differs widely from that of Singapore’s and so forth.
So I was very anxious to see what kind of people I was to meet on this Finnair AY56 to CKG flight.
And guess what? Pleasant surprise! A vibrant, excited, good-humoured group boarded the plane on both ends! Mainly Chinese, but a lot of Westerners too. A good deal of the Chinese passengers were on their way somewhere in Europe for a vacation, some even stayed here in Finland (which always pleases me). A lot of children, some expats returning home, business people and even some backpackers.
Yes, backpackers — like these two brave girls that had had a great trip in China.
Irene and Maarit had been touring China for 1 month, visiting cities Chengdu, Xian, Beijing, Wuhan and Chongqing. Last year they did a similar roadtrip in Europe and inspired by that, they conquered China this summer. And a great trip it had been! All the Chinese people they met had been extremely helpful at every occasion, friendly and curious. In spite of the language barrier everything had gone very well.
As the girls put it, a smile takes you a long way.
Maybe the most memorable experience for the girls was the long 16-hour trainride they took from Chengdu to Xian. 16 hours turned into 18 hours in the approximately four square-meter entry area of the train. Right there next to the toilet, smoking room and what appeared to be a cleaning closet.
They sat on their backpacks but had to get up at every station as they were otherwise blocking the doors. Their cramped and somewhat awkward position still didn’t stop a constantly changing nonstop group of five to eight local men standing right there staring at them.
Luckily that same group actually provided them with ‘an interpreter’ when there was some confusion over their tickets with the train conductor.
Now seated on much comfier seats, the girls summarized the month as a great experience, but they were also happy to get home. Tired but happy, as we say.
During the flight I also spoke with some locals, three ladies from Chongqing were part of a larger group on their way to Paris for an 11 day holiday. This was their first trip to Europe and needless to say, they were beyond jittery. When I asked them why Paris, and why not some other city in Europe, the choice was obvious:
Paris is the city of fashion! Paris is soooo charming! Paris has wonderful history! And mostly – Paris is so romantic!!!
When I complimented them on their own city of Chongqing, they agreed that it too, is very charming.
And reminded me of two things: it’s super hot and humid during the summer, and I must try the world famous Chongqing Hotpot when next time in town.
And I will, of course.
I wish Sluhan, Ling and Jze a great vacation in romantic Paris and a good flight back to their own amazing city on our blue and white wings.
Happy landings and see you all again!