Aircraft Type: A330-300
Class: Business Class
Date: November 2014
Best for: Affordable, one stop flights to a whole host of Asian destinations.
Most likely to sit next to: Designers, Architects and super cool Asian-techie travellers.
Business or pleasure: The flight times are perfect for business travellers, however, with no WiFi, this is the perfect place to unwind and recharge the batteries. Literally!
Routes: A huge and well connected European short haul network, that predominantly acts as a feeder network to a renovated long haul fleet great for travelling east.
Frequent Flyer Programme: Finnair Plus, very powerful as connected to the One World alliance, but with excellent availability for upgrades and reward flights.
Best bits: The clean designer aircraft, excellent food, lounges and frequencies.
Worst bits: Just a WiFi short of perfection
Finnair A330 Business Class Report
Flying as a guest of Finnair part of the way on a trip over to Hawaii (the long way around from the UK) we were excited to try out the airline’s new fully flat bed product launched last year. After a wonderful short haul experience our expectations were set high. Finnair have proven to us over the years that they are reliably excellent, and quietly brilliant, with subtle and stunning design touches. See how we have fallen in love a little bit with a truly global Finnish design brand.
On the Ground
After heading through security from our previous trip, we head to the lounge. Helsinki is basically one connected terminal that wraps around the apron, so apart from the few remote stands, all the gates are easily accessible from each other. The main Finnair lounge is situated near gate 36. As we had a two hour connection we decided to head to the lounge to relax for a while.
The lounge itself is split into two sections, a regular business class lounge and a premium lounge, for Finnair and One World’s most elite status customers. We were lucky enough to experience the brand new ‘Premium’ lounge, which we covered a little while back. The premium lounge is beautifully designed, a wash of white furniture and finishes, which is all brought to life by mood lighting that fills the differing areas.
On arrival, you pass the buffet and bar, which is fully stocked and whilst the buffet is self serve, the drinks are poured by a team of barmen and women. There are a wide selection of hot and cold food on offer, which has a really Nordic feel to it, with delicious patês and pickled salads on offer.
Beyond this is a small normally lit dining section, which is perfect for those needing a proper table to sit and eat or relax at. Then there is a large relaxing area coloured in pink, situated off the side of this area is a kids zone and working zone with apple computers (you can always tell a designer lounge when their workstations are brought to you by Apple)
At the end of the lounge, up a row of stairs, is a quitter spot, filled with individual chairs to relax in, along with power points at every chair. Attached to the side is a sleep zone, which allows for passengers with a longer transit to catch some shut eye.
All in all, the impressive lounge is well appointed, full of design features and not to forget the fact that the lounge has a well equipped shower and sauna suite available to passengers. We braved the sauna, which uses the traditional mixed use, no need for clothes (but at least wear a towel) and is an invigorating way of travelling, sweating off, showering and refreshing before a long haul flight. Whilst it may not be for all, it is well worth giving it a go!
Whilst our gate was relatively close, we decided to pack up early and take our time to leisurely make our way to the gate, taking in the rest of the airport on the way there. On arrival, other passengers were waiting patiently, and within a matter of moments, boarding commenced, and we headed onboard.
Finnair utilises one boarding doors so on entry we were greeted at the main galley for the business class section, whereby we were told to make a left and find our seat. There is a small business class cabin situated behind the galley on this aircraft, and Finnair has a variety of seating configurations on their A330 fleet, some with and some without the extra mini business class cabin.
On turning left, we were greeted by a sea of soft blue and splashes of bright fresh vibrant green. The overall effect is both calming and modern. The cabin with bright and light, and made for simple, easy boarding. In our configuration, the seating allowed for 45 flat bed seats and 221 economy seats. The other config allows for just 32 business class seats and 265 economy seats.
With the retrofit almost complete, the chances are you will now be on this newer seat product, and the upgrade is what has set this carrier above their competition. The cabin itself feels contemporary, spacious and clean.
Aiming to get as much personal space as possible, we knew the individual ‘Throne seats’ are usually the best option, as on our configuration there were only 4 of them available. They are situated on the left hand side of the cabin, (2A, 4A, 6A and 8A) and sit in-between the usual two side by side seats. This gives these seats extra space on the left and right hand side, also keeping the passenger away from the aisle, saving being knocked by passers by. We took the first seat in the cabin, 2A.
There is a small drawback to these Throne seats, the footwell that the seat reclines into is quite tight, compared to the footwells on the aisles which are open and therefore give a little more wiggle-room. However, this said, this is only in comparison, and we slept perfectly comfortably in our seat.
Almost every seat offers aisle access, the only five ones that don’t are 1A, 3A, 5A, 7A and 9A. All the seats are all forward facing, and offer plenty of personal space, as well as a whole host of amenities. Each seat has a beautifully designed reading light, massage function, large touchscreen TV (along with handset) and one of the most complicated/versatile tables known to aviation.
The seats also offer a variety of lighting, including mood lights, and secondary seat controls hidden behind the seat, only accessible when the seat is reclined.
There are literature pockets at eye level, which help provide more space and ease of use, perfect for placing a variety of items in. Each seat also has a USB and power connection for a host of your own electronic devices.
The seat cushion is well padded and the simple controls allow it to recline to a fully flat bed, although this should only be used for sleeping as the TV screen becomes a little more difficult to view at this angle, even after dipping the TV down to its maximum angle.
You can see how happy we were when we boarded!
There was no surprise after our short haul flight that Finnair offers excellent dining and wines on their long haul product as well. During boarding, coats were taken and champagne offered in more of their wonderful glasses. After this, both wine and food menus were delivered for us to choose from.
The dining is conceived by Tomi Björck – chef of Farang and Gaijin Helsinki, and credit is given where credit is due.
Amuse Bouche of mini mozzarella and sun dried tomato
Salmon Sashimi in yuzu truffle sauce or
Miso soup with sprain onion and Wakame
Yellow curry Thai style with chicken and steamed rice or
Char siew pork, marinated in a dark sweet and spicy sauce, slowly roasted in oven and garnished with cucumber, cashew nuts and sesame with steamed rice or
Cannelloni filled with herbed cream cheese, tomato basil sauce, edamame beans and romanesco.
Cheeses, goat cheese gruyere and brie
Häagen-Dazs vanilla ice cream
Coffee, tea and avec
Crêpes filled with ricotta cheese, spinach and poultry sausage
Warm croissants and jam
Coffee and Tea
Nicolas Feuillatte Brut Grande Reserve,
Kloster Eberbach Rüdesheimer Berg Roseneck Riesling Feinherb 2013,
Chartron & Trebuchet Rully 1er Cru 2012,
Cloudy Bay Pinot Noir 2012,
Nicolas Perrin Crozes-Hermitage 2012,
Niepoort Colheita 2000,
Dr Loosen Riesling Beerenauslese 2009
The food came in generous portions, and were served course by course at the seat. Commencing with the amuse bouché and a beautiful glass of the Riesling, we settled in with the inflight entertainment. The food was fairly quick to start coming out after take off, with sensitivity being shown on a fairly short night flight.
The starter of sashimi was so good we almost asked for seconds. However, knowing how much food was ahead of us, we held off, awaiting the Char Siew pork instead, which was just as amazing.
Following this large, tasty and fresh portion, yet another course ensued, with a variety of cheese and breads being offered, before a further course of Ice cream, chocolates and green tea.
All in all, the dinner was impressive, with only the breakfast equalling the quality and taste on board. Making sure we didn’t miss any of the service, before turning in, we made sure the cabin crew would wake us for a full breakfast.
Waking up approximately an hour and a half before landing, we were woken gently by one of the crew, who handed us a hot towel to freshen up before dining. The breakfast was then promptly offered.
The food was excellent once again, and whilst originally a little cautious of the anaemic looking sausages, they were packed full of flavour and the eggs were perfectly cooked. Croissants were constantly on offer, with he crew going through the cabin at least three times with a basket of them. It was actually a first for us to be so full we couldn’t eat anymore.
The entertainment system is excellent, with a large selection of movies on offer, great and quick navigation and excellent amenities such as live cameras on take off and landing, a responsive route map and games galore.
The screen is definitely big enough, but could have perhaps been a couple of inches bigger. Also, as previously mentioned, slightly difficult to watch when in flatbed mode, which is a shame, as we love to watch a bit of TV before falling asleep.
Another excellent design touch is the positioning of the power sockets in the seat, which are perfectly positioned to charge personal devices, phones and laptops whilst still being away from the seat, meaning less chance of knocking the plugs when getting in and out of the seat.
Finnair is full of extras, from Marimekko bedding, through to slippers and amenity kits. One of the best elements is the fact the amenity kit is basic and presented in a recycled envelope.
To help reduce waste, most of the elements are available on request, meaning less waste and more profitability for the carrier. Toothbrush and shaving sets were all set up in the toilet in the morning, another lovely little touch.
The way elements were delivered were also noticeable. Slippers and headsets offered on arrival, bedding only provided once the food service was over and passengers were obviously reclining for sleep. The amenities whilst basic in appearance were functional and branded with Finnair logos, showing the strength of the airline as a stand alone ‘designer brand’
On landing, after a wonderful flight, we felt light, rested and happy, something that doesn’t really ever feel important until we flew with this airline. It’s a mix of service, design, and comfort that all works harmoniously to create a very successful business class product. It’s no surprise it’s almost like a hidden airline choice, as it doesn’t shout how good it is, nor does it need to. As passengers, like ourselves can show you exactly how airlines can get it right. We don’t often say this, but we would happily fly Finnair at the drop of a hat, and would even go out of our way on certain routes to fly with Finnair compared to a competitor.
Well done Finnair, we look forward to seeing more of your Finnish style in the near future.
The Big Picture