REVIEW | Finnair A350 Business Class Helsinki to Bangkok

Nico traveled to Thailand in July 2022. He kindly shares his experience on board and in the lounge. 

After a pleasant flight from Brussels to Helsinki in Finland and a nice cocktail or two in the Finnair business class lounge it was time for the real deal: our long haul flight from Helsinki to Bangkok. 

This flight needs some introduction.

If you take a globe and calculate the shortest route between Brussels and Bangkok, you’ll see Helsinki is a pretty convenient airport to transfer to. That however was before the war in Ukraine

The flight time when we booked, in early February 2022, was 9 hours and 55 minutes. 

Due to Russia‘s invasion in Ukraine and following airspace restrictions, Finnair can’t use the Russian airspace anymore, resulting in a detour and an adjusted flight time. Our new flight was blocked at 11 hours and 40 minutes. That’s right, almost two hours longer than foreseen. Luckily we were flying in business class with free floating champagne.

Another thing to mention up front is that Finnair introduced a new business class seat. And launched premium economy, for that matter. You can find all the information about it here. Unfortunately, planes are only gradually retrofitted and our flight to Bangkok was still in the ‘old’ Business Class seat, however the meal service already followed the new concept.

Flight: AY143, Helsinki to Bangkok
Scheduled departure time: 00.45 (am)
Flight time: 11 hours 40 minutes
Plane: Airbus 350-900
Seat: 8D, business class

Before the flight

Finnair has three different types of business class fares and only the most expensive one has seat selection included in the ticket. We had a ‘classic’ fare, and there is also a cheaper ‘light’ fare. The fact that seat selection is not included in business class is already a bit odd, but the amount they charge to select a seat is simply ridiculous. 

150 euros to select a seat in advance.

Yep, you read it well: 150 euro for one seat. I mean, does anyone ever pay that? Obviously we waited until check-in time and selected a seat without any extra charge. We had seats 8D and 8H, the two center seats in the last row of business class.

When we arrived at our gate, the beautiful Airbus A350 was already waiting for us. I mean, isn’t this plane pretty?

Cabin and seat

Our flight was delayed by 30 minutes, and sure enough 30 minutes after the scheduled boarding time boarding started. business class passengers and passengers who need assistance can board first. Finnair uses two jet bridges, so business class passengers enter through the forward door and turn right into the business class cabin.

Blue and white, like the flag of Finland.

Finnair uses a bright blue light during boarding, which feels on brand to me.

Seats are in a 1-2-1 configuration. If you are traveling with someone, you might want to select a center seat in order to sit together.

Together in business.

However, if you are traveling alone you will want a window seat as it offers more privacy.

Alone in business.

This is how the business class cabin looks like from the back:

Reverse herringbone.

This ‘reverse herringbone’ configuration is pretty standard nowadays, you’ll find more or less the same seats on (some planes of) airlines like American Airlines, Air France, China Eastern Airlines, and the list goes on.

Finnair has taken the ‘no-frills’ version of the seat without doors or privacy dividers between the center seats. There are also versions out there with more storage compartments, for example to stow laptops during take-off and landing. But otherwise these seats are very comfortable. 

Waiting on our seats during boarding, we found a comfortable pair of slippers, a plush blanket and a pillow.

There was also an amenity kit designed by Marimekko.

The amenity kit contained a toothbrush, earplugs, eye shades, lip care and facial cream (both by L.A. Bruket). That’s rather basic as far as business class amenity kits go, as other airlines also offer things like combs, penns, perfume or deodorant, mouthwash or socks for example. 

There were also a pair of headphones with pretty decent quality.

Finnair headphones.

Wifi and inflight entertainment

Finnair’s website claims that the new cabins come with a completely redesigned inflight entertainment system, with over 100 movies and 100 TV episodes. 

Apparently they don’t put any effort at all in their ‘old’ inflight entertainment system, as on our flight only seven movies were available. You read that right: just seven movies. This means on our flight of over 11 hours we literally could watch every single movie in the system.

Film selection.

It gets even more fun when you tap the ‘games’ section. Then you see this:

Where are the games?

An empty screen indeed. So no games at all. Why bother having a ‘games’ button, Finnair?

As far as entertainment goes Finnair does a really really bad job on this flight. I get Finnair is refreshing its cabins and that comes with a new inflight entertainment system. But in the meantime, plenty of planes still have the ‘old’ cabin. 

They’ve paid for a ticket too, and I feel Finnair just stopped caring about the product in planes that are not yet reconfigured. At least be honest about it up front and send people in email to warn them to download movies on their own devices. 

A cool feature in the inflight entertainment system was that you could see the course of the flight, indicating at what time meals were served et cetera:

Flight information.

Finnair also offers inflight wifi for purchase, ranging from one hour for 7,95 euro, three hours for 14,95 euro or internet for the entire flight for 24,95 euro. We didn’t need wifi, so we didn’t buy internet access. 

Food, drinks and service

Moments after settling in, a flight attendant offered us a welcome drink. The options are champagne, water or blueberry juice. I picked champagne. Just like on our flight to Helsinki, we received our drinks in Iittala glassware and with Marimekko napkins.

Drinks on a Marimekko napkin.

The menu on today’s flight can be found here.

Once we were airborne, service started a few minutes after the seatbelt sign was switched off. The crew passed through the cabin with hot towels.

Towel.

Afterwards the meal service started. Finnair offers two starters (no choice) and one main dish, where you can pick from three options. I selected the braised beef cheek with onion puree, asparagus risotto and dark truffle sauce. Both starters and the main dish were served on one tray.

First meal.

The first starter is described as a herb tartlet with shredded chicken and mustard seeds, it was really good.

First starter.

Up next was the corn puree with edamame and fava beans and dill oil. Not bad.

Edamame and fava beans.

And the main dish: braised beef cheek with onion puree, asparagus risotto and dark truffle sauce. The meat was really soft, I enjoyed this dish.

Braised beef cheek with onion puree, asparagus risotto and dark truffle sauce.

All in all, dinner was really tasty, however I’m a bit puzzled over the service. No pre-dinner drinks, starters and main dish came on one single tray. The flight leaves late in the evening, so on one hand it’s a good thing to keep the meal service short and efficient in order to maximize sleep. 

On the other hand: the flight is blocked at 11 hours and 40 minutes, so there sure is plenty of time to sleep. 

Personally I would offer business class passengers the choice: getting the entire meal on one tray or having a more drawn out service. Lufthansa for example offers an ‘express menu’ for people who wish to sleep.

Another thing about the meal service: a lot of airlines stopped using trays in business class. They just serve the meal directly on the table cloth, like you would get in a restaurant. Getting rid of trays is something very simple without an added cost that immediately elevates the dinner experience, in my opinion.

Anyway, after the meal we were offered dessert. I had cheesecake with raspberry sauce. It was a small portion, but that was perfect: good enough to get the taste, not too much to get stuffed.

Cheesecake.

Together with the dessert, I had a glass of the Valamo XO, a Finnish dessert wine. It was really good. My husband had the blueberry mousse with white chocolate. He said it was okay, but not great.

Blueberry mousse.

To conclude the meal, I had a cheese plate. There was no description available of what cheeses we had, neither did the flight attendant explain. The cheeses were alright, if not a bit bland.

Cheese!

The service provided by the crew was okay. The crew members were polite and professional, though not really warm hearted or going the extra mile. They were simply doing their job, nothing more nothing less. Service on the previous (much shorter) Finnair flight was definitely better.

Bedding

After the meal it was time for some sleep. Finnair does not offer a mattress pad or pajamas. On the bright side: the blanket was really soft and comfortable.

Bedding.

I had a solid six hours of sleep, which is really nice. When I woke up I ordered a coffee.

Coffee.

The coffee wasn’t served on a coffee plate, no spoon, no milk, no sugar, nothing. Most airlines also offer something like a chocolate with coffee, but that didn’t happen here. Later, when I went to the toilet, I noticed there was a little snack basket in front of the cabin, though the crew never passed pro-actively with this basket through the cabin.

Basket with snacks.

I read a bit in my book, and watched the flight map. I mean: look at our crazy routing due to the war in Ukraine.

No flying over Russia.

Pre-landing meal

About 90 minutes before landing, the lights were turned on and breakfast was served. Interestingly, this time around the lids were kept on the dishes. That wasn’t the case during dinner. Did the crew just forget to take them off or is this standard procedure?

Second meal.

There was a warm casserole with sausage, scrambled egg, spinach and tomatoes.

Warm casserole with sausage, scrambled egg, spinach and tomatoes.

A fruit platter:

Fruit platter.

Some cold cuts:

Cold cuts.

And yogurt with muesli. 

Yoghurt with muesli.

Along with the breakfast, bread was served:

Bread roll and croissant.

And soon enough breakfast trays were cleared and we started our descent to Bangkok. I enjoyed the landing while watching the tail camera.

Tail camera.

After landing business class passengers could disembark first through the forward door, where we said goodbye to the crew and headed to immigration.

Bottom line

I would describe Finnair business class as ‘okay’. 

We had a perfectly comfortable flight, but there is room for improvement. Finnair charges crazy amounts to select a seat, the inflight entertainment system was downright embarrassing, the meal service could be more extensive and in terms of amenities Finnair could step up its game with a more lavish amenity kit, mattress pads or pajamas. 

But all in all it remains a great way to travel: food was good, I took a good nap  and I love how Finnair works together with design brands like Iittala and Marimekko. 

I’m curious to try Finnair’s new business class in the future.

Previously by Nico

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