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Review: Finnair A350 Business Class (BKK-HEL)

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We arrived at Bangkok Airport at 7:55, around 3 hours before the updated departure of our flight to Helsinki. As it turns out, the inbound flight had been held up at Helsinki Airport because of a mechanical issue, resulting in a 2-hour delay for our flight. The delay meant that we were going to be missing our onward connection, which you can read more about here.

IMG_9815Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport Finnair Drop-Off Point 

In stark contrast to the last time I flew this route, the Priority line was completely empty while the Economy line was bursting at the seams.

IMG_9819Finnair Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport Priority Check-In 

The friendly Lufthansa agent working the Finnair desk explained that we were going to be rebooked at a later time, and was patient with us as we explored our different options with regards to where we would check our bags. We were sent on our way with a food voucher in about 10 minutes.

IMG_9820Finnair Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport Priority Check-In 

While Finnair sends it’s Business Class passengers to the Miracle Lounge at Bangkok Airport, we decided to head over to the Cathay Pacific lounge and spent some time enjoying one last bowl of wonton noodles before heading to our boarding gate.

IMG_9825Finnair Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport Boarding Gate

Bangkok Airport has these annoying grids on their windows, making it difficult to photograph the A350 that would be taking us to Helsinki. Our aircraft today was OH-LWI, which was just over a month old at the time of the flight.

IMG_9827Finnair Airbus A350 Bangkok Airport

As is the case at Bangkok Airport, all passengers are put in a holding pen prior to boarding. As one might expect, placing 336 passengers in a holding pen resulted in an absolute mess. The pen was crowded and uncomfortable. When boarding was announced, hoards of people lined up everywhere. Despite the poor gate agents trying their best, it was a chaotic situation to say the least.

The highlight of the boarding process was a well-dressed British man who was clearly a little tipsy (mind you, it’s around 10:15AM at this point). He pushed his way to the front of the priority line, bragging about his oneworld “diamond elite” status… Well, okay then…

Finnair 90
Tuesday, June 28, 2017
Origin: Bangkok Suvarnabhumi (BKK) Gate: E7 Dep: 08:55 (10:55)
Destination: Helsinki Vantaa (HEL) Arr: 14:55 (
Duration: 10 hr (10 hr 5 min)
Aircraft: Airbus A350-900
Seat: 4L (Business Class)

I was welcomed by the Chief Purser, who I didn’t see much of during the flight.

IMG_9829Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Cabin 

A toned-down version of Finnair’s signature mood lighting was on during boarding. Finnair’s seat finishes are minimalistic, so the mood lighting gives the cabin more flavour and makes it visually much more interesting.

IMG_9830Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Seat 

Pillows, blankets, amenity kits, slippers, headphones and the literature file containing the menu, wine list, and duty-free information were all pre-set at each seat during boarding. While it makes service much more efficient and streamlined, it’s a bit of a hassle to figure out a place to secure everything for takeoff.

IMG_9833Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Seat 

Finnair’s Business Class seats are standard reverse herringbone seats. After having flown in Cathay Pacific’s reverse herringbone seats the day before, I found the seats to be a little more cramped. This is because Finnair opted to not install a leg-rest on their seats, which allowed them to cram in more Business Class seats.

IMG_9834Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Cabin 

To make up for the lack of a legrest, the seat has a really long ottoman to increase the bed length. There’s space underneath the ottoman to store things, which cleaning crew used to stuff the blanket into, which I found pretty gross since I imagine it’s designed as a place to store shoes. The lack of a legrest also means that the seat isn’t particularly comfortable for lounging.

IMG_9838Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Ottoman 

The seat also features a literature pocket and a water bottle holder. I think this space was a missed opportunity for Finnair to design a more useful storage compartment.

IMG_9839Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Literature Holder and Water Bottle Holder 

On this specific flight, Finnair loaded PhiTek noise-canceling headphones, which are also used by Qatar Airways. However, this appears to be a one-off, as I still received Finnair’s standard Bose headphones on my return from Helsinki to Hong Kong. Either way, they weren’t very good at canceling noise, but they were still above average as far as business class headphones go.

IMG_9845Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Headphones 

There’s a side storage area, as well as a retractable armrest for more sleeping space. Finnair made some minor tweaks to the latches that raise the armrest and open the storage area since I last flew the route. I didn’t think they made a substantial difference when compared to the previous product.

IMG_9848Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Armrest and Side Storage

Here’s a look at the storage area, which was actually quite deep.

IMG_9925Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Side Storage Area 

On the side of the seat, there was a reading light with different settings, a headphone jack, USB port, (inoperational) power ports, an entertainment handset as well as a set of seat controls which were intuitive and worked well.

IMG_9849Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Side Console

There was also an exposed storage area for headphones, which couldn’t be used for take-off and landing. The compartment didn’t really store much aside from the headphones.

IMG_9854Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Headphone Storage 

Overall, I thought the hard product was pretty good. While it was slightly tighter than other reverse herringbone seats in the industry, the seat had direct aisle access, a fully flat bed, good privacy and a decent amount of storage options, and was certainly comfortable enough for the 10-hour flight to Helsinki.

In terms of amenities, Finnair offers Marimekko-designed slippers, which I wish more airlines would provide. (Cathay Pacific, I’m looking at you.) They’re extremely practical and stylish, making them great for mid-flight trips to the galley and the toilets.

IMG_1162Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Slippers 

Finnair also offers an amenity kit which was also designed by Marimekko and featured L’Occitane lip balm and “fabulous serum”, a toothbrush, toothpaste, earplugs, and eyeshades. Additional items like a comb or socks were offered on request. The L’Occitane amenities are a small step up from the Clarins amenities that were previously stocked.

IMG_9900Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Amenity Kit Contents 

We were parked next to a Cathay Pacific A330 headed back to Hong Kong. At this time, the cabin crew came through the cabin offering welcome drinks. I chose Finnair’s signature blueberry juice, which I’m addicted to. My mother, on the other hand, thought it tasted like cough syrup.

IMG_9855Cathay Pacific Airbus A330 at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport 

During boarding, the British man who had pushed his way to the front of the priority boarding line rudely asked his crew to hang up his jacket, bragging about “how expensive it was” and saying that “they better take care of it”. Okay then…

One of the more unique things about the A350 is the LCD seat-belt signs, which I don’t think are actually that much more practical than a standard seat-belt sign.

IMG_9861Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Seatbelt Signs 

Shortly afterward, the Captain and the Chief Purser welcomed passengers onboard, and the safety video was screened. On this flight, announcements were made in English, Finnish, Swedish, and Thai. Wowzers!

IMG_9863Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Safety Video 

At this time, the entertainment system was switched on. For starters, I love that Finnair has a flight timeline on the system, a picture of which I’ve pinched from a different flight. The system interface is also really intuitive. However, I found the selection of films and television shows to be slightly disappointing. For example, they’d only have three or four episodes of a television show at most, which isn’t ideal. In addition, the movies were slightly lacking.

IMG_1061.jpgFinnair Airbus A350 Business Class Flight Timeline 

The one thing that I love about Finnair’s A350 is the airshow, which is the same as the system found on Cathay Pacific. It has so many different modes and can be adjusted to individual preferences instead of having to watch the airline pre-programmed airshow system.

IMG_9866Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Airshow 

Eventually, the mood lighting was switched on as we started our taxi to the runway. Notice here that Finnair doesn’t have overhead lockers in the middle row of seats, which makes the cabin extremely spacious. Unfortunately, this means that overhead space is slightly limited. On all of my flights, the lockers were all filled to the brim.

IMG_9870Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Cabin During Takeoff

We passed by some interesting traffic on our way to the runway, including the Cathay Pacific A330 that we were parked next to.

IMG_9876Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class View During Taxi 

We took off smoothly after a short taxi.

IMG_9880Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class View During Takeoff 

The crew sprung into action as the seat-belt sign was turned off. In Finnair’s Business Class, individual cabin crews are responsible for one section, allowing them to build a more personal relationship with passengers. The service certainly feels less like an assembly line and more personalized.


They started off by taking meal and drink orders. While I had pre-ordered my meal online before my flight, but this wasn’t acknowledged by the crew at all. Ultimately, I still got my first meal choice, but I’d imagine that someone would be disappointed if their pre-ordered main course had been given away.

The meal service started with a drink and amuse bouche, which was a salmon, mayo, lemon and cherry tomato skewer. The salmon was a little dry, but it was tasty enough. Of course, I opted for another glass of blueberry juice.

IMG_9886Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Amuse Bouche and Drink 

IMG_9888Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Amuse Bouche 

Then, the crew came through the cabin with tablecloths, which had a subtle Marimekko-inspired pattern printed on them.

IMG_9889Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Tablecloth 

For starters, passengers were offered a selection of a soup or a salad. I selected the Cream of Mushroom soup, which was served with a roll, butter and an unimaginative side salad and lemon vinegarette. The soup was flavourful but a tad bit watery.

IMG_9893Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Mushroom Soup 

Drink refills were offered, and I had another glass of blueberry juice.

IMG_9894Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Blueberry Juice 

Then, the tray containing my starters was removed and replaced by my main dish and another set of cutlery. I selected the red curry beef with egg fried rice, which was served with another glass of blueberry juice. The dish was okay. The curry wasn’t all that spicy, and the beef was overcooked. The egg fried rice was also a tad bit dry. Overall a perfectly acceptable meal, but nothing special.

IMG_9895Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Red Curry Beef with Fried Rice 

The mains were then collected. The crew then offered dessert, which was a choice of two ice creams, or a cheese plate. The lovely flight attendant serving my section insisted that I try both of the ice cream flavors. Coffee and tea were also offered at this time, which I passed on.

IMG_9897Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Ice Cream 

Overall, the meal took around two hours. The service was excellent. The flight attendant serving my row was extremely friendly and attentive. The whole “splitting” of the cabin into different sub-sections really helps make the service more personable and attentive. However, I felt that the service was a little “sluggish”, and plates weren’t cleared as quickly. I didn’t mind this on a daytime flight, but I imagine passengers who wanted to sleep would take issue with this.

At this time, I turned on the entertainment system and settled on watching Fresh Off The Boat. I was a little surprised to see an advertisement before the program, which Finnair had previously stayed away from. Fortunately, the system allowed you to skip the ad after a couple of seconds of watching it, but it was still disappointing to see Finnair trying to extract more revenue at the expense of the customer experience.

IMG_9890Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class

At this time, the cabin lights were dimmed slightly to allow for some rest. I decided to take advantage of the one hour of free WiFi that Finnair offers it’s Business Class passengers. While it’s nice to have even some free WiFi, it was disappointing to see Finnair cutting back on the previous system of giving Business passengers whole-flight WiFi.

On a more positive note, Finnair has redesigned it’s Nordic Sky WiFi portal, making it easier to use. However, the new system doesn’t allow users to switch between different devices, meaning that you’ll have to pay extra if you want to use WiFi on multiple devices.

IMG_9912.jpgFinnair Airbus A350 Business Class Cabin 

It was at this time that I realized that the power ports weren’t working for me and my parent’s seats. I went to the galley to notify the flight attendant of the issue, who profusely apologized and offered a WiFi voucher, seeing that I wouldn’t be able to use my laptop for the rest of the flight as it would be dead. She also offered to charge my laptop through the power port in the galley, which was great.

I started feeling peckish, so I asked the flight attendant for some instant noodles. She recommended that I try some pizza bites, which she warmed up in the oven and put on a plate along with the cup of noodles.

IMG_9911Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Mid-Flight Snack 

The pizza bites and the instant noodles were both tasty and super unhealthy. Overall, while it certainly wasn’t the fanciest meal, it was enjoyable and filling, so I was a happy camper.

I ended up taking a little nap, before waking up as the lights were turned back on right before the start of the second meal service. At this time, the Chief Purser made an announcement with alternate connection information as a result of the delay.

IMG_9917Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Cabin Lights Turned On 

The cabin crew then came around the cabin with some disposable scented hot towels prior to the second meal service. Interestingly, the second meal service on this flight was on demand, meaning that I could have theoretically chosen to dine midway through the flight. This is a really great feature on daytime flights.

IMG_9914Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Hot Towel 

At this time, we were just passing over Western Russia.

IMG_9916Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Airshow

The flight attendants then came through the cabin taking meal and drink orders for the second meal service. I settled on the turkey and cheese panini, which was served with chips and fresh fruit. However, a mistake in the service flow meant that the flight attendants accidentally heated up two portions of the panini for me, so I ended up with a lot of food.

The panini was really tasty, the chips were flavourful and the fruit was fresh. Overall, another solid showing from Finnair’s in-flight catering. Again, while the meal wasn’t very “premium”, it was executed very well.

IMG_9919Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Panini Meal 

Overall, I was impressed with Finnair’s soft product. While the food wasn’t fancy by any stretch of the imagination, the execution was spot on and I really liked the flexibility of the second meal service. The service during the flight was also excellent, attentive and personalized.

Before we knew it, we started our descent into Helsinki Airport.

IMG_9928Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class View During Descent

We got some really nice aerial views of Helsinki as we slowly descended.

IMG_9944Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class View of Helsinki 

We touched down around two hours later than our scheduled arrival time, which was followed by a short taxi to our gate.

IMG_9955Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class View During Landing 

We parked next to a Finnair A330. I was really glad that we parked at a gate, given the lack of covered gates at Helsinki.

IMG_9966Finnair Airbus A330 Helsinki Airport

When we arrived, ground staff were on hand offering assistance for connecting flights. However, since we had to spend the night at Helsinki, we were instructed to clear EU Immigration, collect our baggage and head to the customer service counter, where we were issued with our onward boarding passes and hotel voucher. It’s worth noting that you won’t be able to collect your baggage if you choose to have it checked to your final destination, even if you have to spend a night in Helsinki.

Bottom Line

Overall, I had a really enjoyable flight with Finnair. The hard product is pretty good but lags behind the reverse herringbone seats of other competitors, while the soft production positions the product firmly in the middle of the pack. I wouldn’t go out of my way to fly them, though if they’re the most convenient option for you, you’re in for a good flight.

Read more from this trip:

1 comment

  1. Nice review but I will never understand why bloggers have to post pictures of their used towels. I just don’t get it

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