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Review: Finnair A350 Business Class (LHR-HEL)

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Finnair operates out of London Heathrow’s Terminal 3, which is also used by American Airlines, Cathay Pacific, and Virgin Atlantic. We arrived at the airport a couple of hours before our flight and headed to Travelex’s VAT refund desk, which ended up giving Alvin’s VAT refund experience at Munich airport a run for his money, and resulted in us losing a couple hundred dollars’ worth of refunds. Anyways, I digress…

I decided to go check-in early while my mother was holed up at the VAT refund counter. For some reason, the agent refused to check all of the bags under my name and insisted that my mother had to be with me to check any of our bags.

IMG_0001Finnair London Heathrow Priority Check-In Counters 

Soon enough, my mother arrived and we were sent on our way through priority security which was a breeze. Although we had access to Cathay Pacific’s London Heathrow lounge, we were running a little tight on time so we did a bit of souvenir shopping.

We headed to our gate shortly as boarding was about to start, which was a mess. The Economy line was bursting at the seams, while the Business line was substantial. Thankfully, it moved quickly and I was onboard in quickly.

Finnair 832
Saturday, July 15, 2017
Origin: London Heathrow (LHR) Dep: 10:20 (10:20)
Destination: Helsinki Vantaa (HEL) Arr: 15:15 (15:05
Duration: 2 hr 55 min (2 hr 45 min)
Aircraft: Airbus A350-900 
Seat: 2L (Business Class) 

I was greeted by the Chief Purser who directed me to my seat.

Finnair’s Business Class cabins by themselves are very Nordic…in the sense that they’re bland, cold and uninteresting. Everything in the cabin is either white or grey, which doesn’t make for the most visually interesting cabin experience. However, Finnair has used the A350’s fantastic mood lighting to make up for the bland cabin by featuring cabin lighting reminiscent of the Northern Lights, as well as through their colourful collaboration with Marimekko on amenities, such as their lime green pillows.

IMG_0002Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Cabin 

The seats are pretty no-frills Zodiac Cirrus reverse herringbone seats. Unlike Cathay Pacific, they haven’t really customized the seat much, which is disappointing. I extensively reviewed the seat when I flew from Bangkok to Helsinki, so be sure to check that out if you’re looking for an in-depth review of the seat.

IMG_0003Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Cabin 

In a nutshell, while the seat is private and the seat has some decent storage, the lack of a legrest means that the seat isn’t comfortable for lounging. The seat also feels much tighter than some other reverse herringbone seats, especially when in bed mode. Despite this, it’s an excellent seat for a 2-hour intra-European flight, especially when the standard in this cabin is essentially Economy with a blocked middle seat.

IMG_0004Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Cabin 

I’d selected seat 2L, which was located in the second row of the cabin. While most seats in this configuration are generally created equal, a general rule of thumb is to always pick window seats over center seats, even when traveling with a companion – as window seats tend to offer more privacy and comfort.

IMG_0005Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Seat 3A  

As you might notice, Finnair has a fixed mini-divider between the two center seats, which makes it difficult to talk to a travel companion (another reason you should pick a window seat, unless you have very urgent business matters to discuss).

IMG_0006Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Cabin  

I took some time to admire the gorgeous Northern Lights-inspired mood lighting, which gave the cabin a lot more flair and style.

IMG_0007Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Mood Lighting 

Finnair embarked on a brand refresh in 2017 and made minor changes to their overall brand image. One of these changes include a new boarding slide-show.

IMG_0012Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Boarding Slideshow 

Finnair’s new slogan is “find the beauty between hello and goodbye”, which comes through in a lot of their branding.

IMG_0011Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class New Boarding Slideshow 

As Finnair flights to London are usually operated by their narrowbody Airbus fleet, which does not feature in-flight entertainment, the crew supplied a pair of cheap earbuds in lieu of the Bose headphones that you typically see on Finnair. While the sound quality wasn’t great, they worked just fine.

IMG_0009Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Earbuds 

Eventually, the entertainment system was switched on. While Finnair doesn’t have the most comprehensive audio and video entertainment selection, they have a fantastic journey planner that lets you know which stage of the journey you’re at, as well as the local time at both your origin and destination.

IMG_0014Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Planner

The Chief Purser and the Captain made announcements welcoming passengers onboard and providing basic routing details and in-flight service information. Shortly afterwards, we pushed back.

IMG_0015View During Pushback London Heathrow

At this time, the safety video was screened, which was boring but did its job…

IMG_0016Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Safety Video 

We passed by some more interesting traffic during our long taxi to the runway.

IMG_0020Traffic at London Heathrow 

IMG_0023Traffic at London Heathrow 

We took off on time. Look at all those British Airways planes!

IMG_0025Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class View During Takeoff

I decided to turn on the airshow, which was easy to use, interactive and featured a bunch of modes.

IMG_0029Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Airshow

As we climbed out, I had some difficulty stowing my television. Unfortunately, stowing my television caused the seat in front of me to shake, which led to the passenger in front of me yelling at me. Yikes.

IMG_0030Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Cabin During Climb

One of the unique features on Finnair’s A350 is that the seat-belt signs are all electronically displayed on LCD screens.

IMG_0031Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Seatbelt Sign 

I managed to take some Instagram-worthy pictures as we climbed out.

IMG_0033Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class View During Climb 

As the seat-belt sign was turned off, an informational video was played for all passengers. While I’m glad they’ve ditched the 5 minute-long monstrosity that they played for all passengers in English and Finnish, the new video isn’t exactly interesting either. Can’t they just have a quick announcement, or display the information on the entertainment system? Gah.

IMG_0034Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class 

Finnair offers WiFi on their A350’s. Although this has been significantly cut back, Business Class, Finnair Plus Gold still receive an hour of free WiFI, which is better than nothing… Unfortunately, you can only connect to one device per subscription, which was super annoying.

IMG_0056Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Wifi Instructions

Finnair has redesigned their Nordic Sky portal, and it is much easier to use. Instead of having to create an account, passengers simply have to input their last name and seat to enter the WiFi portal.

IMG_0035.pngFinnair Airbus A350 Business Class Wifi 

Overall, the WiFi speed was on the slow side. They also blocked Snapchat for some reason, which annoyed me, since that’s essentially 90% of my social life.

Scented hot towels were distributed by the crew, which were the cheap disposable kind. C’mon Finnair, invest in some proper hot towels!

IMG_0036Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Hot Towel 

I decided to watch Hidden Figures for the 4th time.

IMG_0045Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Entertainment 

The flight attendants came around the cabin with a drinks cart. I chose Finnair’s signature blueberry juice, which is to die for. The drinks were served with Penn State Sour Cream and Chive Pretzels.

IMG_0037Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Drinks Run 

At this time, the mood lighting in the cabin was switched to more of an orange-red colour, which was calming.

IMG_0038Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Mood Lighting

Shortly afterward, the meal was served all on one tray. There were no menus, and all choices were read out by the staff. The starter was some kind of smoked salmon and shallots in mayo dish and was quite decent. The main was a beef stroganoff with risotto and spinach, which was decent without being a stand-out. The meal was served with three chocolates (dessert?), a warmed bun and butter.

IMG_0040Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Meal 

Overall, I quite enjoyed the meal. The food was good but not a stand-out. The meal service took around 75 minutes to complete and was efficient, though I wish they’d bring the starter and main out separately, especially since it’s not a nice feeling to suddenly have a ton of food shoved in your face.

Service throughout the meal service was good. The flight attendant serving my aisle was friendly enough, so I have no complaints. While Finnair breaks the cabin up into four section and assigns one flight attendant to serve each section, presumably because it makes the service more personable. Despite this, I still felt like part of an assembly line.

The cabin lights were switched back to a cool blue hue.

IMG_0041Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Mood Lighting 

Eventually, a short landing video was screened including Helsinki Airport connecting information.

IMG_0043Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Pre-Landing Video 

Next, a video about Helsinki Airport’s development was screened. Um, cool?

IMG_0044Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Pre-Landing Video 

We started our descent into Helsinki Airport shortly afterward, and the cabin crew came through the cabin with their pre-landing checks.

IMG_0047Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class View During Landing 

The seatbelt sign was switched on along with a sign that told passengers to put away large electronic devices.

IMG_0050Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Seatbelt Sign 

I turned on the airshow again, which showed our progress.

IMG_0052Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Airshow 

We got some really pretty views of Helsinki as we descended.

IMG_0054Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class View of Helsinki 

I took the time to check the connection information that was on the in-flight entertainment system, which provided a helpful terminal map, as well as general flight information. The system even calculated the total transfer time and the walking time between gates.

IMG_0055Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Connection Information 

We landed at Helsinki Airport slightly ahead of schedule.

IMG_0062Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class View During Landing 

The mood lighting was turned down to a single blue strip.

IMG_0064Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Cabin During Landing 

As we taxied to our gate, I spotted some Finnair widebody aircraft, as well as a Japan Airlines 787.

IMG_0067Finnair Airbus A330 and Japan Airlines 787 Helsinki Airport

We parked next to a Finnair A330.

IMG_0069Finnair Airbus A330 Helsinki Airport

Bottom Line: Finnair A350 Business Class

It’s always a real treat to get a long-haul Business product on an inter-European flight. Finnair’s short-haul soft product is decent enough. Add in a tasty hot meal and friendly service and you have the makings of a really great flight.

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