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Review: Finnair A350 Business Class (HEL-HKG)

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We made a beeline for the Finnair non-Schengen lounge after stepping off our flight from London. Given that the United Kingdom is part of the EU but isn’t part of the Schengen agreement, there was no need to clear immigration or security when connecting onward to our flight to Hong Kong, which was great.

IMG_1145Finnair Business Class Lounge Helsinki 

We arrived at the lounge during Finnair’s afternoon departures rush, meaning that it was absolutely jam-packed. As such, I didn’t feel comfortable taking pictures and reviewing the lounge. After failing to find a seat, we left the lounge to do some shopping. I wish Finnair would either expand seating options in their lounges, given how serious of an issue overcrowding is in Finnair’s Helsinki lounges. I don’t think I’ve ever been inside a Finnair lounge that was empty.

I headed to our gate around 40 minutes before departure, and was disappointed to find that we were assigned a remote stand. Fortunately, Finnair had blocked off two bus gates for our flight, making the boarding process significantly smoother. An added upside to this was that Premium passengers received a dedicated bus.

IMG_1147.jpgFinnair Airbus A350 Helsinki Airport 

IMG_0002Finnair Airbus A350

I was welcomed by the Hong Kong-based “Senior Flight Attendant”.

Finnair 99
Saturday, June 15, 2017
Origin: Helsinki Vantaa (HEL) Gate: 50J Dep: 17:25 (17:50)
Destination: Hong Kong (HKG) Arr: 08:10 (08:20
Duration: 9 hr 45 min (9 hr 30 min)
Aircraft: Airbus A350-900
Seat: 6L (Business Class)

The mood lighting wasn’t switched on during boarding, making the cabin look even blander than usual. In true Nordic fashion, Finnair has outfitted their Business Class seats in grey, white, and more grey. While it’s a nice colour palette in general, more touches of lime green would be appreciated for that extra splash of colour.

IMG_0004Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Cabin 

Finnair features Zodiac Cirrus reverse-herringbone seats, which are in a 1-2-1 configuration, allowing direct aisle access for all passengers. You’ll also notice that Finnair opted to remove the centre overhead lockers on the A350, which gives the cabin a more open and spacious feel. However, this meant that overhead space was limited, which was a serious issue with a full cabin load.

IMG_0005Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Cabin 

Finnair’s version of the seat is pretty run-of-the-mill, without much customization from the basic “off the shelf” version of the seat from the manufacturer. That being said, these are very solid Business Class seats. The window seats offer a really good amount of privacy while the centre seats are a great option for those travelling together.

IMG_0006Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Cabin 

In terms of seat features, there’s a side table which provided a good amount of counter space.

IMG_0008Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class

There was also a storage area underneath the side console which featured a magazine pouch and a water bottle holder.

IMG_0012Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Storage Area

There was also a side “control panel” which featured a reading light, an entertainment controller, a set of (intuitive) seat controls, a headphone port as well as functional USB and AC power ports.

IMG_0013Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Side Control Center 

On the other side of the seat was a retractable armrest which added to the bed space, as well as a fully enclosed storage compartment.

IMG_0015Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Side Storage

While not necessarily as impressive as Cathay Pacific’s reverse herringbone seats on the A350, these seats are very solid and have all of the “essentials” that you would expect from the modern long-haul Business Class seat.

When it came to amenities, Finnair offers Bose noise-cancelling QC25 headphones, which were absolutely phenomenal and leaps and bounds ahead of what many competitors offer in Business Class.

IMG_0009Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Headphones 

There was also a Marimekko-designed amenity kit featuring L’Occitane lip balm and body cream, eyeshades, a toothbrush and toothpaste. Other items such as socks and a shaving kit were available on request.

IMG_0010Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Amenity Kit 

Finnair also offers Marimekko-designed slippers, which is another fantastic touch. The slippers are cute but also functional. It was great to be able to slip right into these every time I had to move around the cabin, instead of fumbling around in the dark trying to put my shoes on.

IMG_0011Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Slippers

There was also a large bottle of water pre-set in the compartment.

IMG_0020Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Water Bottle 

Shortly after I had settled in, a flight attendant came around the cabin with a choice of pre-departure drinks. I selected Finnair’s signature blueberry juice.

IMG_0016Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Blueberry Juice 

Around this time, the mood lighting was switched on, which gave the cabin a nice pop of colour that it desperately needed.

IMG_0017Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Mood Lighting 

IMG_0018Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Mood Lighting

Interestingly, Finnair replaced their boarding video as part of a minor brand refresh.

IMG_0022Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Welcome Video 

After boarding was completed, the captain and Hong Kong-based senior flight attendant made announcements welcoming passengers onboard. As part of an effort to drive down costs, Finnair’s Hong Kong flights are almost exclusively operated by sub-contracted Hong Kong-based flight attendants. While they adhere to the same service standards, they’re paid considerably less and not subject to Finland’s stringent labour laws. I have heard of people finding the service from Hong Kong-based flight attendants to be terrible, so I was eager to experience it for myself.

IMG_0024Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Wing View During Boarding

As boarding was wrapped up, the in-flight entertainment system was switched on. I really like Finnair’s Nordic Sky entertainment system. It’s intuitive and extremely well designed. I especially appreciated the flight service timeline on the system, which was useful in planning what I was going to do during the flight.

IMG_0026Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Inflight Entertainment System

IMG_0032Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Inflight Entertainment System

We pushed back on time and started our taxi to the runway.

IMG_0029View upon Taxi Helsinki Airport

At this time, the safety video was played, which had been slightly updated as a result of Finnair’s brand refresh.

IMG_0030Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Safety Video

We taxied past some interesting traffic on our way to the runway.

IMG_0033Finnair Embraer 190 Helsinki Airport

IMG_0036Views upon Taxiing Helsinki Airport

IMG_0038Rossiya Ilyushin Il-96 VIP Aircraft Helsinki Airport

Eventually, we reached the runway and took off.

IMG_0039Views upon Takeoff Helsinki Airport

IMG_0041Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Cabin upon Takeoff

We were treated to some really nice views of the area surrounding Helsinki Airport.

IMG_0044Views upon Takeoff Helsinki Airport

I took this time to explore Finnair’s moving map, which I really liked. It was interactive, easy to use and informative. The system also had a variety of different “modes”.

IMG_0047Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Airshow

In terms of bedding, Finnair offers a nice and light Marimekko-designed duvet and a plush pillow. Not only did they add a nice pop of colour to the drab cabin, but they were also fantastic.

IMG_0050Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Blanket

Shortly after the seat-belt sign was turned off, the service started with the distribution of scented disposable hot towels.

IMG_0051Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Hot Towel

This was followed by the distribution of a Marimekko-designed folder containing a Hong Kong arrival card, duty-free pre-order form, the menu and wine list along with a breakfast pre-order form.

IMG_0053Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Menu

Around thirty minutes after take-off, drinks were served, which were accompanied by a really tasty mushroom amuse bouche. It was so good I literally scraped the sides of the little glass container.

IMG_0054Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Blueberry Juice and Amuse Bouche

Then, the starters were served. There was a choice between a crayfish soup and a smoked duck dish. I chose the smoked duck, which was decent but nothing extraordinary. Interestingly, part of the starter plate had broken off and fallen into the food, which was pretty gross. The starter was served with a boring side salad, oil and a selection from the bread basket.

IMG_0055Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Appetiser

For the main dish, I was craving some Chinese food after two weeks abroad, so I ordered the Chinese-style braised pork neck with bok choy and white rice. The pork was a little tough, and the vegetables slightly soggy, though the flavour was quite nice. I really appreciated that they heated and served the white rice in a separate cup, which meant that the rice was nice and fluffy; however, the dish lacked some of the refining touches to make itself one of the better meals in the sky.

IMG_0056Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Main Course

The meal concluded with a cheese plate (which I opted out of), and a choice between a ice cream or cupcakes. I chose the ice cream, which was made by a local Finnish brand.

IMG_0057Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Dessert Ice Cream

Service during the meal service was great. I was served by the friendly Senior Flight Attendant, who was efficient but not especially proactive with clearing plates and drink refills. The service definitely didn’t feel any worse than any of the other Finnair flights that I’ve taken, and it almost felt like being on a Cathay Pacific flight.

Finnair’s service flow breaks up the cabin into four sections for cabin crew to serve, which is supposed to make the service feel more personalised. Despite this, the flight attendants still use carts for some parts of the service, meaning that I felt like being part of an assembly line at times.

I turned on the A350’s fantastic tail camera during the meal service, which offered some really fantastic views of the aircraft during the flight.

IMG_0084Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Tail Camera

I also spent some time exploring the entertainment system, which was well laid-out. However, I thought the selection of movies and television shows were slightly lacking. For example, with each television show, they’d only have a couple of episodes, which is a little annoying especially when you’re trying to binge watch a show.

IMG_0091Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Entertainment Selection

The movie selection was quite extensive, but slightly lacking in the “new releases” department.

IMG_0090Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Entertainment Selection

My biggest gripe with the system was the music selection, which basically comprised of a bunch of playlists and radio stations. Is it too hard to load a couple of albums?

IMG_0089Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Entertainment Selection

After the meal service was concluded, the mood lighting was switched to a orange, sunrise-y hue.

IMG_0061Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Cabin

I also took this time to check out the seat in bed mode.

IMG_0062Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Bed

There was a big gap between the seat-back and the seat bottom which I definitely noticed while trying to sleep. In addition, items often times slipped into the little gap: I found a bottle of cough drops and a chapstick on this particular flight.

IMG_0063Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Bed

Given that the Finnair seat doesn’t have a leg-rest, the seat compensates by having a really long ottoman, bringing the total bed length to just over 6 feet. This means that most of a passengers’ lower body is going to be supported by a completely unpadded ottoman. Part of the ottoman is also enclosed, making the seat feel especially tight around the legs.

IMG_0064Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Ottoman

I feel like Finnair could really benefit by offering mattress pads, which could hopefully help smooth over some of the bumps and soften the overall bed, which I found to be really uncomfortable.

The mood lighting switched to a blue hue before the lights were finally switched out for passengers to get some sleep.

IMG_0065Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Cabin with Mood Lighting

IMG_0066Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Cabin During Rest Time 

At this time, the journey planner also reflected that it was time for a little bit of rest.

IMG_0067Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Rest Time

While WiFi was available, I didn’t take advantage of it, so I spent the next hour of the flight watching sitcoms. I also ventured into the back Business Class galley to check out the snack trolley that the crew had set up in the galley.

IMG_0068Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Galley Trolley

There was a selection of snacks included popcorn, pretzels, cookies, nuts and chocolates, which I may or may not have overindulged in.

IMG_0069Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Galley Snack Setup

There was also a drinks setup with two cups, water, juices and a red and white wine.

IMG_0070Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Galley Snack Setup

After a couple more sitcoms, I ordered a cup of vegetable cup noodles, which were made by a Korean brand. It was filling and hit the spot nicely.

IMG_0071Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Snack Instant Ramen

The crew mostly stayed in the galley and didn’t venture out into the cabin during the flight. However, they were attentive and responded to call bells quickly. They were also proactive in monitoring the cabin. For example, they noticed that one passenger’s alarm clock had gone off and promptly switched it off for the passenger. However, I was slightly irritated that they didn’t request all passengers to keep their window shades down.

IMG_0072Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Cabin

After a couple more sitcoms, I fell asleep and woke up as the cabin lights were switched on for the breakfast service, which started with the cabin crew coming around the cabin with hot towels and trays of drinks, from which I chose a glass of water.

IMG_0073Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Water

At this point, the lights were completely switched on for the breakfast service. Finnair thoughtfully offers a breakfast card, which allows passengers to select their breakfast choice before going to sleep. This also means that there is no need for the cabin crew to come around the cabin taking orders.

IMG_0074Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Cabin during Breakfast

Breakfast was all served on one tray, which was delivered by hand directly from the galley. The tray featured a tub of blueberry yoghurt, fresh fruit, a selection from the pastry basket and the main course. I decided to go with the Chinese breakfast, which was printed on the menu as “seafood congee”. However, there seemed to be a mix-up, as I was presented with a seafood noodle dish.

IMG_0075Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Breakfast

Unfortunately, the dish was really nasty. There was a weird gingery liquid on the bottom of the casserole dish, the little egg bits on top of the noodles were downright vile and the noodles themselves tasted gross.

I also had the chance to sample the western breakfast, which featured scrambled eggs, snap peas, baked beans, deep-fried potatoes and a sausage.

IMG_0076Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Breakfast

Unfortunately, the dish didn’t taste much better. The eggs were just plain odd and didn’t have much flavour, the snap peas and potatoes soggy, and the baked beans were dry. The only redeeming quality was the sausage, which I thought was decent.

The meal service was completed in around 40 minutes, which I thought was great especially considering the short flight time.

IMG_0077Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Cabin During Breakfast

I spent the rest of the flight looking at the airshow and admiring the views outside the window.

IMG_0079Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Airshow Before Landing

Around thirty minutes before landing, a cool landing video was shown, featuring some of Finnair’s latest branding, which included arrival and connection information.

IMG_0081Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Landing Video

Shortly after the video was screened, the seat-belt sign was switched on and the cabin crew began making preparations for landing.

IMG_0082Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Overhead Panel

We were treated to some really nice views of Hong Kong as we slowly descended.

IMG_0092Views During Landing Hong Kong Airport

IMG_0096Views During Landing Hong Kong Airport

The mood lighting was once again switched on, this time with an orangey sunrise-like hue.

IMG_0094Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Cabin During Landing

After more than two weeks abroad, I was ready to be finally home!

IMG_0098Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Airshow During Landing

Our landing was uneventful and we began our short taxi to the gate immediately afterwards.

IMG_0100Views During Landing Hong Kong Airport

By this time, the journey planner had reflected that we had arrived in Hong Kong, with a cute little “sunrise” graphic on the screen.

IMG_0102Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Inflight Entertainment System Arriving into Hong Kong Airport

We passed by a lot of traffic, mostly early morning European arrivals into Hong Kong.

IMG_0103Cathay Pacific Boeing 777 Hong Kong Airport

Eventually, we arrived at our gate. We spent 15 minutes walking to and going through immigration, before ending up in the baggage hall where our bags were already waiting for us.

IMG_0105Hong Kong Airport Baggage Claim

Bottom Line: Finnair’s A350 Business Class

This was my second year flying Finnair to Europe, and they certainly didn’t disappoint. While the seat isn’t as well designed or as comfortable as some of the other reverse herringbone seats in the industry, I found it to be decent enough for the ten-hour journey. On the other hand, I was quite impressed with the soft product. While the food was underwhelming, I really liked the amenities and the service. I’d definitely recommend Finnair’s Business Class, especially since they can often be significantly cheaper than some of the other options for travel between Asia and Europe, especially when flying out of Bangkok.

Read more from this trip:

Have you flown Finnair’s A350 business class?


  1. I’ve made a point of avoiding AY on HKG routes because my experiences of the outsourced crew have been less Cathay Pacific and more angry cha chaan teng waiter, though your experience doesn’t sound as bad.

    1. I’ve heard that Hong Kong-based crew can be a hit or miss. I definitely saw some variance in the level of service around the cabin, but the service that I received was really excellent and very similar to an average Cathay crew.

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