Come for the Finnair seat, stay for the cloudberry cocktails…
Finnair’s A350 was love at first sight. It all started with a breezy departure through a dedicated security fast track at Helsinki’s Vantaa International Airport, carried on with a fantastic lounge, which even includes a sauna – and once on board the experience somehow lifts off. Spacious seating, unique Finnish touches at every turn, signature cocktails, funky Nordic food and one of the best cabin crews I’ve ever experienced turned “just another flight” into absolute delight. Here’s what to expect flying Finnair’s Airbus A350-900XWB in business class.
Business class guests and OneWorld elites will find the priority check in counters to the right of Helsinki Airport Terminal 2, if facing toward the gates. After a breezy check in, it was just a short elevator ride up to the dedicated fast track security lane, which is extremely private and swift.
The Finnair lounge and “premium lounge” instantly offer more atmosphere than your standard airport lounge. In the premium lounge, accessible to OneWorld Emerald customers, lights move up and down, and change colors ever 30 minutes to an hour, which creates a coordinated series of relaxing moods. Hot food is well stocked and absolutely knock out amuse bouche style dishes are on display. If you’re into your drinks, there’s a solid wine selection and solid Champagne from Joseph Perrier in both Brut and Rose. And yes, there really is a sauna, which accompanies very nice shower facilities.
It’s not exclusive to Finnair, but the Airbus A350 offers a phenomenal cabin experience. Humidity stays just about right, oversized windows let in lovely sun and noise is minimal. The Finnair A350 cabin offers a minimalist but sleek style, with grey blue seats, green Marimekko touches and nice, large entertainment systems. Of course, the mood lighting is off the charts as well.
Upon settling in, the foot well area is seemingly wider and larger than some other competitors have opted to offer on the A350. This makes a huge difference in sleep quality, as you toss and turn in the night. The entertainment system is extremely intuitive, and for a welcomed change to in flight entertainment, seemed to be without bugs. There was never a blip, reset or screen lag in scrolling. Power ports are well placed up and out of the way of any elbows, as are headphone jacks. No one likes rolling over in the night and unplugging their phone. Rounding out the tech summary, Finnair offer solid Bose noise cancelling headsets and wifi is available on all A350 aircraft.
Finnair got things just about right when it came down to bed mode on the A350. The seat is extremely comfortable in lounge position, but is spacious and nicely padded in bed mode. Marimekko pillows and blankets give a fun feel to the setup and the duvet seems to be the perfect weight to offer nice heat and comfort, without overheating. The entertainment screen is virtually non viewable in fully flat mode, which is the only slight draw back for those who enjoy flat bed movie night. With the reduced cabin noise of the A350, it’s extremely easy to get a decent sleep, even when seated directly over the wing in row 12.
It was truly hard to fault Finnair on cabin service. As a OneWorld Emerald frequent flyer, a welcome handshake and greeting by name before departure goes a long way to establish positivity before the wheels leave the ground. This initial impression followed on by personal yet professional service, without having to chase anyone up for top ups or other needs. In a word, the crew was proactive, in the best of ways. Meal service was elegant, prompt and cleared with impressive speed. It’s all about sleep on a long haul flight.
Finnair is doing an excellent job with their pre departure customer messaging. For guests who turn up their nose at Joseph Perrier Champagne, Dom Perignon can be preordered for roughly £120. In addition, pre order meals can be arranged, from a more extensive menu. On this flight, the “Overcooked Reindeer” sounded too Nordic to pass up, and it did not disappoint. Finnair’s Consulting Chef Tommy Myllymäki does a commendable job in bringing truly regional cuisine to an international level. One unexpected twist: the cocktails. Though not overly complex or boozy, Finnair’s signature drinks hit the spot in the very best of ways. The cloudberry and champagne aperitif went down way too easily, and the double berry with blueberry juice and blueberry spirit was a repeat order.
10 hours later, Bangkok was on the horizon and all systems were go. This flight left mind, body and spirit in remarkable tact. For privacy, seats 11,12 in rows A or L are fantastic, in the rear of the mini cabin. With noise cancelling headsets, noise was never an issue, nor was light. If you find yourself in a hurry to sleep, cabin crew seem responsive to hustling out food, and advising which dishes can be plated and served with speed. The lounge is worth making time for, if transiting through Finland, and finally – if you’d like to be a real hit, learn “Kiitos” which means “thank you” in Finnish.