Review: Finnair A321 Business Class

Filed Under: Finnair

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Review: British Airways Lounge Toronto Airport
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Review: British Airways Arrivals Lounge Heathrow Airport
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Review: Finnair A321 Business Class
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Review: Changi Lounge At The Jewel Singapore
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Review: Cathay Pacific Lounge Singapore Changi
Review: Qantas First Lounge Singapore Changi
Review: Cathay Pacific A330 Business Class
Review: Plaza Premium First Lounge Hong Kong
Review: Cathay Pacific Deck Lounge Hong Kong
Review: Cathay Pacific A350 Business Class


After spending my layover at the British Airways Arrivals Lounge and then the Aerotel, it was time to continue my journey on Finnair to Singapore via Helsinki.

How I Booked Finnair Business Class

While I could have redeemed British Airways Avios (or other oneworld miles) for this trip, I ended up booking a discounted business class ticket instead.

British Airways and Finnair had excellent ~1,500USD one-way business class fares from Toronto to Singapore, via London and Helsinki. So I booked the following:

12/02 BA92 Toronto to London departing 6:20PM arriving 6:25AM (+1 day)
12/03 AY1344 London to Helsinki departing 1:50PM arriving 6:45PM
12/03 AY131 Helsinki to Singapore departing 11:55PM arriving 5:15PM (+1 day)

Finnair Business Class A321 Review

I cleared security about 30 minutes ahead of boarding time, so my first order of business was to briefly stop by the Qantas Lounge for a latte. Mmm…

Latte in the Qantas Lounge Heathrow

Between the Qantas Lounge and the Cathay Pacific Lounge, Heathrow Terminal 3 has some excellent lounge options.

About an hour before departure the monitor showed that the flight would be leaving from gate 27, about a five minute walk from the lounge. To enter the gate area there was a separate queue for business class passengers, so there was no wait.

Finnair departure gate London Heathrow

In Terminal 3 the gates are “sterile,” so once you enter the gate area you’re considered boarded, as they scan your boarding pass and verify your passport before you enter the gate lounge.

While my boarding pass indicated that boarding would start at 1:20PM, in reality it started at 1:10PM.

Finnair 1344
London (LHR) – Helsinki (HEL)
Tuesday, December 3
Depart: 1:50PM
Arrive: 6:45PM
Duration: 2hr55min
Aircraft: Airbus A321
Seat: 11F (Business Class)

My flight to Helsinki was operated by an A321, in a standard short haul configuration. Finnair also operates their long haul A350s on select flights between London and Helsinki. I’d like to point out that I could have also booked the A350, but intentionally booked myself on the less comfortable aircraft so I could review it as well. The sacrifices I make for this blog. 😉

On intra-Europe flights, the size of the business class cabin can vary, since they just move the curtain around based on demand.

Finnair A321 cabin

On this particular flight the business class cabin was huge, and went all the way back to row 12, meaning that there were 46 business class seats (in one row there are no window seats on either side, since there’s an exit).


Finnair business class cabin A321

I could have assigned myself the exit row seat…


Finnair A321 business class cabin

…but I figured that wouldn’t be a fair representation of what the experience is like, since there aren’t many exit seats. So instead I assigned myself seat 11F, the window seat right behind the exit row on the right side. Note that unlike some other airlines, Finnair doesn’t put little trays on the center seats in business class.

Finnair business class seats A321

Legroom in Finnair business class wasn’t great, though frankly it wasn’t awful either. They apparently have 31″ of pitch in business and slimline seats, so it wasn’t actively uncomfortable from a legroom perspective.


Finnair A321 business class seats


Finnair business class legroom

The tray table was the standard size, and folded down from the seat in front.

Finnair business class tray table

There were reading lights and individual air nozzles above each seat.


Finnair business class individual air nozzles

All around these were standard intra-Europe seats, so my only real point of frustration was the lack of power outlets.

Finnair has pillows and blankets on demand in business class, and they were surprisingly substantial for an intra-Europe flight.

Finnair business class pillow & blanket

During boarding the very friendly chief purser stopped by my seat to welcome me onboard and inform me of the flight time of 2hr40min. She did this for just a few people, so I suspect it’s a oneworld Emerald greeting of sorts?

At 1:30PM boarding was complete, with just under half of the business class seats occupied (I was the only person in the last two rows). Economy was full, so I’m surprised by just how far they kept back the curtain on this flight.

A few minutes later the captain made his welcome aboard announcement. I love the Finnish accent, and in particular loved the extent to which every “r” was rrrrrrolled. The captain advised us of our flight time, our anticipated on-time arrival, and the expectation that we’d be taxiing for about 20 minutes at Heathrow.

Shortly thereafter the crew performed a manual safety demonstration. While the demonstration as such was manual, the announcement wasn’t read by a crew member, but rather they had a pre-recorded tape for that.

At 1:40PM we began our pushback, and five minutes after that we began our taxi.

Pushing back Heathrow Airport

Taxiing Heathrow Airport

American 777-300ER Heathrow Airport

LATAM 777-300ER Heathrow Airport

Our taxi was quicker than expected, and within 10 minutes we were cleared for takeoff on runway 27R.

Taking off from Heathrow

It was a beautiful afternoon in London, and I particularly enjoyed the views out the window, because it would be my last daylight for a while, given how early it gets dark in Northern Europe.


Taking off from Heathrow

View after takeoff from Heathrow


View after takeoff from Heathrow

About 10 minutes after takeoff the seatbelt sign was turned off, at which point the crew closed the curtains between cabins.

Finnair A321 business class cabin

Finnair business class curtain

One of the areas where Finnair excels is that they have inflight wifi on virtually their entire narrow body Airbus fleet, so you can stay connected.

On intra-Europe flights, business class passengers and Finnair Plus elite members receive 30 minutes of free wifi, which they can take advantage of by entering their last name and seat number.

Alternatively you can purchase wifi at the following costs:

  • Browse (basic browsing and email access) costs 6.95EUR
  • Stream (audio and video streaming) costs 12.95EUR

Finnair uses Viasat for their inflight wifi, which has among the best speeds of any wifi offering, so that’s excellent. The only catch is that there are some significant coverage gaps. So for about 30 minutes during the flight we were outside the coverage zone.

Rather conveniently there’s at least a map that shows where the “dead” zones are, and they even have an airshow there, so you’ll know roughly when you’ll be without wifi.

Anyway, about 15 minutes after takeoff I was offered a warm towel.

Finnair business class warm towel

About 15 minutes after that a cart was rolled down the aisle with the initial drink service. I ordered a glass of still water and a sauvignon blanc, which was served in a mini-bottle. That was served with some sour cream & chive flavored pretzels.


Finnair business class drinks & snack

Another 30 minutes later a cart was rolled down the aisle with the meals. There were two options, described as chicken with wheat salad, or ravioli with avocado and corn.

I selected the chicken, which was served with a duck appetizer, an apple cake dessert, and a piece of bread. The meal was surprisingly good, particularly the chicken dish.


Finnair business class meal

The crew came through the cabin after the meal with coffee and tea.


Finnair business class coffee

I thought the meal service and crew were both excellent. Both of the business class flight attendants were friendly and attentive, and genuinely seemed to enjoy their jobs.

It was amazing (though not surprising) how quickly the sun set on this flight. One minute it was complete daylight, a few minutes later there was a beautiful sunset, and then it was pitch dark.

Sunset enroute to Helsinki

I spent the first two thirds of the flight working. At that point I decided to watch some of my own entertainment. Finnair has a personal device holder on the seatbacks, so you can place your own iPad (or whatever) there.

Finnair seat entertainment holder

Quality entertainment on Finnair

Towards the end of the flight I checked out the lavatory at the front of the cabin, which was basic but clean.

Finnair A321 lavatory

At 6:10PM Helsinki time (two hours ahead of London) the captain announced we’d be landing in about 30 minutes. 15 minutes later he turned on the seatbelt sign. Sure enough we touched down at 6:40PM, and from there had a five minute taxi to the gate.

It sure was a quiet and cold-looking evening in Helsinki. Fortunately I’d be continuing to a much warmer climate!

View upon arrival in Helsinki

Finnair A321 Business Class Bottom Line

Intra-Europe business class typically isn’t much to get excited about, though all things considered I thought Finnair offered a solid experience — the food was very good, service friendly, and the high speed Viasat wifi was a real treat.

Of course intra-Europe business class simply being economy with a blocked middle is disappointing, but that’s the standard, with the exception of a few airlines, including Aeroflot and Turkish.

If you’ve flown Finnair’s intra-Europe business class, what was your experience like?

Comments
  1. I’ve had nothing but charming and delightful experiences flying Finnair. As a AA Executive Platinum, I wish they had more options from the USA so I could fly them more often.

  2. My experience is just like yours and is very consistent. Finnair is my favorite European airline. I choose them whenever possible.

    By the by, the personal greeting you received from the purser was because you’re OW emerald. I receive the same whenever I fly Finnair. Also the new Platinum lounge at Helsinki is great!

  3. Yes, the purser comes by to welcome Finnair Plus Platinum Lumo and One World Executive Platinum. I specifically asked the purser on my last AY flight.

  4. This is slightly nitpicking, but the free internet for AY elites (in economy) is for Golds and above. And Lumos get free internet for the whole flight. Intercontinental flights have slightly different rules: both Plats and Lumos get free internet for the whole flight, and Golds and business class paz get 1hr of free internet.

    Hopefully you tried the blueberry juice at some point with your travels on Finnair!

  5. Finnair use the A350 and the A330 between LHR-HEL, the A350 operates the morning rotation and the A330 one of the evening ones. The rest of the services are A319/320/321.

    I’ve flown on both the A350 which is excellent and the A321 which is no worse than any other European airline. The seats are the same as the ones on SAS and they are slightly less a*se numbing than the LH/LX/OS ones. Finnair beat most except TK and A3 on food.

  6. ” I’m surprised by just how far they kept back the curtain on this flight”

    A lot of the European airlines do that.
    Sort of a message to tell you: look you paid for an economy class ticket, so you are all grouped like sardines, look how much space you would have got if you had paid for business…

  7. “the standard, with the exception of a few airlines, including Aeroflot and Turkish.”

    Yes but the competition is not with Aeroflot & Turkish when you need to do a return brussels-london flight on only one day for a business meeting.
    The airlines know that.

    That’s different of course when you arrive in Europe from outside a European country.

  8. I’ve been consistently impressed with the service on Finnair flights, no matter the route I’ve taken. I’ve not been able to catch their A350 yet, but am looking forward to it. Catering is always quite good and the FAs have always been sincere, professional, and kind. The one exception was on a recent flight from CDG to HEL, the starting leg of my return journey from Paris to Bangkok: boarding commenced but the crew wasn’t quite ready yet; when I reached the boarding door (I was the only J passenger on this leg) I was screamed at by the purser. It was a very uncomfortable experience, to put it mildly. However, once airbourne, she was outstanding…especially when she noticed I had a bit of a sniffle and decided to mother me for the 2 hours to HEL.

  9. “Browse (basic browsing and email access) costs 6.95GBP
    Stream (audio and video streaming) costs 12.95GBP”

    You mean EUR not GBP.

    And how come you have pics from the front of the wing if you were seated behind the exit?

  10. I’ve been consistently impressed with Finnair. Brilliant service and an added bonus is the ultima thule glassware which is stunning, and the marrimeko cushions and blankets. Brilliant airline that feels properly Finnish.

  11. @Bob: “A lot of the European airlines do that. Sort of a message to tell you: look you paid for an economy class ticket, so you are all grouped like sardines, look how much space you would have got if you had paid for business…”

    The last time I flew AY biz on an A321 (CPH-HEL), though, it was a more typical three rows of J. Perhaps this was because it was a route with more frequency and more biz demand than those with less frequency.

    That having been said, though, if I were in Ben’s shoes, I’d have chosen the A350 flight – that flight is one of the best I’ve ever been on, period.

  12. In the future you should choose a seat in a row before the first Exitrow. The A321 usually has more legroom there. At least for one of the Finnair A321 configurations that should be the case.

  13. And I’ve had the experience of the curtain slotted after row 1, as my Wife and I were the only biz class passengers on the flight from HEL-AMS. Felt a little awkward with such a stunted cabin but we had the front loos all to ourselves.

  14. Putting the curtain so far back is mostly about balancing weight. If the A321 is not very full, they will need more pax in the back, and as people tend to want to sit towards the front, they’ll force Y pax to the back in this way. Makes for a large and calm J cabin, too, with most J pax in the first rows. I once flew FCO-HEL in exit row 10 in J, with the next pax in row 5. Felt like private transport…

    The pillows and blankets are available for Y pax, too, but there are usually just a handful loaded so if you want one in Y, grab it right away as you enter the plane.

    The talk you received is the AY ”Plat Talk”. It’s a bit hit-and-miss, there are six-hour flights where I haven’t received it and one-hour flights where I have received it although the opposite is the norm. (Flights to Stockholm and Oulu are full of Plats, and there’s no way the purser would have time to chat with them all before the flight lands.)

    Those wifi connectivity dead zones are disturbing, especially for Dubai flights. AY uses these planes on the Dubai route, and as you can see from the map, there is no wifi for the whole six-hour flight.

    I believe AY must have one of the best meal services in Euro-J. Might not always look very appetizing, but the taste is usually quite good. I’m glad you liked it!

  15. I’ve never flown with Finnair before, but have been interested in seeing what their service is like in Business Class. Love the glassware. Looking forward to your next report!

  16. Just wanted to say thanks for yet another excellent trip report. You really are in a league of your own. No one even comes close. Please keep up the good work!

  17. Btw, just flew in biz on a TK a321 ist-arn with 3-3 ”euro style” seating as the only passenger i C and the curtain was at row 12 as well. Felt a little strange but enjoyed the best service of my life with two dedicated FAs up front.

  18. When you’re looking at a one stop to Asia from Europe this isn’t very competitive. Finnair always seen significantly more expensive that BA in this route, even in economy. Sometimes 3 or 4 times as expensive

  19. @Matthew N

    The glassware is from Tapio Wirkkala’s Ultima Thule line designed for iittala in the 1960s. It’s an iconic Finnish design and widely distributed globally.

  20. Lucky, I think we watch the same shows while flying…. and judging by the picture, l would speculate that you are on Team Porsha 😉

  21. Ben, I’ve been reading sooo many articles about the danger of drinking water on planes, even in hot beverages. I basically make it a point to drink only sparkling water. Recently on a flight from Hong Kong to Boston on Cathay Pacific I woke up so parched I took a glass of water the flight attendant offered. It was warm and incredibly bad tasting. Comments? I have an upcoming flight on Turkish Air to Amman via Istanbul ( in economy ) and plan to avoid the water. Thanks.

  22. Darn, I would have ran into you at the Qantas lounge had I not been lazy that day. I was flying back to the US at the same time, but was soo late I had to skip the
    Iounges.

    I was already upset that I missed some good gin drinks…

    Anyway, keep up the good work.

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