Review: Finnair A350 Business Class

Filed Under: Finnair

For my second back-to-back redeye, it was time to fly Finnair’s A350-900 business class from Helsinki to Singapore. I had flown Finnair’s A350 business class from New York to Helsinki a few years ago, but was curious how the experience to Asia compared, especially as they’ve made some updates to their service.

How I Booked Finnair’s A350 Business Class

Rather than redeeming miles I paid cash for my ticket, as I found a great ~1,500USD one-way business class fare from Toronto to Singapore, via London and Helsinki.

The routing was as follows:

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)

Not only was this an excellent fare, but it would allow me to review several new products, and would also earn me lots of American AAdvantage elite miles.

Finnair Business Class A350 Review

Before I get into the review, I should note that shortly before my flight I realized that Finnair has crew bases at many of their Asian gateways, so my flight was actually being operated by a Singapore-based crew. I wondered how that service would compare to Finnair’s usual “local” flight attendants.

Finnair 131
Helsinki (HEL) – Singapore (SIN)
Tuesday, December 3
Depart: 11:55PM
Arrive: 5:15PM (+1 day)
Duration: 11hr20min
Aircraft: Airbus A350-900
Seat: 8A (Business Class)

I boarded through the forward door and was pointed down the first aisle towards my seat. The Finnair A350-900 I was on featured a total of 46 business class seats, with 32 business class seats spread across eight rows in the forward cabin, and then another 14 seats spread across four rows in a cabin behind the second set of doors.

Finnair has the Zodiac Cirrus variety of reverse herringbone seats on the A350 (similar to what you’ll find on select American and Cathay Pacific planes), and just about the most bare bones version of that seat. Finnair doesn’t have any overhead bins in the center section of business class, which gives the cabin a more spacious feel.

Finnair A350 business class cabin

With reverse herringbone seats the configuration is the same in every row. The center seats angle inwards, so are the better option if you’re traveling with someone, though you still have to lean forward a bit to have a real conversation.

Finnair business class cabin A350

Finnair A350 business class seats

The window seats, meanwhile, face the windows. I assigned myself seat 8A, in the last row of the cabin on the left.

Finnair A350 business class seats

Finnair A350 business class seats

On the panel next to the seat was a reading light, entertainment control, seat controls, the power outlets (110v and USB), and the headphone jack.

Finnair business class seat controls

To the side of that was a small exposed compartment where you could hang a pair of headphones. This is one example of how this isn’t the most evolved version of this seat — other airlines with Cirrus seats have storage compartments here, while Finnair doesn’t have that.

Finnair business class seat storage

The tray table slid out from the left side of the seat, and could be folded over in half.

Finnair business class seat tray table

The footwell was a good size, and there was even a bit of storage underneath it.

Finnair business class seat footwell

Then underneath the seat and to the left was a literature pocket and a bottle of water.

Finnair business class seat literature pocket & water bottle holder

On the right side of the seat was an armrest that had to be lowered for takeoff and landing, but otherwise could be raised. This had a small storage compartment.

Finnair business class seat storage

Unfortunately Finnair doesn’t have individual air nozzles on the A350.

Finnair business class overhead console

Already at the seat upon boarding was the bedding, which included a pretty thin pillow and blanket. Ultimately they were fine, though could have been much better, in my opinion.

Finnair business class pillow & blanket

Also at my seat was a fairly decent pair of headphones.

Finnair business class headphones

There was a basic amenity kit at my seat, with just a dental kit, eyeshades, earplugs, lip balm, and lotion.

Finnair business class amenity kit

There was also a pair of slippers at my seat — I loved the design, which was a bit more exciting than most of the other cabin finishes.

Finnair business class slippers

The menu, drink list, and breakfast card were also waiting at my seat.

Finnair business class menu

It’s so interesting to fly a Finnish airline and have a cabin crew based entirely in Singapore.

About 10 minutes after settling in I was offered a pre-departure drink, and was asked if I wanted champagne, juice, or water. Interestingly this wasn’t served on a tray, but rather I was just asked what I wanted, and the glass was brought to me a minute later. Speaking of which, I love Finnair’s glassware!

Finnair business class pre-departure champagne

A few minutes later warm towels were distributed.

Boarding was efficient, and was complete by 11:50PM. There were only a couple of empty seats in business class, while economy seemed to be pretty wide open.

Finnair A350 business class cabin

During boarding the crew took meal orders, and mine was taken around 11:45PM. I was asked for my preferences for both dinner and breakfast right away, including which drinks I wanted with both meals.

At 11:50PM the (Finnish) captain made his welcome aboard announcement, informing us of our flight time of 10hr50min. A couple of minutes later we began our pushback, at which point the safety video was screened.

At 12AM we began our taxi, so I turned on the tail camera to watch our (snowy) taxi to the runway. By 12:10AM we were cleared for takeoff on runway 22R.

A350 tail camera while taxiing

As we climbed out I browsed the entertainment selection. I like how Finnair has a page that displays the service “plan” for the flight.

Finnair entertainment system

Finnair’s entertainment system was pretty good otherwise, and was high resolution and responsive. By my count there were about 110 movies and about 80 TV shows. So you shouldn’t get bored, but it’s also not Emirates’ ICE system.

Finnair entertainment selection

Finnair entertainment selection

Finnair entertainment selection

Finnair entertainment selection

Then there’s the moving map, which was nice and customizable, since you could pinch and then zoom as much as you wanted.

Moving map enroute to Singapore

Moving map enroute to Singapore

The real highlight of Finnair’s inflight entertainment was their wifi.

Finnair wifi

Finnair wifi options

Business class passengers can receive an hour of free wifi by entering their seat number and last name.

Finnair free business class wifi

Alternatively pricing is as follows, with no data caps:

  • One hour for 7.95EUR
  • Three hours for 11.95EUR
  • Full flight for 19.95EUR

Finnair wifi pricing

The seatbelt sign was turned off just five minutes after takeoff. About 20 minutes after takeoff the purser stopped by my seat to welcome me onboard. She only came to certain people, so I’m guessing this is a Finnair Plus and oneworld Emerald thing.

Eventually the meal service began. The dinner/midnight menu read as follows:

The drink list read as follows:

Warm towels were distributed about 35 minutes after takeoff.

Finnair business class dinner — warm towel

Then about 40 minutes after takeoff drinks were served. The crew didn’t use carts, but rather the drinks and meals were brought directly on trays.

To drink I ordered the “arctic blue gin & tonic,” as well as a still water. That was served with some salted almonds.

Finnair business class dinner — drinks & nuts

An hour after takeoff tablecloths were brought out, but then it was another 20 minutes until the meal was served. With the exception of dessert, everything was served on one tray about 80 minutes after takeoff.

There was a choice of two appetizers and a choice of four main courses (one of which was a soup, and one of which was a salad).

I selected the cold smoked salmon and potato-salmon brandade as my starter, and selected the baked cod in crayfish sauce with chanterelles, tomatoes, and new potatoes as my main course. I was also offered a selection from the breadbasket.

Finnair business class dinner — appetizer & main course

The starter was kind of boring, while I thought the main course was excellent.

Once I finished the meal I was asked if I wanted dessert, with the choice between ice cream, a cheese plate, fresh fruit, and a chocolate cake with chili.

I chose the chocolate cake, which had a nice kick to it thanks to the chili, and also had a cup of coffee to go along with it.

Finnair business class dinner — dessert & coffee

I’m a bit conflicted about service from this Singapore-based Finnair crew The crew was friendly and reasonably accommodating, but I would say attention to detail was lacking. For example, I wasn’t offered a drink refill once during the meal, even when my glass was empty.

In theory not using any carts should lead to a more personalized service and less of an assembly line feeling, though I didn’t find that to be the case at all.

As far as food quality goes, the highlight of the meal was definitely the main course and dessert. I guess the limited meal service is fair enough, given the late night departure.

By the time the tray was cleared there was about 8hr30min remaining to Singapore, meaning the service took about two hours total.

Moving map enroute to Singapore

Moving map enroute to Singapore

At this point I checked out the lavatory — there were two at the front of the cabin and two in the center of the cabin, and they were pretty standard.

Finnair A350 lavatory

I also noticed that the crew had set up a small snack display on a cart in the mid-galley, with chocolates, some packaged snacks, and chips.

Finnair business class snacks

At this point I reclined my seat into bed mode, and was so ready to sleep, after having been on a redeye the night before as well.

I found the bed to be sufficiently wide, including around the knees. The bedding wasn’t amazing, but was sufficient.

Finnair A350 business class flat bed

Finnair A350 business class flat bed

I’m so happy that I slept for over six hours, almost interrupted. By the time I woke up we were just about two hours from landing in Singapore.

Moving map enroute to Singapore

I turned on the tail camera, and was excited to finally see some daylight again!

Finnair A350 tail camera

About 90 minutes before landing the crew started turning on some of the cabin lights for the pre-landing service. The menu read as follows:

For what it’s worth, here’s one side of the breakfast card:

Service began with a tray of drinks and warm towels being brought through the cabin. I had a glass of the delicious blueberry juice, as well as a still water.

Finnair business class breakfast — juice, water, and warm towel

About 15 minutes later I was brought my breakfast.

Breakfast included a rather bland fruit plate and a croissant and piece of bread. On the plus side, my main dish was excellent. I ordered the roesti potato filled with tomato ragout, scrambled eggs with smoked salmon, and spinach. I feel like airplane breakfast is almost always the same, so I was so happy to see something different on the menu for once.

Finnair business class breakfast

At 4:30PM Singapore time the captain announced that we’d be descending shortly and landing in about 30 minutes. About 15 minutes later the seatbelt sign was turned on.

As always I loved the views approaching Changi, especially of all the cargo ships approaching the coastline.

View approaching Singapore

We touched down at Changi Airport at around 5:10PM on runway 2L.

Touching down in Singapore

From there we had a five minute taxi to our arrival gate at Terminal 1. Hello, Singapore Airlines 787-10!

Singapore Airlines 787-10

We parked next to a KLM 777-300ER headed to Bali (which is a flight I’ve taken before).

Pulling into gate in Singapore

Finnair A350 Business Class Bottom Line

I feel similarly about Finnair’s A350 business class as I feel about Brussels Airlines’ new A330 business class — it’s good but unmemorable. That’s not meant to be a dig, but the reality is that there are some airlines that go above and beyond when it comes to their hard and soft product, and I don’t really feel like Finnair does.

As far as European airlines go, I’d say their hard product is significantly above average, especially compared to airlines like Lufthansa. Furthermore, Finnair has good wifi and entertainment, and I thought the food quality as such was good.

However, other than that I felt like they were largely pretty average. The bedding could have been better, the amenity kits were basic, service wasn’t as proactive as it should have been, etc.

All around I think Finnair’s A350 business class is solid. I wouldn’t avoid it in the future, but also wouldn’t necessarily seek it out (of course it depends what the alternative is).

If you’ve flown Finnair’s A350 business class, what was your experience like?

  1. My two biggest issues on a similar flight with AY on that plane:

    1) The cheese grater vents in the footwell became annoying to my toes after a few hours.
    2) I was really thirsty, and every time I tried to get some water to drink it was served in those cute little glasses. I must have rang the call bell to get water 3 times and each time it was another cute little glass only half full of water. It made me appreciate the big water bottles the other airlines give you.

    It was a daytime flight from HKG – HEL and it was very nice. But those were the two annoying things that stuck out from that flight.

    Otherwise it was similar to your review. Thanks for sharing it.

  2. I flew AY in July 2019 from HEL-BKK and HKG-HEL on the A350. Did I like it as much as CX business class? I most certainly did not. Was I comfortable and felt like I got decent value for the money? Absolutely, the experience was solid not flashy.

  3. @Lucky – Great review. What was the “Pre-Order” notation next to most of the alcoholic beverages in the menu meant to signify?

  4. Agreed! I don’t get why AY get so much love and buzz from other bloggers and ‘influencers’ but their product is fine, maybe solid but not memorable.

    The seats, even the reverse herringbone on A350, seem a bit cheap on the finishes and actual functions. IFE has very limited content which is a minus for a 10+h flight. The food does not look like gourmet grade at all (always declined their meals onboard). The crew is hardly WOW.

    HEL is a pleasant and efficient connecting point and AY do look stylish. That said, I just don’t get the buzz there.

  5. Interested to hear how you’d compare this to SAS longhaul biz since I’m looking at a Scandanavia trip next year.

  6. How did you score such a good cash price for this ticket? Where did you book it? Directly at Finnair or somewhere else?

  7. @DLPTATL – The “Pre-Order” indicates that you can pre-order those drinks for duty free collection on your next flight. Finnair go big on duty free and they encourage you to pre-order from the extensive online duty-free website for delivery during your next eligible flight.

    @Terence – You’ve always declined AY meals?!? It’s obviously a matter of taste, but I’ve always found the catering to do a great job at reflecting Scandinavian food – lots of fresh, woodland ingredients and flavours. It’s a shame that Lucky didn’t pre-order the reindeer for his supper (Finnair offers 3-4 pre-order meals online a month before the flight) – it’s always delicious.

  8. I always enjoyed my long haul flights on AY to/from HEL-BKK when I lived in Bangkok. Always pre-ordered the reindeer entrée! While not the fanciest J product/experience out there, I have been very satisfied with what I’ve received, given the fares I’ve snagged (under $1,800 to/from Europe, just under $3,000 to/from the States or Canada). I don’t believe there’s another European flag carrier that gives you a better feel for its home nation than AY…maybe KL with its cute little touches here and there? Coupled with the ease of connecting through HEL and you’ve got a great option…just wish it was easier to redeem with them using AS Mileage Plan.

  9. Long time reader, first time commenting. This may be a bit nit-picky, but this seems like a very poorly planned out meal service. Essentially the options for the main course are: (i) cod with Mushrooms, (ii) lamb with Mushroom sauce, (ii) salad with Mushrooms and (iv) Mushroom soup. Isn’t the point of having four options to cater to various preferences, dietary restrictions, etc?

  10. I flew MAD-HEL-HKG a couple of years ago… on the first leg, a Spanish based crew, that spoke Spanish, a bit of English and no Finnish… onwards to Hong Kong, we had an Asian based crew! I’m beginning to think that “local crews” are a figment of imagination for Finnair! I guess it’s how they manage to remain competitive with low costs!

  11. A cheap paid fare for sure. Otherwise this looks completely boring as both a soft and hard product. The menu was dismal…I’m surprised there was not a single asian twist to the menu given the destination.

    Nice review and thanks, Ben

  12. I have a soft spot for Finnair as my first ever long haul flight was with them on an MD 11 to Tokyo. But despite all the recent marketing they’ve done about enhancing the onboard product it just seems kind of ordinary. Like they are content with being just ok. The blanket and pillow are a good example! If you’re going to serve a business class dinner on 1 tray maybe that makes sense to save time on a night flight, but it was still a 2 hr service so not quick and it just looks a bit too mediocre. Having said that if they are cheaper than the competition, and they often are, then I can live without a Qatar style dinner if I’m saving 300 euros. I wish they would make maybe 10% more effort and they would be more compelling.

  13. Ich frage einfach mal auf Deutsch, fandest du die Club Suite oder den A350 von AY besser? Als Deutscher mit OW Saphire stehe ich oft vor der Wahl zwischen AY und BA (Iberia mit Absicht mal außen vor), bei AY bin ich, da ich meist in die USA muss, jedoch nur den A330 bisher geflogen. Hast du da einen klaren Gewinner? Bin selbst sehr gespannt auf meine Suite Flug nach YYZ nächste Woche. Grüße aus Deiner zweiten Heimat

  14. Thanks for the review. I love Finland and the city of Helsinki, but don’t see much incentive to fly on Finnair. The food looks bad and for someone who doesn’t really care for fish or mushrooms, I don’t think I’d be able to eat anything on that flight. Nordic cuisine can be worldclass but not everyone wants to eat things like Reindeer on an airplane, especially considering that Finnair is trying to attract connecting traffic between Europe and Asia.

    I quite prefer SK, and in fact would rate SK as my favorite Star Alliance business class product across the Atlantic. The catering is miles above what’s offered on Finnair, and the new seats are equally good.

  15. Two more minor points to add:

    1) AY’s IFE does seem to have a large selection in the total amount, however, the new content is lacking.
    2) Interestingly, AY’s A350 is among the very few where the first row of J does not offer any extra footrest space (rather than what you’ll find on CX/AA’s first row of mini and main J cabins).
    3) I had chatted with some on HEL-SIN (a couple times). A lead FA said that they are contracted with a company in Finland or somewhere in Europe, and that they only work on HEL-SIN/ICN.

    It’s Finn, it’s stylish in a minimalist way. Yet, from the seats to IFE content, and the food choices & staffing, there is just a hint of cost-saving of AY, targeting Asia-Europe/NA backpackers and discount J buyers. I think it’s a smart model, but just not the shiny experience one would have hoped given the buzz from others.

  16. Not sure if it’s because I am an One World Emerald or not but the purser on my BKK-HEL flight came by and asked if I wanted a memory foam pillow in addition to the pillow that was already at my seat. May be worth asking for one, if not proactively offered.

  17. Finnair used to offer Bose headphones, (that was in your JFK-HEL A350 report). Seems like a bit of cost cutting going on, even AA invested in B&O for first and business.

  18. I’ve heard bad things about the Hong Kong based Finnair crews. But then I heard bad things about the London-based Cathay crews as well. Is it an outstation thing?

  19. @Tom – thanks for the explanation on Duty Free wine for purchase onboard. That’s a new one to me.

  20. The ads have gotten really big/annoying again! What’s up with that? For a while they were actually a tolerable size.

  21. You are probably not familiar with iittala wares, Marimekko accessories, and Finnish thinking in general. Otherwise, I am sure you’d appreciate the experience much more.

  22. The iittala glassware and marimekko accents are quintessentially Finnish, however I have had issues with the out-station crews (not very personable, seemed to be just doing their job but as you say, the flight was not memorable). That being said, for the very low paid business fares, particularly ex BKK or the combination fares ex Australia with QF/AY to Europe, they are a very attractive option (circa $3,700 USD r/t from AUS to most capital cities in Europe) or ex BKK to US/Canada r/t circa $2,300 USD). Great way to make some serious progress to attaining or re-qualifying for OW status. I believe the outstation crew system has only been in place for a few years.

  23. They have the worst customer service I’ve ever dealt with (for certain issues you have now choice but to call them). Pretty much the only company I’ve decided to boycott simply due to their customer service. It wasn’t just down to rudeness; in fact the majority of the the reps were quite nice…they were just so terribly inept.

  24. @Airways and Travels. It’s nice to see someone who appreciates Finnish design. Yet, while their accents and glassware might be oh so very Finnish it still does not translate well in the context of providing a warm and comfortable seat in Business. Nor does it make the food or sleeping better.

    As an example, Four Seasons and Aman will incorporate minimal design into their hotels but compliment it with proper comfort which will appeal to all. That is perfection in being design forward with an understanding of cozy.

    Finally, just because one may “not be familiar” about Marimekko or iittala does not make it less so as to an experience. And to assume that others are lost in translation in not comprehending Finnish design – and thereby lacking credibility to judge a business class offering – is, well, elitist at best.

  25. Shame the carrier is so unfriendly to those with allergies. Can’t see how this family could get on one of their planes.

  26. ! the cargo ships “approaching” the coastline” ; You do mean “anchored” outside the harbour ?

  27. As someone else asked, where did you find and how did you book this cheap J flight? From an OTA?

  28. Regarding 6 hour sleep: I fly TK Mia Ist every year and always wake up over Atlantic thanksto turbulence or doctor announcements. Is this specific to Turkish Airlines ?

  29. How would you have booked a Finnair Business Class award tickets if you hadn’t paid? I always check AA, BA, CX and they never have award space on Finnair! Thanks

  30. I won’t fly AY with outstation crews, especially the HKG based ones. I flew AY BKK-HEL-HKG in J and the BKK leg was amazing (Finnish crew with one or two Thai crew) but the HKG flight was staffed by mostly rude, unpleasant Hong Kong staff with just one keen but very inexperienced crew member who at least tried. I love the Iitala glassware (in fact I have it at home too) and marimekko design and the overall minimalist and practical nature of AY (QR it isn’t), but I won’t fly them to SIN/HKG because of those outstation crew.
    I agree with someone from earlier, SK J is brilliant.

  31. @Bim

    Unless there is some crazy deal, wouldn’t flying BKK-HKG be much better than going all the way to transit in HEL?


    Did you use the wifi, didn’t OWE get free wifi for the whole flight anymore? (even if it just says AY Plat).
    Free wifi + great lounge + A350 for a very decent price are more than enough to keep flying AY to Asia.

  32. Doing AY J A359 HEL-NRT in the new year.
    Anyone have any idea whether these flights have Finnish crews? I really can imagine it would be economic to maintain Tokyo-based crew.
    The fruit plate looked boring, since I don’t care for pineapple. Fortunately (very I’d say) I’m quite partial to blueberries!

  33. Finnair looks fine, but I’ve never been overly impressed when I’ve seen reports about their Business Class. The food looks a bit lacking, and I’m surprised they would offer a choice of appetizers instead of serving both of them.

    The blueberry cocktail sounds good though!

  34. I have been flying with finnair from Helsinki to Bangkok for the past 4 years. Indeed their fares are great for business class. However my gluten free meal is always the same, with chicken and boiled potatoes. The absence of individual air outlet is a big minus as I tend to get a headache due to lack of air.

  35. The Singapore-based crew, are they mainly from Singapore or from other parts of Asia, too? Do they speak Finnish?

  36. I have often flown Finnair to Asia from Manchester UK and found them to be the best. Mainly because it is 12 hours MAN-PVG, for example, including the stopover, whereas other airlines take longer.
    I can sleep most of the way ofvthe longhaul section, which is what I want from business class.

  37. Completely agree on the air vent comment by a previous reader, after ten hours it felt like a cheese grater. Footwell a bit tight for comfortable sleep, but otherwise found the seat pretty good. In the past have used Cathay almost exclusively from HKG-LHR but they are often twice the price of Finnair and the hard product is often shabby and incredibly dusty (not helped by the fabric seats), I’d go Finnair again or Qatar in preference to the the direct flight.

  38. @matt my sentiments exactly – mushrooms, mushrooms, and more mushrooms! Surprised the breakfast didn’t also include mushrooms.

  39. Totally agreed on the super rude outstation HK based crew, like in general the service attitude of HK… I have flown several times with AY J to NRT/KIX, HKG, CAN, only to find the outstation HK based crew is unbearable, others are pretty OK. AY uses to serve all Finns crew, now I can see them cutting the cost at least from this

  40. Have just got home (Melbourne) after flying to London via Hong Kong – HEL I requested Finnair because it’s a shorter fly time and I love a little stopover in Helsinki. All went well, the Hong King crew were keen to feed us and turned up the heat . I was in Window seat 2L, the footwell is squishy and I am only 5ft. Gone are the Bose headphones!! Marimekko packs no longer have L’Occtaine. Very sparse. Movie section very boring. But here’s the thing, on the journey home, same seat 2L A350 the wall trim was stuck up with gaffer tape. Very expensive gaffer tape I was told. Another hot plane trip. I complained about the gaffer tape (my round trip airfare was AU$8,800) so I think I paid top dollar for January flights. Finnair offered me 2,000 points. Finnair has the hardest point system to negotiate and I think they left off a few noughts!! Cathay Pacific has more leg room. I’m thinking twice before doing Finnair again.

  41. I’m wondering whether the NRT-HEL Business is better. Guessing it will not be staffed with HK crews, hopefully HEL-based crews.
    Anyone with experience flying this route ?

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