I just flew Finnair’s innovative new business class between Stockholm and New York, and wanted to share my initial thoughts about the product. I was expecting to not like these seats, but ended up being pleasantly surprised. While I’ll have a full flight review soon, let’s talk about the seat.
Finnair’s innovative new business class doesn’t recline
Earlier this year, Finnair announced it would introduce an all new business class on its Airbus A330 and A350 aircraft. While lots of airlines are introducing new business class products, Finnair’s had a unique feature that raised lots of eyebrows — the seats don’t recline.
Now, to be clear, that doesn’t mean that the seats don’t turn into flat beds. I understand how that can be confusing (see the below texts with my dad). Rather it means that the seat turns into a flat bed without having to move the seatback.
From Finnair’s perspective, this kind of seat seems genius, thanks to its lack of motorized functions:
- I imagine this seat is much lighter than your average business class seat, which translates to fuel savings
- I imagine it’s cheaper to manufacture, given that it’s so much simpler and has fewer parts
- I imagine there are huge cost and time savings in terms of maintenance, since there aren’t as many things that can break
But I was also skeptical:
- Without a seatback that goes up and down, I figured it wouldn’t be possible to “lounge” comfortably, since I don’t always want to be sitting fully upright or be fully reclined
- I wondered how comfortable the sleeping surface would be, since the seat has a large footwell to the side that becomes part of the bed when you want to sleep, much like in Singapore Airlines’ business class
I really liked Finnair’s new business class
I was expecting Finnair’s new business class to be better for the airline than for passengers (given the cost savings), and wasn’t expecting it to be competitive with the world’s best business class seats. Fortunately my expectations were greatly exceeded, and I’m a huge fan of this seat (especially on the A330, on which most airlines don’t install a great product).
Let’s look at the seat in a bit more detail. The seat feels like a cozy cocoon, and it offers more privacy than I was expecting. Thanks to how far back you sit, the shield to the side of the seat means that you won’t see much else going on in the cabin. As mentioned above, the seat as such doesn’t recline in any way. What you see is what you get.
The seat has an ottoman of sorts, which I really enjoyed, since you should be able to rest your feet on this regardless of your height. That’s awesome, because with many seats, something like that isn’t possible.
The footwell that helps the seat turn into a bed is located along the fuselage of the aircraft and to the side, and it’s spacious, even if you’re a side sleeper who bends your knees.
How does the seat turn into a bed? Well, there’s a single mechanical function in the seat, which is that the footrest goes up and down, to essentially connect your seat to the ottoman.
Then there’s a button on the ottoman in front of the seat that causes it to “fold over” and extend several inches… and then you have a bed! This is quite a large sleeping surface, much bigger than you’ll find with most business class seats.
The seat also has good technology and thoughtful design touches. There’s a unit to the side of the seat where you can store things, and this also has power outlets, an entertainment controller, and the headphone jacks.
There’s a large tray next to the seat, which has wireless charging.
Then to the bottom side of the seat is a huge storage compartment, which is much bigger than it looks at first glance. The compartment is quite deep, and could easily store a laptop, and lots more.
I was impressed by the seat at first glance, but figured I’d struggle to get comfy. That wasn’t my experience at all, though:
- Each passenger gets two large, well padded, comfortable pillows, which really make this a cozy space. You can prop these behind you to get comfortable, or you can put them to your sides for arm support
- I found lounging to be possible and more comfortable than in your average business class seat, by simply placing the pillows underneath my lower back
- I loved the ability to just rest my feet on the ottoman in front even when sitting fully upright, since that’s something that’s not possible in many business class seats
- The sleeping surface felt much more comfortable and spacious than I was expecting
In all positions I found this seat to be comparable in comfort to other good seats. I’d say the only ever-so-slight struggle was when trying to go from the fully reclined position to sitting upright. Usually I’d just push a button to bring my seat upright, while in this case I had to prop myself up and slide back in the seat. Totally minor, but I’m trying to be balanced and thorough.
I’m happy to report that Finnair’s new no-recline business class seat is much better than I was expecting. Not only are the seats comfortable, but the finishes are thoughtfully designed in terms of storage, wireless charging, etc. This is much better than I was expecting.
Kudos to Finnair on this innovative and presumably economical new business class hard product. The soft product, on the other hand… well, stay tuned for the review.
What do you make of Finnair’s new business class?