Finnair’s No-Recline Business Class Seat: Surprisingly Great

Finnair’s No-Recline Business Class Seat: Surprisingly Great

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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.

My dad’s understandable confusion

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
New Finnair business class cabin on Airbus A330
New Finnair business class cabin on Airbus A330

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.

New Finnair business class seat

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.

New Finnair business class seat

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.

New Finnair business class seat

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.

New Finnair business class seat

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.

New Finnair business class seat
New Finnair business class seat

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.

New Finnair business class seat

There’s a large tray next to the seat, which has wireless charging.

New Finnair business class seat

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.

New Finnair business class seat

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.

Bottom line

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?

Conversations (50)
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  1. Trish Guest

    I flew on the newly redesigned A330 a week ago. It was comfortable during the entire flight from Helsinki to Chicago. Loved it!

  2. Michael Guest

    I flew HEL-ORD yesterday afternoon in 3H. The new seat is undeniably roomier than any business class seat I've had before, but otherwise it's style over substance. The review was accurate but missed several points... No armrests means you need to sit (or slouch) upright, 2 small cushions (one is basically air) do not replace armrests. The three point belt is a nice idea but having it come out of the seat back in the...

    I flew HEL-ORD yesterday afternoon in 3H. The new seat is undeniably roomier than any business class seat I've had before, but otherwise it's style over substance. The review was accurate but missed several points... No armrests means you need to sit (or slouch) upright, 2 small cushions (one is basically air) do not replace armrests. The three point belt is a nice idea but having it come out of the seat back in the best place for your head is a pain. In bed mode, your backside/hip goes in the position where the two footrests flip up and join, it's too flimsy and stuffed with hard parts - a damned uncomfortable flat bed, worst since I flew on an Emirates 767 a decade ago. The best orientation in bed mode is to curl your knees over the storage locker which means you need to fasten the leg belt behind yourself. Poor design. And the leg belt dogs into your thigh, tensioned far too tight. Poor design. Finally getting out of the bed, the only hand hold is the TV! Seriously, you need to pull yourself up on the TV. Can we have our old seats back please?

  3. glenn t Diamond

    Have had the opportunity to fly this seat, but passed over it.
    After your review I am still ambivilent and unconvinced I would like it.
    Your upcoming review of the soft product sounds ominous, with many others here opining that 'subpar' sums it up.

  4. Anita Guest

    The new seats are fine - until they are broken. My husband and I recently flew back to Australia in one of these new seats on the Helsinki-Singapore leg (13 hour flight). After we were settled (and the seat belt sign had come on ready for take off), my husband was informed that his seat was broken and that a crew member would need to adjust it each time. Of course we were not impressed...

    The new seats are fine - until they are broken. My husband and I recently flew back to Australia in one of these new seats on the Helsinki-Singapore leg (13 hour flight). After we were settled (and the seat belt sign had come on ready for take off), my husband was informed that his seat was broken and that a crew member would need to adjust it each time. Of course we were not impressed - it had been broken for a week and they were still sitting paying passengers in it. It didn't end there, while he was trying to sleep, there was some turbulence and he wanted to sit back up. The crew could not come to assist with re-adjusting his seat due to the seatbelt sign and turbulence), which resulted in him having a full on panic attack due to the feeling of being 'stuck'. During the flight he found out that 3 other seats in the same row were also broken - but still had paying passengers in them.
    On a side note, I found them not overly comfortable to sleep on as they are like a bench, with significantly less padding than the older style seats.

  5. Stephen merrett Guest

    I few on the 1st may to Singapore with the AB350 extra wide Business class .
    Great new seats , I enjoyed the 14 hour flight , good food and great service. I will do it again

  6. Gagan Guest

    The most unprofessional airline I have ever seen.
    Stop spreading these paid and false information to customers.

  7. Ian End Guest

    I also didn't expect to like this seat, but had the opportunity to fly it alongside the old Finnair product. Hands down the no-recline seat was miles better: much more comfortable sleeping surface, hugely more private, and nicer finishes on everything. The wooden table top is very Scandi-chic.

    My favourite non-sleeping position was actually to sit cross-legged - try doing that in the Cirrus seat! The only issue I would mention of there was a...

    I also didn't expect to like this seat, but had the opportunity to fly it alongside the old Finnair product. Hands down the no-recline seat was miles better: much more comfortable sleeping surface, hugely more private, and nicer finishes on everything. The wooden table top is very Scandi-chic.

    My favourite non-sleeping position was actually to sit cross-legged - try doing that in the Cirrus seat! The only issue I would mention of there was a lack of under-thigh support, so I did end up shuffling a lot to avoid cramp.

    1. David Guest

      I flew business class with finair vice a BA service to Prague last week and it was shockingly bad , terrible seat , rock hard and food average at best

  8. Tom Guest

    You’ve got to be kidding me! I flew Finnair Business class from DFW to Helsinki and returned a week later via ORD. Absolutely the worst, most uncomfortable seat I’ve ever had on a plane. I would have preferred a premium economy seat. It’s a shame because the flight team was great. Would never fly Finnair business class again.

    1. Michael Guest

      Agree about the the comfort level - it was bleak.

  9. Frequent Flyer Guest

    Ben,
    How much did Finnair pay you to say the seats are “ok”. I have flown them and they are so bad I will not fly Finnair unless they change them.

  10. jash01 New Member

    thanks for this, i have been hesitant about these but its good to see more honest reviews!

  11. Peter Guest

    We just flew HEL-DFW last week and agree completely. Much better than expected.

    I really enjoyed the extra space when sleeping and I ate the meal in a buddha position. It's great to be able to lounge on the seat so freely.

    I can understand the seat could be a bit difficult if one has e.g. mobility issues.

    I had no issues watching the screen while sleeping.

    Also enjoyed the new good offerings, quality...

    We just flew HEL-DFW last week and agree completely. Much better than expected.

    I really enjoyed the extra space when sleeping and I ate the meal in a buddha position. It's great to be able to lounge on the seat so freely.

    I can understand the seat could be a bit difficult if one has e.g. mobility issues.

    I had no issues watching the screen while sleeping.

    Also enjoyed the new good offerings, quality over quantity. Staff was happy and friendly, and really excited about the new cabin.

  12. Luke Guest

    @Ben - how did you find the TV viewing position when lying flat? Is it fixed in position, or can you tilt it down?

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Luke -- Unfortunately the TV doesn't tilt or swivel, though I didn't find watching it at an angle to be an issue. It would be nice if that were possible, though.

    2. Brianair Guest

      Sadly, I get OCD about that stuff. I wish they allowed you to swivel the TV around.

  13. Filip Guest

    this is by far the best transatlantic bis class seat! Agree the service is a bit confusing but that's just the nordics <3 (I think it may be better out of helsinki, as that crew is much more seasoned)

  14. Marty Guest

    I agree with almost everything you said about the seat except at age 78, not being able to swing your feet out or have the seat bring you up, is a major pain, literally.

  15. Erik M Guest

    I've tried this seat on two flights.
    As with many other cabins, the bulkhead seats are even better.
    The foot well is much, much bigger and you get extra space to get rid of finished glasses etc. You even have an extra little storage compartment.

    1. kq747 Guest

      Was this on the A350 or A330? I am debating between bulkhead and row 2. I'm concerned about galley noise/light for the eastbound "short redeye"

  16. Robbie Guest

    i flew JFK-HEL-JFK last month on these and was pleasantly suprised. I think the 2 decent pillows was a major reason I was comfortable though. Either way, it was far more comfortable than AA J.

  17. David Guest

    Clickbate junk! Just because your seat doesn't fold into someone's else's space doesn't mean it cant recline! I believe other airlines have the same outer shell idea.

    Oh no, business class is stuck in an unmovable seat. Oh, not really.

    1. LarryInNYC Diamond

      Why are the ones so slow to read the ones who are so quick to write?

      This is a new and unique seat design with no recline at all, exactly as reported.

    2. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ David -- It's not "clickbait junk," it describes the seat accurately, and it's the one feature that makes this seat unique. I didn't say a business class seat that doesn't turn into a bed, but rather a business class seat that doesn't recline, and that's 100% accurate.

      I can't think of any other business class seats in the world that turn into a bed without moving the back of the seat.

    3. chrislz Guest

      Curious, it appears as if the seat back is already somewhat reclined by default. Doesn't that contradict the industry safety standard for being fully upright for takeoff and landing?

  18. iamhere Guest

    They should have thought of a better name. Most people would think the chairs don't lie flat.

  19. Favs East Guest

    How did you book the flight: miles or cash? It would be nice to hear like in the old days

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Favs East -- I always mention this when I published the actual review. I booked it with American AAdvantage miles. :-)

  20. Mr. Obvious Guest

    Sorry, but as someone who has suffered from back issues for 15 years and finds 8 hr flights uncomfortable even on a Delta One seat, this is miserable and horrible. Hurts my back just looking at it. So the reclining options I have for the few hours before sleep time is non-existent. No thanks.

    1. Stippy Scappy Guest

      Seriously, I don't like lying flat because of my heartburn, and for those of us with assburn it sounds just as unpleasant, particularly for neighbours in the centre section - avoid

  21. Brian Guest

    So glad you liked it! Also had a chance to fly on the A350 to SIN and had a good flight. The one thing that is surprising to me is I found the seat very similar to what’s on SQ with the need to sleep at an angle and having the smaller foot well by the windows. Did you think the Finnair seat was better than SQ? If so, hearing about the differences (besides the fact SQ you have to fold down the sleeping surface) would be interesting in your full review.

    1. Ian End Guest

      I also didn't expect to like this seat, but had the opportunity to fly it alongside the old Finnair product. Hands down the no-recline seat was miles better: much more comfortable sleeping surface, hugely more private, and nicer finishes on everything. The wooden table top is very Scandi-chic.

      My favourite non-sleeping position was actually to sit cross-legged - try doing that in the Cirrus seat! The only issue I would mention of there was a...

      I also didn't expect to like this seat, but had the opportunity to fly it alongside the old Finnair product. Hands down the no-recline seat was miles better: much more comfortable sleeping surface, hugely more private, and nicer finishes on everything. The wooden table top is very Scandi-chic.

      My favourite non-sleeping position was actually to sit cross-legged - try doing that in the Cirrus seat! The only issue I would mention of there was a lack of under-thigh support, so I did end up shuffling a lot to avoid cramp.

  22. Peer Member

    I've flown this seat from HEL to JFK and was not impressed. Sleeping comfort is hard (although the surface is a bit hard), but I struggled to find a comfortable seating position. I prefer the old seats on the A350, but unfortunately the clock is ticking for them.

  23. Anthony Guest

    We flew Finnair Hel-Sin a fortnight ago A350, these seats. They are good, tho' I'd recommend that because they are different give yourself a few moments to experiment with different seating positions. Also in the review you didn't mention the seperate seat belt for lying down. Initially I found being "held" disconcerting, but again a little experimentation a d it does indeed make for a far better bed than, for instance our subsequent Singapore Airlines...

    We flew Finnair Hel-Sin a fortnight ago A350, these seats. They are good, tho' I'd recommend that because they are different give yourself a few moments to experiment with different seating positions. Also in the review you didn't mention the seperate seat belt for lying down. Initially I found being "held" disconcerting, but again a little experimentation a d it does indeed make for a far better bed than, for instance our subsequent Singapore Airlines flight Sin-Syd.

  24. Daniel B. Guest

    I flew this on 5/15 from HEL to DFW. I was very impressed for the exact reasons you mention above. The seat felt very private.

  25. Matthew Guest

    The seats were awesome and the Ed the most comfortable AND the best bed for someone 6 foot 3 or over like me. Finnair killed it it’s asweomr

  26. Eli Guest

    Ben who will send you pictures at your father's age??????

    1. JB Guest

      Agreed. Ben needs some little ones to spoil, and some company to get spoiled with ;)

    2. Drank Sinatra Guest

      I know his husband Ford travels with him quite a bit, but I don’t know that they’re thinking about wee ones yet.

    3. kq747 Guest

      Seriously? Pretty sure any discussion of this nature is entirely between Ben and Ford and not anyone else's business

  27. BenjaminGuttery Gold

    I tried to book this from DFW to Helsinki and then Helsinki to Basel Switzerland and back home to DFW and AA Plat Pro desk said that even paid tickets (which I was attempting to do) aren't coming up at all. They are also have even more problems with Iberia, DFW to Madrid. Odd since so much fanfare on those 2 new routes was published. On a side note, AA wanted $12,000 for DFW-PHL-ZUR RT in Business Class......NOPE.

    1. Aki Guest

      There are no flights to Basel from Helsinki, nearest is Zurich.

  28. Dave Guest

    Ben did you find it weird having your head rest on the same surface that people have their... behind's on when sitting up right? I remember that was another one of your original concerns.

    1. Super Member

      Especially as its cloth... will absorb other people's farts and butt sweat. Ew.

    2. Dova Guest

      That's why they are offering a mattress protector..

    3. Alex Guest

      And the fact you out your head on a pillow…

  29. Daniel from Finland Guest

    I'm glad you tried Finnair out. I really like the new J seat as well.

    Their catering remains subpar, though.

  30. Jance Guest

    And you were not bothered by having your head (when in sleeping position) resting on what others have referred to as "the fart sponge"?

  31. Y.Z Guest

    I am wondering whether this means I would put my head during sleep where I was sitting?

  32. Deborah Guest

    Thank you for taking our advice to fly Finnair! Can’t wait for your full review.

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Ben Schlappig OMAAT

@ David -- It's not "clickbait junk," it describes the seat accurately, and it's the one feature that makes this seat unique. I didn't say a business class seat that doesn't turn into a bed, but rather a business class seat that doesn't recline, and that's 100% accurate. I can't think of any other business class seats in the world that turn into a bed without moving the back of the seat.

2
Ian End Guest

I also didn't expect to like this seat, but had the opportunity to fly it alongside the old Finnair product. Hands down the no-recline seat was miles better: much more comfortable sleeping surface, hugely more private, and nicer finishes on everything. The wooden table top is very Scandi-chic. My favourite non-sleeping position was actually to sit cross-legged - try doing that in the Cirrus seat! The only issue I would mention of there was a lack of under-thigh support, so I did end up shuffling a lot to avoid cramp.

1
Ian End Guest

I also didn't expect to like this seat, but had the opportunity to fly it alongside the old Finnair product. Hands down the no-recline seat was miles better: much more comfortable sleeping surface, hugely more private, and nicer finishes on everything. The wooden table top is very Scandi-chic. My favourite non-sleeping position was actually to sit cross-legged - try doing that in the Cirrus seat! The only issue I would mention of there was a lack of under-thigh support, so I did end up shuffling a lot to avoid cramp.

1
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