Finnair A350-900 New Business Class HEL-DFW
Finnair introduced a brand new Business Class product in February, 2022, just as travel was making a comeback post Covid. Their previous Business Class was already good as I experienced on my positioning flight from Amsterdam to Helsinki. Currently Finnair only has a few of the converted Business Class cabins on their A350s and A330s.
I was able to book one of the new seats on flight AY19 from Helsinki to Dallas Fort Worth. I used 57,500 American Airlines miles for my AMS-HEL-DFW trip.
As I had already checked in for my flight in Amsterdam, I had my boarding pass and had only carry on luggage which allowed me to go straight to security. As other European airports have been experiencing extra long wait times this summer, I arrived about three hours early. Fortunately Helsinki seems to have none of the same problems as larger European hubs.
I headed straight for the Priority security line and had no wait getting through.
I passed by this independent guy doing some cleaning of the terminal.
Signs were up throughout the terminal advertising Finnair’s updated cabins.
There was no line at passport control either so I was at the Finnair Business Class Lounge with plenty of time before my flight.
I headed to the gate earlier than needed at 11:15 for a 12:25 flight; though the boarding pass listed 11:10 as boarding time.
The gate also had a Priority line. After checking boarding pass and passport, we were let in to a waiting area that was divided between Priority and general passengers.
Boarding started at 11:55am; just 30 minutes prior to the scheduled departure.
I picked seat 8L. The Business Class cabin is set up in a 1-2-1 configuration; so as a solo traveler the A/L seats are the best. The middle two seats have a divider that can be raised between them for privacy. There are no doors on the seats.
Rows 1-8 are in the main Business Class cabin while rows 9-12 are in a smaller cabin just behind the galley. Not all the A350s have the same configuration for some reason, but this was the layout of my plane.
The seat itself reminds me a bit of a smaller Cathay Pacific First Class seat. It feels a bit more like a booth at a restaurant than a typical airplane seat. The big news about the seat is that it doesn’t recline. Instead it has a panel that comes up from under your knees that turns the seat into a flat bed area (more on that in a minute). With the pillows behind your back; the seat feels a lot like a comfortable couch.
The seat feels quite wide and room. It angles slightly towards the windows.
The seatbelt is a waist and shoulder belt; however once you take off you can disengage the shoulder portion and just use the waist belt as it is more comfortable.
While the seat doesn’t have doors, I felt like the shape of the “shell” offered a good amount of privacy. Here is the view from sitting in the seat.
There are two storage areas. The first is by your right knee up against the window. It has two sections; a deeper one for a laptop and a more shallow one for water bottle and other items.
The second storage is located to the right of your head just under the reading lamp. It holds the in flight entertainment remote and can also hold the Bose headphones provided. It also has a USB and USB-C charging port.
The light just above it can be dimmed or turned off completely. It also rotates but always goes back to the original position; not sure if mine was broken or that is what they are supposed to do (maybe offering some give in case they are bumped).
A small fixed table is located to the right against the window.
It has a built in wireless charging pad for your phone which is a great amenity that all airlines should offer. Built in to the side are the controls for the seat. Do not disturb. Raising the panel to turn the seat into a bed. Lights. Button to deploy the tray table.
The tray table slides out and unfolds when needed.
Down by the floor (by your right foot) is a universal power outlet and life vest.
Unfortunately the seat doesn’t have air vents that can be controlled; though I found the cabin to a good, cool temperature.
The in flight entertainment screen is fixed on the seat ahead and cannot be adjusted. There was a decent selection of movies, TV, music and games as well as maps and outside cameras. The screen is touch screen or can be controlled by the remote. Unfortunately the seat doesn’t offer Bluetooth connection so you are left to rely on the provided headphones (which were very nice quality and seemed to cancel most noise).
On the seat were slippers and two packaged blankets; one is a custom sized mattress pad that fits over the seat when you are ready to sleep. These were in addition to two pillows.
The amenity kit is basic. It contains eye shades, earplugs (that did not reduce the sound much at all), a toothbrush, lip balm and lotion.
I was offered a pre-departure drink (water, juice or champagne).
The Business Class lavatory is small but has a window.
We took off about 20 minutes late but we still arrived at DFW early.
Menus were paced out once we were airborne.
I started my lunch with the Northern Blush, Finnair’s signature cocktail. Cold almonds were served with the beverage.
There were four flight attendants serving my Business Class cabin of 30 seats (all full). So you might think that the service would be very personal. The flight attendant served to my section was not rude but far from friendly. I am not sure if it was personality or that is typical of Finnish culture and customer service. Service would be one area that Finnair could improve.
The first course, the cold course, included a corn puree and chicken tartlet. Both were excellent (and the highlight of the meal service).
I had planned to order the vegetarian option but I was told it had run out. As had the steamed rice. And I was the last customer to get the risotto. So clearly catering needs some improvement as well. The fish and beef options didn’t look tempting so I went with a small side of risotto and a small side of veggies for my main course.
For dessert I had the cheesecake which was humorously small. That is a regular size blueberry. The cheesecake was about the size of a quarter. The selection of cheese from the menu didn’t seem to be available (or I just didn’t get offered it, it may have also run out).
If you were hungry or thirsty during the flight, there was self service options in the galley. The only food I found was bread and a couple bags of peanuts. Again, not sure if they just forgot to put other snacks out but for a 10+ hour flight I would have expected a few more options. I didn’t ever see flight attendants come through the cabin to offer beverages after the meal service and until breakfast (about 7 hours).
I decided to get some sleep so I raised the panel to make my seat into a flat bed. You also flip a panel up to close all the gaps. I then spread out my mattress pad and blanket. I didn’t ask for help from the flight attendant but I don’t think that making up the bed is something they would do.
I found the bed to be quite comfortable. Since the seat itself doesn’t really move; they thoughtfully added a second seatbelt that pulls across your midsection when lying down so you can secure yourself while sleeping.
A second meal was served about 90 minutes before landing. There were no options for this meal; everyone received the same items: a fruit plate, bread, a cold creamy shrimp salad with lettuce on top, and a quiche.
We arrived at DFW about 30 minutes early.
I like the new Finnair seats and never missed the ability to recline. I am guessing the seats are much cheaper and lighter for the airline so I wouldn’t be surprised to see this type of seat on more airlines. Some will wish that the seats had a door, but I find doors on plane seats to be a gimmick and doesn’t do much to enhance the experience.
Finnair could improve their catering and service. I don’t expect them to compete with any of the Middle East or Asian carriers, but running out of so many options doesn’t leave a good impression.
Overall I would not hesitate to fly Finnair again. There is a direct SEA-HEL flight that I hope will have the new Business Class seats soon. This will be a good option for redeeming Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles to Europe along with Condor’s new Business Class.
Have you tried out Finnair’s new Business Class seat? What were your impressions?