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Finnair upgrades to new lie-flat business class seat

By Chris Chamberlin     Filed under: Finnair

Finnair is going flat out on upgrading its international Airbus fleet with new fully flat business class seats this year, but the Helsinki-Singapore route favoured by many Australian travellers will be stuck with the older and uncomfortable angled seats until at least 2015.

The Finnish flag-carrier's $44.5 million overhaul of its long-range Airbus A330s and A340s will see the current 'sloping sleepers' replaced by a 2 metre long lie-flat bed with 58cm of room at the shoulders.

Flights between Helsinki and Hong Kong will see the new seats from June 1, following their April 1 debut on Finnair's popular services to New York and Tokyo.

Beijing and Seoul will go fully flat in May, with the last of the refitted fleet rolled out to Hanoi, Nagoya, Osaka and Shanghai from June.

Singpore slung

Finnair says that "three older aircraft" will not be upgraded with the new seats, as those planes will be the first to exit the fleet as its new Airbus A350s begin arriving in 2015.

A spokeswoman for Finnair confirmed to Australian Business Traveller that those older A340 aircraft will be relegated to the Helsinki-Singapore flights.

"In phase one Singapore was not included," she said, "but Finnair's whole wide-body fleet will include full-flats once new A350s arrive and A340 exit begins."

Finnair's lie-flat business class seats are based on the Zodiac Vantage sleepers already seen on the airline’s four newest Airbus A330s. 

Asked if these would also be the business class seat for its Airbus A350s, Finnair would only say "We have not published our seat choice for A350s yet."

Finnair has eleven of the mid-size Airbus A350-900 on order with options to buy a further eight.

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About Chris Chamberlin

Chris lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, a great latte, an opera ticket and a glass of wine!


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1 on 14/3/14 by Serg

Chris, do you know anything about HEL-BKK?

1 on 15/3/14 by Chris

Sorry Serg, nothing to share on Bangkok I'm afraid.

1 on 15/3/14 by Serg

Nothing means nothing good or no info at all?

2 on 14/3/14 by stewardnurse

Perhaps Finnair should do a day flight instead of a night flight in and out of SIN, until new upgrades occur, then there will be less complaints from passengers about lack of sleep on the not so lie flat seat.

1 on 14/3/14 by Serg

Than they need to stay on ground in SIN whole day (cost) and they will not be able to turn one aircraft back and forth in one day – i.e. they need to double up number of planes. Unfortunately sounds good only in theory.

1 on 14/3/14 by watson374

The crucial problem is that while you can have a day flight from SIN to HEL, you cannot have a day flight from HEL to SIN.

1 on 14/3/14 by Serg

Would you be much happier if it was other way around? Point is - you can have either, but not both.

1 on 14/3/14 by watson374

HEL is not relevant to me personally. Almost all my flying is Australia-Asia, intra-Australia or intra-Asia. But from the diagram perspective, you can have a HEL-SIN-HEL flight that arrives in SIN in the mid-morning and leaves around lunchtime. It therefore leaves HEL in the late morning and returns in the evening, but because of the time-zone changes, you have an partially-overnight "day" flight from HEL to SIN.

3 on 14/3/14 by am

This isn't overly surprising. Singapore just isn't that important a market for the smaller European carriers who aren't based in major financial centres. 

4 on 14/3/14 by David

This article has now been updated to reflect confirmation by Finnair that the Helsinkin-Singapore will indeed be stuck with the older and not-upgraded A340s. :(

1 on 14/3/14 by JBH

Yes, disappointing as a OW option for those of us based/flying out of SIN - flew AY twice last yr SIN-LHR (due in part to QF's exit from SIN) the first time on their old A340 J product which was old/tired/ tattered at best, the 2nd I flew via HKG on CX onward to LHR on AY's new 330 J product, much better but still rather basic for J vs. others.

2 on 14/3/14 by samson

Was great to see the seat plan for our flight HEL to HKG in Sep change to the new A330 J cabin but sadly, at the same time the seat plan for BKK to HEL on 6 Aug changed to one of the old birds, which I believe are ex-AF.  You can tell if the seat maps don't show 1A or 1C.  It's a day flight so it wont be too bad, but it's a bit disappointing because we had read that BKK is usually serviced by the upgraded aircraft.  So it seems not just SIN that will be stuck with the older A340s. 

1 on 17/3/14 by Serg

I booked BKK-HEL-BKK in November to fly in April. It was indeed new layout as all HEL-BKK planes. But month later is start to show old one for HEL-BKK leg. I was greatly disappointed because HEL-BKK is night flight, so I rebook a day earlier to have A330 with new layout. Then 2 months later they change all planes to A340 with old layout. I am not disappointed anymore – I simply p!ssed. I searched back and forth and could find A330 flights, but it was more then a week difference and not suited me. And besides they can change yet again and all efforts and money would be in vain anyway.

Curiosity though – where those A330 that served HEL-BKK gone???

1 on 17/3/14 by Serg

According to Finnair website they have 8 A330 and 7 A340. 4 A330 shows new layout and all of A340 shows old one. However I do not believe that information is accurate – all A340 show two business cabin and in my booking I can see only one. I would definitely choose minicabin if I could. I have no clue if their plans wrong or they decided to use business minicabin as an extension for few lucky economy passengers.

5 on 11/8/14 by Peter

HI all , just completed a business class trip BKK HEL BKK 2 weeks ago, horrified that the seats were the old fashioned sloped and not lie flat type seats on the A340 and also the tv screen were ultra small and ultra old fashioned and also hard to use.  These A340's must be one of their earliest batch, with these old fashioned business class seats and screens.  Return was also the same old.  Very disappointed indeed that AY still uses these antiques, i am now looking for other solutions.  The Schengen lounge in HEL is under construction , not that the old one was that old, but for some reason they are doing remodelling.  The non-Schengen side is actually quite new but they are doing the remodelling on the "did'd work out" spa -side and the noise and dust are spilling over to the lounge, not a good time (July) when busiest season for travellers, to do this.  Finnair mistakes again.

6 on 11/8/14 by Peter

As i understand from talking with the CEO of Finnair, they are moving as fast as they can to change all the aircrafts on their asia route to the new seats.  Who knows.  With the "ban of overfly over Siberia" - Finnair maybe in for a rough ride and future is kind of unknown.

7 on 11/8/14 by samson

We flew BKK to HEL in J class last week and also scored one of the old AF A340s.  The day prior we had travelled SYD to BKK with QF in J class on the A330.  We preferred the AY flight in most regards.  Yes, the interiors are looking worn on these old birds but they are brighter and in our view, the older seats were better padded and more comfortable than on QF (even with the mattress cover).  In the reclined position the slope is no worse than Skybed MK1 - we actually thought the AY seat seemed actually a bit flatter.  The TV monitors are somewhat antiquated but adequate and we found enough content to keep us occupied.  The FAs we encountered were friendly, happy to have a chat and were always present, the drinks were free flowing and the food was a huge improvement on the unmemorable Neil Perry inspired rubbish we had the day before.  There were 2 meal services as well as a mid-flight snack of hot cinnamon buns and sandwiches.  All up we rated the AY flight as a great experience and given the much cheaper price in J, we received great value for money.  We wouldn't hesitate to book this route again regardless of the aircraft type.  Oh and you must try the cloudberry liqueur - a most delicious drop to finish the main meal with!

8 on 11/8/14 by Peter

hi Samson, agree with your comments.  QF i cannot comment due to lack of experience , for AY, i had tried last year BKK HEL using A330 and with their new seats, are even better, and with all the services of AY FA's and food etc which you had mentioned, hence, even "better and better" value if the new lie flat and touch screen big screens, are thrown in, so.....

Overall AY is not bad value , even in economy, and miles ahead of all the US airlines....

9 on 19/1/15 by Kerry

Thinking of Business Class with FinnAir early Sept. 2015.  Does anyone know if the new aircraft/flat beds on the SIN - HEL leg will be available by then?


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