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Review: Finnair Airbus A350 business class

By David Flynn     Filed under: business class, Finnair, Airbus A350

Finnair may be the first European airline to fly the Airbus A350 but its sights are set firmly on Asia, which is where the A350s will be pressed into service starting from Shanghai in late November 2015 and followed by Beijing, Bangkok, Singapore and Hong Kong.

Those long routes will be the perfect way to experience the Nordic airline’s new flagship and its latest international business class.

But before you can even settle into that seat, you’ll be wowed by the sense of space in the Airbus A350 immediately when you walk onto the plane.

The aircraft’s wide cabin footprint, high ceiling, sculpted lines and lack of overhead luggage bins for the middle seats conspire to make this seem more like a large room than a confining metal tube.

Fortunately there’s plenty of room in the luggage compartments over the window seats.

(The middle bins return in economy class but there’s still a similar sense of space overhead of the aisles.)

Finnair’s A350 business class seats will be immediately familiar to most business travellers: they’re from the same Zodiac Cirrus family adopted by Cathay Pacific, American Airlines and Air France, among others.

Finnair chose this specific model after extensive trials which included its own Finnair Plus frequent flyers, and it certainly ticks most of the boxes.

You get a reasonably wide seat which folds into a fully-flat bed...

... with plenty of legroom...

... and a 1-2-1 layout  so that every passenger has easy access to the aisle.

Each of the slate-coloured seats is dressed with a bright pillow and blanket from Finnish design house Marimekko, whose iconic patterns also appear on Finnair's tableware, amenity kits and slippers (although there are no Marimekko pyjamas, not even on those long overnight flights).

The space beneath the footwell can be used to stow your shoes...

... while this handy nook has room for a water bottle.

A triangular recess under the armrest affords extra space for your amenity kit, headphones, reading glasses and other small items.

The side bench has room for other oddments.

Finnair's A350 business class seat includes the now-standard AC and USB ports...

... although the USB socket is capable only of recharging smaller devices like smartphones. Tablets require more juice and their battery won't be recharged from that USB socket, so you'll want to bring along an AC adaptor to keep your iPad or similar topped up.

The table has ample space for most laptops.

It neatly scissors out from the bench and can remain in a half-size mode if you need only perch a drink or snack on it.

Another little touch we appreciate: an armrest located on the side of the seat away from the aisle.

The pointy end of Finnair’s Airbus A350 has a total of 46 business class seats, split between a main cabin and a smaller secondary cabin.

The window seats (A and L) are steeply angled away from the aisle, and partner with the seat's wrap-around shell to give you an excellent feeling of privacy.

The two middle seats (D and H) angle towards the cabin's centreline.

So how's the privacy if you're in one of the paired middle seats?

It's surprisingly good.

A slim partition extends between the side-tables of each seat, although it's fixed in place...

... it doesn't slide back to allow easy chatter with your seatmate, nor does it slide further forward for an additional slice of solitude.

You'll really need to sit forward and crane your head around a bit to easily talk to the person next to you, and once you recline the seat it becomes quite the cocoon.

In fact, if you're travelling with a companion and want to chat mid-flight, you could be best off choosing adjacent seats on either side of the aisle.

If there's any potential issue with choosing a middle seat, it'll be that when your neighbour's video screen is 'docked' to sit flush with the seat shell, it remains well within your own line of sight.

Because the screens swing out to face each passenger, there won't be an issue if the person next to you is watching a movie.

But if the screen remains turned on when pushed back into the seat – especially if it's cycling through inflight video clips – this could prove distracting while you're trying to watch your own screen, or even if you're just reading.

As to those screens themselves: they're large (16 inch) lush HD panels.

In addition to the usual library of content and moving maps there are two camera views from the A350's tail and undercarriage...

... and a 'journey manager' screen which shows the meal schedule, duty-free shopping time and other inflight activities on a timeline from departure to arrival.

The screen also supplies a code for access to Finnair's inflight Internet service, which is free for all business class passengers as well as top-tier Finnair Plus Platinum and Gold frequent flyers (and their Oneworld Sapphire and Emerald equivalents) travelling in economy.

Finnair supplies Bose noise-cancelling headphones in its A350 business class.

One of the four business class lavatories is nominally reserved for female travellers.

 It's the same size as the other three but is stocked with a selection of perfumes and other amenities.

Finnair says the ladies-only loo will be made available to high-flying hommes in the event that there's a higher than usual proportion of men to women in business class, but as a rule it'll be reserved for women.

At various stages during the flight you'll be treated to some of the 24 LED lighting schemes designed by Finnair to illuminate the cabin.

These gradually change to suit the time of day, the phase of the flight and the destination, along with some special themes such as one which mimics the Northern Lights.

Those range from a default crisp blue which sits well against the cabin's white, blue and silver/grey colour palette...

... to a slightly warmer shade...

... and a golden 'sunrise' for early morning arrivals.

In short, Finnair has put plenty of consideration and effort into making the most of the A350's canvas and created what looks to be one of Europe's best business class experiences.

David Flynn flew as a guest of Airbus and Finnair.

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About David Flynn

David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

 

Have something to say? Post a comment now!

1 on 9/10/15 by Places_to_go

Great review. Looks like a very attractive product. Although I don't like the thought of your neighbour's TV screen facing you when it is in the docked position; this could potentially be quite annoying, particularly if it is switched on and they are not even using it. You might have to sneakily reach over and switch it off while their back is turned...

1 on 9/10/15 by jet_setter

In this product on CX when the screen is back in the dock it turns off after 5 minutes of being unused! Lets hope its the same on AY! 

2 on 9/10/15 by smit0847

The fixed privacy screen seems like a glaring mistake - for people travelling together it sticks out too much, for individuals it doesn't slide out enough. An odd design choice rather than having a retractable privacy screen like most airlines do.

Otheriwse it looks great. Those female uniforms are horrid - they look like homemade sailor suits.

3 on 9/10/15 by moa999

Interesting the differences to CXs version, as well as the material and colour

- Screen increased to 16" versus 15"

- The small fixed divider versus nothing

- Open space for headphones versus small cupboard

- Shoe locker present on CX deleted

4 on 9/10/15 by Tom

Like the pallet especially the pillows, really pops out the cabin. I wonder what the food menu will be like. 

1 on 9/10/15 by petriojala

Finnair has worked with Savoy restaurant for the new menu and if it's anything like the restaurant offers, it should be excellent.  Savoy is a traditional establishment in Helsinki, known for it's quality and athmosphere.

5 on 9/10/15 by StudiodeKadent

The hard product looks great, although I think the privacy situation in the center seats is a problem - the partition should be retractable (this problem also exists with Qantas' business suites... two travellers seating together in the middle seats have an unretractable privacy partition obscuring them from each other. I hope when the 787 comes in, Qantas will fix that problem).That said, since I'm a solo traveller I don't really find that a drawback for me personally.

The cabin looks eye-poppingly gorgeous (so slick and clean and minimalistic, and it really lets the mood lighting shine through). This plus A350s really will be a massive leap for Finnair.

I'm sad they don't have pajamas though. To be fair the flights from Helsinki to Asia aren't ultra-long (I think the Singapore flight is 10 hours, and the other flights are 8 or less), but in my view they're long enough to make pajamas welcome, at least on night flights.

6 on 9/10/15 by undertheradar

just my opinion..the seat /surrounds is way too 'vanilla' for me..and i can forsee scuff marks/early wear n tear on these seats/surrounds..but then again a bland palette leads to the intro of colours via the soft furnishings...very 'nordic' but sadly very ikea ish..not very 'classy'...and i know Finland isnt Sweden

7 on 9/10/15 by Serg

Love to try it! Though this layout not that friendly for passengers who traveled in pairs. Also it is difficult to see through window. Overall I believe that current business found in A330 is more versatile. Though this one indeed feels more private. And I still cannot get if they made loos any bigger then economy (guess not).

1 on 9/10/15 by Jimmy

On reverse herringbone seats it actually should be easier to see the windows. You might be thinking Herringbone layout . |\.  /\.  /|. The window seats actually face the window in reverse herringbone

Unfortunately the privacy screen does hinder conversation, but isn't private enough

1 on 9/10/15 by Serg

Yes, it is easy to see window, but not that easy to see through window :-) You like to be close to window to have nice view

And yes, privacy screen makes lot of inconvenience to travelling pair and does not create privacy for lone travelers.

2 on 8/3/16 by Alvin

Serg has a point. On reverse herringbone seats, the panel at the window side is actually usually way too large for a clear upright view of the window during takeoff and landing. Solved with Cathay Pacific's 11" function, though...

8 on 9/10/15 by tuzza1

can you please confirm that......

'The two middle seats (D and G) '

I saw that on seat guru but was advised by travel agent that in reality its D and H

I am travelling same route with my partner and want to be sure that we are in middle together :)

9 on 9/10/15 by tuzza1

additional info re my last post...

Finnair on website and on phone said that the J config is...

A  aisle D H  aisle L

Heeeelp

10 on 9/10/15 by John

Oooh, it's so cold! So glaucous and Nordicy-chilly. Even the Marimekko pillows don't warm it up. I'd be asking for extra blankies and a fur hat before I even took off.

11 on 9/10/15 by Kerry

Love the colour scheme, very calming..Beats the last business class trip on Qantas, which I would never do again..!!

12 on 11/10/15 by Jonnie

And comes with all the herring you can eat! 

13 on 21/10/15 by NordicNonBlond

The smaller Business Class cabin can be converted into Economy so there are luggage bins for the middle seats. For the same reason the divider between the smaller Business Cabin and Economy is rather light so I would avoid the last row in Business.

14 on 31/12/15 by Tall

What a stupid useless obviously biased paid for by finnair article! The only important thing is: HOW LONG ARE THE BEDS! A large majority of bc travellers are tall and spend sleepless nights due to for example finnair bc beds on other planes which claim to be 1.95 long but are 1.91 meaning impossible to sleep in at 1.93. Why not mention the length!? 

1 on 5/2/16 by Fidrildi

I just had a trip BKK-HEL with Finnair A350. 

I'm 6'4"/193 and had a tight ride. Laying full flat my head and shoulders was into the wall, the headroom is curved as the top of the headrest (not optical, it'd be much better with a flat top).

My feet was all the way dowt in the V-shaped foot-end, cramped. 

If you lay down and for example want to scratch our fresh mosquito bite, the knee crashes in the footwell, so you must sit up to do it. You also have to put in the tv-screen. 

The seats in Finnair A340 is much better and not so claustrofobic.

 

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