The new Finnair A350 business class seat delivers a sleek, residential-style feel that you’ll appreciate the next time you’re travelling from Hong Kong to Heathrow, says Helen Dalley
Having won Skytrax’s best airline in Northern Europe for the 13th time in 2023, Finnair’s credentials are well established. One of the best-connected European airlines to Asia, it offers 14 weekly connections to Japan and a daily service to Hong Kong and Delhi this summer.
I checked in at 18.10 for the 20.35 flight, and while there was a stop-over in Helsinki, my luggage was checked straight to Heathrow. There was no queue, and I was given a paper copy of my boarding pass despite having already checked in using the Finnair app. My flight departed from gate 62, although my lounge pass was for the Plaza Premium Lounge near gate 1, so I had to curtail my lounge time to take the train to the gate.
The bar had limited drinks – there was no prosecco, so I settled on a Blowfish Chardonnay – then settled down with my laptop at the bay lounge, located just adjacent to the bar, which features padded armchair-style seats with charging ports. The Primo restaurant was quite busy and choices included Thai green chicken curry; Milanese sausage pasta; and dim sum. There is also a shower room and massage room, the latter of which was closed.
Gate 62 is handily located opposite the Monocle store, where you can pick up drinks, newspapers, magazines and books, and local craft beer Moonzen; I grabbed an IPA and waited for the flight to be called. We boarded the Finnair 350 promptly and were taxiing at 20.30 ready to take off on time at 20.35.
Once onboard the Finnair A350, the staff promptly served a Joseph Perrier Cuvee Royale Brut champagne. During my transfer at Helsinki, I checked into the Finnair lounge, which was handily located just near my gate (52) and tried to grab some shut-eye.
The new Finnair A350 new business class cabin has gradually been rolled out across its long-haul services over 2022–2023, and the airline is the launch customer for the Collins Aerospace AirLounge seat, which features a contoured fixed shell design to amplify your personal space and emulate more of a residential feel. There is no recline and only one powered mechanism in the seat that raises or lowers the leg rest. I enjoyed finding the optimum sitting position and once the seat was fully flat, slept soundly post-dinner.
Presented in dark blue, the seat was equipped with a taupe mattress pad and a soft blue and taupe striped blanket and matching pillow from Finnish lifestyle brand Marimekko, plus an amenity kit with L.a Bruket lip balm, facial cream, an eye mask and ear plugs.
On the Finnair A350 I sat in 11D on the Hong Kong-Helsinki service then 8H on Helsinki to Heathrow (both aisle seats) but the cocoon-like design made it feel very private. To the left of my head was a discreet storage space with USB C and USB A charging ports and the IFE controls, and there was also a charging pad on the table. To the left of my feet was a storage box perfect for shoes, and I quickly stashed them away to put on the cool dark grey Finnair slippers.
Pre-dinner, I sampled a fabulously sour cocktail, Northern Blush (gin, lingonberry and orange peel), specially designed for Finnair by Scandinavian drink producer Mikropolis and served with a bowl of cashew nuts. I ordered the pasta with pesto, mushroom, vegetables and parmesan, which was a little bland, and got a prawn and salmon salad on the side – which admittedly looked lovely – though I’d ordered a vegetarian meal. The service was a little out of sync, as the gentleman opposite me had finished his dinner while I was still on the nuts. The chocolate brownie was a bit dry, even with the raspberry sauce, and I had to wait for my main to be cleared.
Finnair unveiled its new IFE system last spring and won the international Red Dot Award 2022 in the Interface & User Experience Design category for its efforts. The screen acts as a personal control panel where you can find arrival and transfer information, and I appreciated being able to check arrival times and transfer guidance. Business class travellers and Business Flex ticket holders and Finnair Plus Gold members get one hour’s internet access for free (Finnair Plus Platinum and Platinum Lumo members have complimentary access throughout the flight), while internet packages start at €7.95 (US$8.65). I managed to log in easily and checked my emails before bedding down for the night.
The service was warm and attentive, and nothing was too much trouble. Being very tired, I didn’t interact with the cabin crew that much and was grateful that no one woke me for breakfast (scrambled eggs, chicken sausages, potatoes and cold cuts) so I could get some more rest.
Successfully reflecting the look, feel and comfort of living room furniture, the Collins Aerospace AirLounge seat is a game-changer for business class travel and Finnair is currently the only airline to offer this seat. Having experienced its nest-like cosiness, we can’t wait to travel Finnair again.
Finnair Hong Kong to Heathrow in business class costs from HK$43,960 per person return
For more Reviews click here.