Impressions of Finnair’s A350 Business Class
The A350 XWB has been touted by Airbus and its operating airlines as representing a significant step forward when it comes to the passenger experience.
So when Finnair offered us to test theirs, we did not need to think it twice. We hopped on a flight between Helsinki and Hong Kong to see for ourselves what the hype is all about.
But first of all, and before we get on-board of the A350 itself, a few words about Helsinki airport. As Finnair’s transit hub between Europe and Asia, and, as of the time of writing this article, a major A350 base, it plays a major role in the overall passenger experience.
And, in fact, it did not disappoint, Helsinki airport is at that sweet spot, where, without being gigantic (with the implications for walking and waiting times at choke points), it is large enough to have plenty to keep you going in terms of shops, lounges and other facilities.
The Helsinki airport experience is, of course, significantly enhanced if you happen to travel business class on Finnair.
The lounge at the non-Schengen section of the airport has quite a few interesting details.
Besides the sleeping pods and ergonomic armchairs with runway views, the highlight is the wellness area that includes…well, you guess…a proper Finnish sauna.
It helps you get to the plane relaxed and ready for some in-flight sleep during the long night flight to East Asia.
And, shortly before midnight, the time arrived to board the object of our trip: Finnair’s A350-900.
Here are some pictures of the business class cabin:
As you can see, a 1-2-1 configuration with pod-like seats that can be made into flat beds.
It is a pity that the images can not transmit the smell of new that pervaded the cabin!
A large foldable screen, sockets to recharge your phone and on-board broadband (it work fine during the whole trip, although I did not attempt to use any of the most data-heavy applications such as streaming, I had no issues uploading some pictures, browsing a number of websites and going about my usual internet activities).
It was a nice surprise to find out that flight tracking is provided by FlightPath3D.
The Bose headphones were also pretty solid – providing excellent isolation from cabin noise and good sound quality.
To be honest, the movie selection was not exactly huge, neither did it feature top blockbusters. But, with excellent internet connectivity available throughout the flight, I guess this becomes less of an issue, since, just like me, many people devote quite a big share of their awake time using their own electronic gadgets.
When it comes to the food, Finnair really nailed it. Both my A350 flights were during the night, so, on both we got dinner and breakfast. What can I say? I am not a culinary critic, but food was, frankly, excellent.
Oh, and Finnair even came up with a special drink for the A350!
Another thing worth noting is how seriously Finnair takes its focus on Asian markets. For example, pretty much all crew on board our flight were bilingual English-Chinese (plus most of them speak Finnish I guess, I did not test that), as were all the announcements and in-flight communications. This is a strategy that has also its equivalent on the ground with similar efforts on the side of Finavia, the Finnish airport operator.
I am not sure whether it was the sauna I had just before my flight, the great food or the quietness of the A350-900, but it might have been the time I managed to sleep for longer than in any business class I have experienced before.