I’ve written a lot about Finnair lately, and there’s a good reason for that. I was impressed with nearly every aspect of my flying experience with them, from the luxurious A350 to short haul legs within Finland. It’s rare in my opinion to find an airline that ticks all of the proverbial boxes, which is why I wanted to devote enough space on the site to them. Today though concludes my coverage of the Finnair flying experience with my review onboard one of their long haul A330 flights. Yes, I realize I’ve already written about their A350 Business Class experience, but that’s a new plane and since its normal route is between Asia and Helsinki, I thought I’d also cover the more ‘normal’ Finnair Business Class experience onboard one of their A330s.
Before and After: Web Site and Lounges
For me, any great travel experience begins well before I actually board a plane with the web site. While this isn’t specific to the Finnair Business Class product, it is an important aspect of the overall travel experience, one that too many foreign carriers all but ignore. With my booking code in hand, I eagerly logged on to the Finnair web site and was happy to see the options that lay before me. I could select my seat assignment – which some carriers still don’t allow even for Business Class passengers – and reviewed all of the amenities I was to enjoy in-flight. I was even able to pre-order my meal, with options ranging from the full list of dietary restrictions to the day-of Business Class menu. Perusing the choices, I went with the reindeer filet knowing that I’d be guaranteed my first choice of meal onboard. The web site is fully functional which is great for a details-oriented traveler like myself.
Once at the airport, any business class passenger will tell you that lounges are important and that they are definitely not all made the same. When flying from Helsinki to the United States, you will have access to the Non-Schengen lounge in Helsinki Airport. The colors, use of light and space are all undeniably Finnish and instantly have a calming effect even on the most stressed out traveler. There’s plenty of comfortable seating, most of which have their own power outlets – another must-have convenience for modern travelers. Food and drinks are always available, but one of the most unique features is the Finnish sauna, available for any passenger to use. I chuckled when I saw it, but was in no way surprised. The Finns love a good sauna and after spending a couple of weeks in the country, seeing one at the airport made sense even to me.
My only other long haul experience with Finnair Business Class was on their brand new A350, so I was curious to see what their more common, mainstream product was like on their A330s. Of course it’s hard to compare and contrast the two experiences; the A350 is brand new and features the latest and greatest when it comes to design and comfort. Still, I was pleasantly surprised when I arrived at my home for the Transatlantic journey onboard the Finnair flight. In Business Class the seating is staggered and alternates between 2-2-1 and 1-2-1, I was happily in a solo seat with both window and aisle access. While the airplane was naturally older than the A350, the seat still featured the long fully lay flat bed, which for a tall guy like me is crucial to enjoying a long flight.
Throughout the flight, I had plenty of room in which to relax and to store all of my gadgets and other gizmos. It was a long flight back and even though it was a day flight, I still made use of the lay-flat bed for a short nap in between meals and getting some work done. The Marimekko amenity kit was the same as I received onboard my A350 flight and included the normal essentials like eyeshades, earplugs, toothbrush and paste and Clarins moisturizer and lip balm. The Marimekko printed bags look so good though, I kept mine and am using it as a mini-toiletry bag for short trips.
Service, Food & Entertainment
Once again, I was impressed by the onboard service, even my frequent requests for more cans of Diet Coke were easily met with a smile. I was hungry midflight and made good use of the open Business Class pantry in the galley area with a nice range of snacks and drinks available for any premium passenger who feels a little peckish. Service is naturally an important part of any flying experience, and once again I have to commend the Finnair corporate culture for inculcating a nice work environment that shines through in every action of the flight crew. I’m used to strange looks when instead of wine I ask for a Diet Coke with meals, but instead of those strange looks I was simply and easily accommodated. Just as on my A350 flight, in the “down” hours, flight crew did a fantastic job coming through the cabin with drinks and snacks, helping me stay hydrated, thus minimizing the effects of the long flight.
I again enjoyed the decidedly Nordic inspired menus for the main meal services. The menu is created by some of Finland’s top chefs and tries to reflect a commitment to using fresh and locally sourced ingredients. Served on specially designed Marimekko tableware, the menus were creative and offered enough I think to satiate most palates. Starting with an amuse bouche, passengers then enjoyed a fresh salad and some of that delicious Finnish bread I had become slightly addicted to during my time in and out of Helsinki. Appetizers included an option between marinated lavaret with a vendace roe mouse or a smoked Jerusalem artichoke soup with bacon and nuts added seat-side. I opted for the soup and it was delicious. Before the flight, I had pre-ordered the slow cooked reindeer entrecôte as my main dish, but other choices included grilled sander Grenobloise or ravioli pasta filled with truffles. About 90 minutes or so before landing, a light meal service consisted of a goat cheese and beetroot salad – just enough to satiate my hunger without being too filling. It was also nice to see a fresh and healthy option, a great choice when flying a long distance.
The entertainment options were good and the plane I was on featured a personal 12” touch screen TV with more than 72 movies and 150 TV shows on demand. There’s no WiFi available on the A330s yet, but that was fine by me. On a long flight while I may do some work, I really do prefer not to be bothered by the outside world. Instead, I was able to create a nice little cocoon of comfort for the journey.
The “It” Factor
By now, based on this review and the others I’ve written, you will have correctly guessed that I loved nearly every moment of my 6 flights over 2 weeks I took with Finnair. From New York to the Lapland and back to Helsinki, I had a unique opportunity to fly with Finnair across several classes of travel, on a variety of aircraft all with their own unique qualities and attributes. It’s based on that body of evidence that I am able to say that flying was one of the better aviation experiences I’ve enjoyed in quite some time. They’re professional, they’re innovative and they value their guests. These are oddly enough hard to find as a group in the commercial aviation world, and it’s these fine qualities that made my journey relaxing but uneventful – just as it should be.