Review: Finnair A350-900 Business Class London – Helsinki

Review: Finnair A350-900 Business Class London – Helsinki

I arrived at London Heathrow’s Terminal 3 early because I wanted to spend some time at Cathay Pacific’s recently renovated lounge. The vast majority of my interactions with Heathrow are at Terminal 5, where British Airways is based, and Terminal 4, where Qatar Airways fly in and out of. It was a rare treat to be flying from a different terminal!

Arriving at the Finnair check-in desks, I noticed that there wasn’t a dedicated lane for priority passengers, but as there were no queues anyway, so I walked right up to the desk and was given my boarding pass. I passed through priority security relatively quickly – this is Heathrow, after all – and made my way to the Cathay lounge.

Cathay Pacific Lounge London Heathrow Terminal 3

The lounge recently went through a major renovation, so I was really looking forward to seeing it. I was directed to the First Class/Oneworld Emerald side, and I have to say, it feels almost exactly like The Pier in Hong Kong.

It has the same exact same features, just on a smaller scale – the sitting room, the bars, the dining room – all of our favorite things, including a really good view of the southern runway. On the First/Emerald side, the bar features Moet & Chandon Imperial Brut, Bombay Sapphire Dry Gin, Chivas Regal 12, and Johnnie Walker Black Label.

I had a quick breakfast in the Dining Room before settling in for some plane spotting.

Somewhat reluctantly, I left the lounge an hour ahead of departure time and headed to the gate, which was at the very end of Terminal 3.

Finnair A359 Business Class LHR-HEL

AY832
LHR-HEL
D: 10.20
A: 15.15
Business, 8L
Airbus A350-900
OH-LWYA

Boarding began after 09.50 and was  chaotic. No announcements were made by the staff (though there were plenty of them milling about) and there was confusion over which of the two jetbridges to use.

I was the first on board, and quickly found my way to my seat, 8L, a window . Despite a chaotic boarding process, the cabin crew were outstanding. They were helpful, friendly and supportive to passengers finding their way to their seats and settling in.

The Seat

My first impression was how jam-packed the forward Business Class cabin was – in the same A350 space that Qatar fits 6 rows, Finnair has 8. When seated, you can easily tell, as well, where that space has gone – its like the back of the seat in front of you is in your face. The 1-2-1 configuration is a big positive though.

 

 

Even so, the footrest and cubby were open and not very restrictive.

The In-Flight Entertainment screen was not nearly as large as I’d hoped (Cathay has a similar seat and their screen is much bigger). There were no bins over the center seats, which proved to be slightly problematic on this full flight.

The crew had left a pillow was on the seat and a pair of cheap in-ear headphones on the side table. Finnair must serve proper noise-cancelling headphones for long haul flights because there’s a hook for them next to the ports in what would otherwise be a storage compartment (this seat lacks a door and thus that function).

The cabin was kept cold throughout the flight. Given they didn’t offer blankets on this short sector, this wasn’t ideal. I otherwise wouldn’t mind.

They opened the entertainment system for usage at 10.20, and the door was closed 20 minutes later. The Captain then came on and advised us hat we’d missed our departure slot and had to wait another 15 minutes for startup clearance. Given the flight time of 2hr30min, we were likely going arrive late.

The Departure

We pushed back 38 minutes late, and took off 20 minutes later from 27L.

IFE is clean and responsive. They have a live updated flight connections board you can scroll through – I found my connecting flight and it noted the boarding time (17.15) and gate (TBA).

Finnair offers wifi at EUR19.95 for the full flight, 11.95 for 3 hours and 7.95 for 1 hour. Business, Economy Plus and Finnair Gold members get an hour free, their Platinums get the entire flight free, which is a great perk. As a Business passenger, I was eligible for free wifi (which they verify based on last name and seat number) but connection was dodgy and I was never able to successfully connect.

The Meal

An initial drinks service commenced at 14.00. I was served Joseph Perrier Cuvée Royal Brut with a pack of tasty Penn State Sour Cream and Chive pretzels. I love Finnair’s glasses! They may not be traditional stemware, but they are aesthetically pleasing and functionally superior. The heavy bottom ensures the glass won’t topple over during turbulence.

About 20 minutes later, a tray was placed in front of me. ON it, I found a salmon starter, a piece of bread and  a beef casserole with an unspecific grain and sautéed steamed spinach. No options for a meal had been given, nor was a menu provided (they had come through to see if anyone had requested a meal, for what its worth). That being said, the food was amazing. The salmon starter – as you’d expect from a Scandinavian carrier – was perfect. The beef was soft and tender, cooked exactly right. The grain and spinach were the perfect compliments, as well.

Just over an hour out, the crew came around offering more drinks. I inquired about the white wines on offer, and she said they only had the De Bortoli Gewürztraminer Riesling (2016, Australia). The crew member warned me that it was sweet, which I’m not a big an of, but felt that as far as rieslings go, it was definitely drinkable.

The Arrival

On approach they set the cabin lights to ‘Northern Lights’ mode, where green white and blue lights lit up the cabin. I suspect the effect is gorgeous during nighttime arrivals when its dark outside.

We landed on Runway 22L at 15.42 and arrived on stand a few minutes later, thus recording a 30 minute delay.

The Cheatline

I appreciated the spacious feel and configuration of the cabin, but felt the spirits on offer weren’t very good. The food was outstanding, and the service was friendly. I would definitely fly Finnair again – especially longhaul.

Seat: 7.5/10
Service: 8/10
Food: 9.5/10
Spirits: 6.5/10
Overall: 8/10

 

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