On our way back from Europe to Japan back in February, my wife and I traveled in Finnair’s business class from Vienna to Tokyo Narita via Helsinki. I won’t be reviewing the long-haul flight from Helsinki to Tokyo on an A350 since I reviewed the same flight back in January on the exact same route.
I decided to review the shorter flight from Vienna to Helsinki, though, as it was operated by an A319 whereas the one I took in January was operated by an Embraer E190. Continue reading to see what business class on Finnair’s A319 is like.
Check-in, Lounge & Boarding a Finnair A319
We got to the airport around 9:15AM and headed straight to terminal 3’s check-in desks 321-323. Just like the last time, though, it wasn’t until about two hours before our 11:30AM departure that the check-in counters were opened. At that point, we were second in the business class line behind a Japanese gentleman traveling to Osaka.
All in all, it took us about fifteen minutes from the time the check-in counters opened until we were ready to go. The economy class line, on the other hand, was very long. There was only one counter in operation which was definitely not nearly enough for the number of passengers that were in the line.
With boarding passes in our hand, we bade farewell to my parents and headed through the security. Here, being able to use the priority line was once again very useful as there it was deserted. The regular line was fairly crowded.
Since we still had some time before our flight would start boarding, we went to Sky Lounge – the lounge that Finnair uses at Vienna airport. The lounge is also accessible with Priority Pass. I won’t be reviewing the lounge as I reviewed it quite a while ago and nothing major has changed since then.
While the lounge is nothing to write home about, it serves perfectly fine as a place to spend a brief time in prior to a short intra-European hop.
We left the lounge just before 10:50AM and, through the airport’s duty-free shopping area, headed to gate F09 where the flight was scheduled to depart from. By the time we got to our gate about six or seven minutes later, boarding was already in progress.
As such, we scanned our boarding passes at the gate and headed down the jetway into the A319. While doing so, I caught a glimpse of an Iran Air A300 that was almost ready to depart back to Tehran – I was excited to see it and I cannot wait to visit the country again.
Upon boarding, we were greeted at the door by two friendly flight attendants (with a Japanese passport in her hand, they greeted my wife with a “konnichiwa”) and handed disinfecting wipes.
Finnair A319 Business Class Cabin & Seat
Just like short-haul aircraft of other European airlines, Finnair’s A319s are not equipped with proper business class seats. Instead, they are simply equipped with 144 economy class seats in a 3-3 configuration.
The first few rows are then used as business class in a 2-2 configuration with the middle seat blocked so that passengers can “enjoy their extra space” as the headrest cover on the middle seats said. This allows for the business class cabin size to be flexible. On this flight, the curtain dividing business and economy class cabins was installed between rows six and seven.
As for the seats themselves, being economy class seats, they were nothing special. The legroom was OK and, if nothing else, at least the seats were decently padded compared to some other economy class seats that can be found on short-haul aircraft these days.
Finnair A319 Business Class Pre-Flight Service & Departure
Once we settled in our seats, 2A and 2C, I looked around the cabin and took a few photos. One of the flight attendants noticed me doing so and immediately approached me, offering to take a photo of us which I gladly accepted. It’s small nice touches like this that make otherwise uneventful flights at least a bit memorable.
Not long after that, bottles of water were handed out.
By the time boarding was completed about 15 minutes before departure, there were seven passengers in business class. Economy class was quite full – likely the reason why the flight was operated by an A319 instead of the usual E190.
A couple of minutes later, the first officer welcomed us onboard. In addition to introducing the captain, he mentioned that our flight time would be two hours. The aircraft doors were closed and the safety video was played on overhead screens. We were pushed back exactly on time (at 11:30AM) and taxied to our departure runway.
After holding short of runway 29 for a few minutes letting a couple of aircraft land, we took off at 11:42AM.
Immediately after take-off, we were offered some amazing mountain views. In fact, the visibility was so good that we could see the mountains while driving to the airport – something that happened for the first time in the dozens of times that I drove from my hometown in Slovakia to Vienna.
Finnair Short-Haul Business Class Meal
The seatbelt signs were switched off just four minutes after take-off. At that point, the cabin crew started preparing for the meal service which started another five minutes later.
First, (not warm but burning) hot towels were handed out. It’s nice to see Finnair providing proper towels even on short-haul flights when some airlines these days fail to do so even on long-haul flights.
Just before noon, the meal itself was served. There were no choices. Instead, everyone got a tray with a filling and tasty salmon salad, a bread roll, and a couple of chocolate candies. It’s worth noting that the meal was exactly the same as the one I received on the same flight a bit more than a month earlier.
For drink, I got a glass of Finnair’s signature blueberry juice.
During the meal, the captain welcomed us onboard mentioning that we just passed Ostrava, Czech Republic, and had 1 hour and 35 minutes of flight time remaining. He also mentioned that we would be arriving 15 minutes ahead of schedule and that it was 1 degree with some light snowing in Helsinki.
As soon as I finished my meal, one of the flight attendants came to clear my table and offer hot drinks. I decided to have a cup of mint tea together with another glass of blueberry juice.
Finnair A319 In-Flight Entertainment and Wi-Fi
The in-flight entertainment consisted of Moomin Valley and other programs being played on the overhead screens. There was no in-flight magazine.
The aircraft was also equipped with in-flight wi-fi. There were two reasonably priced (at least in cash, definitely not in miles) plans with no data caps:
- Stream: 14.95 EUR or 5,300 miles
- Browse: 6.95 EUR or 2,400 miles
Additionally, business class passengers as well as Finnair’s status holders got 30 minutes of wi-fi for free (on long-haul flights, 60 minutes are provided for free). Unfortunately, the business class and status benefits didn’t stack to provide 2 x 30 minutes.
One thing that I appreciated was that the log-in URL was prominently featured on the seatback in front. Every now and then, the wi-fi log-in page fails to load automatically and it can be frustrating when the URL is nowhere to be found.
Arrival at Helsinki Airport
Moving the watch one hour ahead, at 2:10PM Finland time, an announcement that we would be starting our descent soon was made. Ten minutes later, the seatbelt signs were switched back on.
During our final approach, views from a landing gear camera were shown on the overhead screens. We landed at 2:39PM.
We reached our parking spot W34 at 2:44PM – well ahead of the 3PM scheduled arrival time.
After disembarking, we headed through immigration and spent some time in the Finnair business class lounge before catching our flight to Tokyo.
Finnair A319 Business Class Summary
The flight was about on par with what one could expect in business class on a short-haul flight around Europe. The seats were just economy class seats with a blocked middle seat and there were no meals to choose from. That said, the meal that was served was the perfect volume and tasted great. Free 30 minutes of wi-fi was a nice bonus.
What made the flight memorable, though, was the friendly crew. In fact, that is something that has been consistent on all of my recent Finnair flights.