For some reason, I end up flying a different type of aircraft almost every time I take the same Vienna – Helsinki flight. This allowed me to review the business class on Finnair’s A319 and E190 in the past. It also gave me a chance to fly on the airline’s A320 during my recent trip around the Northern Hemisphere.
While the A320 and A319 are essentially identical cabin-wise, the recent flight also gave me a chance to try Finnair’s revamped intra-European business class meal services. Continue reading this review to see what the flight was like.
Check-in, Lounge & Boarding at Vienna Airport
While there were three counters dedicated to the flight in Vienna Airport’s older terminal, they were still closed when I got there at 9:20AM – about two and half hours before the 11:45AM departure time. As such, since I was traveling just with carry-on luggage, I skipped the long lines at the yet-to-open check-in counters and went airside using my mobile boarding pass.
Since there was an empty fast track for business and first class passengers, going through security was a breeze. It was nice to see the airport’s older terminal have central security check now as in the past it used to be done before entering the gate waiting area.
Once airside, I passed through the duty free area and went straight to Vienna Lounge – a relatively recently opened lounge that serves both as the contract lounge for airlines using Terminal 1 including Finnair as well as a Priority Pass lounge.
The lounge was large and not too crowded, and the selection of food and drinks was decent too. I especially liked that it had a Viennese coffee house-style area with a good selection of desserts too. I wrote a detailed review of the lounge here.
I left the lounge just before 11AM and when I got to the gate around the scheduled boarding time of 11:05AM, passengers were still getting off the inbound flight from Helsinki.
It took another ten minutes or so for everyone to get off and the aircraft to be prepared for the flight to Helsinki and – at 11:16AM – boarding started. While there was some minor issue with scanning my boarding pass, it was quickly resolved, and a minute or two later, I was walking down the jetway toward the Finnair A320 registered OH-LXM.
Finnair A320 Business Class Cabin & Seat
Like other Finnair A320s, the one that I was traveling on was equipped with 174 economy class seats. As is common in Europe, these seats – more specifically the first few rows – were also used as business class. In the case of my flight, the divider between business and economy class was placed after the fifth row.
As is customary in intra-European business class, the middle seat was blocked. While there was no table placed on the middle seat, the headrest cover clearly indicated the seat would remain empty.
I was in seat 3A. The legroom was average. The seat was equipped with a documents compartment above the non-foldable tray table and a regular seat pocket under it. In addition to that, there was also a coathook on the seatback. There were no power outlets or USB charging ports.
The documents compartment contained a safety card, a waste bag, and a buy-on-board menu.
The overhead panels were equipped with individual air vents on top of the usual flight attendant call buttons and reading lights.
As for the business class lavatory which could be found in the front of the aircraft, there was nothing special about it. Other than the obligatory handsoap, there were no amenities.
Finnair Short-Haul Business Class Pre-Flight Service & Departure
Upon boarding, a blanket was ready on my seat and a bottle of water was in the seat pocket.
By the time boarding was completed and the aircraft doors closed at 11:34AM, there was a total of six passengers in business class. Economy class looked quite full. Shortly after that, one of the flight attendants made an announcement welcoming everyone onboard, introducing the crew, and mentioning that we were expecting a flight time of approximately two hours.
We were pushed back at 11:38AM. Considering that half an hour earlier passengers were still getting off the inbound flight, I thought it was impressive we left just three minutes behind schedule.
On the way to the runway, the cabin crew did a manual safety demonstration. We took off at 11:47AM from runway 29.
Finnair Short-Haul Business Class Lunch
Seatbelt signs were switched off at noon and just a few minutes after that the crew sprung into action.
First, hot towels were distributed. Then, I was offered a drink. Of course, I went with Finnair’s signature blueberry juice which was served in a nice cup and which I really enjoyed.
Another fifteen minutes or so later, I was asked whether I wanted to have lunch. Saying yes, I was then asked if I wanted anything to drink (I asked for another cup of blueberry juice) and offered a choice of either dark or white bread (I went with the former).
The flight attendant then brought the meal to me three or four minutes later.
While the bread was the same as before, it was nice to see Finnair upgrade from a cold meal to a hot meal from when I last flew on the same flight. The chicken was soft and spicy, the rice was cooked well, and the lemon muffin made for a nice dessert. Overall, I really enjoyed the meal.
Then at some point, the flight attendant serving business class came to offer hot drinks. I decided to get a cup of rooibos tea. I later had another cup of the same.
The tray was cleared promptly shortly after I was done with the meal too.
In economy class, free water and blueberry juice were offered. There was also a buy-on-board menu with additional drinks and some food.
Finnair A320 In-Flight Entertainment
While the Finnair A320 wasn’t equipped with personal screens, some in-flight entertainment was available through a wi-fi portal. The selection was nothing to write home about, though, and there was no video content.
Instead, there were six free magazines to read (additional paid ones were available too), some audiobooks (although all seemed to be in Finnish), and a very simple “air traffic control” game.
Additionally, there was an in-flight map.
Finnair A320 Onboard Wi-Fi
As hinted above, the Finnair A320 was also equipped with onboard wi-fi. While still reasonably priced (at least for the cheaper package), the internet connection was considerably more expensive (at least when paying in cash, their mileage cost went down) compared to the last time I flew on the exact same flight. Two packages with no data caps were available:
- Stream: 24.95 EUR or 4,700 miles
- Browse: 9.95 EUR or 1,700 miles
As a business class passenger, I could enjoy 30 minutes of “Browse” internet for free. It worked perfectly fine for messaging and even browsing. On a couple of speed tests I did, I got download speeds of over 40 Mbps.
Finnair’s status holders got free wi-fi too – Finnair Plus Gold and Platinum members get 30 minutes of “Browse” while Platinum Lumo members got “Stream” for the duration of the flight. Unfortunately, the business class and status benefits didn’t stack to provide 2 x 30 minutes.
I really appreciated that the seatback prominently featured the wi-fi log-in URL and also that there was a map in the wi-fi portal that showed areas in which the internet connection would not work.
Arrival at Helsinki Airport
At 2:15PM Helsinki time (one hour ahead of Vienna), the captain made an announcement mentioning that we would be starting our descent in a few minutes and that it was cloudy with a bit of rain in Helsinki.
He also mentioned that we were expecting to land a good 15 minutes ahead of schedule.
We started descent about five minutes later and another couple of minutes later the seatbelt signs were switched back on. After that, it got quite bumpy.
At 2:37PM, the landing gear was lowered and three minutes later, we landed on Helsinki Airport’s runway 04R. We reached our arrival gate, gate 25 at 2:43PM – 17 minutes ahead of schedule.
Finnair A320 Business Class Summary
Recently, Finnair implemented some measures that are not great for passengers – cutting champagne in short-haul business class, not blocking seat next to business class passengers on E190 anymore, increasing award ticket costs, etc. On the other hand, it improved its meals on both short- and long-haul business class flights.
This was my first flight with the revamped meals and I liked the new meal concept. As for the rest of the flight, it was in line with what other airlines offer within Europe. As such, while I wouldn’t actively seek to fly with Finnair, if it happened to be the cheapest or most convenient option, I wouldn’t hesitate to fly with the airline again.