Review: Finnair A350-900 AirLounge Business Class from Helsinki to Tokyo Haneda

Over the last few years, I flew in Finnair’s long-haul business class multiple times. That said, it was always on the airline’s A350 equipped with reverse herringbone seats. A couple of months ago, on the last segment of my trip around the Northern Hemisphere, I finally had a chance to fly on Finnair’s refurbished A350 with its new AirLounge business class seats.

Continue reading this review to see what the flight from Helsinki to Tokyo was like in the airline’s business class seats which made the news for being non-reclining.

Finnair A350 AirLounge Business Class
Finnair A350 new AirLounge business class.

Transfer, Lounge & Boarding at Helsinki Airport

After arriving on a Finnair A320 from Vienna, I briefly visited the Finnair Lounge in the Schengen area of Helsinki Airport which I wanted to review for quite some time, and then headed through immigration. Once in the non-Schengen area of the airport, I spent some time in the Finnair Business Lounge.

The latter was much quieter than the former. In fact, the Schengen lounge was so crowded that if I was taking an intra-Schengen flight, waiting in the public area of the terminal would probably have been more comfortable than waiting in the lounge.

Finnair Lounge Schengen
Finnair Lounge (Schengen).
Finnair Business Lounge Non-Schengen
Finnair Business Lounge (non-Schengen).

With my flight to Tokyo Haneda being scheduled to depart at 6:30PM, I left the lounge around 5:45PM and headed to gate 43. Most of the passengers were already gathered around the gate, waiting for boarding to start. Outside, OH-LWI, an A350 delivered to Finnair in 2017, was undergoing final preparations for the flight.

Priority boarding for business class passengers and frequent flyer status holders started at 5:51PM and I was among the first passengers to head down the jetway.

When I got on board, I was surprised to find another passenger already sitting in my seat 3A. It turned out that he was meant to be seated in 2A and didn’t realize there were no window seats in row 1 – i.e. the first window seat row was row 2.

Helsinki Airport
Helsinki Airport.
Helsinki Airport Gate 43
Gate 43.
Finnair A350-900 in Helsinki
Finnair A350-900 registered OH-LWI.
Finnair A350-900 in Helsinki
A view from the boarding bridge.

Finnair’s New A350-900 AirLounge Business Class Seat

Originally, all Finnair A350-900s were in a two-class – business and economy – configuration with reverse herringbone seats in business class. In 2022, however, Finnair started refurbishing its A350 fleet with brand new cabins. In addition to being equipped with different seats, the aircraft are also equipped with premium economy class on top of business and economy.

While I flew on the non-refurbished Finnair A350s equipped with reverse herringbone seats in business class a couple of times in the past, this was my first time flying on one of the refurbished aircraft.

The refurbished aircraft come in two different configurations – one with 278 and the other one with 321 seats. My flight was operated by the denser 321-seater and had 30 of Finnair’s original AirLounge business class seats in a 1-2-1 layout between the first two pairs of doors. The business-heavy configuration has additional 13 business class seats behind the second pair of doors.

The dark blue business class seats looked simple yet elegant and each of the seats had a large privacy shield on its aisle side. With no overhead compartments in the middle section, the cabin also felt spacious.

Finnair A350 AirLounge Business Class Cabin
Cabin overview.
Finnair A350 AirLounge Business Class Cabin
Looking from the back toward the front.

Without a doubt, the seat’s most unique feature (or lack of feature) was that it did not recline. Instead, the seat was like a small sofa with the privacy shield acting like an extension of the backrest that one could lean against.

At first, sitting in the seat felt a bit claustrophobic and it felt fairly unnatural to sit straight in the seat – I wasn’t sure what the default sitting position was meant to be. The legroom felt a bit more restricted compared to other seat types too.

That said, over time, I got used to the unique seat design and did not miss the ability to recline. Ultimately, I could also find a comfortable position both when sitting and when sleeping. That said, based on some other reviews I’ve seen there certainly are people who prefer more traditional business class seats.

The one downside of the seat was that it was far from the window.

Finnair A350 AirLounge Business Class Seat Privacy
Each seat had a large privacy shield.
Finnair A350 AirLounge Business Class Recline
AirLounge business class seat.
Finnair A350 AirLounge Business Class Seat
All window seats were far from the window.
Finnair A350 AirLounge Business Class Legroom

Zooming in on my left-hand side window seat 3A, there was a reading lamp on the seat’s left side.

Under the light was a small enclosed storage compartment good for storing glasses, cellphones, etc. The compartment was also home to an in-flight entertainment controller, audio output, and a pair of USB charging ports – one USB-A and one USB-C.

Finnair A350 AirLounge Business Class Reading Light
Reading light.
Finnair A350 AirLounge Business Class Storage
Small storage compartment.

There was also a console table. While it was not the largest, it could still hold my 13-inch MacBook. The table was equipped with a wireless charger – something that seems to be appearing in more and more seats but is still a relatively rare feature.

Under the console table were the seat controls and tray table. With the seat itself not reclining, there were a tray table release button, overhead and reading light control buttons, and a leg rest control button. The leg rest was the only electronically controlled part of the seat.

The tray table was quite small and flimsy.

Between the console and the foot cubby under the seatback in front was another, larger enclosed storage compartment. Next to it was also a document compartment that held a safety card.

Finnair A350 AirLounge Business Class Console Table
Console table.
Finnair A350 AirLounge Business Class Seat Controls
Seat controls.
Finnair A350 AirLounge Business Class Storage
Larger storage compartment.

The seat was also equipped with a universal power outlet.

Combined with the USB-A and USB-C ports in the small storage compartment and with wireless charging in the console table, the seat offered all of the charging options one could ask for.

Finnair A350 AirLounge Business Class Power Outlet
Power outlet.
Finnair A350 AirLounge Business Class USB Ports
USB charging ports.
Finnair A350 AirLounge Business Class Wireless Charging
Wireless charging.

Lastly, the seatback in front was equipped with an 18-inch screen with good resolution. The screen’s position could not be altered.

Finnair A350 AirLounge Business Class Screen
Personal screen and foot cubby.

There were no individual air vents.

Finnair A350 AirLounge Business Class Overhead Panel
Overhead panel.

Finnair Long-Haul Business Class Pre-Flight Service & Departure

Upon boarding, a bottle of water was ready in the larger storage compartment. There were also an amenity kit and a noise-canceling headset on the console table.

On the seat was a pair of pillows and on the ottoman were a mattress pad, a duvet, and slippers.

Finnair Long-Haul AirLounge Business Class Pillows
Finnair Long-Haul AirLounge Business Class Bedding and Slippers
Bedding and slippers.
Finnair Long-Haul Business Class Amenity Kit
Amenity kit, headphones, and menu.

Just before 6PM, one of the flight attendants came to offer me a welcome drink. The choice was easy – I went with a glass of Finnair’s signature blueberry juice that I have every time I fly with the airline.

Finnair Long-Haul Business Class Welcome Drink
Welcome drink.

By the time boarding was completed at 6:19PM, the business class cabin was almost entirely full with a good portion of the passengers belonging to a tour group.

A few minutes after that, the captain welcomed us onboard. He introduced himself and the three other pilots on the flight, mentioned the expected flight time of 12 hours 30 minutes, and gave us an overview of the routing. Not having the ability to overfly Russia, the flight took us north toward Rovaniemi and over the North Pole, and then south toward Alaska and Bering Strait before flying over the Pacific Ocean to reach Tokyo.

We were pushed back at 6:29PM – a minute ahead of schedule – and a safety video was played while we were making our way to the departure runway. We took off from Helsinki Airport’s runway 04R at 6:41PM.

Finnair Long-Haul Business Class Departure
Ready to go.
Finnair A350 Safety Video
Safety video.
Finnair Long-Haul Business Class Departure
Cleared for take-off.
Finnair Long-Haul Business Class Departure
Beautiful sky.

Finnair (Revamped) Long-Haul Business Class Dinner

The seatbelt signs were switched off about ten minutes after take-off. Five minutes later, the dinner service began with a hot towel. From there, it took another ten minutes or so for one of the flight attendants to come to ask for my drink preferences (blueberry juice, of course) and to then bring the drink together with a ramekin of almonds.

When the flight attendant came to clear the ramekin later, she asked me if I wanted a drink refill. After saying yes, she asked me which wine I was drinking. Replying that it was blueberry juice, we both chuckled.

Finnair Revamped Long-Haul Business Class Dinner Towel
Finnair Revamped Long-Haul Business Class Dinner Almonds
Blueberry juice and almonds.

Around the same time, another flight attendant came to put a tablecloth over the tray table.

The meal service itself started about 50 minutes after take-off and was done using a cart. The meal consisted of two side dishes served together on a single tray with one of the three entrée options:

  • Grilled pork belly with roasted potatoes, chimichurri beans, mustard sauce
  • Lightly smoked rainbow trout with stewed buckwheat, roasted cauliflower and string beans
  • Fermented pepper spiced and grilled chicken with roasted summer vegetables

I went with the rainbow trout. The sides included roast beef tataki with ponzu sauce and green pea purée with mustard potato salad and pickled red onion. I was also offered bread from a selection of sliced bread, breadsticks, and dark bread (my choice). To drink, I got a glass of sparkling water.

The roast beef was soft and went well with the ponzu. The green pea puree was enjoyable too – I ate it together with the bread since there was no spoon and it was difficult to eat with a fork. Other than the trout being perhaps a tad too salty, the main was enjoyable.

Finnair Revamped Long-Haul Business Class Dinner
Rainbow trout with side dishes.
Finnair Revamped Long-Haul Business Class Dinner
Roast beef tataki with ponzu sauce.

The tray was cleared very fast – just a minute or two after I finished the meal. At the same time, I was also asked whether I wanted any dessert or drink. In addition to cheese, the dessert choices included a lemon tart and a rhubarb mousse. I went with the mousse.

I also asked for some peppermint tea. After a while, the flight attendant came back mentioning they changed their tea brand a few weeks ago and peppermint tea was no longer available. As such, I opted for blackcurrant white tea instead which turned out to be nice too.

The mousse was refreshing – I liked that it was not too sweet and that the portion wasn’t too large. It was a perfect way to finish the meal before going to bed. Once again, it took just a minute or two for the empty dishes to be cleared once I finished the dessert and tea.

Finnair Revamped Long-Haul Business Class Dinner Dessert
Dessert and tea.

One thing that needs to be said about the meal service is that on my previous flight, the appetizer was served first and then the appetizer plate was replaced with the main. On this flight, the two appetizers and the main were served on the tray all at once. Additionally, in the revamped concept there was no plate for bread – instead, it was placed on the tray like it would in economy class.

With that, while there was no major change in terms of quality or quantity compared to Finnair’s previous long-haul business class meals, the airline certainly cut down on presentation a bit.

You can find the meal menu and full drink menu for your flight on Finnair’s website.

Finnair (Revamped) A350-900 In-Flight Entertainment System

As mentioned earlier, the new Finnair AirLounge business class seat was equipped with a nice 18-inch touchscreen. Additionally, noise-canceling headphones were available at the seat upon boarding.

Finnair Long-Haul Business Class Headphones
Noise-canceling headphones.

While the in-flight entertainment system on the A350s with the new cabins features an in-flight entertainment system with a revamped user interface, the content selection itself seemed more or less the same as on the aircraft equipped with the older cabins.

The one thing I didn’t like about the user interface was that it only allowed for flipping between groups of four movies for each category at a time. That made it considerably more cumbersome to choose something to watch than a simple grid one could scroll through would.

An ad was played before content too, although at least it was possible to skip it.

Finnair New In-Flight Entertainment System
Start screen.
Finnair New In-Flight Entertainment System
Main screen.
Finnair New In-Flight Entertainment System

Considering that the inability to access Russian airspace made some of Finnair’s flights including the one I was on considerably longer, having a good selection of content was important. While the selection wasn’t as extensive as on Emirates or Qatar Airways, there was still more than enough to choose from to stay entertained even on the longest flights.

There were dozens and dozens of movies (I watched Ticket to Paradise) and a good selection of TV shows, each with a few episodes (I watched some episodes of Friends). That said, none of the TV shows had a full season available.

Additionally, there was plenty of music to listen to and a selection of a dozen or so games.

Finnair New In-Flight Entertainment System Movies
Finnair New In-Flight Entertainment System TV Shows
TV shows.
Finnair New In-Flight Entertainment System Music
Finnair New In-Flight Entertainment System Games

The in-flight entertainment system was also equipped with downward- and forward-facing cameras and a customizable in-flight map.

Finnair New In-Flight Entertainment System Forward Camera
Forward camera.
Finnair New In-Flight Entertainment System Downward Camera
Downward camera.
Finnair New In-Flight Entertainment System Map
Map modes.
Finnair New In-Flight Entertainment System Map

Finnair A350-900 Onboard Wi-Fi

Like most other aircraft in Finnair’s fleet, the refurbished A350 that I was flying on was equipped with onboard wi-fi. Three paid plans were available:

  • Entire flight: 24.95 EUR or 4,700 Finnair miles
  • 3 hours: 14.95 EUR or 2,700 Finnair miles
  • 1 hour: 7.95 EUR or 1,300 Finnair miles

While the prices were reasonable, for the two longer plans, the cash prices went up considerably compared to my last long-haul Finnair flight (24.95 EUR compared to 19.95 EUR). The prices in miles for all of the plans went down slightly. That said, I would only consider using miles to purchase onboard wi-fi if I had absolutely no other use for them.

Additionally, business class passengers and Finnair’s frequent flyer status holders could use wi-fi for free to one extent or another. Finnair Plus Platinum and Platinum Lumo status holders were eligible for free internet for the duration of the flight. Business class passengers on a Classic or Flex or award ticket and Finnair Plus Gold status holders could get one hour for free.

Unfortunately, the business class and status benefits didn’t stack.

Finnair A350 Onboard Wi-Fi

Finnair A350-900 Business Class Lavatory and Amenity Kit

While the business class lavatory nearest to my seat was clean, there were only very basic amenities – soap and hand cream made by Swedish brand LA bruket, and toothbrushes.

The one thing that set it apart from lavatories on some other aircraft was that there was a window.

Finnair A350 Business Class Lavatory
Sink and amenities.
Finnair A350 Business Class Lavatory
Dental kits.
Finnair A350 Business Class Lavatory
Toilet with a view.

The amenity kit came in a nice Marimekko pouch but the content itself was nothing to write home about. They included LA bruket lip balm and facial cream, an eyemask with the same design as the pouch, and earplugs.

Finnair A350 Business Class Amenity Kit
Amenity kit.

Sleeping in Finnair’s New AirLounge Business Class Seat

After finishing dinner, I turned my seat into a bed. That involved two steps – lifting the leg rest all the way up and then filling the gap between the leg rest and the ottoman by manually extending a part of the seat that was stored under the ottoman. I also put the mattress pad on top of the seat.

With the bed not facing in the same direction as the seat, it felt a bit weird at first, similar to ANA’s The Room. In no time, though, I got used to it and had no issue falling asleep. In fact, I ultimately found the bed comfortable – although a bit too hard – and managed to sleep for over five hours. As a side sleeper, I liked that the portions of the bed were quite wide.

Finnair A350 AirLounge Business Class Seat in Bed Mode
Bed mode.
Finnair A350 AirLounge Business Class Seat in Bed Mode
Foot cubby.

Finnair Long-Haul Business Class Mid-Flight Drinks and Snacks

When I woke up, it was just after 9AM Japan time and we still had about four hours to go. We just passed through the US-side of Baring Strait, were flying near Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, and were heading south toward Japan.

Not feeling like going back to sleep, I took out my laptop and got some work done instead.

Finnair Flight to Tokyo
About to get some work done.

Around 9:30AM, one of the flight attendants came to offer me some snacks. The choices included candies, cookies, and potato chips among other things. I decided to get a box of chips and a pack of Haribo gummies.

She also offered me a drink so I asked for a cup of tea. The seatbelt signs went on due to turbulence right after that, though, and so it wasn’t until about half an hour later that I was served the tea together with a small chocolate.

Finnair Long-Haul Business Class Snacks
Finnair Long-Haul Business Class Tea

It’s also worth noting that throughout the flight, a cart with drinks was available in the galley.

Finnair Long-Haul Business Class Drinks
Drinks in the galley.

Finnair (Revamped) Long-Haul Business Class Breakfast

The cabin lights were switched back on at 10:55AM Japan time – about two and a half hours before our arrival in Tokyo. At that point, we were flying at an altitude of 41,000 feet.

At 11AM, one of the flight attendants brought me a hot towel, and ten minutes later she came back to ask if I was ready to have breakfast. The answer was, of course, yes, and I asked for some orange juice and tea to go with the meal. The breakfast tray was brought to me a couple of minutes later.

There were no breakfast options to choose from. Instead, everyone was served a quiche, a small salad, some cut fruits, and two pieces of bread. While the salad could have been dressed more, the quiche was good. One thing that I wish was served with the meal and that was lacking compared to Finnair’s pre-revamp breakfast service was yogurt.

Finnair Long-Haul Business Class Snacks
Towel provided before breakfast.
Finnair Revamped Long-Haul Business Class Breakfast

About fifteen minutes into the meal, the flight attendant came with a box of orange juice asking if I wanted a refill. I also asked for some more tea when the flight attendant came to clear the tray just five minutes or so after I finished eating. I should note here that throughout the flight, the crew was quite proactive in offering drink refills whenever they noticed I had an empty glass/cup.

Arrival at Tokyo Haneda Airport

Once done with breakfast, I spent the rest of the flight watching a couple of episodes of Friends while editing photos from the trip and enjoying some tea. Somewhere along the way, the cabin crew also passed through the cabin handing out “The Northern Route diplomas.”

When Finnair announced they would do so after having to reroute their flights to Japan, I found it a bit amusing since when this type of certificate was originally handed out, flying over the North Pole was a great achievement and a step forward; in this case, it was a step backward. Still, as an aviation enthusiast, there are few things I like getting more onboard than various certificates.

Finnair Flight from Helsinki to Haneda
Enjoying the remainder of the flight.
Finnair Northern Route Diploma
The Northern route diploma.

At 12:35PM, an arrival video that reminded passengers to store their luggage under the seat, put their seat in an upright position, etc., and thanked them for flying with Finnair was played. A few minutes later, we started our descent.

Then, the cabin crew passed through the cabin handing out chocolates.

Thank you for flying with Finnair.
Finnair Chocolate

At 1:17PM, the pilots notified the cabin crew that we would be landing within ten minutes. Then, at 1:25PM, they lowered the landing gear.

We touched down on Tokyo Haneda’s runway 22 at 1:29PM.

Finnair Flight from Helsinki to Haneda
Finnair Flight from Helsinki to Haneda
A minute before landing.
Finnair Flight from Helsinki to Haneda

From there, it took just six minutes to reach our parking spot, gate 109 at Haneda Airport’s Terminal 3. We came to a full stop at 1:35PM – 15 minutes ahead of our scheduled arrival time.

Finnair Flight from Helsinki to Haneda
Taxiing to our arrival gate.
Finnair A350 at Tokyo Haneda
The aircraft being prepared for its return flight to Helsinki.

Finnair A350-900 AirLounge Business Class Summary

I was really looking forward to taking this flight for two reasons – it was my first chance to try Finnair’s new long-haul business class seat and my first chance to see what the airline’s revamped meal service is like.

The seat was definitely interesting. After all, “non-reclining” is something usually associated with low-cost airlines and not with long-haul business class. While at first, the seat felt a bit weird to sit in, over time as I found comfortable positions to sit in and sleep in, I grew to like it.

The meals were, to an extent, a downgrade compared to Finnair’s previous offering. That said, the portions were still sufficient and the quality was good.

All in all, I enjoyed the flight and would not hesitate to fly with Finnair in long-haul business class again.

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