A few years ago, I flew on a Finnair A350 in business class from Helsinki to Bangkok. As such, I had been looking forward to trying the same product on the Helsinki – Tokyo route back in December 2021. While most things remained unchanged from 2017, there were some slight differences in the provided service.
To see what the fairly short flight was like, continue reading this review.
Transfer, Lounge & Boarding at Helsinki Airport
With there being no lines, I went through one of the automated immigration kiosks just a few minutes after arriving from Vienna. As I still had a couple of hours left before my departure to Tokyo, I made my way through the deserted terminal into Finnair’s new non-Schengen business class lounge.
Just like the rest of the terminal, the lounge was almost empty and so provided for a very nice place to spend some time in before boarding.
I left the lounge around 4:45PM, five minutes before the boarding time indicated on the boarding pass. By the time I got to the flight’s departure gate, 45A, boarding was already in progress. Outside, Finnair’s A350 in the Oneworld livery was waiting, making this flight another (and the last) one on a special livery aircraft in what was a year of flying on special liveries.
As is the norm nowadays, the gate agent checked my PCR test validity and, after ensuring that 72 hours have not passed between the sample being taken and my first flight’s departure, he scanned my boarding pass and invited me to board.
Upon boarding, I was handed a bottle of water. With that in my hands, I went down the second aisle and settled in my seat.
Finnair A350-900 Business Class Cabin & Seat
- Configuration 1: 46 business class, 43 economy comfort, and 208 economy class seats
- Configuration 2: 32 business class, 42 economy comfort, and 262 economy class seats
The aircraft operating my flight was in the business-heavier configuration with 46 business class seats spread across two cabins. The seats were arranged in a 1-2-1 layout with window seats being angled toward windows and the pairs of middle seats being angled toward the middle of the cabin.
As for the economy comfort class, that was simply economy class with a bit of extra legroom. Currently, Finnair doesn’t offer proper premium economy.
My seat, 4L, was a right-hand side window seat in the larger business class cabin located between the aircraft’s first two pairs of doors.
Unlike the reverse herringbone seats on some other airlines like JAL, Finnair’s in-flight entertainment screens fold into the seat in front. That creates quite a bit of extra space when the screen is not in use, thus making the seat feel considerably more spacious and comfortable.
As for the seat’s other features, there was a console on the right side of the seat connected to the seat’s armrest. Under the console, there was a drink holder and a seat pocket with a safety card.
On the panel above the console and armrest, there were a headphones storage compartment, audio output, seat controls with both presets and individual seat part controls, the IFE controller, a USB port, a power outlet, and a reading light.
On the left side of the seat, there was a small enclosed storage compartment. There was also an armrest with adjustable height which, when extended, provided some extra privacy when sleeping too.
In the front of the cabin, there was a shared monitor which showed the in-flight map throughout the flight.
Finnair Long-Haul Business Class Pre-Flight Service & Departure
Upon boarding, a Marimekko amenity kit, a pair of slippers, headphones, and a pillow were waiting on the seat. Under the footwell, there was a blanket. On the console, there were a bottle of water, the menus, and a “clean kit” with sanitizing wipes.
As soon as I settled down in my seat, one of the flight attendants approached me to offer to store my jacket. Not long after that, she came back to offer me a welcome drink – I got a glass of orange juice.
At 5PM, she came to take my dinner order. More about the meals later on, though. We briefly chatted and she mentioned that I was the only passenger in business class and that there were about fifteen passengers on board in total. Unfortunately, with Japan still being closed for non-nationals and non-residents, loads like this are not completely uncommon.
Boarding was completed about ten minutes later at which point one of the other flight attendants distributed customs form and another one quarantine-related documents. Shortly after that, I was offered a refill of the welcome drink. Instead, I decided to get some blueberry juice.
Around 5:20PM, the chief purser made a welcome announcement and mentioned that our flight time would be 8 hours and 50 minutes.
Fifteen minutes after that, another flight attendant, a Japanese one this time, came to explain that while it was past our departure time already, the maintenance team was resolving some issues. He also offered me a refill of the blueberry juice which I gladly accepted.
Around 5:40PM, the captain made an announcement saying that we were waiting for push back and then would be on our way to Tokyo after de-icing. We were finally pushed back at 5:51PM, 21 minutes behind schedule. While making our way to the de-icing pad, the safety video was played.
After getting de-iced next to an A330 headed to Shanghai, we made our way to runway 22R and took off at 6:16PM.
Finnair Long-Haul Business Class Dinner
Seatbelt signs were switched off just after take off. With no other passenger in business class, I was served cold smoked almonds just a couple of minutes after that. At the same time, a hot towel was provided and I was asked what I wanted to drink.
The Coke Zero that I asked for was brought within seconds.
About 6:30PM, the same flight attendant came to set up my table with a table cloth. A minute or two later, she also brought the starter. I was a bit disappointed that there was only one type of appetizer unlike on some other airlines (even Lufthansa) and on my flight with Finnair back in 2017. I am not sure whether it was simplified COVID-19-era service or just simple cost cutting (or the latter under the disguise of the former).
Still, the “three savory treats” including cold-smoked salmon, Finnish bread cheese, and marinated scampi were excellent and would likely have been the appetizer of choice for me even if there were other options.
For the main, three options were offered:
- Glow-fried Benella rainbow trout with roasted potatoes, shiitake mushrooms, and nori oil
- Slow-cooked fresh cheese in yellow tomato sauce, spinach, and rice
- Grilled chicken with deep-fried aubergine, shimeji mushrooms, and rice
I decided to have the rainbow trout which was excellent – both in terms of the quality of the ingredients used as well as the taste.
Once I was done with the main, one of the flight attendants came to clear the tray and ask whether I wanted any dessert. At the same time, the Japanese flight attendant came with all three dessert choices on a tray:
- Blackcurrant mousse
- Normandy apple tart
Mentioning that I couldn’t decide between either of the sweet options, I was offered to take both. That, I gladly accepted.
To go with the desserts, both of which were great, I had a cup of peppermint tea. Here, I should mention that I really like Finnair’s glassware, especially its cups and glasses.
Sleeping Onboard Finnair A350-900 Business Class
After finishing the desserts and tea, one of the flight attendants came to clear my table. It was around 7:10PM Finland or 2:10AM Japan time at that time.
About ten minutes later, I was asked whether I wanted to do any duty-free shopping and whether the cabin crew could turn off the cabin lights. That’s the kind of question you only get if you are alone in the cabin! I was also asked when I wanted to have breakfast – I decided to go with the latest possible time, about one hour before landing.
Shortly after 2:30AM, I turned down my seat to get ready to sleep.
As Finnair doesn’t provide a mattress pad, there is a quite pronounced gap between some of the seat’s sections when turned into a bed. I resolved that by spreading a spare blanket over the seat. Personally, I am also not a fan of airbags in seatbelts as they make the seatbelt a bit heavy.
On the positive side, as mentioned earlier, Finnair’s A350 have folding monitors. That creates a bit of extra space for knees that some other reverse herringbone seats do not provide.
Before falling asleep, I watched an episode of The Big Bang Theory (more about the IFE further down) and tried to see whether aurora would be visible. While I am not 100% sure, I believe I spotted slight signs of aurora at around 3AM.
I managed to sleep for about five and a half hours with a couple of interruptions – once due to it being too hot in the cabin and once when the seatbelt signs were switched on due to some turbulence.
Finnair A350-900 In-Flight Entertainment System
As briefly mentioned earlier, Phitek noise-cancelling headphones were waiting on the seat upon boarding.
In terms of content, there was a decent selection of movies and TV shows. That said, there were only a couple of episodes of each of the shows. As with many other IFE systems these days, ads were played before each piece of content.
Additionally, there was some music and there were some games too.
For those preferring to follow the flight rather than watch movies, there was an in-flight map. There were forward-facing and downward-facing cameras too.
Finnair A350-900 In-Flight Wi-Fi
While talking about in-flight entertainment, it’s also worth noting that the aircraft was equipped with in-flight wi-fi. There were three different plans:
- Entire flight: 19.95 EUR or 6,500 Finnair miles
- 3 hours: 11.95 EUR or 4,000 Finnair miles
- 1 hour: 7.95 EUR or 2,500 Finnair miles
The full flight rate was decent; that is when paid in cash. As is typical, the wi-fi prices in miles were a terrible deal.
Additionally, complimentary access was provided to the following:
- Entire flight: Finnair Plus Platinum and Platinum Lumo members
- 1 hour: Business class and economy comfort class passengers, and Finnair Plus Gold members
I was curious whether I would get two hours as a Finnair Plus Gold member traveling in business class. I only got one hour, though.
Finnair Long-Haul Business Class Breakfast
Back to the flight itself, about five minutes after waking up, I was handed a hot towel and served orange juice. At the same time, the flight attendant mentioned that the breakfast would be ready in about ten minutes.
While waiting for breakfast, I paid a quick visit to one of the lavatories. While it was nothing spectacular, it was clean (no wonder considering the flight was empty) and equipped with a window.
When I got back to my seat, I found the breakfast tray already sitting on my table. Shortly after, the flight attendant came to ask me whether I wanted anything to drink – I asked for a glass of blueberry juice and a cup of peppermint tea.
Just as with the appetizer, there were no options to choose from for breakfast. Still the meal – scrambled eggs with chorizo, roesti potatoes, and spinach; cold cuts; yogurt; and fresh fruits – was tasty.
After the meal, I got one more cup of tea.
Arrival at Tokyo Narita Airport
Around 9:35AM, the captain made an announcement mentioning that we had about 30 minutes of flight time left and that it was 3 degrees Celsius and sunny in Tokyo. Shortly after, one of the cabin crew members explained Japan’s quarantine procedures.
The seatbelt signs were switched back on at 9:43AM at which point one of the flight attendants brought my jacket back and left it on an empty seat across the aisle from mine.
One of the other crew members stopped by to chat briefly too. She mentioned that they had one-night layover in Tokyo and that while normally they try to go and see the city, with the current situation, they spend the entire time in a hotel and so get to rest well.
As we were descending toward Narita airport, we were offered some amazing views of Tokyo Bay and Mt. Fuji. The cabin crew took the advantage of the cabin being empty and watched the scenery through the windows for a bit too.
Ten minutes or so later, at 10:06AM, we landed on Narita airport’s runway 34L.
We reached our arrival gate at 10:18AM, eighteen minutes behind schedule. It took another ten minutes or so until disembarking. From there on, it was through a series of document checks and immigration. Finally, a bit less than three hours after landing, we were taken to a bus which brought us to our quarantine hotel at about 3PM.
Finnair A350-900 Business Class Summary
With there only being about fifteen passengers in total and me being the only business class passenger, this was a flight that I’ll remember for quite some time to come. After all, how often is it that you get asked “can I turn off the cabin lights?” Related to that, all of the cabin crew members I had a chance to interact with were very nice.
As for the seat, other than the lack of a mattress pad, I found it comfortable both to sit and sleep on. I especially appreciated the screen being foldable as that provided a noticeable amount of extra space.
Lastly, both the dinner and breakfast were tasty. While it would have been nice to have some appetizer and breakfast options to choose from, considering the light loads these days, limiting the number of options is understandable.
All in all, considering the decent service and short travel time on my most frequented long-haul route (Tokyo – Vienna), I would not hesitate to fly Finnair again. In fact, I already have another flight on the same route booked for February.