Today (October 14, 2015): Trip report: Finnair A350 Business Class Brussels (Belgium) to Helsinki (Finland).
I am very proud to present you today the very first Business Class trip report of Finnair’s new Airbus A350!
On October 12th 2015, I flew Business Class in a brand new Finnair Airbus A350-900 XWB (Extra Wide Body) from Brussels Aiport (BRU) in Belgium to Helsinki Vantaa Airport (HEL) in Finland. While Qatar Airways and Vietnam Airlines already operate the new Airbus A350 aircraft, Finnair is the first European airline to put the world’s most modern aircraft into service. The first Finnair A350 aircraft (registration OH-LWA) was delivered on October 7th 2015, and Finnair’s A350 fleet will become the backbone of the airline’s long-haul fleet, starting with the Helsinki-Shanghai route on November 21st. Prior to those long-haul flights, the A350 is rostered on crew familiarization flights within Europe, and Brussels was its 4th destination (after Amsterdam, Barcelona, Hamburg). I loved the brilliant A350 Finnair experience, and it’s clear that the new aircraft substantially raises the bar for passenger comfort as compared to Finnair’s Airbus A330 fleet (read here my Business Class trip report in a Finnair Airbus A330 from Bangkok to Helsinki).
- Trip: BRU-HEL
- Airline: Finnair
- Aircraft type: Airbus A350-900 XWB
- Aircraft registration number: OH-LWA
- Flight Number: FIN812
- Date: October 12th, 2015
- On time departure: no (12.23 pm instead of the scheduled 11.40 am)
- On time arrival: no (3.35 pm instead of the scheduled 3.12 pm)
- Miles: 1026
- Flight time: 2 hours 12 minutes
- Seat: 8L
- Class: business (D)
In this review (more information & photos below my Youtube clip & the slideshow):
- Facts & Figures about the A350
- Business Class Cabin
- Business Class Seat (& what seat to choose)
- Onboard internet (free!)
- Other inflight experiences (crew, lavatory)
- My verdict
1. FACTS & FIGURES ABOUT THE AIRBUS A350 WXB
Here is some (fun) general information about the A350 XWB as provided by Airbus:
- The A350 XWB is the world’s most technologically advanced commercial aircraft, competing with both the Boeing 787 and the Boeing 777.
- 70% of the airframe is made of advanced materials combining composites (53%), titanium and modern aluminum alloys. Composite materials are corrosion and fatigue free resulting in easier maintenance, while titanium is a lightweight and corrosion-resistant substitute for steel.
- Eco-smart design brings more than 25% improvement in fuel efficiency compared to the previous generation of aircraft.
- Advanced pure air filtration system changes cabin air every 2–3 minutes.
- The A350 XWB is powered by the new Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines, generating 25% lower CO2 emissions.
- The A350 XWB has been awarded Common Type Rating with the A330, and it takes only one week for a pilot to transit from the A330 to the A350.
- Draft-free air conditioning, adjustable temperature zones and the cabin air pressure, which is closer to the sea level air pressure, make the flight more enjoyable and less tiring for passengers.
- The total height of the Airbus A350 XWB is equivalent to the famous obelisk monument Place de la Concorde in Paris (17 meters or 55 feet).
- The length of an Airbus A350-900 is close to the width of a rugby field (around 67 meters or 219 feet).
- The wings of the A350 XWB cover more than 2 tennis courts (443 m2 or 4768 square feet) and – inspired by birds – change their shape while airborne to reduce fuel burn.
- IMHO, the most remarkable fact: the diameter of the A350 XWB Roll-Royce Trent XWB engine is the same as the diameter of the Concorde fuselage!
2. BUSINESS CLASS CABIN
It is a clear that a lot of thought has gone into the design of Finnair Airbus A350 XWB’s remarkably bright cabin (which should not come a surprise since Finland is a country where design can be seen everywhere). Created by Finnish design house dSign Vertti Kivi & Co, the cabin is dominated by calming white and grey colours with some subtle blue accents, reflecting a fresh Nordic style that is light and spacious. In addition, the large panoramic view windows allow a lot of natural light into the cabin, contributing to the overall bright atmosphere. A remarkable feature of the cabin is the dynamic mood LED lighting, which can be changed according to the time of day, destination or even season to create a relaxing flight experience. For example, a warm orange glow can be created to suggest an Asian ambience on flights to the Far East, while cool Nordic blue shades resembling the Northern lights will mostly set the mood as the plane approaches Helsinki. How cool is that!
The Finnair Airbus A350 XWB has 297 seats: 46 in Business Class, 43 in Economy Comfort Class, and 208 in Economy Class. The 46 Business Class seats are spread over 2 cabins: a large Business Class cabin with 32 seats (in 8 rows) is located behind the cockpit, while a smaller and more intimate Business Class cabin with only 14 seats (in 4 rows) is located in front of the Economy Comfort cabin. Both Business Class cabins are divided by the main boarding door, a galley and 2 lavatories.
Business Class seats are arranged in a 1-2-1 alignment ( a so-called herringbone layout), ensuring direct aisle access for all (no jumping over people’s feet here). The Business Class seats on the sides are angled toward the window (about 2 windows per seat, offering great views), while the seats in the middle are angled towards each other. The herringbone layout is great for privacy, so even if you’re traveling solo and end up in one of the middle seats, there’s nothing to worry about since you’ll barely see your neighbor.
Click here for the seat map of Finnair’s Airbus A350 XWB (and click the seat map for a larger image).
3. BUSINESS CLASS SEAT (& WHAT SEAT TO CHOOSE)
For its Airbus A350 XWB, Finnair choose the Zodiac Cirrus III fully lie-flat seats. These are the best Business Class seats in the skies. These days, similar seats can be found on Cathay Pacific (click here for a trip report in a Cathay Pacific B77W), American Airlines (click here for a trip report in an AA B77W), EVA Air and more recently Air France. Qatar Airways also uses a variant of this seat type on their Boeing 787s (click here for a trip report) and Airbus A380/350s. However, none of these airlines (with the exception of Qatar) combines these seats with a fresh, bright, and highly aesthetical cabin design like Finnair does. IMHO, with the introduction of its Airbus A350, Finnair is offering one of the best Business Class products in the skies.
All Business Class seats have the same characteristics: 192 cm (78 inches) in pitch, a width of 53 cm (21 inch), and a 180 degree recline. Each seat comes with plenty of storage space for your personal items (such as a rather large side cabinet with enough room for a smartphone, pen, passport, glasses, and other bits and pieces). Next to the seat, at eye level, are the seat and entertainment controls, a reading light, a universal power supply outlet, and a multi-port connector with an RCA port, an iPhone/iPod connector a USB port. The seats feature a large tray table in addition to a work surface so you can eat and work at the same time. There’s a large ottoman footrest in front of every seat.
When tired, you can recline the seat into a very comfortable, fully flat-bed. The flat-bed is just over 2 metres (82 inches) long and the side storage compartment offers extra knee space for sleeping on your side. For sleeping, you may choose to leave your armrest up for more privacy, or down for more space.
What are the best Business Class seats on Finnair’s Airbus A350 XWB? Click here for the seat map.
- The seats in row 9 to 12 are located in their own little private cabin and are therefore highly recommended.
- Solo travelers should go fo the window seats, while companions should choose the middle seats.
What are the worst Business Class seats on Finnair’s Airbus A350 XWB? Click here for the seat map.
- I suggest to avoid the seats in row 1, 8 and 10, since the proximity to the galley may be bothersome.
- I also suggest to avoid the last row of Business Class, row 12, which is in front of the Economy Comfort Class bassinet seats.
This was a short flight (2 hours and 12 min) and no amenity kit was provided. However, to promote their first A350 flight to/from Brussels, Finnair displayed some amenity kits in Business Class. The ultra-environmentally-conscious kits are intentionally minimalist and developed in partnership with Finnish design institution Marimekko. They feature the distinctive Marimekko prints and contain essential inflight goodies including an eye shade, earplugs, toothbrush and toothpaste, and Clarins moisturizer and lip balm.
Finnair features in our top 10 list of the best Business Class amenity kits in the skies.
A lunch was served 30 minutes after take off. The starter and main course were served at once on a single tray. Food was actually quite delicious. The starter consisted of country paté with apple chutney, while the entrée was chicken with a delicious tomato/curry sauce. Dessert was a Finnish pastry filled with blueberry compote.
IMHO, Finnair developed one of the most impressive inflight entertainment systems. The completely new state-of-the-art Nordic Sky entertainment system has a wide selection of Hollywood blockbusters, classic movies and unique branded channels from the BBC, the National Geographic Channel, and the Discovery Channel. The Peace of Mind Channel eases passengers into a calm and relaxing flight. The cameras installed in the tail and belly of the new plane also offer some fun moments, especially at take-off and landing (watch my video). The flight tracking is superb: you can observe the plane from different angles (including cockpit view) along the flight route by touching the screen.
7. ONBOARD INTERNET
This will please many frequent flyers! Business Class passengers, Finnair Plus Gold and Platinum members, and Oneworld Sapphire and Emerald members enjoy full internet access FREE of charge, while Economy Class passengers can purchase it either by the hour or for the duration of the flight. Internet worked great during the flight.
8. OTHER INFLIGHT EXPERIENCES
# CREW: this was a familiarization flight aimed at training the cabin crew and make them familiar with the new plane. More than double the normal number of crew members was present onboard, and they all did a fantastic job. I found their stylish Nordic uniforms quite remarkable.
#LAVATORY: two lavatories for Business Class passengers are located in front of the plane (behind the cockpit), and another two are located in the galley between the two Business Class cabins. Both lavatories were kept very clean during the flight. Female passengers in Business Class can take advantage of the dedicated Ladies’ Room which is stocked with cosmetics and other supplies.
9. MY VERDICT
Finnair is offering a fantastic (and my new favorite) Business Class product on its Airbus A350.
- Seat : 9/10
- Food: 8/10
- Inflight entertainment : 9/10
- Amenity kit: 9/10
- Service: 9/10
- Cabin atmosphere: 9/10
- Overall experience: superb: 8.8/10