Today (December 16, 2015): Trip report: Finnair Airbus A330-300 Business Class Bangkok (Thailand) to Helsinki (Finland).
On December 12th 2015, I flew Business Class in a Finnair Airbus A330-300 (registration OH-LTT) from Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Aiport (BKK) in Thailand to Helsinki Vantaa Airport (HEL) in Finland. When I booked the ticket a couple of months ago, the flight was scheduled to be operated by Finnair’s new Airbus A350, and I was looking forward to this, especially after my wonderful Business Class experience onboard Finnair’s new flagship plane in October 2015 on a intra-European crew familiarization (you can read my review of this trip here). Unfortunately, there was some delay on the A350 deliveries to Finnair, so the airline was forced to adjust the schedule for starting A350 flights to Bangkok (which will now start on December 24th, instead of the earlier announced December 4th), and my flight was ‘downgraded’ to an Airbus A330-300.
Finnair, which is part of the Oneworld Alliance and one of the world´s oldest operating airlines (established in 1923), is one of my preferred European airlines to/from Asia, since flying via Helsinki means that you are flying the shorter and faster route between Asia and Europe. Its hub, Helsinki Vantaa Airport, is a very efficient place for a transit (all the gates and services are located under one roof, with a minimal connecting time of only 35 minutes). And while the airline is not as large as Europe’s 3 leading carriers (Lufthansa, British Airways, and KLM-Air France), it offers a flight experience that is far superior in terms of onboard service. Finnair is a funky airline, that does a wonderful job in profiling itself as a trusted, fresh, design oriented, nordic brand.
- Trip: BKK-HEL
- Airline: Finnair
- Aircraft type: Airbus A330-300
- Aircraft registration number: OH-LTT
- Flight Number: AY90
- Date: December 12th, 2015
- On time departure: yes (9.30am)
- On time arrival: yes (3.30 pm)
- Miles: 4916
- Flight time: 11 hours
- Seat: 5L
- Class: business (D)
In this review (more information & photos below my Youtube clip and slideshow):
- Cathay Pacific Business Class Lounge at Bangkok Aiport
- Business Class cabin
- Business Class seat (+ best & worst seats)
- Other inflight experiences (crew, lavatory, WiFi, bar, views)
- My verdict (score)
1. CATHAY PACIFIC BUSINESS CLASS LOUNGE AT BKK
Since Finnair does not have its own lounge at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Aiport, it gives it Business Class passengers complimentary access to the sleek Cathay Pacific lounge, which is located at level 3 in the Concourse G departure hall (close to Finnair’s departure gate) and seats around 140 passengers. I loved the design of the brand new lounge, which has an emphasis on understated luxury and was created by Studioilse, the London-based design studio led by Ilse Crawford. Warm, natural materials (like wood walls and limestone floors), artwork, designer furniture, and soft lighting create an overall ambience that feels more like a domestic place than an airport lounge. There is a lot of natural sunlight filtering through the large windows, which also offers a nice views of the apron and the runway. One wall features floor-to-ceiling windows inside the airport’s concourse. For those in need of doing business from the lounge, three individual workstations are available, with iMacs and printers. Free Wi-Fi access is also available throughout the lounge (but the airport offers unlimited free WiFi to all passengers within the terminal buildings).
The lounge has a dining area which features Cathay Pacific’s signature ‘The Noodle Bar’, a popular attraction in the airline’s flagship lounges at Hong Kong International Airport. I was at the lounge in the morning, and The Noodle Bar offered a selection of Asian noodles (including wonton noodle soup and tom yam soup freshly prepared by a chef) as well as an authentic Thai breakfast. There was also a second dining space (‘The Food Bar’), with stand-up dining tables and a decent selection of salads, pastries and desserts. In addition, western breakfast items (such as muffins, cold meats and cheese) as well as freshly blended cocktails and a variety of non-alcoholic drinks were served at the Bar.
From the lounge, it was a 5 minute stroll to gate D7 where the Airbus A330-300 was ready for boarding.
2. BUSINESS CLASS CABIN
Finnair’s Airbus A330s come in 3 layout versions, and on this particular occasion, the flight was operated by an aircraft with a high density configuration. The 32 Business Class seats were spread over 7 rows in just one cabin, which was located in front of the large Economy Class cabin (which featured no less than 265 seats).
The Business Class seats are placed in a staggered configuration, a so-called Sogerma Solstys layout, whereby the foot compartment for each seat is located between and under the seats in front. The same layout can be found on Brussels Airlines’ A330, Austrian Airlines’ B777, SWISS’ Airbus A330/A340, Delta’s B767, and American’s B767. The staggered Business Class cabin configuration on Finnair comprises 10 single seats, while the remaining 22 seats come in pairs. All seats enjoy a lot of privacy, as none of the rows quite line up, so nobody is directly looking into the seat across the aisle. Most seats also have direct aisle access, except for the paired window seats, where the passenger seated along the window will have to climb over his/her neighbour’s legs to get access to the aisle.
The design of the Business Class cabin itself looks fresh, airy and quite trendy with a predominantly soft blue color scheme and some subtle green touches.
Click here for the seat map of Finnair’s Airbus A330-300.
3. THE BUSINESS CLASS SEAT
I was seated in seat 5L.
All Business Class seats have the same characteristics: 152 cm (60 inches) in pitch, a width of 53 cm (21 inch), and a 180 degree recline. All seats have at least one large work surface on the side (where you can set up your laptop), with some seats featuring this work space on both sides (a so-called ‘throne seat’). Within that work surface, you will find the seat controls to adjust the seat position (from take-off position to fully flat). You can also adjust the seat cushion, since Finnair’s Business Class seats are not made of the customary plastic foam, but instead, the seat cushions have air-filled chambers. With one press on the button you can either soften or firm up the seat cushion according to your liking, as well as activate its integrated massage function. On the side of the seat, there’s also a power port with international adapters, a personal reading lamp (at eye level), and the meal tray (which is hard to get out). In front of the seat, you will find a large entertainment screen (see below), with the foot compartment below.
The seat is comfortable when you are sitting upright, but it’s a somewhat different story in its lie-flat position. Although it’s a 180 degree recline, the seat (and your lower legs) descends into a space carved out for it in the seat(s) in front, below your entertainment screen. This foot compartment is quite small, making it hard to switch position during your sleep while not waking up, as your legs will constantly hit the walls (although the seats that do not have the ‘throne’ feature – like seat 5L – have a little more space for the feet, hence making for a more comfortable sleep). In addition, in its lie flat position, the seat is just 45 cm (17 inch) above the floor, making it quite uncomfortable getting in and out to go to the restroom. This is not the most comfortable lie flat seats in the sky, especially when compared to the superb lie flat seats installed on Finnair’s Airbus A350.
What are the best Business Class seats on Finnair’s Airbus A330? Click here for a seat map.
- The single best seats for solo travelers are the single seats.
- Single throne seats offer more space (but are less comfortable for sleeping) and can be found in positions 2A, 4A, and 6A.
- Travel companions should go for the paired, middle seats, which all have direct aisle access. There are also paired window seats in rows 1, 3, 5 and 7, but here the passenger in the window seat will have to jump over his/her neighbour’s feet to get access to aisle.
What are the worst Business Class seats on Finnair’s Airbus A330s? Click here for a seat map.
- I suggest to avoid the window seats in row 1 since the proximity to the galley may be bothersome, and other flyers tend to bump into these seats when they return from the lavatory.
- I also suggest to avoid the window seats in row 7, since they lack a window.
A comfortable green blanket, a lovely green pillow, noise cancelling headphones, and an amenity kit were provided. The latter was developed in partnership with Finnish design institution Marimekko. The kit bag featured the distinctive Marimekko prints and contained essential inflight goodies including an eye shade, toothbrush and toothpaste, and Clarins moisturizer and lip balm. Socks, shaving kit, mouthwash, hairbrush, makeup remover wipe were available upon rquest. I was also provided a pair of designer earplugs, which are supposed to be the best in the industry (but I did not find them to be different from other earplugs).
Finnair features in my top 10 list of the best Business Class amenity kits in the skies.
Before takeoff, I was offered a choice of welcome drinks: orange juice, water, or Champagne. I had the orange juice. A small, hot towel was provided to all Business Class passengers after take-off.
Dinner service started about 30 minutes after takeoff, while we were cruising over the Bay of Bengal. The amuse bouche was mozzarella and cherry tomato with pesto. As a starter, I choose the smoked salmon with coctail sauce and rocket salad. It tasted very good! As a main course,I had the beef burgundy, roasted potato wedges, and steamed vegetables, which tasted good albeit not excellent. Dessert was a collection of petit fours. All by all, a decent but far from mindblowing gastronomic experience at 40,000 feet!
90 minutes prior to landing, a light snack was served. I choose the salad nicoise with grilled tuna, which was ok (but again, nothing special).
In front of the Business Class seat, there was a 15 inches (38 centimetres) entertainment screen which can be skewed and adjusted in brightness. It was controlled via remote control in the seat or by touch. The entertainment program itself was great, with a large collection of movies and TV programs. The cameras installed in the nose and belly of the Airbus also offered some fun moments, especially during take-off and landing.
7. OTHER INFLIGHT EXPERIENCES
# CREW: Finnair’ crew members – with their chic navy blue designer outfits – are amongst the best and most friendly in the industry, and it was no different on this flight.
# LAVATORY: There were 3 lavatories for the 32 Business Class passengers (as compared to 6 lavatories for the 265 Economy Class passengers), and 2 of them come with a window. The Business Class lavatory design was very simple, and lavatories were kept clean during the flight.
# INTERNET: onboard WiFi is currently not offered on Finnair’s fleet of Airbus A330/A340s (while it is avaible for free for Business Class passengers on the airlines’ new flagship Airbus A350 planes).
# BAR: the plane had a small walk-up bar, where Business Class fliers could graze between meals. There was a selection of sandwiches, pastries, yoghurt, ice cream, fruit, and/or a chocolate. Throughout the flight, the bar was kept fully stocked, and when I was there, flight attendants were quick to offer ice for drinks, cutlery for food and ask if there was anything else I required.
# VIEWS: I found this flight to be very remarkable since we encountered clear weather from Bangkok all the way (11 hours!) until we reached the Helsinki aerodrome (landing was cloudy though). The scenery while flying over Pakistand and Afghanistan was breathtaking!
8. MY VERDICT
- Seat: 7/10
- Food: 8/10
- Inflight entertainment : 8/10
- Service: 9/10
- Cabin: 8/10
- Overall experience: very good: 8/10