Finnair, a member of the Oneworld alliance, operates a solid short-haul network all over Europe from its Helsinki hub. The vast majority of these flights are on the Airbus A320 family of aircraft. In this review, we test the Finnair short-haul Business Class experience on a flight from Helsinki to Vienna.
|Route||Helsinki (HEL) to Vienna (VIE)|
|Aircraft type||Airbus A321|
|Class of travel||Business|
|Route on-time performance||87% (my flight was 25 minutes early)|
This flight was booked as part of a Oneworld Classic Flight Reward ticket using Qantas Frequent Flyer points. If you were to buy a standalone Business Class ticket on this flight, the one-way price would be around $1,317. (However, most passengers on this flight would likely be connecting as part of a long-haul itinerary.) Alternatively, you could redeem 30,000 Qantas points + $94 for a Business Class seat on this flight.
Helsinki Airport is a dream, and being the home base for Finnair, my airport experience was very pleasant. There was no queue at the Business Class check-in counter; not that it mattered as there were also plenty of self-service check-in kiosks available.
I was able to use the priority security line and was in the sanctuary of Finnair’s (Schengen area) lounge within minutes of arriving at the airport.
The lounge is long and narrow in shape, but bright and airy. Scrambled eggs, sausages, sandwiches and a range of other food and drinks were available at the breakfast buffet. A full selection of wine, tap beer and spirits were also available – even at 7am. There were plenty of charging outlets and even a couple of massage chairs in the quiet zone. Overall, Finnair has a very solid lounge in Helsinki.
The Hard Product
Like most European airlines, Finnair has not installed proper Business class seats on its short-haul Airbus A320 and A321 aircraft. Instead, you’ll get the European Business Class experience of a regular Economy seat, but with the middle seat left empty. (There are a couple of Finnair flights within Europe where lie-flat Business class is available, including on the Helsinki-London route. But this is the exception, rather than the rule.)
The seats are Recaro slimline seats, similar to those found on airlines such as Lufthansa and even Jetstar’s newer aircraft. On Finnair, the seats are covered in cloth.
I was originally seated in 1A, which is a bulkhead seat. This is a nice place to sit because there is no seat in front of you, however there is no space to stretch your legs out. After takeoff, the flight attendant suggested I could move to another seat of my choice as there were 8 rows of Business Class on this flight and only 3 Business passengers.
Later in the flight I tried out row 2, and found the legroom very good. The seat itself was comfortable enough for a short flight and the recline was fairly generous.
There was no in-flight entertainment, but wifi was available on this aircraft. Business Class passengers receive 30 minutes of complimentary internet access, with additional time available for purchase. The connection speed was relatively fast.
The Soft Product
The service on this flight was excellent. I was a little skeptical when the only pre-departure drink on offer was water, which was served in a small paper cup. But things got much better from there.
We had a great view of the sunrise shortly after take-off.
As the sun came up, the chief cabin attendant offered a hot towel, followed by a choice of a hot or cold breakfast and drinks. I chose the hot breakfast, which was a potato rosti with chicken, spinach, mushrooms and ratatouille. This came with fresh fruit, yoghurt and museli, salami, cheese, lettuce and cucumber. I was then offered a choice of breads, including traditional Finnish Karelian pies. The breakfast was filling and delicious.
Due to the early hour, I stuck with green tea and Finnair’s delicious signature blueberry juice. But a range of wines and Finnish spirits and cocktails were also available on request.
After breakfast, the crew handed out pillows and blankets and constantly checked to make sure my drinks were topped up.
Finnair Airbus A321 Business Class
I cannot fault Helsinki Airport, the friendly crew, nor the catering on this flight. Although the Finnair A321 Business Class hard product was nothing special, the soft product deserves 5 stars.