23rd October 2014 at 08:00 #578333
Anonymous23rd October 2014 at 08:00 #578334
Helsinki – Delhi
Seat 4A. 39/42 taken
I had arrived on a Finnair flight from Amsterdam and had a transit time of around four hours. I arrived in the shengen terminal and passed through security and passport control to reach the non-schengen area. The lines were minimal and moved quickly.
The Finnair lounge:
The non-schengen lounge is split into two sections – a large Business Class lounge and a separate recently opened 'premium lounge' for those holding OneWorld Sapphire or Emerald status. The Premium lounge is supposed to be the more exclusive. Being eligible for both I checked both out. I entered the premium lounge and it was absolutely heaving. Hardly a spare seat anywhere. Aesthetically it is very Scandinavian – lots of bright white and clean lines with a minimalist feel. There are some nice comfy chairs looking out to the tarmac (not a chance of getting anywhere near one of those) and others scattered throughout the lounge including a small dining area with tables. All the alcoholic drinks are served by the staff and have to be ordered at the bar. There are self service corners with soft drinks, tea and coffee. I enjoyed the food items although they won't be to everyones liking – cold salmon fillets, cold cuts of meats, pickled herring, scandinavian cucumber salad and breads. As well as desserts. The hot items were limited to a soup. I found myself a seat which was one of the few left (right near the entrance) and had a bite before going into the Business Class lounge. I was gobsmacked when I went into the Business Class lounge. It was a space two thirds the size of the premium lounge yet it was almost empty. Aesthetically it was also very pleasing and a little less 'white'. Food options weren't as extensive although still pretty decent. The soup was still there as were some sandwiches, snacks etc. The wines here were self service (although the staff told me the wines in the premium lounge are better). In my honest opinion, I really think the premium lounge should have only been opened to Emerald status frequent flyers as is the case with most airline 'two tier' lounges. I'm not being a snob, it's just the place is too packed with so many eligible. The lounge also contains showers and the unique sauna – although I used neither and the idea of a sauna at an airport really doesn't appeal. Wifi was free and fast – as it is also airport wide.
I made my way to the gate once my flight was called which was literally a one minute walk from the lounge. I was suprised to see the aircraft parked at my gate was an A340 not the A330 originally rostered. In fact I had watched on 'manage my booking' the aircraft switching at least four times. When I first booked it was an A330 with the older J class seats. Then it switched to an A330 with the new fully flat bed. When I went online to check in 36hrs prior to my flight it had reverted to the older style A330. And now I am seeing an A340 parked on-stand which must have been a last minute switch. I wasn't too bothered as I was expecting an angle flat product from the outset and the flight isn't too long although I had read on other reviews that the J class cabin on these birds is very poor (they are ex-Air France aircraft and will be retired by Finnair as they take delivery of their A350's). Boarding was through one door but Business Class and top tiers were given priority. I was welcomed on board and turned left for my seat, 4A. The general cabin looked better than expected and the seat looked roomy enough. It is pretty much identical to the J class seats on Malaysia Airlines A330's although the Finnair ones seem to have more leg room. Business Class is rows one to five in the front cabin, then a galley and toilet. Then there are two rows behind in a mini cabin. This is the same set up as on the A330's with the older product. The cabin felt very spacious partly down to the fact that there are no centre lockers so the interior feels more open. The seats were upholstered in blue fabric and had a large pillow, headphones and amenity kit on the seat. The amenity kit is 'enviromentally friendly' (read also 'cost friendly') and is basically a brown paper envelope containing socks, eyemask and earplugs. All the other items (creams, lip balm etc) are available on request and there were dental kits in the bathroom. The seat was comfortable for sitting in and had five pre set one touch positions including dining, lounging and zzzzz. With the exception of three seats the cabin was entirely free. Fortunately for me one of the free empty seats was next to me. I quickly claimed the extra pillow (I find an extra pillow helps find a good position with angle flat seats) and appreciated not having to climb over anyone to leave my seat. Note that there is very little privacy between you and your neighbour – a very small pull down screen. There is pretty much no storage space apart from the overhead lockers. A choice of orange juice, water or champagne were offered. Menus were also distributed.
Which seat to choose:
I chose a window seat midway down the cabin to avoid noise and light from the galleys which is both in front of row one and between row five and the mini cabin. Avoid 5A/B like the plague – there is a toilet that opens directly opposite as well as the galley behind. If you don't want to step over a neighbour or be stepped over the middle pairs are ideal.
Pushback was on time. There were to be two meal services on the flight – dinner followed by a light snack before landing. Hot towels and drinks were distributed first and meal orders taken. I have to admit I think there is a lot of room for improvement in Finnairs long haul Business Class catering. The main meal is a 'one tray service'. In other words the hot dish, side salad and cheese are all served at once. I thought this must have been the case as this was a short night flight but it was the same on the longer daylight flight back to Helsinki although the cheese was replaced with a starter (which was more like a side dish). I had pre ordered the 'wellness' meal which was described as a stir fry of prawns, vegetables and rice. It was OK. The side salad was literally three leaves of spinach and a couple slices of cucumber. Sleep was my aim on this flight anyway and I had eaten plenty in the lounge so after my meal I explored the IFE a little. The IFE is AVOD and controlled by the armrest in the seat. There was a good selection of movies and particularly TV including some off beat documentaries. I soon reclined my seat to the 'zzzz' position and slept quite decently. I generally sleep on my side and find it a lot more comfortable if I place a pillow between my knees with angle flat seats. It wasn't the most comfortable seat but fine for a short night flight and I did manage a few hours sleep. I slept through the breakfast/snack service. The cabin crew were a mix of Finish and Indian and all were extremely warm, friendly and efficient. The announcements were a little long winded – each one being in english, finish, swedish and hindi.
Menu: Starter – garden salad. Mains – yellow chicken curry with steamed rice. Scandinavian style open sandwich with shrimps. Paneer dal makhani (indian vegetarian). Cheese – goats cheese and brie. Dessert – Haagen Dazs ice cream.
Breakfast – breakfast snack sandwiches filled with edam cheese or roasted vegetable and hummus. Warm croissants and jam. Yoghurt. Fresh fruit.
We landed ontime at 5:30am and I found the new Delhi Terminal three a breeze through immigration. Although there were dedicated immigration channels for First/Business class I found the line shorter at the non premium line and I was through literally in minutes. After a wait of eight minutes my bag was delivered and I was on my way.
I think Finanir offers excellent value for money in Business Class considering the amount I paid for my ticket. The product you will end up with on the day still seems a bit of a lottery so if fully flat is a MUST for you it may be worth flying with another carrier. I found the angle flat product comfotable enough though, more so than other angeled flat products i've flown recently (AA and MH). The catering could do with improvement but considering the savings I made versus other airlines I wouldn't hesitate to book Finair or fly their A340 again.
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