Finnair trip reviews – LHR-DXB via HEL on A320, A330 & A350

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  • sparkyflier

    I recently did a trip to Jakarta flying Finnair to Dubai and then Sri-Lankan from Abu Dhabi to CGK. This specific report will give feedback on my Finnair flights.

    LHR-HEL A320

    Check in and airport etc

    The flight was the first one of the day and so got to Terminal 3 around 5ish when none of the check in desks were open. However another passenger who flies AY regularly assured me the staff would be there at 5:30 and they were, and very chirpy too. Was given boarding cards for both flights and my suitcase was labelled as having a short connection. I went through security which was a breeze as one did not have to take laptops and liquids out – makes a huge difference for both passengers and security staff. Made my way to the lounges – my main destination being the Cathay First Class lounge, but did stop at the BA lounge as I do like their buffet breakfast. The BA lounge has been refurbished in recent months however where I used to like to eat is now a First Class ticket holder only area, so could not enjoy that space and those views anymore. Anyway headed to the CX F lounge which was its usual serene self and with lovely food options, and great runway/apron views.

    Boarding & cabin

    Headed to the Gate and was the first one down the jetbridge, however the crew were far from ready. Not their fault the passengers were sent prematurely (why does this happen so often?). Waited 7-8 minutes and the crew appreciated my patience, and the there was a warm welcome.

    I had seat 1A and as reported on a previous trip report (Finnair for BA flights) the cloth seating does make a difference and on the other rows there is slightly more legroom.

    The flight

    After take off crew came around with hot towels (which BA still does not give on short haul) and then breakfast came which was on a large try and way more substantial than what you would get on Club Europe. You also get the super stylish Finnair glasses which I really like.

    Flight was smooth and crew very warm and helped passengers with gate info for connecting flights.

    Landing and connection

    Arriving at Helsinki was surreal – a blanket of substantial snow and a real winter wonderland. Yet the airport carries on as usual. Approaching the terminal one could see the Finnair planes lined up an I admired their livery which to me is smart, bold and distinctive. Pleased to see that my A330 for my connecting flight was already there.

    Now my connection was tight so I was apprehensive about this going wrong – however it was SO simple and the airport is so stylish (will be using that word a lot with AY) and easy. I could literally go from my gate to the other gate about 30 metres away. I had a wonder but time was short so went to my gate (no time for the lounge). Business/Status card members were kept in a “holding pen” for priority boarding. Just loved the terminal design but soon we boarded.

    HEL-DXB – A330-300

    Boarding & cabin

    I was in the smaller second cabin and was pleased with my seat choice. 9L. It is hard to describe the seat plan so suggest you look online, but my seat was right beside the window with a cabinet/shelf to my left, which underneath provides the leg space for the passenger behind. The seats were a light blue and very comfortable. There was snow on my window so could not see out. And waiting at my seat was the food menu and amenity kit by Marrimekko (not OTT and decent eye mask) . AY does provide a pre-booked food offering on long haul flights FROM HEL but not on the return. I could not decide in the days before but all options were available.

    Crew came around with champagne within 2 minutes after boarding and there was a sense of vibrancy from all the crew.

    I did pop back into Economy to check out the seating and it was decent with good knee room. Way more comfortable than any 787 economy seat or 777 at 10 abreast.

    Before take off the crew came around taking food orders and after take off drinks choices.

    The flight

    After leaving the gate we then went to the de-icing station which took a fair while and was reassuringly thorough – and I got my window views back. Great views taking off from this what seemed a very serene landscape. And very soon after take off the crew came with hot towels and soon after that my pre-ordered beer with almonds.

    Lunch then followed – I went for trout and it was filling and tasty, as was everything else. There was a choice of 3 white wines and 3 red, as well as 2 dessert wines/port. Found a reasonable white and crew were not stingy with offering top-ups and were very attentive.

    After lunch tea was offered and later on had a Finnish gin which was served with actual berries and was very refreshing. I saw a movie on quite an old system which unfortunately did not enable subtitles in English(my hearing is not the best) and reclined the seat into a bed which I found comfortable and the blanket very snug. Before I did looked back in economy again and everyone looked comfortable too.

    Before arriving in Dubai there was a snack in the form of a sandwich, and another hot towel.

    Summary of this flight – could not really have been any better. I was not welcomed as a Oneworld Emerald member but frankly never had to wait for anything – this crew were super efficient, warm and there was a buzz in the cabin. I was very pleased with my seat and would be very happy to fly their A330 again.

    DXB – HEL A330-300

    In another thread I discussed transport options between AUH and DXB and posters were very helpful ( I need to update that). Anyway I got to DXB a bit later than planned and there were big queues for both J and Y check in areas. Anyway after a while check in was fine and then Customs/Passport control did take quite a while and was not well managed (25 mins maybe). Once through headed to the lounges. I had been given a pass to a partner lounge (had researched lounge options on the Oneworld website) but wanted the BA one which I was allowed to use (other passengers not BA Gold were sent to the other lounge). There was a reasonable food offering.


    Was frankly poor. Very poor. Had seen the AY cabin crew in the duty free shops which told me they were not aiming for the nominal boarding time. Anyway I went to the gate and the crew eventually turned up. And when we were eventually invited to board (people were getting very restless and cheesed off) there was no priority for those with babies and kids. Unfortunately I could not get the same seat as the one out and had a front row of the second cabin “throne seat”. In flight amenity kit and slippers were there, as well as a menu, but with a lot less information than the flight out. I appreciate this flight was late night (after 1 in the morning) but still was disappointing.

    The flight

    Took off an hour late at least and with no apology. And then waited and waited for some service. It was 50 minutes before I was asked what I wanted to drink. In the meantime no shortage of crash and banging from the galley. The cabin was full in both sections and I guess only 5-10 had wanted a drink and snack service as most had gone into full bed mode with eye masks and duvet.. So why not come around quickly after take off to see which and what people wanted (if anything) so they only needed to prepare for those 5 -10 people?

    So much time wasted when I wanted the drink and food before reclining. After I was offered a drink and food order taken did not wait long (and was hearty) but really this was a very disorganized service and crew simply not of the same standard as on the flight out. The main FA serving me seemed to be in a flap and was not that polished.

    And at one moment pressed the call button and was responded to 20 minutes later.

    Having said that the hard product was comfortable and I got a good rest. Of course these flights are longer now as AY does not fly over Ukraine or Iraq and has to navigate a route around those countries. The captain said the flight was to be 8 hours but it was only 7.

    Summary of flight

    Crew were sadly not of the usual very high standard but the aircraft, although not factory fresh was fine by me. Have yet to find an A330 which I did not find comfortable. The seat/bed was fine (although not all seats are the same) and duvet very comforting.

    Arriving at HEL.

    Now on the flight out (non-Schengen to non-Schengen) I simply went from 1 gate to the other. However this time I had to go through a security channel after quite a walk, and take liquids and laptops out etc. I do not get the logic that you only get the security on one connection. Would welcome info on this. Anyway headed to a lounge which I think is not the best one there (went to one years ago with great apron views) as this one was windowless. However once again it was stylish and the food very tasty and warming indeed, and recall some excellent bacon!

    After a minimal time there headed to the gate for the A350 to LHR.

    HEL-LHR A350-900

    Boarding & cabin

    This aircraft in the AY livery is magnificent IMO. Very distinctive indeed and once again looks smart with the snow in the backdrop. I have been on an AY A350 before but that was with the former J product – not the new seats. So there was some anticipation..

    And I was not disappointed. A totally different product, with loads of space, compartments for bits and pieces and plugs. It does not “recline” but there is no position you cannot find to be comfortable.

    Once again the cabin is very modern, stylish and smart. I had a wonder to premium economy and economy and here are my thoughts on these seats:-

    Y+ – comfortable but at 8 across more of a Y seat than a Y+ seat frankly. The seat is narrower than what you would find on a 787 or 777 for example. Based in this I would be less likely to want to try another airline’s A350 in premium as the seating is less spacious by width.
    Y – comfy and way more shoulder room than on a 787 or 777 with 10 across.
    However on looking in economy (very quiet load on this flight) and admiring its aesthetics and seats was sent packing by a control freak male crew member even though push back was not happening for another 15 minutes at least! Does this type of crew member not think they are really not helping their brand?)

    Anyway went back to have a play with my seat/bed and turned on the moving map.

    The flight

    After take off another hot towel (BA are you reading this?) and then another large tray of food all of which was tasty. Crew were once again very personable and attentive. Flight was way to short in reality – this is a beautiful aircraft and with a superb and unique J product.

    Overall Summary

    Apart from the DXB-HEL flight, very good indeed. Very warm and attentive crew, generous food and drink portions, hot towels all the way and IMO good J products new and not so new. Aircraft inside and out are very stylish indeed as are the crew uniforms – very dark blue with silver white. Wished AY had their own inflight magazine to enhance their brand and the country itself but would be very happy to choose them again on both A330 and A350.

    This is an airline going through major challenge with the beyond awful Russia/Ukraine War impacting on its operations, and deserves to be supported and indeed to thrive.

    P.S. Hat tip to TimFitzgeraldTC ( a forum member and travel consultant) who I booked with and once again was very insightful and quick to find fares and options


    Excellent review, and my favourite airline in recent memory – exceptional service and Business product.
    Dissapointing to hear about DXB-HEL not being up to scratch, hopefully a one off.

    The ‘great apron views’ lounge you refer to I believe is the Schenghen lounge, and despite the lack of windows, the non-schenghen lounge is great.
    I remember arriving from DFW and almost being overcome with emotion when I saw the showers!

    Did you use the Sauna? 🙂

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    Did not get to use the showers or sauna – was only in the lounge 20 minutes or so as it was a short connection at 6-7 in the early morning.

    Looking through what I posted there are some ghastly typos once again – apologies..


    A very fair review. I am Finnair Platinum and indeed am off to Asia with them next week.

    The “new Business Class” is excellent and the seats don’t feel like coffin seats like they did on the old product.

    I also recommend the Platinum Wing lounge in the non-Schengen area – extremely stylish and efficient (as indeed is also the Business Lounge).

    They are really working hard to improve things. Their geographical location was an advantage before the current Ukraine situation; now it works against them. I flew them to Seoul a few months ago. The flight was about 12 hours out (due south to Turkey and then east over Kazakhstan, Chine, etc). Coming back it was over 14 hours as it flew east over Japan and then turned north, up the Baring Strait and the Pole, and down over Spitzbergen). It was no hardship though as the hard and soft products were, as you say, extremely good. I am sorry to hear about the poor sector you experienced – that is a real rarity with Finnair.

    Safe travels,


    1 user thanked author for this post.


    A great review sparkyflier and an airline I also use frequently to Asia, thanks to the amazing fares TimF manages to secure for me as well. Next flight with Finnair will be in 6 weeks.

    Finnair have an excellent onboard product and service. I do feel for the airline though, in the past, their strap line was along the lines of the quickest connection between Europe and Asia. Now however, it is probably one of the slowest due to the diversions they have to take to avoid Russian airspace. The flight schedules are frequently modified and not as regular, because they cant get their aircraft back to base quick enough for daily rotations.

    The one constant bugbear though is for early morning arrivals into Helsinki, you can end up in a totally deserted airside. The Asia flights generally arrive between 4am and 5am – and nothing is open. The Finnair (non Schengen) lounge only opens their door at 6am. So literally it’s a case of dragging a chair from the cafe next door (closed) if you want somewhere to sit and waiting up to 2 hours. You would think an airport/airline would open its facilities if they have early arriving flights.

    The evenings are similar, to the extent there are very few long-haul’s going out. The fabulous Platinum lounge closes (or did) at 6pm and the windowless business lounge has very limited offerings, except for a great bar and draught beer on tap. Last time I was transiting through HEL at night for HKG, the airport looked completely empty, a far cry to the pre covid, pre Russia/Ukraine, where it had a constant hustle and bustle about it.

    Only comment about inflight service – cabin crew had a very annoying habit after take off on a night flight for turning the lights back on at full intensity for the trolley service. The last time this happened, cabin did agree to dim the lights after a few passengers commented.

    Your comments about security; whilst I agree it seems odd within Europe, no security, but from Asia there is security, for me, I don’t mind as it kills some time, having to wait for the lounge to open.

    Transfer times – yes this is just ace, I would be nervous with such a short transfer time, but frequently Finnair will delay departure if a connecting slight is late arriving. Just brilliant to go such a short distance for your next flight or to the lounge if time. A great airport to transit for ex UK flights, unless of course you need to clear Immigration – but that’s a story already told.

    Summary – I agree 100% with sparkyflier – it is unfortunate the problems Finnair are having at the moment and certainly not through anything they have done. Europe to Asia options are perhaps slightly dominated by m/e carriers and Finnair and at least with Finnair if you can sleep on the flight, you are guaranteed a longer sleep (subject to no screaming kids) and you done have a n/e shuffle in the middle of the night. I am happy to continue supporting Finnair…

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    Great review. I’m surprised to hear you enjoyed the old style seat on the 330, I always found it to be uncomfortable and the cabin feels very cold and hospital like. I do agree the livery is fantastic, and the new seat is great. I highly recommend Helsinki, particularly in the summer, I often stay over for 24 hours in June/July when the days are long, the sun rises at 4am and being an early bird (I wake up at 3.45am each day) it’s a joy to stroll/cycle/scoot along the shoreline, which I very much look forward to doing again in a few months.

    1 user thanked author for this post.


    CheerUp/Simon/Martyn – re the DXB-HEL flight I am comfortable with thinking that was a one off. On the other 3 flights, on flights to and around that region years ago on a business trip and on the flights in the past months when they operated flights for BA, the crew have greatly impressed me and so they have many “credits in the bank”!

    AndrewinHK – back in my clubbing days at weekends it was not too unusual for me to be awake at that time, but that was before I went to sleep ha ha.
    But as you say Helsinki is a lovely city. I had a weekend there a while back around a business trip and it was very hot indeed and managed to get sunburnt! Recall small ferries to the islands and also a wonderful building by the water with lots of cafes/restaurants and food shops.

    BTW – on a separate note but A330 related – did you take that flight to GRU from SA on SAA? How was it?


    @Sparkyflier, I responded to the SAA 330 question in another thread to keep this one on topic. Helsinki weather, I’ve always been lucky, clear skies and a lovely temperature on each visit I have made in June/July.

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    On recent transits through Doha, I have seen up to 3 Finnair aircraft on the tarmac at about midnight. I am assuming that, with long-haul demand down elsewhere, they are now feeding QR services onward? Service from HEL, ARN and CPH, it would appear. Has anyone used this routing to get good value options to the ME and beyond?


    They seem not short of aircraft having wet leased 2 to Qantas and recently purchasing six A321-200s from Singapore-based lessor BOC Aviation, spending “in excess of” EUR200 million euros (USD219 million) on the transaction, whose “positive impact on both profit before tax and cashflow” will exceed EUR20 million (USD2.19 million) per year over the coming years,” according to the airline.


    Interested to hear whether anyone has taken up Finnair on their offer to be weighed at check in? I think this is only happening at Helsinki…

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