Finnair became the first European carrier to fly the A350 XWB in October 2015 and was also the first carrier to fly the new aircraft to Hong Kong.
We arrived at T2 of Helsinki Airport at 2130 for the 2350 flight AY069 to Hong Kong. The airport was a ghost town. I used the self-service check-in machine before proceeding to the bag drop counter and whizzed through security. From there it was a 10-minute walk to Gate 35, conveniently located next to the Finnair Lounge (at Gate 36).
The lounge is bright and spacious with high ceilings and a split-level design. There’s a variety of seating options, from group settings to individual recliners and even a sleeping pod. The food and bar area was large, although by 2200 most of the food stations were deserted. The “lunch buffet” (served until midnight) offered a mediocre salad selection, plus baked potatoes and some cakes and biscuits. Other facilities included three computer stations plus a printer, a selection of international newspapers, TV screens, shower facilities and, of course, a sauna.
The boarding call came at 2320. I boarded late, to discover I had missed the round of welcome drinks, but I was offered a newspaper, and despite being the last on there was plenty of overhead cabin space left.
Business class uses the Zodiac Cirrus III product, with 46 seats arranged in a 1-2-1 configuration giving all passengers direct aisle access. I was in seat 10A. The seats are spacious, comfortable and afford a high degree of privacy thanks to the angled design and additional privacy sliders. There are also plenty of storage options, including a large footwell, concealed storage in the side of the seat and a pocket for documents. Other facilities include a universal power plug and USB socket, fantastic noise-cancelling Bose headphones and an easy-to-use seat control panel. The seat slides forward and joins the footwell to create a long bed, which is fine for sleeping, but I missed being able to have my legs slightly elevated while seated.
WHICH SEAT TO CHOOSE?
Bulkhead seats offer slightly more room (with a pitch of 81 inches versus 79 inches) and there was no disturbance from the galley or lavatory traffic.
We took off at 0005, slightly behind the 2350 scheduled departure. The extra-quiet environment on the A350 was immediately noticeable (although this became a disadvantage when my neighbour began snoring).
A detailed meal order was taken at 0030 from the Nordic-inspired menu created by Michelin-starred chef Sasu Laukkonen, featuring dishes such as pike-perch terrine or cucumber and dill soup with salmon tartare. However, craving a taste of home, I opted for the sweet-and-sour pork, which was served at 0120. The rocket salad was fresh and tasty, but the main dish was rather bland and lacked texture – I should have stuck with the Finnish offering.
The IFE system has been given a major overhaul with a sleek, futuristic interface, a generous 16-inch screen and improved content (although the film and TV options still felt limited compared to other carriers). The home screen displays a useful flight timeline – with markers for things like landing and meal times. The new wifi offering is good – fast, reliable and free for business class passengers.
After the lights were dimmed I stretched out on the flat bed and had a comfortable sleep, waking 1hr 40 mins before arrival. Breakfast was great: lingonberry yoghurt, fresh fruit and a main dish with eggs seasoned to perfection.
We landed on schedule at 1435 and disembarked 15 minutes later. Immigration was a painless affair.
Finnair’s A350 business class product is a vast improvement on the A330 that also flies this route. The cabin is sleek and quiet, while the seats are functional and allow a good night’s sleep. The cabin attendants were also very friendly and helpful.
- DEPARTURE TIME 2350
- JOURNEY TIME 9 hours 35 minutes
- CONFIGURATION 1-2-1
- SEAT WIDTH 21in/53cm
- SEAT RECLINE 180 degrees
- BED LENGTH 79-81in/201-206cm
- PRICE Internet rates for a return business class flight in July start from €2,910 (US$3,282).
- CONTACT finnair.com