What it’s like to fly Finnair business class
How does Helskini's finest compare to other oneworld airlines?
Finnair represents one of the less obvious oneworld partner airlines for most Australians. However, it does run services to Bangkok, Hong Kong and Singapore, which makes for straightforward connections if you're heading to Europe. Finnair also sprouts regular sales, making it tempting as a potential Qantas alternative.
I've just returned from a month-long holiday to Scandinavia using a combination of Finnair and Malaysia Airlines flights. I took advantage of sales from both airlines to indulge myself with a business-class return for less than I might otherwise have paid just for premium economy.
My choice of airlines led to two main responses on social media: predictable (and pointless) jokes about the "risk" of flying Malaysia Airlines, and a lot of curiosity about what Finnair's actually like. So here are some notes about the Finnair part of the experience.
From Australia, I took two legs on Finnair: Bangkok to Helsinki, then Helsinki to Copenhagen. On the return, I travelled Stockholm to Helsinki, then Helsinki to Bangkok.
The short-haul European flights offer a fairly basic version of business class, only occupying the first two rows of the A320 aircraft. The seating's identical to what's in economy, but the middle seat is blocked out (and marked as a "complimentary" seat).
Given those flights both run well under 2 hours, that didn't bother me, especially as the pricing for the connection remained basically the same as if I'd just flown into Helsinki. Plus I got a free breakfast/dinner on each occasion (though no booze for the latter, sadly).
Of course, the real meat of the business class experience is the long-haul Bangkok-Helsinki flight. For this, you get the proper business package: aisle access from all seats, a full lie-flat bed, USB and standard power outlets, a decent amenities kit, priority boarding and a generous serving of boarding champagne. One nice touch: the business class toilets even have windows you can open, to enjoy the sky-high view.
The food offering was also impressive. I especially liked the range of cocktails on offer, and can recommend the gin and tonic (with berries). Both flights were overnight, and I put in my breakfast order before going to sleep to maximise sleep time. No free pyjamas, alas, but I did get a pair of slippers, and I slept right through.
The crew on all four flights were friendly, cheerful and helpful. I only experienced check-in at Stockholm; while economy-class passengers are encouraged to use kiosks, there was a staff member on hand to help, even when I showed up my customary (and paranoid) three hours before the flight.
Complaints are all pretty minor and first-world. I would have liked a broader range of TV shows on the in-flight entertainment, and the amount of at-seat storage is a little limited. (That doesn't matter so much when you can easily access the aisle, however.)
The other potential downside? While I earned Qantas Points (because Finnair is a oneworld partner), I got a lot less of those than I would have on the same Qantas flight, because I didn't get any status bonuses. But those are the breaks.
Bottom line? I'd happily fly Finnair again, and the airline is seriously in consideration for my goal round-the-world flight for 2020. Flights ahoy!
Angus Kidman's Findings column looks at new developments and research that help you save money, make wise decisions and enjoy your life more. It appears regularly on Finder.
Picture: Getty Images