Flying the new Finnair Airbus A350 XWB – Part 2

Two weeks ago, I flew to Helsinki and back in Finnair business class.  This was an opportunity to be one of the first people to fly the new Airbus A350 XWB and also to try out Finnair.

Finnair, remember, is a British Airways partner via the oneworld alliance.  You earn Avios and BA tier points when you fly with them.  With Finnair soon to fly from London, Manchester, Edinburgh and Dublin to Helsinki, and with regular business class fare sales to Asia at around £1,000, you may soon find yourself on their new A350 fleet.

Yesterday in Part 1 I wrote about the Airbus A350 development programme and the special features of the aircraft.  Today, I want to review my business class Finnair flight on the A350.

Finnair has a special A350 website which tells you more about their new aircraft and seating. There are no further A350 test flights from Heathrow listed at the moment but, as more aircraft arrive, they may well reoccur.

Because I was on a short-haul flight, I will not focus too heavily on the food or service as it is not the same as you would receive on a Finnair long-haul flight.

This is the PR picture released by Finnair of the new business class seat on the A350:

Finnair A350

And here is the blurb that came with it:

It is equipped with Wi-Fi and wireless in-flight entertainment services. It also comes with dynamic LED lighting that changes to suit the time of day, destination and season, creating a calming and fresh atmosphere. The Airbus A350 features an advanced pure-air filtration system that recycles the air in the cabin every two to three minutes. Draft-free air management, adjustable multiple temperature zones and lower cabin pressure all enhance the well-being of everyone on board.

Here are some of my shots:






The 1-2-1 layout, as you can see from the photograph, is excellent.  I was in 4A on both flights.   The seats do not line up with the windows.  Each row has the window in a different position.  You will have a window but it might not be aligned with your head!

You are not facing forward but facing the window at an angle of probably 30 degrees.  Your feet disappear into a cubby hole under the seat in front:


This an effective way of achieving a 1-2-1 layout with a fairly dense seating layout.  The one problem I have with it, and it also occurred on the Qatar Airways Boeing 787 which has the same design in business class, is that it is difficult to cross your legs whilst seated. I tend to do this whilst reading to support whatever newspaper I have!

Whilst the seat is angled towards the window, the armrest is not.  This is a little odd as it is basically pointing away from you!


There is a decent sized TV.  The entertainment selection, whilst no worse than British Airways Club World, was unfortunately light years behind what you find on the Middle East carriers.


I should put in a word of praise for the in-flight internet which was the quickest I have ever used.  It is free for business class passengers using a code which is shown on your TV screen.  Economy passengers must pay.

Here is an odd one – the cabins have digital clocks built into the ‘no smoking’ signs.  These remained on ‘departure city time’ for the whole journey which will get a little confusing on a long haul flight:


Finally, a word about the tray table!   There were two things about the tray table that I really liked:

You can release it without lifting a flap – it slides out sideways.  The means that you don’t have to move around your drinks and personal belongings in order to get your table out.

Whilst the tray table position is fixed, the seat itself slides forwards and backwards!  If you need to nip out of your seat whilst eating, you are not ‘trapped’ – simply push the button, slide back your seat and you can step out.  Another of my common irritations banished!

All in all, I was very impressed by the Finnair A350 business class cabin.  In terms of space and privacy it is a huge step above British Airways Club World, and you get the additional benefits of the A350 – bigger windows, improved cabin pressure, more humidity etc.

It is well worth considering for your next trip to Asia.  The Finnair A350 site has a list of roll-out dates by route.

In Part 3 (click here) I take a quick look at the food and the light shows that have been programmed in to the cabin!

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  1. Thanks Rob, looking forward to this. If I can find se Asian city offering HEL connections back into EDI then it will likely become main focus of my future travels although I could always return to London for a weekend break which is no hardship.

  2. Christian Harris says:


  3. Dave Prosen says:

    I’m booked to fly on this from HK in July. A flight I have in January is still stated as the old A320.

    What I’m interested to know about the A350 is the listed ‘Ladies Washroom’. How will this be policed I wonder..

    • Self-policed, naturally.

      In real life I’ve only seen women using men’s loos, not the reverse.

      For obvious reasons.

    • Roger Wilco says:

      There were some complaints against this in Finland (“sexual discrimination”) so AY announced that the loos are “unisex” and the name means simply “more female cosmetics” :-)

  4. Not sure the 350 will return to LHR for more test flights. Airlines tend to run the “test” flights only when a new type enters a fleet. It allows them to train up flight deck and cabin crew quickly. Once a type is bedded down in a fleet and other new aircraft arrive they tend to just go into long haul service.

    For example BA only operated the 787 and 380 Euro flights when the first aircraft of each type arrived- we didn’t see any 380 Euro flights the week before last when the latest 380 arrived.

    • Finnair are running the A350 at least until February on selected flights. I’ve just had a quick look & it’s operating AY831 on 8th Feb for example.
      They are doing this also to increase crew familiarisation as they get more deliveries, prior to rostering them on the long-hauls they were designed for.

  5. The armrest looks like a slight fail?

  6. This is essentially the same seat as CX’s.

    • It is, just a more updated version from the seat manufacturer. There other aircraft have same seats as Swiss and it’s still a decent product.

      • Ah, thought it was very very familiar to the seat on the AA flight I took the other day from JFK to LHR (on a 777)

        Raffles, you are teaching me well!… 12 months ago, I would have never sat in a seat anything like this, let alone “recognised it” 😀

        (Even squeezed in my first ever Club Europe seat the other day… I knew I expected it to be naff as it’s identical to economy, but at the same time I still kinda hoped it wouldn’t be! haha
        – I wonder how many non-BA travellers that catches out!??)

        • PS – do you know the text above the advert (which is at the bottom of the right-hand column) says “Google Very Bottom”…

          In fairness, if you do google “Very Bottom”, you only come up top if you put “avios” after it 😀 😉

  7. I think they might’ve made a mistake in their blurb “lower cabin pressure all enhance the well-being of everyone on board.”

    It should be higher pressure, simulating a lower altitude, surely?

  8. Curious that you give praise to the ME airlines being streets ahead on entertainment. I can’t comment on the others but thought QR’s was distinctly average and varied across the product range. Give me BA or Virgin any day.

    • BA seems to be worse and worse. Ba001 last week was terrible on the iPad. And the films coming back in first from jfk were the same as they were over a month ago.

    • Can’t comment on QR, but Emirates is way ahead of BA’s entertainment system. Emirates economy screens are usually better than BA CW and there is far more variety to choose from. Also Emirates have just announced larger screens in first, going up to 32 inch!

    • Back on QR on Friday and on Etihad today so I can compare! Emirates is astonishing – my kids and my wife so crazy now when I book us on BA to the Middle East.

      • Today is the day eh?! Enjoy the EY apartment, looking forward to hearing about it!

        • Well, yesterday was meant to the day before Etihad starting mucking about with its A380 scheduling!

          It’s mad. It looks like I will be covering Plaza Premium T4 (where I am now), Etihad lounge T4, EY A380 F, Qatar F (regional), Qatar A380 F (long haul), whatever lounge is open at Qatar and whatever lounge Qatar uses in Abu Dhabi, plus all of the oneworld lounges in Paris. And two hotel reviews. In 48 hours. This is a tougher gig than you imagine :-)

          PS. For the avoidance of doubt, everything is paid in cash or on my own miles and points, albeit cash expenses are tax deductible!

          • It’s inevitable Rob, some will now start complsining about your tax returns! Have a safe and pleasant trip. Enjoy EY wi fi, it’s great.

      • Enjoy!

        Having flown the A350 on QR I can say hands down its amazing in biz class. The finnair layout looks very similar just not quite the same touch as the big 3 Middle East carriers. I can’t imagine finnair wheel out bottles of billiecart, rose champagne, and Godiva to ‘snack’ on while you stretch your legs at the bar in between your 7 courses!

        Be interested to read any TR you come up with. By the way I’m wondering what the new BA 787 in CW is like to AUH direct. Probably far more than our convoluted route LHR – FRA – DOH – AUH just so we (sorry I!) could try out the A350 in biz!

        Having said that the wife insists on flying QR now not interested in CW anymore…..snob!

    • Have to say I also find both BA and AY IFE very poor compared to ME3. Yearssince I flew emirates but even way back then they were light years ahead of BA and AY. I recall they had the complete set of UK number 1 hits, I thoroughly enjoyed a trip down memory lane, made 10 abreast economy on a 777 bearable. By contrast BA doesn’t even understand what a documentary or a classic is. I was less impressed with QR option, didn’t fin it so user friendly.

  9. Really interested to read this, I’m booked LHR-HEL-BKK on the A350 in a couple of months time, i really can’t imagine it being worse than BA’s CW…

  10. I flew from HEL-LHR on this aircraft a few weeks ago, and reported it here:

    I was actually quite surprised to find that the seats are significantly less comfortable than those in CW. Specifically, I found that the seat was just not deep enough, and no amount of fine tuning could cure that. The footrest is fixed, unlike the adjustable footrest in CW. The seat goes fully flat for sleping, but the end (where your legs go) is very narrow (a little like the long haul ex BMI A321s BA use for some flights to TLV). I for one would not be so happy with it for a long night’s sleep.

    The aircraft certainly looked very pleasant, and was very quiet, but the seats were certainly a significant problem for me (and I am not that tall either).

  11. Anyone know how long BA points will take to credit from a Qatar flight?

  12. How many points + taxes?

  13. I’ll add that a medium hail QR A350 flight I took (SIN-DOH) was possibly the best Y class product overall i’ve ever experienced – for space, comfort and generally feeling great getting off the plane. Worth searching out for those of us down back. (and in answer to above questions, 5 months on, i’m still awaiting for BA to credit Avios on 1 out of 4 of my QR segments 5 months on).

  14. I flew on the A350 in economy class LHR-HEL. The legroom is excellent in the normal economy seats and economy “comfort” even better (and i’m 193cm tall). The seat back monitors are quite big for economy, occupying almost all of the headrest area. There are no physical buttons though, so if the monitors are on in unoccupied seats in the row in front of you you cannot easily reach through and turn them off.
    One member of the cabin crew said the overhead seat belt/clock display was GMT and not departure city time. But perhaps she thought UK was on GMT all year round, since in the summer the display will not be showing departure city time if it does show GMT.
    One funny thing on the seat back displays is that they show a “timetable” for the flight, showing departure, arrival, food service, in flight sales. I suppose that’s more useful for long haul flights than LHR-HEL.

  15. That’s not actually the “departure city time”, but UTC time.