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SURPRISE: Finnair launches revolutionary new business class and premium economy seats

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The big news today, which we knew was coming, was supposed to be the launch of Finnair’s new Premium Economy seat. Instead, it has surprised everyone by also launching what looks like a very exciting new business class seat.

With Finnair being a British Airways partner in the oneworld alliance, this looks like a very attractive way to earn Avios and BA tier points, or spend Avios. Finnair is especially convenient for trips to Asia because fares are often very good and Helsinki is ‘on the way’ – the stopover doesn’t add much time.

Our review of the new seat is here.

Finnair A350 business class cabin

Making a good first impression

Let’s start with the new boarding experience before we look at the new business class and premium economy cabins. Lots of airlines have been trying to transform the galleys at Door 2, where the majority of passengers board, into a boarding experience that more closely represents their brand.

Traditionally, you’re faced with a utilitarian-looking galley on boarding. Finnair has really pulled all the stops out to create a Nordic, hotel-inspired boarding area that nonetheless operates as a fully functioning galley:

Finnair A350 welcome onboard

How classy is that? The rich midnight blue colour plays a key part in Finnair’s new brand identity across the cabins, as you’ll see, and it pairs nicely with the warm wood effect.

This space will also offer snacks and on-demand drinks for business class (and occasionally premium economy) passengers.

Finnair A350 Business class cabin

Finnair goes hygge with its new business class seats

Although ‘hygge’ originates in Denmark, Finnair has very much embraced the concept in the design of its new business class seat and cabin.

For the uninitiated, hygge is “a quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being (regarded as a defining characteristic of Danish culture).”

Take a look and see what you think:

Finnair A350 Business class seat

There’s also a video on Finnair’s Youtube channel that walks you through the seat:

(If you are reading on email please click here to view it.)

Finnair has opted for a brand new business class seat based on the Collins Aerospace AirLounge. This is based on a seat design by PriestManGoode which was originally pitched to British Airways, although it has been refined by Collins and Tangerine. Tangerine designed the original BA Club World seat – the first business class seat to feature a fully flat bed.

This is the first time AirLounge has been selected by a commercial carrier so it really is a brand new concept. That said, you can see elements of Collin’s other products within it, including the SuperDiamond which is the basis for BA’s Club Suite.

There are a few big differences that really hammer home the cosiness, I think. For a start, the seat back cocoons you:

Finnair A350 Business Class seat

Crucially, the entire interior of the seat shell is padded, which should help dampen noise in the cabin and also gives the seat a warm, soft feeling.

On closer inspection, this seat shell is a fixed seat back. Unlike other business class seats, the back rest and the seat shell are not separate elements but one and the same. This is what designer David Kondo (no relation to the other Kondo!) had to say:

“We wanted to rethink business class and create more of a residential environment, emulating the comfort you would expect at home. By doing away with complicated seat mechanisms and using 3D curved shells, we’re able to provide a larger flexible living space. This allows you to move more freely and take up different positions that traditional aircraft seats do not allow.”

Finnair says you’ll be able to site and lounge in the seat in a combination of ways, as is illustrated by this image:

Finnair AirLounge seat positions

It will be interesting to see how this works in practise. Integrating the seat back and the seat shell means you won’t be able to recline your seat in the same way – it is fixed, after all – but creating a wrap-around padded seat shell should open up the space to more flexible seating positions. We will have to wait to see it in person to find out exactly how it works.

Of course, the seat still turns into a fully flat bed:

It looks like there will be plenty of width at shoulder level, although the foot cubby hole looks a bit tight in this photo:

The centre pair of seats feature a movable divider:

Finnair A350 Business Class seat pair


In terms of connectivity, you get an 18″ in flight entertainment screen, as well as USB A, USB C and mains plug sockets, plus a wireless charging pad. Storage is also available, although it’s not clear how much at-seat space there will be given the new design.

Finnair has also used the rollout of the new seat to refresh its colour palette, with rich midnight blues replacing the current grey-ish seating. I think it looks very classy and it will also be less prone to staining.

The airline has teamed up with Marimekko again to design the soft product touches like pillows and blankets. These have become more muted, to balance out the blue:

Finnair A350 business class seat

I would love to see an pop of accent colour in the soft product however – perhaps a bright red/purple Marimekko amenity kit like the ones that were unveiled for Chinese New Year a couple of years ago?

Does it have a door?

As you have probably noticed by now, there is no door on this seat. Nonetheless, it looks like a very private seat with the cocooning shell wrapping around virtually the entire space.

The great door debate lives on ….

Finnair’s new Premium Economy seat

Originally due to be launched in 2020, Finnair has finally lifted the curtain on its new Premium Economy cabin. It is less revolutionary than its new business class and features a more conventional seat:

Finnair A350 premium economy cabin

This is HAECO’s new Vector Premium seat, and Finnair is the first airline to have it:

The same midnight blue colour palette from the welcome area and business class carries through. The seat features has an 8″ recline as well as an integrated ‘waterfall’ footrest:

Finnair A350 premium economy recline

Other features include a 13″ screen:

…. as well as flexible tray table and movable 6-way head rest:

…. and Marimekko-designed textiles including a custom neck pillow:

Finnair Premium economy blanket neck pillow

There are a maximum of 26 seats in the premium economy cabin, depending on the aircraft, so it will be very intimate.

…. but say goodbye to Ultima Thule glassware

The only sad news today is that Finnair will be bidding farewell to its Iittala Ultima Thule glassware, which it has been using since 1969.

Iitalla ultima thule finnair

Designed by Tapio Wirkkala, Ultima Thule glassware became a Finnair trademark and is probably the longest-serving piece of design for an airline, ever.

It is being replaced by a new Iittala design called Kuulas, by Harri Koskinen:

Finnair glassware kuulas

The new glassware is 20% lighter than the Ultima Thule range, which will help save money and fuel and go some way towards Finnair’s sustainability goals.

Nonetheless, it is sad to say goodbye to the iconic Ultima Thule range. Fortunately, it won’t disappear completely: Finnair will retain the glass for the champagne service in business class

When can I try the new cabins?

Both of these cabins are rolling out on Finnair’s 17 A350s and 8 A330s over the course of the next 22 months, with an eye to completing the fit-out on all long haul aircraft by the end of 2023.

Finnair is rapidly rolling out the new cabins across its fleet of 25 long haul aircraft, even though some of these aircraft are relatively new. Topi Manner, Finnair CEO, said that “this is going to be a fairly fast rollout, so by the time we celebrate our 100th anniversary in 2023 all of the long haul Finnair aircraft will be fitted with the new cabin.”

Although two aircraft have already been refitted and will start flying this month, you won’t be able to book Premium Economy until the 1st March when the first routes will be announced. Anyone flying on the refitted planes until then will get the existing, rather than new, service.

Topi Manner did reveal that it is likely to launch on routes to Asia initially, which comes as no surprise given the strong focus on the region.


Finnair has genuinely surprised us with what appears to be a revolutionary new business class seat design.

Whilst the existing business class cabin already offers a solid product, Finnair is one-upping itself with a new concept that gives us a glimpse of the future of business class. I like it: a move towards more organic forms and doubling down on creating warm and cosy spaces that are nonetheless private.

A big question mark remains over the comfort of a seat that doesn’t recline – although neither does my sofa, and I’m comfortable on that, too.

The new Premium Economy cabin also looks great, if less revolutionary, and it will offer a great product for anyone who doesn’t want to stretch to business class but still wants an upgraded experience.

You can read our review of the new Finnair no-recline business class seat here.

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