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Review: I try out Finnair’s revolutionary new ‘no recline’ Business Class seat

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This is our review of Finnair’s new ‘no recline’ Business Class seat.

A month ago, Finnair announced a brand new – and different – Business Class seat which will roll out on its entire long haul fleet by the end of 2023.

This came as a big surprise to the industry which had only been expecting to see the launch of Premium Economy.

Last Friday I was invited to try out the new seat, which had been specifically rostered on the Heathrow to Helsinki route for the occasion. David Kondo, Finnair’s design head, was with us.

Finnair new business class seat

Rhys wrote an in-depth piece on the new Finnair seat here. He knows far more about seat design than I do, and I don’t intend to repeat his thoughts here, so I recommend you read that piece alongside this one. His article has the smart PR photographs in it whilst this one has rough and ready real life images. The only PR picture here is the one above.

To summarise the seat:

  • it’s very good – ignore the fact it doesn’t recline, ignore the lack of a door. It’s a practical, cosy, private seat which is well ahead of the current one (which itself is well ahead of BA Club World).
  • I think that it may prove more popular with women than men, to the extent that it works best in the seating positions that women are more likely than men to adopt for anatomical reasons

This is what you see as you walk down the cabin. It looks a bit like the British Airways business class ‘cradle seat’, which readers over 50 may recognise:

Finnair new business class seat

It’s a 1-2-1 layout. Each row is identical – you don’t have any sort of staggered layout as you get with SWISS, Finnair (old seat), Aer Lingus etc.

Let’s take a closer look at the seat:

Finnair new business class seat

The first thing to note is how wide it is. Here is a picture of the seat with me in it:

Finnair new business class seat

There is a huge amount of space here. You are in no way coccooned by the seat, which is good to the extent that you can move around (and very good if you are wider than average).

The seat padding is soft, but not as soft as I expected. It’s not sofa-style padding – not unsurprising for an aircraft seat, of course, but this seat is pitched as being more of a sofa-style experience than usual.

Here is a view looking forward:

Finnair new business class seat

You have, as you’d expect, a high quality display screen. If you look under the TV you can just about see a foot rest which flips up and locks into place. There is a separate rest under the seat. When both are extended, the entire area you see below is one flat space:

Finnair new business class seat

The reason the seat doesn’t recline is that it doesn’t need to. You are meant to lie down on this flat area. I am 6 foot 2 and as you can see here, my toes were nowhere near the end of the foot hole when I was in a sleeping position:

Finnair new business class seat

As this was a 3 hour flight, we were not given pillows, duvets or blankets. It was impossible to get a proper impression of how the seat would work for sleeping, but I was convinced I would get a decent night on it. We also didn’t get proper headphones, just cheap earbuds, so I can’t comment on the sound quality available on a long-haul flight.

Whilst the seat has no door, you get a lot of privacy. Putting on a door means narrowing the seat by a few centimetres, and this is a trade off that Finnair was not willing to make. This was the view from my seat:

Finnair new business class seat

You can’t, realistically, say that you are lacking privacy here. The seats are far higher than British Airways business class seats.

If you are in the centre pair there is a divider between the two seats which can be placed up or down as you can see below. This clearly isn’t as private as being in a window seat, however.

Finnair new business class seat

Other seat features

Let’s look at some of the other features. The tray table is excellent. It swings out and then, if you wish, folds out to double in size. You can push it back easily if you need to get out of your seat during the meal service.

Finnair new business class seat

If you look to the far left of the picture above, you will see a tiny cross. This is a wireless phone charging pad. At last!

This is how the table looks when unfolded. The meal below – pasta and prawns – is Finnair’s typical short-haul food and is not typical of how a long-haul meal would be presented.

Finnair new business class seat

The storage unit comes with a bottle of water in its own special compartment. The thin rectangular slot is designed to store a laptop safely.

Finnair new business class seat

There is also a storage unit built into the seat, under the reading light. As well as storing the TV remove control, there is a USB C charging socket (a world first apparently) as well as enough space for spectacles, phones etc:

Finnair new business class seat

Our aircraft had wi-fi. As this was an older A330, I assume that the entire long-haul fleet must have it. Business Class passengers get 1 hour of free wi-fi and you can pay for additional time.

My only criticism is that the process for connecting is not clear. I initially thought it was turned off because, whilst I could see the network on my phone, it wouldn’t connect. What I didn’t know until I went to the wi-fi page on my IFE screen is that you need to scan a QR code or type in a specific URL to activate it. It is not automatic, and your device will not automatically divert to the registration page.

Once I was connected, it worked well. That said, with only seven passengers using it concurrently at the time I was on (you are told the number when connecting) it was not typical of a long-haul flight.

Does the lack of seat recline matter?

As you can see from the pictures, the seat back is not fully upright. There is a gentle slope which should be fine for sitting and eating. The issue is whether you extend the seat base and essentially curl up on it, or put your feet on the floor. I tried both and, if I’d had a blanket, would probably have gone for a curled position whilst watching TV.

What is interesting about the seat is that there is almost nothing mechanical about it. The only automated thing is the flap under your seat. This should keep maintenance costs down and presumably makes the seat lighter.


A three hour day flight to Helsinki isn’t, clearly, the same as a 12-hour overnight flight from Asia. Let”s start with that caveat. I also didn’t get to experience the food or service you would get on a long-haul flight, although my short-haul crews were excellent.

However, I can tell you with certainty that this is a comfortable, well designed, surprisingly large, surprisingly wide and surprisingly private Business Class seat.

It is well ahead of the current Finnair Business Class seat, which I was always positive about. It’s ironic that Finnair is ripping out seats which are only 5 years old in some cases and which are far better than the seats other airlines are still flying.

I can say for sure that sleeping in the new seat will not be a problem, given the length and width of the seat. I know that it is perfectly fine for sitting and working, because I tried it.

The key issue is whether you can find a comfortable position for sitting whilst reading or watching TV for extended periods. I think it would be fine, although I’ll need to try it to be sure.

Finnair has always offered a good Business Class product for flights to Asia. As regular HfP readers will know, it has also historically offered excellent value for money, especially in sales.

As Finnair is in the oneworld alliance, you earn Avios and British Airways Executive Club tier points. In fact, you earn more tier points than you would earn on British Airways, since the short-haul connection to Helsinki gets you a further 80 tier points in each direction in Business Class.

Finnair also runs a number of weekly flights from Heathrow with long haul aircraft, for cargo reasons. This means that, if you pick and choose your flights, you can fly Business Class to Asia with a flat bed on all four flights.

Finnair also flies from Manchester, Edinburgh and Dublin. If you don’t live near Heathrow then the rationale for flying it to Asia becomes even more compelling, because connecting in Helsinki is no harder than connecting in Heathrow.

Thanks to David Kondo and his team at Finnair for inviting me. If you are heading to Helsinki, I can recommend ‘Shelter’ restaurant on the harbour – website here – which attracts a young and buzzy crowd but also delivers on the food front, and where David’s team took us.

PS. Don’t miss our review of the new Premium Economy seat

If you found this article interesting, click here for our review of Finnair’s new (and first ever) Premium Economy seat which is being added to the same aircraft.

Head for Points made a financial contribution to the Woodland Trust as part of this trip. The Woodland Trust creates and manages forests in the UK in accordance with the Woodland Carbon Code.

Comments (263)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • mkcol says:

    I’ve been waiting up all night to read this.

    • mvcvz says:

      “Sitting up all night” would have been a funnier line. Don’t give up your day job.

  • Blair Waldorf Salad says:

    Hmm I’d be unconvinced of this seat. Anything that encourages curling up means feet on the seat, not on the floor. I don’t want to see/think about other peoples’ feet being on seats – trains, buses or planes.

    • BJ says:

      Where do you sit, sleep and wash when staying in hotels?

      • Blair Waldorf Salad says:

        On clean sheets and in a clean shower. Those seats aren’t getting rinsed with Flash Bathroom after a long haul flight with a sockless curled up passenger.

        • John says:

          Neither are your hotel sheets or shower

          • TGLoyalty says:

            I really hope the hotel sheets and shower are being cleaned between guests.

            Not that I’m really worried about other peoples sockless feet since I wear socks at all times in planes … probably says more about OP

        • BJ says:

          Not convinced hotels will be as clean as you hope, but agree on seats on plane. I think people should have the decency to keep their feet off them. I’d be surprised if Finnair wants to promote curling up on the seats as putting feet on seats on any form of public transport is generally frowned on everywhere I’ve been.

    • Andrew J says:

      I would agree that these seats could age very badly. I also don’t like the idea of the pillow playing such a crucial role in the comfort of the seat – I usually remove pillow when sitting down if I’m planning to sleep as I don’t like the idea of putting my face on something I’ve had my back on all day after sitting on countless other chairs/seats. I wonder if a sleeping pillow or a pillowcase is provided as other airlines do, particularly in First.

      • dougzz99 says:

        I honestly wonder how people so concerned about dirt/germs in public places function in a world they have so little control over. Embrace the the grime.

        • John says:

          I clean things and have been doing so long before it became “fashionable”

          • Cranzle says:

            I think the whole ‘oooh, you can’t say that’ movement is what seems to be fashionable at the moment.

      • Super Secret Stuff says:

        How about putting the pillow to the side as you sit down? There is plenty of room underneath the window

        • meta says:

          “ The seat padding is soft, but not as soft as I expected. It’s not sofa-style padding – not unsurprising for an aircraft seat, of course, but this seat is pitched as being more of a sofa-style experience than usual.”

          I was really excited about the seat, but this big thumbs down for me!

  • BJ says:

    I suppose the key question most will have is whether the comfort you experienced in the sitting position on a 3h day flight extends to a 10-12h day flight. I guess for me personally it would as I am almost always sitting upright or asleep in full flat bed. Recliners that convert to full flat beds have not always provided the best upright seats as by their nature are a compromise between design features that provide a decent seat and a decent bed. Hence the reason some airlines experiment with separate seats and beds from time to time. It is interesting that you state this seat is superior to the existing Finnair seat because that comes close to saying this is right up there with the best of business class seats on the market if not the best of all because all the other seats of the Qsuite era with or without doors are more or less same same.

  • John Granger says:

    We are great fans of Finnair and can’t wait to try this seat – booked to Singapore and onwards to Sydney on Qantas in September. Question: how does the ‘lounging’ work with the seatbelt fastened? I always keep my seatbelt on turbulence or not, but don’t want to seat bolt upright when reading or watching a film.

  • Bibby says:

    In this day and age I’m surprised you actively chose to define the seat as ‘feminine’ and drew a parallel with a presumably unresearched assumption that men don’t curl up on sofas. A very odd sentiment, out of keeping with your normal journalistic standard and very much out of touch.

    • thirddrive says:

      I thought the same and was very surprised to read that. Inanimate objects don’t have a gender!

      Surely curling up and getting comfy is the exact point of the seat, regardless of sex or how you identify?

      • Milaneser says:

        There are many countries where all objects, inanimate or otherwise, do have a gender 🙂

        Here in Italy, for example, you may or may not be surprised to know the word for sofa, ‘il divano’ is actually masculine.

        There is of course now a militant fringe that are campaigning to change the structure of the Italian language but thankfully Italy is probably 10-20 years behind the UK in the PC stakes and most people retain a high level of common sense.

  • Simon says:

    They are probably ripping out the 5yo seats due to the what must be excellent business case of weight and maintenance reduction. The fact it’s a new product is the cherry on top. If this is the case I would assume this seat will become the standard unless people really dislike it.

  • Bob says:

    “you rarely see a man curled up on a sofa”

    I am one of these men 🙂

    • LetBAgonesbe says:

      Me too. 😊

      • Mike says:

        Let this be the new “Me Too” movement- I don’t curl up on the sofa – nor should people expect me to – I am proud to proclaim “ I am a man – I shall not curl”

    • Jon says:

      Singapore Airlines business class we did a couple of years back had very wide seats and me and the missus both did this

      • yorkieflyer says:

        good comparison, I actively disliked the excessive width of the Singapore airlines biz seat whereas my wife, curling up disagreed with me…. I’ll get my coat.

    • Andrew J says:

      Yes, very outdated gender stereotyping.

    • Super Secret Stuff says:

      Me too

    • Jeff77 says:

      “ “you rarely see a man curled up on a sofa”

      Probably because I don’t go round people’s houses looking at whether they’re curled up on a sofa.

      • Rachel Robinson says:

        Idiotic comment. I rarely see rats. Apparently there are millions of them around though.

    • Andrew says:


  • david says:

    Great review. So you were completely horizontal in a sleeping position from head to toe? Weird, as the angles I am seeing from the photos seems like this should be impossible, but of course must be different first hand.

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