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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.

  • E says:

    Can’t add anything to the Finnair seat debate, but can second the recommendation for Shelter. It’s our favourite place to eat in Helsinki.

  • Jon says:

    That food looks more appetising than a lot of the garbage I’ve had in CW and F on BA flights the past couple of years

  • Nick says:

    Am surprised there’s no information on what cushions and pillows are planned – if Finnair aren’t talking about any changes it seems fair to assume there won’t be any changes.

    USB-B is another surprising choice, handy for anyone who wants to connect to a printer? Proclamations as to the behaviours of women feels like more influence on this blog from the Airline Revenue Economics newsletter!

    • Save East Coast Rewards says:

      As you probably guessed it’s USB-A and C

    • Mark says:

      Technically, even that wouldn’t help unless the seat is the printer… 🙂

      • Mike says:

        Wow – but just think if it did that would be blue sky thinking ( well blue sky printing actually)

  • AspirationalFlyer says:

    Good review. I had the exact same meal on Finnair yesterday on their Dubai-Helsinki route (which they apparently do not regard as long-haul notwithstanding the flight was about 7.5 hours).

  • TC says:

    Does anyone know what flights the seats are on from LHR? Thanks

    • AJA says:

      Traditionally the 10:20 departure LHR to HEL is a widebody which gives you 3 hours in the lounge in HEL before connecting to a BKK departure. Usually the A350 but not always as i think Rob was on this flight and he mentions it was the older A330. Also the flight that departs LHR around 4pm is sometimes a widebody too.

      Not sure what time they depart from HEL to LHR but it would be around 6am and 12pm I’d guess.

    • Sarah says:

      I was due to be on the 07.50 HEL-LHR flight on Sunday, which was scheduled to be an A330 and looked from the seat plan like it had the new seat. Unfortunately my flight from SIN was 2 hours late so we missed the connection. I would very much hope that new cushions are being introduced for this seat, the cushion I was originally given on my SIN flight was as lumpy as a bag of coals. They managed to swap it out for one that was slightly less lumpy, but it did make me miss the BA White Company pillows – about the only thing I missed about BA.

  • Andrew J says:

    “ I think that it is a very feminine seat, to the extent that it works best in the sort of typical seating positions that women are more likely than men to adopt (you rarely see a man curled up on a sofa, for example)”

    What a ridiculous comment and on International Women’s Day! I would also ask, when the last time you saw anyone curled up on a sofa other than your immediate family – I don’t tend to go round to people’s houses to look at them while they watch TV or read a book on the sofa – so can’t really comment on how men or women use sofas.

    • Super Secret Stuff says:

      I have to agree here, I think it’s a bit of a ridiculous comment regardless of timing

      • Bibby says:

        I made the same point but my comment is still awaiting moderation… Hmmm…

    • Nick says:

      What sort of message does this thinking send to the women who have worked on this blog?

    • Thywillbedone says:

      I was hoping this comment might be tongue-in-cheek, but alas I fear not. Rob made a generalisation which is true: women tend to curl up, men don’t (at least in part for anatomy reasons). Look at any advert for sofas and you’ll see this. There’s no reason to burst into tears over it.

      • Andrew J says:

        The sofa adverts just perpetuate that stereotype. The reason that airlines on days like today in particular put out loads of social media about woman pilots and engineers is to dispel this gender stereotyping about behaviour.

        • Thywillbedone says:

          It’s not about stereotyping though. It’s an observation which is broadly true. Aside from the obvious differences, men have proportionally longer thigh bones …we are just not built to relax in the same way. As much as you may hate the fact, gender differences exist.

      • James says:

        I’m genuinely confused by the anatomy point. What body part in a man stops curling?

    • Charles Martel says:

      A time when the Michael Winner response is needed.

      *Generally* men and women do have slightly different postures and dare I say it – bodies – that might suit different seat types.

    • Rachel Robinson says:

      Generally is the term that lives behind stereotypes. I often see a man curled up on a sofa because I live with a man and we have a short sofa.

      We can all make the mistake of thinking our own experiences are those of the whole population.

      Ridiculous and ignorant comment in the article and those defending it need to take a look at themselves.

      • dougzz99 says:

        Shhhh. The men are talking.

      • Pete says:

        While I won’t defend the comment. With so much going on at the moment. So what? Plenty of room for me to sit there manspreading, knees akimbo, while I am been told how (mansplained) or what I should think.

        If you don’t like it. Scroll on.
        If you don’t like it, Move on.

      • Nic says:

        So let’s do away with bikes that are made for women’s different geometry. He was making a point about how men and women tend to sit differently because our bodies tend to be different. Just go to a park on the weekend and look at groups sitting on the ground. I do not find it comfortable to sit in the same way as my partner does.

      • Mike says:

        Dry your eyes

      • yorkieflyer says:

        Just taken a look at myself…. I’m stretched out.

    • Novelty-Socks says:

      Not going to get too worked up about this, but I do agree that the language used to describe inanimate objects as “masculine” and “feminine” feels increasingly old-fashioned and unnecessary.

      • Pete says:

        Sounds like a good idea

      • Colin MacKinnon says:

        Try speaking French or Spanish!

        Anyone here know how they are planning to create a gender neutral language?

      • Save East Coast Rewards says:

        Most European languages gender everything. It’s still taking a lot of getting used to when in Italy.

  • Charlie says:

    Great honest review. Love the matching yellow socks and trousers!!

    • yorkieflyer says:

      Yes I was thinking the same, rather Portilloesque. Rob, where you wearing a red jacket to complete the combo?

  • Jeff77 says:

    What’s a “buzzy crowd” ?

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