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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.

  • Ls says:

    Interesting concept. Thanks. I’d have to try though before deciding.

  • Ed says:

    Another inward sigh at the comment that men must sit in a certain way and women can sit another way.

    It appears that this seat requires you to be reasonably supple and flexible: the passenger needs to manipulate their body into seat rather than seat around body. I worry that it may be more suited to the needs of a young design team who hang out in cool restaurants in Helsinki, rather than business execs or wealthy leisure travellers in their 50s/60s.

    I also think the absolute crux is: no mechanics and no door is a substantial decrease in weight (and maintenance) and the cost savings on fuel burn will quickly Mount up. Almost foresight with the closure of Russian airspace!!

  • Catalan says:

    Canary yellow trousers and socks Rob!? Or is that the lighting?

    • Rob says:

      Lighting ….

    • Andrew J says:

      Men don’t wear yellow! 😏

      • AJA says:

        I think Michael Portillo would like a word. He’s quite fond of yellow, judging by the clothes he wears when on his frequent great rail journeys. 🙂

  • Chris says:

    IMO this design isnt to be cheered on. In the rush to get seat numbers up to improve profitability in the wake of everyone moving to 1-2-1. We are all being forced to give up on legroom and space to move. Humans spend far more time awake than asleep the airlines have all gone mad focussing on lie flat beds at the cost of everything else.

    • mkcol says:

      Where does it indicate the space is reduced?

      • Rob says:

        As with all foot cubby hole seats, leg room is not huge – your face is fairly close to the back of the seat in front. Club Suite is the same.

        • Bibby says:

          Rob, rather than addressing a comment on foot space, are you going to put some effort into editing the ridiculous ‘feminine’ comment in your article?

          It’s bonkers that this even needs to be called out and even more nuts that some commenters dismiss it or make light of it.

          • Rob says:

            Is it true or not that men and women tend to sit in different ways for anatomical reasons? I would argue that it is. You may disagree, that’s fine, but that’s where the point comes from.

            This is, in my mind, different from saying ‘it’s a pretty colour so girls will like it’ which is clearly not acceptable.

            My wife is one of the leading women in the City and my daughter is doing her bit at one of London’s top girls schools so you’ll need to trust me on this one.

          • TGLoyalty says:

            What is it about the male and female bodily structures that makes what you’re saying in regards to lounging on a sofa/chair a fact?

            I’m genuinely interested

          • Rob says:

            Google it – there are multiple scientific studies on the differences between how men and women sit.

          • Jeff77 says:

            “ there are multiple scientific studies on the differences between how men and women sit.”

            Sounds like an interesting read 😂

          • Rob says:

            So what you’re saying is that you are prepared to deny that an issue I highlighted exists, and are not interested in reading any scientific research to the contrary? Hmmm …. haven’t we been here before recently?

          • TGLoyalty says:

            I’m struggled to find much on sitting positions rather than and also lots of articles on gender bias and how the reality is different to the “common belief”

            While they show they have slightly different seating positions in the same chairs they don’t draw many conclusions on certain designs for certain sexes.

            All sounds like much of a muchness which isn’t really worth calling out. Perhaps I’ll speak to some ergonomics / seating specialist engineers on their understanding of it (if any)

          • The Savage Squirrel says:


            As above – average adopted male and female seated postures ARE different. Fact. Therefore Rob’s comment is correct, and anyone triggered into calling out sexism or bias needs to look at what reflex causes them to do this to a valid comment.

          • TGLoyalty says:

            The study says the Posture is different in the same seats .. it draws no conclusion to seating comfort of different seats. For the different sexes

          • Londonsteve says:

            I’m surprised by the number of people that have taken umbrage to the seat being called feminine because of the seating position it imposes on the user. I’m an under-40 left wing millennial and I didn’t see an issue with the comment. This mad scramble for the appearance of equality above all else is upsetting and risks throwing out the baby with the bathwater. There is fundamental differences between men and women, fact. Pink is a feminine colour whereas military fatigues are masculine, fact. This aggressive sacrifice of any natural conversation and harmless comment at the alter of ultra political correctness needs to end as it’s leading people into the arms of strongmen that promise them salvation and a return to normality and we all know where that ends….

  • TC says:

    Does anyone know what flights the seats are already available on? Thanks. Hopefully the question gets posted a second time round

    • Rob says:

      It is random. My return flight was meant to have it, but was switched with 12 hours notice. 4 aircraft are done out of 25ish.

  • strickers says:

    Slightly OT, for those that have how does duty free work when connecting through Helsinki. That is, if I buy some alcohol in Bangkok, will I be OK when connecting?

    • Nick says:

      You need to ask for it to be put in a special bag – the one with a tamper-proof seal. Staff in your purchasing airport will know what you mean if you say you have a connection. The receipt needs to be placed (and visible) inside the bag before it’s sealed – security at connections will check this to make sure it’s either same-day or the day before. I know it sounds a faff but it really isn’t, it’s standard daily practice around the globe.

      Specifically at HEL, some connections are considered secure enough not to need additional screening checks, but I can’t remember if Thailand is one of them.

      • AJA says:

        I last flew the BKK-HEL-LHR route in March 2019 and had to go through a separate security check and bag scanner at HEL before boarding the UK bound flight. I bought some gin onboard the flight from BKK and it was put inside one those sealed bags by the cabin crew. The security staff looked at the sealed bag and waived me through. Can’t remember whether I put it through the bag scanner or not

  • John T says:

    This is the first time in my entire life I have ever heard anyone describe an aircraft seat as “feminine”

    • Mike says:

      I have never heard anyone in my entire life describe my sister in law as feminine either – (and I doubt they ever will – well not with that moustache !)

  • Brian 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)”

    WTF? Really… really?

    • Andrew J says:

      It’s beyond belief isn’t it! I had to check my calendar that it was in fact 2022.

    • Londonsteve says:

      Yeah, really he said it. And he meant no harm by it and it should be not only taken in the spirit it was intended, but acknowledging the fact that it pertains to a material difference between the male and female physiology. Why do people get so unbelievably excited about non issues like this when a war is raging in the eastern half of Europe and 2 million people are already homeless? This is the sort of western decadence that turns people off mainstream politics and gets them voting for Brexit, Trump and Putin in the first place. Wake up, people!!

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