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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.

  • Christian says:

    Luckily I sit very femininely…looking forward to trying this seat.

    • Cranzle says:

      I’m sure the woke brigade are offended by your comment too!

      • Bibby says:

        I hope for their sake you don’t have daughters, a wife or responsibility for women in any way shape or form at work. What a terrible role model you’d be.

        • Rach says:

          Only bigots use the term woke negatively.

          • Billybob says:

            One might argue only a bigot would make that claim.

          • sayling says:

            That’s quite a generalisation there, Rach…

          • Mike says:

            No they don’t. When I refer to woke idiots- I am positive they are woke idiots

        • Londonsteve says:

          @ Bibby I think what most wives and daughters are looking for in a father is a father figure. A male that protects and supports his family, is fair and level headed in a crisis, is practical and pragmatic with an understanding of the sorts of things that men tend to be interested in, thus alleviating the burden on the females of the family.

  • JP-MCO says:

    I don’t like the idea of not being able to recline the seat. When seated in CW I always use the seat in the reclined position unless eating and rest my legs on the footstool. Sitting bolt upright for hours doesn’t strike me as very comfortable. It seems like the airline has put its needs before that of the customer because it wants to install a low maintenance, lightweight seat. It’s almost like they decided that’s the way they wanted to go and have designed an engineering narrative to convince you that it’s what you want anyway. Not for me. That said I’m also the kind of man who curls up on the sofa…

    • AJA says:

      This is what concerns me. Also I like to sit quite upright when eating, so often put the seat in landing mode. Not sure how reclined the recline actually is.

      I was concerned too about how it converted into a bed but I am quite impressed. I do like the width though and think I could get a decent night’s sleep on this.

      One slight niggle is the ability to see another TV from your own seat, the glare from that could be distracting when trying to sleep but I guess that’s what the eye shades are for.

      Am tempted to give this a go, at least once, as i like Finnair and find the route via HEL to the Far East a pretty great option.

  • Milaneser says:

    Can you explain which stereotype is being perpetuated in the article?

    Do you not agree that the average female is more flexible than the average male?

    • Thywillbedone says:

      There are ever greater numbers of people desperate to be offended by everything …you know the type: so uptight they have clenched hair

  • david says:

    The woke gang are out in force today. International Womens and mens day are sexist then.

  • Reiko says:

    I’d love to hear what Finnair think of this review of their ‘feminine seat’ after having paid for Rob’s pearls of Neanderthal wisdom.

    In fact on International Women’s Day I’d love to hear what all airlines think of this outdated, deliberate gender stereotyping.

  • Catalan says:

    I want a non-binary seat on my next Finnair flight!

  • Andrew J says:

    Article adjusted slightly to justify the assertion.

  • Niall says:

    Good old Rob… despite multiple comments pointing out calling the seat feminine wasn’t a wise statement, firmly/stubbornly keeping it in.

    I also enjoyed:
    ‘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.’

    It might be beneficial for you to talk to some readers to understand the point.

    • Cranzle says:

      Some readers, not all.

      • Niall says:

        Yes, he should speak to some readers of opposing opinions. It is sensible to make every effort for articles not to be offensive to even a subset of readers. While it’s not always possible not to offend anyone, when there are multiple posts which picked up on this, I don’t get the logic of keeping it in.

        • ken says:

          Ha, ha.

          Yes that smacked of ‘some of my best friends are women’.

    • Reiko says:

      I also note he turned the right to reply off for that comment. The edit to the article is hysterical in its obstinacy. May as well have said “it’s just my opinion” – the antidote to any you’ve-been-caught-out-being-sexist comment.

      There is no proof to what is being said, so it stands on its own as a supposition anchored in gender stereotype. Where’s the evidence? Where’s the citation to the study that shows – anatomically speaking – that women are more likely than men to adopt one position over another on a non-recline seat? In the absence of fact, why not delete it or reframe the comment entirely? I understand the point that was ham-fistedly being made, but as the author of a well-regarded industry site, there is a responsibility to move with the times and not be tone deaf.

      I’m hoping there is a bit of a debate at the Burgess dinner table this evening about this. A leading woman in the City would likely not stand for it nor want this to be showcased as allyship for her daughter.

      • Rob says:

        What do you think the design teams who work on these seats do all day? This sort of stuff – studies on sleep patterns etc – is bread and butter for them.

        • ken says:

          In which case perhaps you could share the evidence that more women than men are travelling business class and desire a ‘feminine seat’.

          After all, catering for their market is bread and butter for them.

      • Chas says:

        Reiko – he didn’t turn off the right to reply for that comment. It’s a standard feature on HfP that the reply button doesn’t exist on the 4th nested comment. If it did, and people kept replying to comments, the 5th, 6th, 7th etc nested comments would get increasingly narrow which makes the way they display on mobile devices challenging (leads to lots more scrolling).

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