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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.

  • Cranzle says:

    I was in Fenwick on Bond Street a few days ago. I was dIsgusted to find that they don’t have a menswear section, let alone a floor.

    Perhaps the woke brigade on here should start a campaign for true equality, not just the selective ‘ooh, you can’t say that’.

  • BahrainLad says:

    Honestly some of the utter crap you read on HfP….I can remember the CW Cradel seat perfectly well and I’m only 39!

    • Rob says:

      When did it go? Last time I flew it was 1997 I think.

      • sigma421 says:

        Were the 747-200s ever retrofitted with New Club World? If not, then I presume it left with them in late 2001.

      • AJA says:

        I’m pretty sure I flew on it in 2003.

      • flyforfun says:

        I last flew it in 2001 LHR-SIN and then QF to Australia, thankfully as that cradle seat was awful. I’d flown SQ a few months before in Y all the way to and from Oz and that was far more comfortable. I remember with some excitement that the return leg was going to be on one of the first flat bed flights. Ahhhh nice.

        However, the pain of the cradle seat was tempered by one of the best crew experience. They knew I wasn’t feeling 100% (pumped up full of immodium!) but they came and checked on me regularly and suggested items on the menu that might suit. Thankfully by the second service I was much better and able to enjoy it more, apart from the seat… The next leg was an old QF 747, but that had J in the nose section of the plane, something I got to do only once and I think I would have swapped a few upper deck flights for more of those where you could peer out left or right fairly easily.

      • Shandy says:

        Didn’t the 767 fleet retain the cradle seating? I’m sure I flew on one in around 2011 / 2012

    • AJA says:

      That cradle seat was crap. Still a whole lot better than any economy seat though. Actually wouldn’t mind if BA installed them in Club Europe though.

  • Michael C says:

    Mmm…isn’t it also presumptive to assume the adjective “feminine” only refers to women?
    A propos of nothing, I had a couple of words for an assistant in Liberty a few weeks ago, who told me the perfume I was trying on was “for women”…They were certainly v grovelly when I pointed out that that was not for them to decide.

    • meta says:

      They are not the only ones who do it. I had the same thing at Jo Malone 2-3 years ago!

      • Londonsteve says:

        Err, most scents are divided into male and female. Don’t be beastly to low paid shop staff merely pointing out that the manufacturer has designated a particular scent as being of greater appeal for a particular sex. If you wish to use a female perfume as a man, or a male cologne as a woman, that is a choice entirely up to you and it isn’t anyone’s place to tell you not to do that.

  • Jeff77 says:

    It was an utterly bizarre comment but not one to get to bothered by. Not surprised though given how upset some people got by a joke about the queen. Probably the same people who are now going on about “woke”. These saddos have probably never had an original thought in their life

    • Jeff77 says:

      More comments = more clicks/revenue?

      • Rob says:

        In general, if the main ‘above the fold’ ads on the site are fixed (which they are today, with Amex) then it’s a flat fee deal.

    • Cranzle says:

      Multiple comments from you asking people to ‘get a life’ and calling them ‘saddos’ just because they say things you perhaps dislike.

      How about trying to reason with people properly?

  • Mark says:

    Back to the subject at hand….

    I have to say I’m not convinced. One of the (several) reasons I’m not a fan of the Virgin Atlantic (non-A350) seat is that I prefer to sleep slightly inclined on planes. I also tend to spend hours during day flights in a well reclined position when watching films, putting the seat more upright for meal services. I strongly suspect I would struggle to get comfortable in this seat. I’d be intrigued to try it, though.

    Recently got to try BA Club Suite for the first time, which I thought was excellent and suited me well for relaxing and sleeping. Probably the best long haul business class seat I’ve tried (across BA, Virgin, Iberia, Etihad, Lufthansa, Air Berlin, Singapore Airlines and Air New Zealand at various times over the past 11 years).

    • Prins Polo says:

      Same here. VS made me realize I like to work, relax and sometimes (on a long day flight) nap in a more or less inclined position. Being forced to be fully upright or fully flat on VS was a torture for me

      • yorkieflyer says:

        yes, agree hate the old upper class seat, actually happier in their PE

        • Mark says:

          And gutted that our VS A350 flight from SFO later in the year has been switched to a 787… Still at least they eventually yielded to my insistence that our outbound flight to Seattle was moved to Delta having initially tried to move us onto a flight the following day when they reduced the frequency of SEA flights down from daily to 5x/week.

  • Cranzle says:

    I used to call people names when I was a child too.

  • Steve says:

    Seat designed purely to avoid mechanical issues. Look as the amount of BA A380 seat problems after bring the planes back into service. That situation simply won’t happen with this as there is no mechanical / motor driven elements.

    However, having a tendency on day flights to not sleep but rather lounge / recline, this will unfortunately be a hard pass from me.

  • Gary says:

    Surprised to note so many back & forth while sipping from the teacup. Surely more pressing issues one needs to resolve in this world such as BA refunded the amex companion voucher without extension… sigh.

    • Pete says:

      I know it’s not quite the answer you want, but have you seen the new post? What almost perfect timing.

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