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Review: I try Finnair’s first Premium Economy seat

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This is our review of Finnair’s new Premium Economy seat.

On Tuesday we ran an in-depth review of Finnair’s new Business Class seat. This is an ambitious and slightly revolutionary product which doesn’t recline. Take a look at our article if you missed it and make up your own mind about whether it sounds like your thing.

Finnair is also introducing a brand new Premium Economy seat. To be more accurate, it is introducing its first Premium Economy seat.

Finnair A350 premium economy cabin

I was due to fly home from Helsinki in the new seat. Due to a last minute equipment swap, I was upgraded to Business Class on a non-refurbished plane (disaster ….). I did, however, get to sit in the seat for 20 minutes on my outbound flight whilst interviewing Finnair’s Head of Design, David Kondo.

Finnair’s new Premium Economy seat

The new seat is less revolutionary than its new Business Class and features a more conventional design.

That said, it is a seat you won’t have flown before. Finnair is the first airline to install HAECO’s new Vector Premium seat:

This is how the seat looks in the flesh:

Review Finnair's new Premium Economy seat

It uses the same midnight blue colour palette as Business Class. The seat features an 8″ recline as well as an integrated ‘waterfall’ footrest, as you can see in this PR image:

Finnair A350 premium economy recline

What isn’t clear from the PR pictures I had seen in advance is how the small the cabin is. With only three rows of seating, it is a very private environment. At least on the A330 fleet, Finnair has the ability to move the dividing wall back if necessary and add additional rows if the concept takes off.

If you can get the bulkhead row, legroom is excellent:

Review Finnair's new Premium Economy seat

If we add my 6 foot 2 inch frame to give you a sense of scale:

Review Finnair's new Premium Economy seat

The cabin was pretty full on our flight. Whilst Premium Economy is not being sold at the moment until more aircraft are equipped, Finnair seems to be filling the seats with upgrades or elites. This meant that I couldn’t get a better picture of the whole cabin.

Whilst other rows have a 13″ screen:

…. passengers in the bulkhead row get an even bigger one. Of course, you are sitting slightly further away from it ….

Review Finnair's new Premium Economy seat

A key feature of the HAECO seat is the movable 6-way head rest:

To go with this, Finnair is also giving Premium Economy passengers this rather attractive Marimekko-designed neck pillow (photographed on my knee because you can see it better!):

Review Finnair's new Premium Economy seat

These are far classier than the garishly coloured ones that you often see being carried around. I think David Kondo doesn’t want the sanctity of his new cabin disturbed!

Here’s the full list of seat features from the Finnair website:

  • 38” (96.5cm) seat pitch
  • Better seat recline and a leg rest supporting the whole leg 
  • Memory foam cushions for added comfort 
  • At least 13” screen for in-flight entertainment 
  • Personal reading light
  • Cocktail table as well as a large and firm meal table
  • Universal PC power and USB A outlets 
  • Plenty of storage features

As I was only in the seat for 20 minutes, I didn’t get a proper impression of how good it is. This will have to wait for another day.

When can you try the new cabins?

Premium Economy and the new Business Class seat will be rolling out on Finnair’s 17 A350s and 8 A330s over the course of the next 22 months, with an eye to completing the fit-out on all long haul aircraft by the end of 2023.

This timetable will not be delayed by the restrictions on long haul flights caused by the closure of Russian airspace. Finnair has one eye on getting the job done in time for its 100th anniversary celebrations next year.

The seat is currently bookable for selected long-haul routes for travel from 11th May. This is the date when Finnair will have enough refurbished aircraft to guarantee that it can serve certain routes on every flight.

Remember that Finnair flights earn Avios and BA tier points

The reason we look at Finnair is that, as it is in the oneworld alliance, you earn Avios and British Airways Executive Club tier points when you fly it. In fact, you earn more tier points than you would earn on British Airways, due to the short-haul connection to Helsinki.

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 Premium Economy or Business Class to Asia 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.

You can find out more about the new Premium Economy seat on this dedicated page of here.

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 (40)

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

  • Catman99 says:

    It’s very masculine looking….

  • Wollhouse says:

    Well, having been given all kinds of extremely helpful advice yesterday, this morning I curled up on the sofa and actually managed to USE my 241 voucher. Add in availability for my IC free night (a membership I only purchased because of a HFP heads-up) and hopefully a deal via Emyr and there’s multiple reasons for me to love both this site and all the helpful posters!

    • Lady London says:

      Glad you got through to BA @Wollhouse especially from Thailand!

      • wollhouse says:

        LL, I didn’t! i took all the helpful advice on board and binned doing anything with BA Holidays. I managed to find availability and did everything online. And used my IC voucher separately (strangely…. I didn’t use my IHG cc – oh WAIT!! that’s because they cancelled it for no reason 😉 Just a wee break but I’ve never been to Madrid, it’s both our birthdays, I’m learning spanish, so all in all an excellent result and v. grateful your advice justified NOT having to call 🙂 So thanks again

        • Lyn says:

          Well done. Hope you enjoy the trip. I don’t know how far you have progressed with your Spanish, but if is the IC Madrid you’ve booked, by all means practice it as much as you can there. In our experience the staff at that particular hotel will really appreciate your efforts and it may well make a difference to your stay. Not everyone on HfP seems to like the hotel but they have always treated us well.

  • John Lambert says:

    Looks like there might be a problem for people getting out of the window seat if the person in front reclines their seat. The centre consol would be very close not leaving enough room to get your legs through, together with having to be stood at a very strange angle. This is also a big issue with the Virgin Premium seats.

    • dougzz99 says:

      That’s a big problem with all PE seats I think. If you get the bulkhead great, otherwise if you have a determined recliner in front it’s actually not great at all.

  • Ed says:

    Three rows??!

    To me it looks more attractive than the business class especially with such a small cabin.

    However I’m not convinced that Finnair have a clue what they’re doing strategically. A three row cabin is ridiculously small and they’ll oversell these easily due to the demand for PE.

    They could have always have made a bigger cabin and temporarily upgraded elites or encouraged bidding for upgrades before departure – cheaper in long run than taking these planes out of service to add theee more rows which should have been in there from day one.

    • dougzz99 says:

      I’d guess that part of the attraction of PE is the idea of exclusivity. It’s a sort of aspirational version of economy. Too many seats would drop the prices and in the long term I think it’s an economic fail, a bit like economy densification. If you regularly upgrade, or allow bidding for upgrades people continually buy the lower class seeking a cheap upgrade. Just look at domestic first on AA, it’s always full, and often with elites using vouchers and other means to upgrade.

  • jd21 says:

    I see Swiss have a new premium economy, maybe on for the team to try.

    I’d love to see the Middle East airlines add PE and see how they could take it to the next level. The offering on American, Asian and European airlines is pretty similar these days.

  • qrfan says:

    Will be intersting to see how they price this. Finnair business class is already cheaper than BA premium economy to Singapore and not far off SIA premium fares either. Not obvious where they would fit premium economy into this pricing model. Presumably this is why the cabin is so small compared to their J cabin.

  • Lady London says:

    Are the neck pillows kept by the passenger? Classy design btw.

    @Novice will be with me in hoping they are taken off the plane and laundered after each flight.

    (I’m planning to nick mine so that won’t be an issue for me)

    • Rob says:

      They are not meant to be but Finnair is budgeting for substantial shrinkage, put it that way.

    • Novice says:

      True @LL. Long time no comments by me but it’s good to see I’m remembered lol.

      • Lady London says:

        Good to see you @Novice. Btw you may not be the youngest any more I think @Super Secret Stuff is younger 🙂

  • Robbo says:

    It’s all very well introducing new seats but the Fin’s behavior hasn’t changed. Disgusting. About a month ago the Fin’s were offering round trip flights CDG-HEL-BKK-HE-CDG flights for around €1080 Business Light.

    This was well before the war started and fuel costs started rising dramatically. I booked one because I am OW Emerald ( and would still get the Lounge Benefits ).

    Yesterday I received a notification that they were cancelling the outbound sector CDG HEL BKK. Just the outbound. They lied to me telling me the flight was cancelled. So before I contacted them I checked the flights and there was no issue at all booking the same flights, but at a much higher price of course.

    Those sneaky Fin’s, at it again. I called the call-centre and they said the Business Light fares were being cancelled in part. They are still expecting me to take the Inbound sector of BKK HEL CDG

    The AY Business Light fares are non-refundable, so even though they canceled the outbound sector, they will not refund the ticket if I chose to cancel the Inbound sector.

    I asked the Fin’s how are they going to get me to BKK and they said I would need to re-book at a higher rate or find another way.

    Is this even legal? Would appreciate any assistance/advice from your readers as to what I should do. Appalling behavior from the Fin’s, but they do have form for under-performing I guess.

    • Kevin D says:

      So sorry to hear this Robbo. Absolutely disgusting practice. Please can someone offer advice. Fingers crossed for a good outcome. Keep us posted.

    • PointsChaser says:

      If this example does not stop people from choosing to fly on Finnair nothing will. All the best in your pursuit for fairness.

    • qrfan says:

      My understanding is this is not legal under EU261 given your outbound flight is ex EU. on an EU airline. Finnair owe you either a full refund for the full itinerary or re-routing on the “cancelled” leg. The extraordinary circumstances exclude compensation, but not re-routing or a full refund.

    • dougzz99 says:

      That’s pretty special behaviour by AY. Agree with qrfan EU airline, EU261 is in play.
      As much as people like to knock BA, and there’s plenty to work with, I think when you book on other airlines you find their behaviour when it suits is far worse. If for example AY just say go away not our problem, what in a practical sense can you do?

    • Lady London says:

      They’ve cancelled your flight. Or at least they’ve formally advised you, and you presumably have a record of their communication, that they have.

      You therefore have rerouting rights under EU261 as they told you they’ve cancelled a flight on your booking.

      Send them a claim for rerouting on the nearest available flight to the times you booked, attaching 3 quotes if you can find them on other airlines. Mention if whichever you purchase lands more than 4 hours late after the scheduled landing time of the flight you originally booked on Finnair you will also claim 600 euros compensation from them in addition to the cost of ticket on another airline to replace your booked flight Finnair has cancelled. And lastly you will seek Finnair reimbursement of any needed hotel and meals costa for any additional waiting time or travel time encountered on your rerouted replacement itinerary. You will pursue recovery of all these items due to be paid to you in cash under EU261 due to their cancellation. Give them 14 days to pay or provide the soonest flight routing available on any airline.

    • Catalan says:

      Hi had a similar negative experience with Finnair at the beginning of the pandemic. I’d booked two tickets HEL-TLL-HEL which they canceled. When it came to a refund they refunded one fully but only half the other. When I enquired via email I was advised it was their admin fee.
      I’m sure that’s not legal.

      • qrfan says:

        Did you persue that? There’s a fair number of specialist online firms willing to assist with these claims, and if you’ll otherwise not bother then even minus their cut, it’s worth doing. Taking an admin fee on a cancellation that they initiated is absolutely not permitted.

    • Mark says:

      Wow. I can’t believe they think they can get away with that. They can’t of course if you fight it – they’re assuming that most people will just roll over.

      From the other comments it sounds like it’s not a one-off either – that certainly puts me off the idea of booking with them (not that I’m impressed with the idea of the new business class seat anyway).

      Worse than Creation level arrogance…

      • Mark says:

        As a further thought… if you don’t get anywhere with Finnair having set out your claim as suggested by LL and paid with a credit card it may be worth considering a Section 75 claim for replacement flights as an alternative to legal action. You may find that looking up contact details for Finnair’s CEO and using those to engage with their executive team gets some traction. I’ve no idea if that will work for Finnair but I’ve found it a useful avenue of settling issues with other organisations including Virgin Atlantic.

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

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