After grabbing some simple breakfast at the lounge, we headed to our gate early. Our departure gate is at H07, and it is about a five-minute walk from the lounge. We boarded the plane through the separate line for Business Class passengers and were on the plane within minutes.
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23 June 2018
AY92 CKG-HEL 0950 1405 A333
Seat 9L Business Class
Finnair’s A330s feature seats in a staggered configuration. This is the similar configuration to those offered by Hong Kong Airlines, which Chris T recently flew between San Francisco and Hong Kong. I selected seat 9L, a window seat in the rear Business Class cabin. This is a true “window seat” as your seat is closer to the window than the aisle.
Personally, I prefer this configuration as long as it offers more seat choices. A solo traveler can select a seat with direct aisle access while couples can select “honeymoon seats” that are together. It also offers better window view compared to reverse herringbone configuration as you do not need to lean forward to enjoy the view.
Business class on this flight is about one-third full and we had the entire rear cabin to ourselves. We prefer to seat away from other business class passengers so that our four-year-old would not be a nuisance to other travelers.
The one issue I found while boarding is the lack of storage space at the seat, as well as the small overhead bin on the A330. However, since the flight is not full, there is ample space in the overhead bins for this flight, so it was not a big issue for us.
As we seated, a flight attendant came by with a tray of pre-departure drinks. We have the choice of blueberry juice and water. I suppose that they do not open champagne before departure due to the extremely high tax in China for imported alcohol. I had a glass of blueberry juice, served in Finnair’s champagne glass. The juice tasted good and the glass is gorgeous, although not shaped like a conventional champagne flute.
The seat has good padding and is comfortable. There is a plush pillow at every seat. The ottoman has a decent size. If you wish to have a bigger ottoman, you may select a seat in the bulkhead row. The seats in the bulkhead rows offer at least 50% more ottoman space.
Both the seat control and entertainment controller are on the left side of the seat. The controller is quite old and the seat control is certainly not the best in the sky.
The IFE screen is very small for Business Class, probably due to the age of these A330s.
There is a reading light on top of the in-seat storage. You can find two more reading lights on the overhead panel, as well as two air nozzles.
There is also a noise-canceling headphone at each seat. not the best but it is of decent quality and usable
The flight attendant returned before takeoff to distribute the amenity kits. There is a list of content in the amenity kit. It is lightly stocked with toothbrush, eyeshade, eye gel, moisture cream, and earplugs.
Slippers are already at your seat in the shoe storage space. The slippers are comfortable and not overly thick.
There are also special slippers for children available upon request.
I still want to point out that Cathay Pacific does not offer slippers in Business Class even on their longest routes. This is an area where most carriers in the world excel over Cathay Pacific. I hope they do provide slippers in the future, as it is a very useful amenity on a long flight.
My one issue with the amenities is the amount of plastic that they use. The amenity kit is covered in plastic, as well as the headphones, blankets and much more. This is completely unnecessary and not environmental friendly.
The door closed at around 9:40AM and pushback commenced soon after. The flight time to Helsinki is 8 hours 20 minutes. The announcements are in English, Finnish as well as Mandarin.
Chongqing is dubbed the “mountain city” in China. And the view departing from Chongqing airport certainly did not disappoint. You can see distant mountain ranges from the runway as you took off.
We had a smooth climb out, and seatbelt sign is turned off about 10 minutes after takeoff.
Meal Service – Lunch
Service began shortly after the seatbelt sign is off. The flight attendants distributed warm towels, followed by some nuts and a round of drinks. The menu is also distributed. Finnair serves sugarcoated peanuts, which is unique (possibly devised to please Chinese palate). I asked for another glass of blueberry juice. The flight attendant served my juice with the whiskey glass this time, and I am in love with the glass design. These glasses are so nice I even ordered two sets to bring back to Hong Kong.
After the first round of drinks, the flight attendant came by to take the food and drink orders for lunch service. The menu and wine list read as follows:
About 45 minutes after takeoff, the meal service began. There is a button to extend the tray table on the left. The tray table is designed to slide out after pressing the button. The table was first set and the side salad is served with a selection of bread. I also ordered a glass of champagne.
I ordered a mix of Chinese and western food options. For starter, I had the Chongqing style spicy chicken and vegetables. The dish’s presentation is unique and the taste was excellent. It is flavorful and the vinegar adds the acidity to balance out the chicken.
I had the fried salmon with dill oil for my entrée. The dish tasted OK and does not have the best look. The salmon was a little dry and the dish is swimming in a pool of dill oil, not good!
My mother had the Chinese beef entrée and she finds it to be very tasty. The beef is good quality and cooked tender. On a side note, the Chinese meal options out of Chongqing are superb, much better than any food our family had on planes. It does make sense to us that Chongqing Airport offers good Chinese food catering. The city is a foodie hotspot, famous for its hotpot and use of spices to create dishes with extreme flavor.
To end the meal I had (everything) the cheese plate, the fruit plate, and the chocolate cake. The desserts also came with Finnish biscuits. Their plating all looked quite nice.
The fruits are fresh and consisted of seven kinds of fruits (which is quite a selection).
The cheese selection is a bit limited, with only Brie and Gouda available.
The chocolate cake is served with the mango sauce, as well as half a strawberry and a thin piece of white chocolate. The cake is heavy and sweet but it tastes good with the mango sauce.
Overall the food is quite good, but not over the top. The Chongqing chicken starter is the star of the meal and something I would definitely recommend. The service is great as well. The mix of Chinese and Finnish cabin crew are proficient in three languages. They offered multiple drink refills during my meal and were always attentive. Service is fairly personalized but most items are served from a cart. The service is very efficient as well, as I was able to conclude my meal in about 50 minutes.
Finnair In-flight Wi-Fi
After my meal, I checked out the in-flight Wi-Fi service.
Finnair offers in-flight Wi-Fi on all widebody aircraft. They also offer a complimentary one-hour internet access for business class passengers. However, if you ask the crew nicely, they are more than happy to give you some access codes that can extend your Wi-Fi usage. The Wi-Fi onboard did not work for about half of our journey, especially when overflying Russia. Other than that, the Wi-Fi portal is easy to navigate and speed is quite fast. There are free magazines offered on your own device. Simply connect to the “Nordic Sky” Wi-Fi and you can read these magazines even without a WIFI pass purchase.
The Wi-Fi did not work for most of our journey due to connectivity issues. Therefore, I decided to get some sleep and went to the toilet to change into my own pajamas. Finnair does not provide Pajamas for business class passengers. Only a few airlines provide pajamas for business class passengers. The only airlines servicing between Asia and Europe that provide pajamas for business class passengers is Virgin Atlantic and Qatar. The toilets right behind the cockpit offer slightly more space and a window.
There are more amenities inside the toilet, such as comb and shaving kits, which are otherwise not stocked in the amenity kits. I personally prefer a fully stocked amenity kit over on demand amenities, as I can always take them home or onto my next trip. However, I do understand on-demand amenities can be more environmentally friendly and avoid wastage. Some of the best airlines such as Singapore Airlines adopt this approach as well.
After I reclined my seat, I am surprised to find out that these seats are not fully flat as I expect. Instead, it is slightly angled as you can see in these pictures:
Personally, I do not mind seats to be slightly angled as the nose of the plane is always slightly upwards. In fact, the slight angle of the reclined seat actually offsets this angle of attack. The pillow was plush and comfortable, while the blankets are not overly thick, much to my liking. I slept for about one and a half hour. As I woke up, I found a bottle of water placed by my seat by the cabin crew while I was asleep.
I spent the next hour doing some work on my computer as the Wi-Fi finally is working. After that, I checked out the galley and found a snack stationed being put out by the crew. The snack selection is broad and caters to both eastern and western palate. There are also several different kinds of juices and wine as well.
There is no snack menu onboard this 9-hour flight. Nevertheless, when I inquired about some “proper food”, the crew happily brought me a wrap and potato crisps. The wrap consisted of feta cheese and mixed of Mediterranean style vegetables. The wrap is served cold but tasted quite good.
The crew came out for an additional round of service in the middle of the flight. They brought out a selection of juices on a small tray for us to choose, as well as a selection of snacks (similar to those in the galley). I had a glass of sparkling water and Finnish sourdough breadsticks. There must be about 8 different in-flight snack to choose from, which is quite extensive. It ranges from mixed nuts, crisps, and different sweets. I personally am not a snack person, but the rest of my family certainly enjoyed the in-flight snack a lot.
The entertainment selection is fine, with about a hundred movies but not many are very recent releases. There is a bigger selection of TV shows, but most of them only have a few episodes. The music and games selection are both much more limited.
The crew came to serve another round of drinks as I was browsing through the entertainment selections. It seems that the crew proactively provided drink services every hour, which is quite a good frequency for a daytime flight. Another advantage of daytime flight is that you can enjoy the unpeccable views throughout your flight.
Finnair also offers “dine on-demand” service for the second meal of the flight. You can request your second meal any time before landing. The crew will require 30 minutes to prepare the meal.
The pre-landing light meal service normally begins 1 hour 45 minutes before landing. There is a choice of cold or hot meal option. I ordered the fried rice with pork and pickle, which was a Chinese fried rice dish.
The crew distributed cold towels first and then took the drink orders.
The meal was served on a single tray. There is also a fruit plate and a selection of bread from the breadbasket. My fried rice tastes fantastic. The dish was flavorful and seasoned on point.
The crew was able to provide service at a personalized pace. They were attentive and well-intentioned. My meal concluded in about an hour, just in time for me to prepare for landing.
About 30 minutes before landing, the captain made his pre-landing announcement. The cabin safety check was conducted a few minutes after.
If you are seeking information about Helsinki Vantaa Airport, there is a section in the “Blue Wings” magazine that has a terminal map. This came in handy for me, as it was my first time transferring through Helsinki.
We landed at 1:25PM local time in Helsinki. Transfer passengers have to go through security before allowed into the sterile transit area. We went through security and headed to the Helsinki Finnair International Business Class lounge. (Spoiler: there is a Finnish Sauna in the lounge)
My experience in Finnair’s business class is excellent. The service was highly personalized and the crew was very professional. The seats are comfortable and the meals are great.
Helsinki is right on the most direct route between Hong Kong and Europe. Finnair also offers very competitive connection times between its European and Asian destinations.
I would definitely recommend Finnair Business Class to you. They fly the A350 to Hong Kong, which will definitely be even better than what I have experienced.