Helsinki, Finland is an unlikely transit point for travel from New York, NY to Bangkok, Thailand. Nevertheless, that was the route I chose to take advantage of a low business-class airfare (just under $3,000) on Finnair that would translate into more than half of the number of American Airlines Elite Qualifying Dollars (EQDs) needed to retain my American Airlines Executive Platinum status in 2019.
In 2018 the EQD “spend” requirement for achieving or retaining Executive Platinum status was $12,000. (For 2019, American raised it to $15,000.) When flying a Oneworld partner and crediting the flight to an American Airlines frequent flyer account, American calculates EQD spend as a percentage of distance traveled. The percentage varies based on the airline and the fare basis of the ticket. A Finnair business-class ticket earns EQDs equal to 40% of the distance traveled. Unknown at the time of booking was that the flight to Helsinki would introduce me to one of the best business-class seats I’ve experienced.
The pre-flight experience had another unexpected treat when I checked in online. The boarding pass on my phone displayed my TSAPre status. That saved a bunch of time and hassle at JFK Terminal 8. Finnair issued a lounge invitation for the T8 Admirals Club. As a Oneworld business-class passenger the invitation should have been for the AA Flagship lounge. I used my AA Executive Platinum status to spend time in the Flagship lounge anyway.
Other posts about the Finnair flights to Bangkok:
Finnair A350-900 Business Class Helsinki, Finland to Bangkok, Thailand
Finnair Flight AY006
Origin: New York
Great Circle Distance: 4,117 miles
AA Elite Qualifying Dollars: 7,226 (total round trip)
Scheduled Departure: 17:40
Scheduled Arrival: 08:50
Scheduled Flight Time: 8 hours and 10 minutes
I like flights with a 00 flight number. It means the flight is probably one of the oldest and most important flights the airline flies. Airlines tend to put their best foot forward. That seemed to be the case here.
Business Class Cabin and Seat
Finnair has two versions of the A330-300. This flight had 45 lie-flat business-class seats in 10 rows in two cabins. The rows are configured 1-2-1 or 2-2-1. Each seat is 21 inches wide and has 60 inches of pitch. All business seats have direct access to the aisle. The rest of the plane consists of 178 economy and 40 extra leg room economy comfort seats. Finnair does not have first class or a true premium economy product.
My seat was 8A, a bulkhead seat in the three-row aft business-class cabin. This seat has a console on both sides which creates more personal space than many other business-class seats. The A330-300 has only four of these “captain’s chairs.” They are all window seats on the port side. Seat 8A is the only captain’s chair in the aft cabin and the only one that is a bulkhead seat.
Because this seat is at a bulkhead feet do not extend into a tiny tube under the console of another seat. Passengers in these seats suffer from no foot claustrophobia as with many other business-class seats.
The overall seat and cabin design is typically Scandinavian – clean, functional, and uncluttered. Seat controls and the video remote (under the padded armrest) are mounted on the console by the window.
A storage area next to the footwell is handy for shoes and other items.
Amenities at the seat included, a pillow, duvet, noise-cancelling headsets and slippers. Pajamas and mattress pads were not available.
The amenity kit contained Marimekko Lumene body moisturizer and eye gel, a dental kit, eye mask and ear plugs. Socks, shaving kit, mouthwash, hair brush and makeup remover were available on request. Some amenities were stocked in the lavatories.
Boarding through two jet bridges started 20 minutes late at 17:20 and concluded at 17:48. At 17:37 the flight attendant served the pre-departure beverage, Joseph Perrier Cuvee Royale Brut. Departure was at 18:24 on Runway 13R (One Three Right).
Service in the aft cabin started 20 minutes after takeoff. The cabin crew provided excellent service although the time between each offering seemed longer than on other flights. These were the menus:
Flight attendants collected breakfast orders after dinner and before dimming the cabin lights. I decided to maximize sleep time and skipped breakfast.
Play the slideshow to see the wine selections.
Flight attendants took my dinner and beverage order at 18:50. The amuse bouche was served quickly. The salad, appetizer and swordfish filet were served together at 19:50. I paired the swordfish with a pleasing chardonnay.
Dessert was served about 30 minutes later.
Dinner and the service were very good but not close to the Qsuite experience on Qatar Airways. Compare:
Before sleeping I looked at the in-flight entertainment (IFE) system. It has the usual assortment of Hollywood and World CInema movies, music, and games. The video screen is small for business class and lacks the clarity of the latest video monitors.
Finnair also streams movies over personal devices from a portal called Nordic Sky. The portal also provides access to newspapers and magazines, destination information and bookings, the internet, shopping, flight following, and Finnair customer service. You can even order snacks and drinks that will be delivered to your seat. The Finnair website has the details.
Business-class passengers receive one hour of free internet. The cost for internet service for the whole flight was just less than 20 Euros. The internet speed was good when I tried out the free hour.
Before landing I visited the lavatory in business class just forward of Seat 8A. It is accessible to people with disabilities and is stocked with amenities.
Preparing for arrival the flight attendants collected all blankets and pillows and stowed them in the overhead bins. That was the first time I’ve seen that. It seems each airline has a slightly different idea of how to prepare the cabin for landing.
Touchdown was at 08:40 on Runway 22L (Two Two Left). It was a short taxi to Gate 33 where we deplaned.
I was very pleased with the Captain’s Chair. It is a great business-class seat. It lacks the privacy of a seat with a door but is roomier than the DeltaOne suite or the Qatar Qsuite. The quantity and quality of the food and slow service were slightly disappointing. Still I was very satisfied with the price of the flights and the enormous amount of American Airlines Elite Qualifying Dollars the flights would generate. After a stay in the Finnair lounge I would get another chance to try Finnair’s service on the A350-900 flight to Bangkok.