Skip to Content

Finnair Business Class Review | A350 JFK to HEL

To kick off our “snowy vacation” to Finland and Norway, we flew Finnair Business Class on the A350 from New York (JFK) to Helsinki (HEL). In this post, we’ll review that experience in depth. We’ll start by going over Finnair Business Class in general, explaining what it includes and a few things it doesn’t. Then we’ll go into the specific Business Class product on the Airbus A350, including a detailed review of the seat, amenities and service onboard during our 7+ hour flight.

Keep reading to learn all about Finnair Business Class on the A350.

In This Post

About Finnair Business Class

Finnair is the flag carrier airline of Finland. Let’s start with a fun fact! Established on November 1, 1923, Finnair is the sixth longest continually operated airline in the world — after KLM, Avianca, Qantas, Aeroflot and Czech Airlines.

Finnair’s main hub is in Vantaa, Finland — a city just north of Helsinki proper but still part of the metro area. Finnair is the main domestic airline in Finland, flying to 10+ destinations across the country. They also fly to 35 countries across Europe, North America and Asia. Finnair is a member of the Oneworld alliance, which also includes other major airlines such as American Airlines, British Airways and Japan Airlines.

Finnair offers up to three travel classes: Economy, Premium Economy and Business Class. These classes define the seat and in-flight experience. To further differentiate, each travel class is available under three different ticket classes: Light, Classic and Flex. The ticket class drives the experience on the ground, like baggage allowance, seat selection and change policies.

The focus of this post is Business Class. Here’s a look at how Finnair differentiates Business Class across the different ticket classes. In short, Business Light just gets you the onboard experience, Business Classic is the standard experience, and Business Flex includes seat selection and full refunds.

What’s Included with Finnair Business Class

Because of the ticket classes, this section gets a little messy. I’ve noted which ticket class(es) get each perk. If there’s no note, it’s available to all Business Class passengers. The takeaway? You need to book Classic or Flex to enjoy most of the Business Class perks.

  • Priority check-in (Classic & Flex): A dedicated Priority lane is available to Business Class passengers, which means a shorter wait to check in or check your bags.
  • Priority security (Classic & Flex): At some airports, there is a Priority security lane available to Business Class passengers. This is often a shorter queue for a standard security experience. If you have a premium security membership to something like TSA PreCheck in the US, that might still be preferred.
  • Extra checked bag (Classic & Flex): Business Class passengers are allowed up to three complimentary checked bags (max 50 lbs), depending on the destination. This is typically one more than what is complimentary in Economy.
  • Extra carry-on weight: Finnair also has weight limits for carry on baggage. Business Class passengers are allowed 12 kg, while Economy passengers must stay under 8 kg.
  • Lounge access (Classic & Flex): Business Class passengers can access the Finnair Business Lounge in Helsinki, as well as partner lounges in departure airports around the world.
  • Lie-flat seats: All intercontinental flights have lie-flat seats in Business Class. The exact details of the seat may vary, as Finnair is in the process up updating their Business Class cabins for long-haul flights through 2024.
  • Seat selection (Flex Only): Advanced seat selection is only complimentary if you book Business Class Flex, which is the most expensive ticket class. If you book Classic or Light, you can pay to purchase a seat in advance or one will be assigned for free after check-in.
  • Priority boarding (Classic & Flex): Business Class passengers can board right after pre-boarders. You can get right to your seat and relax with a glass of bubbly or blueberry juice.
  • Complimentary food and drink: Enjoy complimentary meals, snacks and beverages, including alcohol, throughout the flight. You can pre-order your meal on most flights, including a variety of special dietary meals. The details may vary based the flight duration.
  • Wifi Credit (Classic & Flex): Business Class passengers can enjoy 1 hour of complimentary internet on long-haul flights and 30 minutes of select internet packages on short-haul flights.
  • Priority baggage claim (Classic & Flex): Priority bags are the first onto the baggage carousel after the flight. You can get your bag and get on with your day as quickly as possible.

What’s Not Included with Finnair Business Class

The Finnair Business Class experience (at least with the Classic and Flex ticket classes) is pretty thorough. However, here are some things you won’t get in Finnair Business Class.

  • Seat Selection (Light and Classic): If you book Business Class Light or Classic, you will not be able to select your seat in advance for free. You can either purchase a seat or wait until check-in to have one assigned to you for free.
  • Pajamas. You won’t find any complimentary pajamas at your seat on Finnair. My guess is because it’s not the most eco-friendly perk. They do offer slippers, though.
  • Arrivals Lounge. Business Class passengers can enjoy the lounge at their departure airport, but not at the arrival airport.
  • Onboard bar. Many Business Class cabins have an onboard bar or social space for passengers enjoy time outside of their seats. Finnair flights do not have a space like this.
  • Doors. The seats in Finnair Business Class do not have doors like some premium suite seats.
  • Turndown Service. In some premium cabins, the flight attendants will make up your bed for you. In Finnair, you will have to make it up yourself. Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to do so.

Our Flight Details

Let’s move on to the details of our specific flight, which we will cover in the remainder of this post.

  • Origin: New York City, USA (JFK)
  • Destination: Helsinki, Finland (HEL)
  • Flight number: AY016
  • Plane: Airbus A350-941
  • Airline & cabin: Finnair Business Class (Flex)
  • Seats: 11A, 11D, 11H
  • Departure time: 10:55 PM local New York time
  • Arrival time: 1:10 PM local Helsinki time (the next day)
  • Total Flight Time: 7 hours, 16 minutes
  • Distance: 4,117 miles
  • Cost (2 adults, 1 child): $12,265 USD round trip (including the return flight from HEL to JFK)

Finnair Business Class Booking & Seat Selection

When booking Business Class, we always buy direct through the airline. The one exception to that rule is if we’re booking with points, which we didn’t do this time.

The Finnair website makes it easy to select your travel class (Economy, Premium Economy or Business Class) and then your ticket class (Light, Classic or Flex.) It lists the floor price for each travel class, and then you can click see the price for each ticket class. This is also where you can review the differences between each specific class.

You can also upgrade to Business Class after you book a lower travel class, as long as seats are still available. However, if you upgrade at the airport, you will not receive any ground perks like priority queues or an extra checked baggage allowance. Last minute upgrades at the airport will only benefit from the Business Class experience in the air.

The Finnair Business Class prices tend to be pretty static throughout the year as long as you’re booking several months in advance. The closer you get to your travel date and the lower the inventory, the higher the price.

We booked our flight in August for a February trip. We paid a total of $12,265 USD round trip for 2 adults and 1 child, or about $4,088 per person. There is no discount for children’s fares. We booked using our AmEx Platinum because it earns 5x points when booking direct through the airline.

Business Class Seat Selection

Finnair has two categories of Business Class seats: Premium and Standard. The seats themselves are basically the same, and the only difference is where the seat is located. On the A350, Preferred seats are the solo seats along the windows and Standard Seats are the pairs of seats in the middle. All seats have direct aisle access.

If you book Business Class Flex, you can select any available seat at the time you book for no extra fee. You can also switch the seat to any available seat at anytime. If you book Business Class Classic or Light, you will have to pay an additional fee for seat selection. Standard seat selection costs approximately €100 (per person, per way) and Premium is closer to €150.

If you do not pay to select a seat, they will assign one for free when you check in. If you are traveling with a child, they will always sit the child by at least one adult in your party. Otherwise, there is no guarantee that you will be seated with your travel party if you do not select your seats.

Another thing to consider when selecting your seat is the cabin. Finnair has two layouts for their A350, and one of them has Business Class split between two cabins. A larger cabin near the front of the plane and smaller cabin right behind it before you get to Economy.

There are pros and cons to each cabin, but we generally prefer the smaller cabin whenever it’s an option. Fewer people in the cabin means less noise, fewer people moving around, and quicker meal service. This adds up to less disruption and a quieter flight.

For our flight, we selected 11A, 11D and 11H. These seats are located in the smaller cabin and included one Premium and two Standard seats. Since we booked Business Class Flex, there was no extra charge to select our seats.

New York JFK Airport Experience

Our trip began at JFK Airport in New York City. Finnair flies out of Terminal 8 at JFK.

We arrived at the airport via Uber just before 8 PM for our 10:45 PM scheduled flight. The check-in desk opens 3 hours prior to the scheduled departure, so we were right on time. (We didn’t necessarily need to be there that early, but it was a late night for our toddler and we just wanted to settle in as quickly as possible.)

Finnair Check-In at JFK

The first step was check in. We always go to the desk for international flights so we can make sure they check our passports and verify our baggage allowance and everything right off the bat. Finnair has a handful of check-in desks at JFK, which were a bit hidden but clearly labeled.

There were three queues, one for Economy, one for bag drop, and one for Priority. The Economy line wasn’t too long at the time, but there was only on person ahead of us in the Priority line. (As a reminder, the Priority line is not available to Business Class Light ticket holders.) We were assisted almost immediately.

We were traveling with two Away Carry-On bags, three personal items, and one car seat. On a domestic flight, we have no problem carrying all of this luggage on the plane. However, Finnair has weight requirements in addition to size requirements. The combined weight of our carry-on and personal item had to be under 12 kg (~26 lbs), and we were well over that.

They never weighed our bags or questioned the weight of our carry-ons. However, we knew this was their policy and had already planned to check our suitcases so we stuck with it. The weight limit for checked bags is 32 kg each, and we were well under that.

The gate agent checked our bags, verified our passports and printed our boarding passes quickly. It was only 7 minutes from the time we entered the queue until we were on our way to security.

Business Class (Classic and Flex) passengers can also utilize the Priority security line when available. This was an option at JFK, and the entrance was near the TSA PreCheck entrance. However, the Priority line is just a shorter line for standard security, which requires things like taking off your shoes and taking out liquids. We have TSA PreCheck, so we used that security queue instead, because it’s easier overall. We were through security in 12 minutes.

Finnair Lounge Access at JFK

Finnair does not have their own lounge at JFK. Instead, Finnair Business Class (Classic and Flex) passengers can use the Greenwich Lounge, which they share with fellow Oneworld alliance airlines American Airlines and British Airways.

The entrance to the lounge is right on the other side of security. There are signs for Greenwich Lounge and large icons for American Airlines and British Airways. Don’t worry, this is your lounge. Take the stairs or elevator up to the main entrance of the lounge.

At first glance, Greenwich Lounge is fine. It’s a moderately sized lounge with a few self-service bars (including a nice Bloody Mary bar), food buffet and ample seating. Most people happily stayed in this main area, but there is so much more than meets the eye!

There were a few unassuming signs near the food buffet that pointed to The Tasting Room and The Bridge. Without any context, it wasn’t clear what either was. Plus, these areas were not immediately visible, so if you didn’t see the sign it’d be easy to miss them entirely. I’m telling you, go this way! Do not even set your things down in the main room, just keep going.

First was The Tasting Room. This was not a fancy dining room or a wine tasting as I initially assumed, it’s a beer bar! They have a great selection of Brooklyn Brewery beers on tap, and a table-service food menu with dishes that blew the food from the buffet out of the water. I got the Brooklyn Beer Float and it was 10/10.

Beyond that is another bar, food buffet and seating area. There were lots of small rooms and seating spaces like a TV room, kids room (nothing particularly fun for kids inside, though), and a business area with iMac computers and a printer. All of these areas were again, completely empty!

Finally, at the end of the lounge is The Bridge Bar. This is a beautiful space that overlooks the main airport entrance and terminal below. They have a menu with unique cocktails and a table-service food menu that again, looked way better than the buffet. No one was here either!

I was truly shocked to discovered all of these amazing spaces and offerings inside this lounge going completely unused! Instead, nearly every guest in the lounge was gathered in the main (most boring) room. If you didn’t explore these areas, you’d probably leave feeling like it was a pretty mediocre lounge. When you factor it all in though, Greenwich Lounge is a really great Business Class lounge.

Boarding Finnair Business Class

We left the lounge just before 10 PM and arrived at our gate a few minutes later. Boarding commenced just at 10 PM (approximately 45 minutes before departure). They began with pre-boarding, which included a general call for “passengers flying with children.”

Our child is 3, so usually we don’t qualify for family boarding on domestic flights. However, parents with children much older than that were getting in line so we did, too. As it turned out, they began boarding Business Class shortly after in a separate queue. That line was probably still faster that the family line, which was scanning full families at a time. We weren’t in much of a hurry though, and easily boarded the plane a few minutes later.

The A350 has two aisles, so you have to pay attention to your specific seat to know what aisle to go down. Seats A and D are along the closest aisle to boarding and seats H and L are along the further aisle. With some help from the crew, we quickly and easily found our seats.

Finnair Collins Aerospace AirLounge Seat Review

Finnair is in the process of updating their planes to feature the new Collins Aerospace AirLounge seats. Our plane was equipped with this new, premium seat design and I was a huge fan. These new Finnair Business Class seats are spacious, comfortable, and private.

Each seat has a wide, rounded back, which feels more like a lounge chair than a typical Business Class seat pod. To add to that vibe, the artful reading light feels more like a bedside lamp and the seat was adorned with decorative throw pillows.

The high, rounded back of the seat did more than provide comfort, though. It added a significant amount of privacy, without feeling cramped or closed off. There was no door to shut, and yet the seat felt fully blocked from view.

Another interesting feature about the seat back was that it did not recline. There was an adjustable footrest, which could be connected to the stationary footrest to create the lie-flat bed. We’ll go more into the details of the bed in the sleep section, but this setup made it extremely easy to switch between positions.

The seats were comfortable in all positions – seated, legs up and fully flat. They were covered in cloth upholstery, instead of leather, which also played into the lounge chair theme. There was a padded armrest alongside the console, but not on the aisle side. The wide, curved seatback made the seat feel extra spacious. I honestly did not miss the recline functionality at all.

Comfort wise, my only complaint was the seatbelts. During takeoff and landing, you needed to wear the shoulder strap portion, which is of course less comfortable than just the lap belt. There was a second seatbelt that was meant for the sleeping position. That belt automatically tightened, and could not be loosened. It was a bit constrictive while I was sleeping. That said, both of the seatbelts were standard — not the bulky inflatable kind — which is ideal.

The seats are in a 1-2-1 configuration. The two seats in the middle have an adjustable divider. When lowered, two adults can easily see and talk to each other. When it’s raised, each side is a perfectly private seat. The solo seats along the aisle are also ideal for solo travelers. Since the seats are staggered with the tallest wall of the seat along the aisle, passengers sitting across the aisle from each other cannot easily see or talk to each other.

NOTE: If you’re traveling with a young child, the two center seats are not the most ideal for active parenting. You can see your child, but you cannot easily reach them without getting unbuckled. If you need to actually go to their seat, you’ll need to walk to the end of the cabin and through the galley to get there. If you have two parents and a child, make sure to put the child in the center. The parent next to the child in the double seats can watch them, but the parent in the window seat can more actively reach and help them.

Storage in Finnair Business Class

One downside to Business Class seats is that there tends to be less usable storage space at the actual seat than you might have in other cabins. It’s just less of an issue because there is plenty of overhead bin space. That was definitely the case here.

Within the actual seat, the main storage space was located above the footrest. There was room here for a small bag or the provided bedding and pillows. I travel with the Beis Mini Weekender as my personal item, and it didn’t easily fit in this space.

There is a small, closed storage bin near the footrest. Inside was the airline-issued headphones, a bottle of water, and the safety materials. It also had room for a few more small items like a tablet or personal headphones. It would not fit a laptop.

The final storage space at the seat was behind the console along the back of the seat. This small space had a hook for the provided headphones, but it also had room for a few small personal items like a phone or AirPods.

The table above the console was useful in-flight for setting things like a laptop, but it had to be cleared during takeoff and landing.

Everything else needed to go in the overhead bins. There was no shortage of bin space, so there was no problem finding room to store everything you brought on board. However, the bins were quite high. I’m 5’3″ and had to briefly step up on the seat to reach an item that had shifted to the back half of the bin.

Entertainment & Technology in Finnair Business Class

Each Finnair Business Class seat has a large, 18-inch stationary screen. It’s touchscreen, but can also be controlled by a remote control inside the storage compartment. Finnair offers a selection of TV shows and movies. The drama and action selection was deep, but I found the comedy section to be lacking. Most notably, they had the Finnish classic Moomin, which was fun to introduce to our toddler.

Inside the compartment with the remote was the headphone input. The headphone plug was three-pronged, to supported the provided headphones. The headphones were noise reducing, but not noise cancelling. They worked fine and were comfortable enough. You could also insert a standard headphone jack to listen with a personal device.

Also inside this compartment was one USB and one USB-C port. The full outlet was located further down, just below the main console near the floor. This outlet supported both US and European plugs.

Potentially better than either of these ports though, is the wireless charging atop the console at each seat. The charging area is marked and can potentially charge any wireless-charging compatible device, such as a current iPhone or Android. Personally, I don’t get a lot of use out of this because I use a wallet phone case that I would need to remove to charge.

The lighting, no-service indicator and some of the seat positions were controlled by buttons below the console. Both the overhead and reading lights had multiple brightness settings, which was nice. You could control the footrest position from here, but completing the bed also required a manual actual. (More on that in the sleeping section.)

The technology on board was fine when it was working, but unfortunately that wasn’t the entire flight. Throughout our flight, they were constantly rebooting the entire electrical system — it happened at least 5 times. Every time they reset the system, the lights and tv screens would go off and then automatically back on. We then had to turn off all the lights and screens and try to fall asleep all over again. This was incredibly disruptive on an overnight flight.


There was a small, gender-neutral amenity kit at each seat when we boarded. The small, cloth case was pretty and designed by Finnish brand marimekko. There are a few different color ways in circulation, and we got a different color on our return flight.

The contents were simple, but effective — and eco friendly. The kit contained a dental kit (bamboo toothbrush and mini tube of natural toothpaste), ear plugs and an eye mask that matched the material and print of the pouch.

There was also a pair of slippers at each seat. They came in one size only, and were the lightweight, felt type.

You could take the amenity kit and slippers with you off the plane.

Finnair Business Class Food & Beverage Service

Before departure, they immediately offered a beverage. The choices were water, blueberry juice or Champagne. I obviously choose the later, but the blueberry juice is also delicious.

This particular flight included a light snack after departure and the full meal service was breakfast before landing. They post the menu for flights from Helsinki in advance, and you can pre-order your specific meal. For flights from other destinations, like this one from NYC, you can only pre-order special dietary meals. We preordered vegetarian meals.

The first service began just after takeoff. Most people were heading right to bed, so there was no separate drink service first. Instead of taking the whole cabin’s order in advance, the flight attendant went to each seat, took their order, and then immediately brought their meal. It seemed pretty efficient.

The flight attendant immediately acknowledged my vegetarian order, which I confirmed. However, she brought a tray that clearly had a bowl of seafood in it. I first asked to confirm my meal was vegetarian, and she said yes. Then I specifically asked about the bowl fish and shrimp. She said she’d “check on it” and soon returned with the vegetarian alternative.

They dimmed the cabin lights shortly after all the meals were distributed. Light snacks were available in the galley overnight, which I always forget to snatch up. Approximately 2 hours before landing, they began the main meal service.

Just like snack service, they took orders by seat and then brought the food right away. Again, the flight attendant confirmed my vegetarian pre-order and brought me a tray with cold cuts on it. I again enquired, and she replaced the item with the vegetarian version. This was now a pattern.

At this point, I wasn’t convinced I was getting the vegetarian meal at all. The main course she brought me was an egg dish with some sort of meat-like crumble inside. One of the standard menu items was a frittata with chorizo, and this looked an awful lot like that. I asked if it was vegetarian, and she said yes. However, she also thought that salami on my plate was vegetarian, so I didn’t exactly trust her. Now, there’s a chance this was a vegetarian chorizo, but I just didn’t trust it at this point. I didn’t eat it.

Overall, I was pretty disappointed in the food and beverage service. The food I did eat was just okay, not great. There was no dedicated drink service separate from meal service, other than the pre-departure drink. The drink menu was honestly a bit light anyway, except for wine. Plus, there was just so much confusion around the vegetarian meals. The blueberry juice was good, though.

Sleeping in the Finnair Business Class AirLounge Seats

The Finnair Business Class AirLounge seats are unique. They are the only seats in the industry that do not move or recline at all. That maybe sounds like a bad thing, but it was actually incredibly comfortable and convenient. I loved that I could go from laying down to sitting upright without necessarily having to change the seat settings.

Transforming the seat into a bed was easy, but not immediately intuitive. There was an instruction video available on the entertainment system or you could flag down a flight attendant for help.

It was basically a two step process. First, you pressed the button to raise the footrest completely flat. Then, there was small lever that raised the final piece of the bed into place. The bottom of the seat was now the head of the bed, and the foot of the bed extended under the console of the seat in front.

The pieces all fit together nicely, and there were very few gaps in the bed itself. They provided a light mattress pad anyway, which smoothed out the small bumps even more. However, this didn’t attach to the seat at all, so it got tangled easily. The comforter that went with the bed was lightweight but warm, and very soft.

Since the seat itself didn’t recline, the standard seatbelt did not reach in the lying position. To solve the problem, there is a second seatbelt just for sleeping. It’s tucked away on the side of the console and attached to a slot on the aisle side of the footrest. It was a standard seatbelt (not the bulky inflatable kind), which I liked, but it also auto-retracted, which I didn’t like. It pulled to be quite tight, which was uncomfortable for sleeping.

Overall though, the bed in Finnair Business Class was really comfortable. The bed stretches to just over 6 feet, so anyone shorter than that can lay fully stretched out. The bed is at a slight angle, so I found it more comfortable for side sleeping anyway. The large, curved back of the seat provides good privacy while you’re sleeping, too.

The only downside to sleeping on this particular flight is that it’s almost too short. By the time one meal service concludes and the lights dim, you really only end up with 4-5 hours of sleep before the lights brighten again for the next meal.

Arrival in Helsinki

In what felt like no time, we were landing in Helsinki. The entertainment system had live plane cameras, so it was really fun to watch us break though the low clouds right as we were approaching the runway.

The plane landed at the gate and we were one of the first few people off the plane. It was a long, but pleasant walk from our gate to passport control. (There are always gates close to passport control, but why does it feel like the one you land at is always on the clear other side of the airport?)

Passport control was quick and painless. There were no lines at 1:30 PM local time when we arrived, and we walked right up to an available agent. We have pretty full passports, including several years worth of trips in and out of the Schengen Zone, so it seemed like we were subjected to some extra questions. However, the agent was very friendly and seemed satisfied, eventually letting us through.

Our checked bags were tagged as Priority, so we grabbed those quickly from the baggage claim. The railway station with trains to the city is adjacent to the airport. After a short walk and several escalators, we made it to the platform and boarded a train to the city. We were off to explore Helsinki for a few days!

Closing Thoughts

Overall, I liked the hard product on Finnair’s flagship Business Class product, but I felt like the service left something to be desired. This particular product is also pretty expensive. We spent over $12 grand on this roundtrip flight, and I’ll be honest, I do not think it was worth that. Here’s where I think Finnair Business Class shines and were it falls flat.

Pros of Finnair Business Class

  • Great seat. The unique design of the AirLounge seat is spacious, comfortable and private. They took a chance on a completely new seat design, and I think they nailed it. The seat is incredibly comfortable upright and in the lie-flat position, which is great for sleeping.
  • Partner travel. Not all Business Class seats are good for partners traveling together, but this configuration is. You can easily see and talk with a partner sitting beside you in the middle two seats.
  • Airport experience. The upgrade to Business Class makes the airport experience on both sides of the trip much more pleasant. You’ll enjoy shorter lines, get on and off the plane quickly, and get your bags faster. Plus, you’ll have access to the Finnair or partner lounge at your departure airport.
  • Tech touches. The addition of wireless charging and the USB-C port are helpful modern touches. If you haven’t upgraded your devices in a while, you can still utilize the USB port and the standard outlet.

Cons of Finnair Business Class

  • Service. The flight attendant service on Finnair was mediocre. Proactive service was limited to just meals, and there was no dedicated drink service on a 7-hour flight (other than the pre-departure drink.) There was also repeated confusion around my vegetarian meal order.
  • Not great for a young child. If you’re traveling with a child old enough to need their own seat but not quite old enough to be fully self-sufficient, this configuration is tough. I could see them, but not reach them. Changing the TV channel, helping with meals, and doing bedtime was tough.
  • Pricing. For a Business Class flight to Europe, this one was expensive. Not only that, but they offer Business Class at three different price points (aka ticket classes.) If you want to get the full experience and seat selection, you have to book the most expensive option.
  • System glitches. This may have been unique to our flight, but they kept rebooting the system during our flight. We were frequently awaken by bright lights and screens turning on automatically throughout the night, which was very frustrating.

Other Premium Cabin Reviews

If you’re interested in building your flight bucket list or are flexible on your destination, check out some of these reviews.