There’s much more to dining in Finnair business class than initially meets the eye. As with many airlines you can pre-order your preferred main course, but three ‘secret’ dishes also await if you know to ask in advance, including a reindeer course for more adventurous diners.
For special occasions or a little extra indulgence, you can also go beyond the regular fare and arrange a box of chocolates to arrive at your seat or your very own bottle of Dom Pérignon to enjoy or share, as you see fit.
Australian Business Traveller sits down with Maarit Keränen, Finnair’s Head of Inflight Product (Food), to find out more.
Finnair business class dining philosophy
“The first thing people say about inflight food is that it’s boring”, Keränen shares. “We want to get rid of the boring, so we’re bringing some of the glamour back, like in the ‘50s when everybody dressed up to fly.”
That sees Finnair showcasing not just its own Nordic Kitchen on flights from Helsinki, but also local and fusion food on flights from other ports such as Hong Kong and Beijing, where the airline calls on a different celebrity chef to design the inflight menus from each city.
“We don’t just look for French Chef de cuisines around the world,” Keränen continues. “We’re really looking for established chefs who can use the local ingredients but with a Finnish touch.”
But tell a passenger that you’ve run out of their preferred course and it’s an easy way to dampen the business class experience, regardless of which celebrity chef designed the menu.
Finnair business class meals for pre-order
From the moment you book your journey until 24 hours before wheels-up, you can jump onto the Finnair website and select your preferred dish from the inflight menu, and on flights from Helsinki, you’ll find three extra options that passengers ordering on-board never even know about.
Currently there’s a healthy ‘wellness and energy’ option of grilled chilli marinated prawns with cashew nuts, jasmine rice and fresh vegetables; plus a ‘food lover’s treat’ of herb seasoned bratwurst sausages, roasted potatoes and onions with fresh tomatoes.
Sound a bit too pedestrian for your tastes? Then glance your eyes over the ‘chef’s gourmet’ choice being a roasted fillet of reindeer with ale-cranberry sauce, potato gratin and grilled vegetables – a meat that many Australians might deem unusual, but which is iconic to Finland.
“For the first time eating reindeer, you have to be a little prepared for that,” Keränen teases. “The taste of the food is very, very strong – it’s something that you don’t expect.”
“It’s nothing like deer, but if you like strong tastes then it’s for you. It’s an experience, and very delicious,” she says, and having ordered the dish on a recent Finnair flight, we certainly agree.
How to pre-order your business class meal
Choosing your meal in advance is easy – just head to the ‘manage my booking’ section of the Finnair website, load up your reservation and then glance down to ‘additional services’, or the larger ‘inflight meals’ option.
But unlike Qantas’ similar ‘Select on Q Eat’ service or Malaysia Airlines’ ‘Chef on Call’, you’ll find your choices almost hidden within the list of special meals. ‘Options 1-3’ reflect the regular inflight menu…
… while the nearby options reflect the seasonal healthy and foodie choices, including the reindeer option listed as chef’s gourmet. To see what’s available on your flight, call up your booking and click on the simple 'click here' text above the meal selection box to explore the menu and see which option corresponds to which dish.
And hey, if you're lamenting the absence of first class on your Finnair flight, make yourself in more comfortable surroundings by pre-ordering a bottle of Dom Pérignon for €144 (A$220) or a box of Godiva creamy mousse chocolates for €20 (A$30.50) to enjoy en route to your destination.
Those items can be ordered over the phone (+358 10 800 400), or by email ([email protected]) at least 72 hours before your flight – rather than through the ‘manage my booking’ section – and must be paid for in advance.
Just don’t pre-order the Nicolas Feuillatte Brut Grande Réserve Champagne if you’re flying in business class: it’s Finnair’s house Champagne and already appears (free) on the regular inflight menu.
Chris Chamberlin travelled to Helsinki as a guest of Finnair.
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