Finnair's Nordic-themed Airbus A350 business class refresh

By David Flynn, December 6 2017
Finnair's Nordic-themed Airbus A350 business class refresh

Finnair's Airbus A350 business class is getting a cool new Nordic look from February 2018, with a refresh touching everything from 'cabin textiles' – seat covers, pillows and blankets – to its iconic Marimekko chinaware, along with 'dine on demand' inflight meals.

David Kondo, Finnair's Head of Cabin Interior Development, describes the designs having "a fresh and modern aesthetic that is inspired by Nordic homes and landscapes."

Here's what you'll see in Finnair's Airbus A350 business class refresh as it rolls out across 2018, beginning with flights to Seoul, Shanghai and Tokyo from February and extending to the rest of the A350 network by mid-year.

Refreshed seats

The seat textiles and associated 'comfort amenities' draw "a clean and minimalist feel" drawn from Nordic interior design, while the soft colour palette picks up the grey and white of the landscape, Kondo explains – but with elements of seasonal Nordic light, so the fabric is flecked with touches of pink and orange.

The business class cushions and throws also receive a fresh look, with the familiar green Marimekko design making way for a darker blue pattern which is also repeated on the new amenity kits and some tableware pieces.

Dine on demand

Finnair will also join the shift towards 'dine on demand' in business class, with passengers at the pointy end able to choose what they'd like to eat at a time to suit their schedule.

Those meals will also get an uplift from Swedish chef Tommy Myllymäki, beginning with a new winter menu for long-range A350 flights departing from Helsinki from February 2018.

Tommy Myllymäki will design Signature menus for Finnair’s business class, and his winter menu will be served on all Finnair long-haul flights departing from Helsinki as of February 7.

"Seasonality is key for me, and I want to bring more vegetables, freshness and different textures to the meals on board," enthuses Myllymäki, who is creative director at five Stockholm restaurants and represented Sweden in the prestigious Bocuse d’Or competition.

For morning departures from Asia, the Finnish tradition of Kahvikutsut – coffee served with seven different treats such as coffee cake, cinnamon buns and chocolates – will be available as a refreshing snack between the two meal services.

Although Finnair doesn't fly to Australia – and has no plans to do so – it enjoys substantial patronage from Aussie travellers who connect to Finnair's daily flights from Singapore, Hong Kong and Bangkok, with a leaning towards the first two cities and notably solid business class bookings.

AusBT review: Finnair Airbus A350 business class (Hong Kong-Helsinki-Hong Kong)


David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

12 Feb 2015

Total posts 88

Look forward to trialling this revamped decor some day. The current Finnair A350 business hard product is great, although the food and drinks standard doesn't compete with other leading carriers. My guess is that Australian travellers' 'leaning towards' Singapore and Hong Kong has to do with access to the QF and CX lounges!

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2555

Definitely a strong Oneworld connection there, as well as Singapore and Hong Kong being popular destinations as 'transit' points in their own right.

21 Aug 2015

Total posts 86

And the connection times.........I agree the food service could and should be up graded.

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 1191

Lots of nice light colors; I hope the material resists stains or easily cleaned otherwise in a year or so this new stlye may look very ordinary indeed.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

22 Apr 2013

Total posts 146

Traveling in J on AY to MUC via HKG later this month - very much looking forward to the journey and experiencing AY myself. Have heard many good things about them. First A350 flight too! :D

12 Feb 2015

Total posts 88

I flew during the first week of AY's SIN-HEL A359 service last year. The crew seemed pretty pleased with the new aircraft and proudly showed off the cabin lighting system with a 'Northern Lights' programmed display.

20 Dec 2012

Total posts 4

The main issue with AY's A359 J product is the seat (compared to CX's). There's no leg rest, making it uncomfortable in most positions. Storage is not as good either. The soft product is OK. Crew is not as personal as their Asian counterparts. And avoid the first row of the cabin as the galley gets very noisy (crews don't seem to realise how loud they throw around tablewares).The blueberry juice is great though.

29 Sep 2014

Total posts 14

I know many find the Finnair A350 cabins sterile but I think they are very attractive, and this looks like a nice if subtle upgrade.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

27 Aug 2014

Total posts 41

Flew a brand new Finnair A350 about a year back HEL-SIN, so can't imagine any "hard" changes in that time beyond the colour of the cushions.

Enjoyed it a lot, except for the weird angle of the pop-up armrest on the aisle side. The seat is angled but the armrest is parallel with the aisle, so using it your arm is sticking out at about 45 degrees and close to aisle traffic. Useless in suggesting a comfy lounge.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

16 Mar 2016

Total posts 55

Flew on the Finnair A350 from Helsinki to Hong Kong on July 2016 and it was great and I am surprised that such a new cabin is getting a refresh. Finnair is very popular with Australian travellers given there very competitive business class fares especially when booked well in advance. I think Australia is Finnairs largest market for a country they don't fly too. Helsinki is an easy airport to transit in but unfortunately the connection from Helsinki to most European cities is in the very common "Euro" business configuration with economy seating with the middle seat blocked.

I'm a huge fan of the Finnair a350 service as a Hong Kong resident.

Have no idea why they are changing what is for me a winning look and feel. I personally love the colour accents of the current cabin. The current colours pop against the Nordic background and make for a distinctive product. This new fit out is just more shades of grey. Awful. Be boutique and be distinctive.
The last thing the world needs is another bland carrier. If I want that I'll go a CX a350 - could CX not manage to put a brush wing logo on a bulkhead somewhere so you knew what airline you are with - I acknowledge I am digressing at this point but just using the bus that is CX to compare to the outstanding AY fit out as it is.

13 Dec 2017

Total posts 2

In September we flew CX A350 followed immediately by AY A350. I confess I didn't take much notice of the colour scheme. The comfort level was far superior on the Cathay seat - Finnair's J suite is cramped compared to Cathay (eight rows in cabin compared to Cathay's seven), making entry and egress difficult. There is a fixed shelf in the Finnair footwell which means you can't stretch out your legs (I'm 6' tall) - you can't fit your foot vertically above or below shelf. There are also no central overhead lockers on the Finnair A350.

The Finnair suite has a bulge from the seat in front. If you sleep on your left side, select only the A side and vice versa as your body will need to curve around the bulge.

Finnair bumped us from 5A/6A to 3L/8L on the return journey (reason given was we checked in at HEL too late - 3 hours prior to departure!). As a person who sleeps only on my left side, the 8L seat was very uncomfortable (5A on forward leg had been good for sleeping). The crashing and banging from the trolleys in the galley and the non-stop chatter of the crew in the galley didn't assist with getting any rest.

Blueberry juice was great; Chinese crew out of HEL seemed more attentive and friendly than the Finnish crew out of HKG.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

08 Mar 2017

Total posts 16

I was recently on the A350 from Osaka to Heathrow and the cabin manageress said that the airline believed they were sold an inferior seat and had demanded the supplier replace all the business class seating on their A350s. Its too narrow at the feet end the centre is too hard. They have been using airweave mattresses on long flights (very comfortable) but can't do anything about the width until they are replaced.


13 Dec 2017

Total posts 2

Having travelled hkg-hel-hkg this year on A350 in bcl class, I sincerely hope that Finnair can operate with Finnish crew rather than Chinese crews so we can get the full Nordic experience that I was expecting when I walked on board

Look forward to trying new seats etc in 2019


18 Aug 2017

Total posts 40

I have just flown to and back from Europe in these seats and did not really enjoy the experience, The place for your feet when you are a fair sized bloke does not allow you to shift to your side without withdrawing the feet rolling then placing them back, this breaks your sleep, with a little bit of turbulence they keep waking you up to tell you you cannot go to the toilet, which is what you want to do because they have woken you up. I had to try to sleep with 1 foot in the well and 1 foot up on the window sill, food and drink is ok and staff are good. Movie system does not allow you to advance or go back to where you might have stopped a movie on another flight, you have to rewatch, on the return the USB ports on 1 side did not work at all even after 3 resets. Seats are not that soft and they have that airbag belt that intrudes, no seat comforter to lie on, no pj's and a toilet that is very difficult to turn around in, I am 192cm and 120kg. After coming off the A380 QF flight from Melbourne I found the A350 cramped. The A380 old skybed seats are so much more comfortable.

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