Finnair debuts new business, premium economy class to Singapore in May

Until the formal May 11 launch, Finnair will also offer free upgrades from economy to premium economy to selected travellers.

By David Flynn, March 8 2022
Finnair debuts new business, premium economy class to Singapore in May

Finnair will launch its all-new business class and premium economy seats on Airbus A350 flights to Singapore as of May 11, with the 12-hour journey sure to be an acid test for the innovative non-reclining business class seat.

As Executive Traveller explores in our detailed report below, the seat – radically designed to be more like a comfy ‘sofa in the sky’ – has a legrest which swings up to create a fully-flat surface so the passenger can sit, slouch, sprawl or sleep any way they like.

Singapore has long been among Finnair’s flagship routes to Asia, and also serves as the most popular connection point for Australians headed to Helsinki and beyond.

With Finnair upgrading its A330 and A350 jets to install the new business class and premium economy seats, the airline also says that ahead of the official launch on May 11, it will make premium economy available as a complimentary upgrade for selected economy passengers.

“The refurbished aircraft can be on any of our long-haul route or other routes operated by a wide-body aircraft, such as London,” a Finnair spokesperson tells Executive Traveller.

“Customers can’t book premium seats in advance during the interim period, but the seating will be automatic based on certain principles, like Finnair Plus tier level.”


While Finnair, like the Finns themselves, may be considered somewhat staid and somber, the airline's radical new business class and premium economy seats are anything but.

The two all-new designs, which are already flying on selected Finnair routes and will eventually feature across its entire Airbus A330 and A350 fleet, are the cornerstones of what the Oneworld member describes as a "fully renewed long-haul cabin" built on a €200 million investment.

And in the case of business class, it's boldly different from anything in the skies today.

Finnair’s new business class

All of Finnair's A330 and A350 jets will see their current business class seats ripped out and replaced by what's more like a lounge.

Finnair's all-new business class seat is more like a lounge.
Finnair's all-new business class seat is more like a lounge.

Unlike conventional seats, it doesn't recline – instead, the entirety of the seat is a single space which the passenger is invited to treat like a sofa in the sky – and, in the airline's words, it's "an exclusive space that you can make your own."

Finnair's all-new business class seat is more like a lounge.
Finnair's all-new business class seat is more like a lounge.

"The seat is designed to maximise your comfort, space, and freedom to move during a long-haul flight," Finnair claims.

Finnair's all-new business class seat is more like a lounge.
Finnair's all-new business class seat is more like a lounge.

Wrapped in a fixed contoured shell, with a high cocoon-like surround for privacy, it's a cosy crib where you can feel free to sit or sprawl, rest your feet on the ottoman or swing up the legrest and footrest sections (which the airline calls 'infill panes') to create a fully-flat bed dressed by a Marimekko mattress and duvet.

Finnair's all-new business class seat is more like a lounge.
Finnair's all-new business class seat is more like a lounge.

This is a crucial take-away: while the seat doesn't recline, it still offers a lie-flat bed where your feet tuck into a recess beneath the shelf of the seat in front of you, although Finnair has not shared the length of the bed.

Finnair's all-new business class seat is more like a lounge.
Finnair's all-new business class seat is more like a lounge.

Finnair worked with Airbus to maximise available space in the footwell by snugging the seat module right up against the plane's interior wall, rather than making this cubby a self-contained part of the seat as is usually the case.

The 'foot cubby' of Finnair's all-new business class.
The 'foot cubby' of Finnair's all-new business class.

"We wanted to rethink business class and create more of a residential environment, emulating the comfort you would expect at home," explains David Kondo, who leads Finnair's Customer Experience team.

Finnair's all-new business class seat is more like a lounge.
Finnair's all-new business class seat is more like a lounge.

"By doing away with complicated seat mechanisms and using 3D curved shells, we're able to provide a larger flexible living space. This allows you to move more freely and take up different positions that traditional aircraft seats do not allow."

Finnair's all-new business class seat is more like a lounge.
Finnair's all-new business class seat is more like a lounge.

But unlike the lounge in your living room, Finnair's version includes nooks for personal items and a laptop or large tablet, plus a riot of ways to keep that tech juiced up via AC, USB-A and USB-C ports as well as wireless mobile charging on the side table.

Finnair's all-new business class seat is more like a lounge.
Finnair's all-new business class seat is more like a lounge.

Each sofa also sports an 18-inch HD video screen, along with a bespoke LED lamp that doubles as a reading light, a Do Not Disturb light, and cabin mood lighting designed to combat the effects of jetlag, while also offering a little Northern Lights touch as the cabin is dimmed for sleep.

Finnair's all-new business class seat is more like a lounge.
Finnair's all-new business class seat is more like a lounge.

While the middle seats in the 1-2-1 layout don't combine into a single indulgent mega-lounge, the divider between them can be lowered to let you share the journey with your companion.

Finnair's all-new business class seat is more like a lounge.
Finnair's all-new business class seat is more like a lounge.

Finnair says the concept 'takes inspiration from lounge furniture', and indeed, it's based on the aptly-named AirLounge model from Collins Aersopace, for which Finnair is the prestigious launch customer.

Worth noting is that the AirLounge is an evolution of an original and highly innovative 'sofa class' seat developed for British Airways by design doyens PriestmanGoode almost a decade ago, and shown below from its patent application.

Upgrades beyond the seat include new dining chinaware from Finnish design house Iittala "and inspired by the contemporary home environment", on which business class passengers will enjoy "an up to six-course meal in modern bistro-style and another lighter meal" with mid-flight snacks available at a refreshment area at the aircraft's main entrance.

London's Tangerine oversaw the styling of not just Finnair's business class seat but a rethink of the aircraft interiors from tip to tail to embrace a sense of ‘Nordic Freedom’.

It's a dramatic change from the familiar aesthetic of creams, whites and pale blues towards a richer palette based on Finnair’s signature dark blue – a centrepiece of the airline’s ‘modern premium' brand refresh – with accents of silver, champagne gold and black, in what Finnair describes as a "distinctly Nordic cabin design."

Finnair's all-new business class seat is more like a lounge.
Finnair's all-new business class seat is more like a lounge.

Tangerine cites "the warm and inviting spirit of Nordic culture, the peoples’ love of exhilarating, expansive natural spaces, and their affinity for pure aesthetic forms" as touchstones for a more homely environment with furniture-like seating and lighting.

"The collaboration has been a unique opportunity to shape a truly Nordic travel experience," says Matt Round, Chief Creative Officer at Tangerine.

Finnair’s new premium economy

The other big debut is Finnair's foray into premium economy, a step beyond the airline's 'economy comfort' approach which offered normal economy seating with a little extra legroom.

Finnair's new premium economy seat.
Finnair's new premium economy seat.

Par for the course: wider seats, more legroom thanks to a 38" pitch and a deeper 8" recline.

Finnair's new premium economy seat.
Finnair's new premium economy seat.

Less expected: this is another totally new design, with Finnair rolling out the Vector premium seat from Hong Kong's HAECO, customised by the airline and Tangerine.

Finnair's new premium economy seat.
Finnair's new premium economy seat.

It features memory foam cushions, a single-piece 'waterfall' legrest as well as AC and USB-A power ports for every passenger, along with a 13" video screen paired with a noise cancelling headset, plus within-reach stowage for laptops and small personal items.

Finnair's premium economy exists within its own dedicated cabin, with two versions of seating layout:

  • three rows of 2-4-2 seating on the Airbus A350
  • three rows of 2-3-2 seating on the Airbus A330
Finnair's new premium economy seat.
Finnair's new premium economy seat.

Premium economy passengers can expect two meal services – a main three-course meal plus a light meal service shortly before landing – while creature comforts include a Marimekko neck pillow and woven blanket.

"The trend for premium travel has significantly accelerated during the pandemic, so we are confident our new premium economy travel class will prove very popular with customers looking for an upgraded experience from economy," recounts Ole Orvér, Finnair Chief Commercial Officer.

This video from Finnair gives you a walkthrough of the new seats and upgraded aircraft.

Upgrading the Finnair fleet

Finnair expects it will take until the end of 2023 to refit all of its A330 and A350 jets with the new business class and premium economy seats, in three cabin configurations:

  • an A350 with a 43-seat business class cabin, 24 premium economy seats and 211 economy seats
  • an A350 with a smaller 30-seat business class cabin, 26 premium economy seats and 265 economy seats
  • the A330s will have 28 business class seats, 21 premium economy seats and 230 economy seats

In each case, the jets have fewer business seats than today – where we see 46 seats on the A350 and 32 on the A330.

This lines up with Finnair's statement in October 2021, following the presentation of its Q3 interim report, that the carrier was "mainly a leisure-driven airline" – a model where premium economy could prove a far better and more profitable fit than business class travel.

"Even though it is likely that business travel will not recover as fast as leisure travel in the coming years, we believe that there is increasing demand for premium leisure travel," the airline noted at the time, saying that premium economy was intended "to meet this demand."

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

16 Jan 2018

Total posts 116

Premium economy is looking to be the new business class it seems. The gap between economy and business class these days is just too great. I welcome any airline bringing it in.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Dec 2011

Total posts 95

Personally I can't see that PE is worth the money, particularly Qantas.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

19 Feb 2014

Total posts 452

Without deviating too far from topic, it certainly depends on the airline. Splashing out extra money on a US3 offering or BA for a premium economy is more or less a complete waste of money, whereas those such as SQ is, in my opinion, totally worth it. Hopefully Finnair bring in an equally-good premium seat.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Jul 2011

Total posts 1393

Albeit Qantas is one of the few not to put PE in its A330s. I agree on space for each seat / typical ticket price, PE is generally pretty poor value.

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1437

PE sales prices and upgrades are definitely worth it so it is my preferred seat if they are on offer.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Sep 2018

Total posts 153

I don’t understand why airlines don’t put angle flat seats or other high density business configurations of old a solid premium economy. Serve the economy meal on real China’s and your done. I would happly pay the premium for a pseudo business’s class. I don’t want a recliner chair.

07 Nov 2020

Total posts 39

I'm very curious to see what PE looks like on Finnair.  I always fly Finnair between Europe and Asia (and on to Australia with Qantas or Cathay) and often spring for their business class - which is the best value by a LONG way.  Finnair business class is often around half of what you pay on Qantas and it's just as good.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

19 Jul 2017

Total posts 17

I fly with Finnair for their RTW deals and their business class is already pretty good....any improvement is very welcome. The A350 flights have been incredible value and their network is growing. Flying DFW-LHR via Helsinki in March...all being well.

Etihad - Etihad Guest

19 Mar 2018

Total posts 73

May I add that Singapore Airlines, contrary to popular assumption, is also a "mainly leisure driven airline".

I think Finnair has to be aiming for 5 star status. While the product previously is barely acceptable on shorter routes to Northeast Asia, SIN is really pushing it. I believe Finnair, now with a Stockholm hub, and a potential future Riga long-haul hub too, is primed to use the new product to launch Australia, especially Perth, Melbourne. Despite ME3 and despite proposed BA QR JVs, it really appears that there's a clear preference for a SIN stopover to Australia as evidenced by SQ's quick buildup of service and Qantas resumption of SIN to London, when the logical step would've been to launch Brisbane/ Perth - Europe nonstops. If that's the case, AY to SIN service really needs to be improved, especially if Aeroflot is any indication of what the next gen European carriers products are going to be. After all, within AY current product, AF has matched and gone beyond that already.

Etihad - Etihad Guest

09 Jun 2019

Total posts 8

Finnair from Asia to Europe via Helsinki works very well, with either a stopover at the airport hotel in Helsinki, or there are usually convenient onward connections. Same on the return. The previous business class was excellent in all respects, and it looks like even better in the new incarnation.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

16 Mar 2016

Total posts 53

For the money in the past Finnair have had some great deals from Australia to Europe in business class via Helsinki with connections usually in Singapore or Hong Kong with either QF or CX. the only downside is the final flight from Helsinki to your final European destination which can be a 3 hour flight to places like Rome or Barcelona in the typical Euro business class, though I believe over the coming norther summer they are using A330's and A350's for some inter European flights which would make the whole journey much more pleasant.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

31 Aug 2012

Total posts 215

Finnair really bungled the Bus. seating on the otherwise great A350.  Put in extremely narrow business seats with footwells the size of a (triangular) dinner plate. Very uncomfortable for sleeping on long-haul which the A350 is earmarked for. Current A330 is better if you are lucky enough  to get one subbed for a A350.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

14 Mar 2017

Total posts 158

I agree. Good product let down by being a bit on the small side. Not uncommon on A350s, however.

I have been using Finnair for some time now for business class from the UK to Brisbane.

Great seats and service :-) Looking forward to the improved seats.

However, for some months now I have been unable to make any new bookings, with the message 'no flights available' ?

But flights are available from Helsinki to Brisbane???

Anyone know why?

07 Nov 2020

Total posts 39

@nekillim2020

I've been using Finnair business class for years to UK and Europe from Brisbane too!  It's so much better value than any other business class - often half the price of Qantas yet every bit as good.  I love the Helsinki hub, especially if you're returning from anywhere in northern Europe (eg. Sweden or Germany).

I'm planning a trip around Christmas so I've started looking and the bookings appear to be a bit hit and miss on the website, although I have found flights coming up in Sep/Oct.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer P1

23 Aug 2014

Total posts 78

My first thoughts were around the dreaded SQ J seats with their awkward footwells and uncomfortable sleeping position with the exception of a few rows

Is it known whether FULL extension of lower limbs is possible rather than an enforced sideways or other position?

The pics do not make this clear

Etihad - Etihad Guest

21 Jul 2019

Total posts 125

Not to be a complete downer but the nine highly exaggerated positions sitting/slouching/slumping/squatting/sleeping/fainting, as 'demonstrated' by the model 'passenger' are not any different to what you can already do on many/most decent business class seats(!). And in no way does this new business class seat look any more spacious or substantially 'better'. As for the total lack of built-in neck and shoulder support(!!).......well that's a real big bummer. Imagine having to faff around with a pillow very time you want to rest your head while seated. You may recall SQ had a similar issue with lack of neck/support when it premiered their new business class seat on the brand new a380 back in 2007? At least SQ rectified that problem quickly.

For once I'm trying real hard not to break my cardinal rule of not negatively judging until I've tried the new airline seat/product. But this sure looks underwhelming. On the other hand, I do like the look of the smart new PE seat.

Well this was certainly a bolt from out of the (Nordic) blue! Certain to be very controversial, but you don't make any significant move forward by doing whatever everyone else is doing and playing it safe. I liked the original BA 'sofa class' concept but think this is better suited to Finnair, as the airline says it's more of a premium leisure market than the same 'business traveller' market as bigger cities and airlines. I'm not going to pass judgement until I've tried it, because I am sure Finnair and Collins Aerospace have put a LOT of thought and work into this, they wouldn't risk a 200m Euro investment otherwise. I always enjoy catching Finnair flights from Singapore and Hong Kong, so it will be interesting to see just how comfortable this is on the long haul where you spend most of the flight sleeping. I think that will be the deciding factor, as the seat looks comfy enough for daytime flights.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

11 Oct 2014

Total posts 686

In regard to the new J seats, I definitely think that a "wait and try" methodology may be best plan here, given that the concept and pics don't seem to adequately translate through to most people's psyches. I've always enjoyed the Finnair experience, so I'm not keen to pass judgement yet, until tried.

One area that I would criticize, though - puzzles me a lot. That is the provision of USB power selection. 

It seems universally accepted that USB-B sockets have more power and generally charge much faster than USB-A sockets. Yet, Finnair chooses to select a USB-A (slow) socket for both Business and Premium Economy. Surely, a USB-B socket would have been a preferable choice for customers, with a barely differential cost factor? 

However, Finnair has also chosen to fit a USB-C (the newest iteration of USB standards, which uses a slightly different connection, compared to USB-A/B. That makes sense for Business class, where it is to be expected that business people may well have the latest technology. But does it make sense to exclude USB-C from Premium Economy, where some business people and often wealthier Economy passengers may possess similarly new tech?

Small point, I know. But it is these 'small' points that show lack of attention to detail - and can sometimes ruin an otherwise brilliant experience,

20 Oct 2015

Total posts 228

I think you've got the wrong USB port mentioned here Kimshep, USB-B is the square port used by printers. USB-A can be high power or low power and I am sure Finnair has opted for high power because, well, why not? It's pretty much the norm now that modern larger screen smartphones need a higher power USB supply.

But I agree about USB-A and USB-C in business class but only USB-A in premium economy, it does seem like we are nit-picking  but you think there would be such a tiny difference in cost that it just wouldn't matter, over the life of the seat it wouldn't even be a 'rounding error'.

20 Oct 2015

Total posts 228

I'm with everyone else here, my first reaction was a bit "What the...?" but as long as the bed is comfortable I'd have no problems. Well, some sort of headrest would be welcome, not keen on propping pillows behind my neck and having to adjust them every time I shift my sitting or 'slouching' position. I like the general concept in terms of the space, the high walls for privacy without the extent of closed doors, plus USB-A and USB-C ports along with wireless charging, although those are things which any new business class seat these days should have. Looking forward to the first reviews of this, especially on overnight flights to and from Asia.

Delta Air Lines - SkyMiles

16 Oct 2017

Total posts 151

If this product is so great, why won't Finnair tell us the length of the "bed"? Any bets that it's less than 6 ft (183cm)?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

06 Oct 2016

Total posts 119

That is my fear, the Finn's are a reasonably tall race, and the last one was 200cm which is great and (at 195) I appreciate the 10cm over Cathay for the same Cirrus design... with Cathay I find I need an A or H seat and side sleep on my right

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

20 Aug 2014

Total posts 138

That new business class seat looks good for "lounging" but awful for sleeping. My guess at the "bed" length based on the photos of the very small female model is it will be around 5ft to 5ft 4 inches (150-160cm).

05 Mar 2015

Total posts 389

I think you are underestimating the size of the seat shell, it's obviously very high and wide, the photos show it's actually a bit taller than the top of the A350 windows. And look at the guy in the photo, he doesn't look 'short', okay he is slouching in the seat but the seat itself is a big chunk of 'space' and Finnair is likely trying to emphasise that space in the poses it has these models in. Plus, do you seriously think an airline like Finnair would launch a business class seat where the bed is just 150cm? That's insane. The average height of the Finnish male is 179cm according to data, there is no way Finnair would come out with a business class seat which doesn't allow its core market to sleep stretched out.

Agree QFP1. Finns are giants! I felt Lilliputian when last in Helsinki, but probably it's just coincidence. Maybe the ability to sit cross legged will be nice like the woman in pics 2 and 3 of the multi image.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Jul 2014

Total posts 22

Lots and lots of overhead photos with a screen conveniently blocking some of the space below but not a single picture of the footwell. As another writer (Ian62) has noted, the SQ footwells can be horrible. But we can't see the footwell space and given how carefully they were avoided perhaps Finnair's marketing team knows there might be a problem? I hope not, I have enjoyed several long haul and many short haul flights on Finnair and want them to do well. But I also like to sleep long haul...

07 May 2015

Total posts 30

Well, when was the last time you saw ANY airline release PR photos showing feet in the footwell? Don't think I have ever seen those! I think we are all eagerly awaiting the first actual reviews because we know they will have plenty of photos of the bed and the foot space and I'm sure somebody may even bring along a tape measure to measure the length of the bed,

07 May 2015

Total posts 30

As Sir Humphrey used to say to Jim Hacker in Yes Prime Minister, this seems a "very brave, very courageous" choice of business class seat. But Finnair is not an airline to do things rashly, just like the Finns (well unless they've had a bit too much vodka), so I have to think or at least hope a LOT of research and testing has gone into this, especially actual testing with real people of up to 6', and with them spending the actual length of a flight in the seat, like 12-14 hours, being served meals and watching movies and reading and working and especially sleeping. That's the best way to test any product like this, and I can't think that Collins did not do all of that in developing this new AirRest seat before they even brought it to market, let along all the testing Finnair and Tangerine would do.

15 Mar 2017

Total posts 15

being a leisure airline.. I do wish Finnair could make the jump down to AU...

The stopovers in Helsinki & Tokyo are welcome breaks from other usual hubs from AU.

Seats look great.. I already enjoyed their J class in the past 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

26 Apr 2011

Total posts 12

The oneworld alliance works well with Qantas or Cathay to get from Asia to Australia, so they don't need to step on their oneworld partners toes and come all the way from Asia to Australia. And they are all good airlines, although who knows how Cathay and HK will end up. I like the Qantas and Finnair business class combo. Now it adds a premium economy option too.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

16 Mar 2016

Total posts 53

I have enjoyed Finnair several times when travelling from Singapore and Hong Kong to Europe connecting from another airline from Brisbane and the seats look interesting but wonder how the seatbelt will work when you are in some of the possible positions as with a regular lie flat type of business class seat the seatbelt  moves with the seat but I assume these are fixed and it would be annoying if every time the seatbelt sign came on you had to move to an acceptable position.

Also as the seat doesn't recline and is always in the upright position what position will you have to be in the seat for take off and landing. I know most people will probably be in the regular position for take off and landing but i am sure there will be some that will try something different.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Dec 2012

Total posts 7

Even the Collins Aerospace article on their new seats doesn't disclose length, but I agree it's unthinkable Finnair would install less than 190cms.  The other area not mentioned is the significant weight saving by removing all the structure and mechanicals of electric recline and massage features.

JKH
JKH

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

23 Sep 2017

Total posts 150

I like the look of it.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

31 Jan 2016

Total posts 82

As someone who 'slouches and slumps' and spreads bits and pieces all over the place this could be perfect for me...or not... However, interested to try at some point in time.

Joe
Joe

03 May 2013

Total posts 664

Lost me at "no recline".

Delta Air Lines - SkyMiles

16 Oct 2017

Total posts 151

Anyone who has a bad back might be well-advised to avoid this seat and choose a different airline.

I think I'm booked into the new Business class from SIN-HEL in April. It's hard to tell, but it's an A350 and the seat map doesn't correspond to either of the existing A350 configs on SeatGuru. Plus there are 30 seats in the Business cabin, which according to this article is what the refitted A350 cabin will have. 

Interestingly, they do not yet appear to be selling Premium Economy (on any flights), but I did a dummy booking for Y on the flight that I'm booked into, and the seat map shows what I think is the Premium Economy cabin but all seats are blocked. It's shown as a separate mini cabin at the front of Economy, with a 2-4-2 layout, which corresponds to the details here. However, it's not quite "three rows of 2-4-2 seating" - it's a lone 2 seats (K & L) in the first row, followed by three more rows of 2-4-2 (i.e. 26 seats rather than 24).

Still though, all things considered I think this is one of the refitted aircraft, as it certainly isn't an existing layout. I look forward to experiencing it!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer P1

23 Aug 2014

Total posts 78

"feet tuck into a recess beneath the shelf of the seat in front of you"

Sounds potentially like the dreaded SQ J seat with respect to the uncomfortable angle passengers need to attempt to sleep in and the restricted nature of the space

If this is indeed the case, the dramatic Nordic design of the curved shell, whilst looking good in a designer furniture store, may have little to do with stretching out fully and getting a good nights sleep

23 Mar 2020

Total posts 4

.. look like I get to see/try all this!  Am flying LHR-SIN with FINNAIR in Business class on May 26.  Don't mind the pics and comments above but curiously seat selection (we are 2 pax) was difficult. The A350 aircraft seating plan bears no relationship to the above with all seats (or should that be lounges?) shown in a very different layout.  Sit next to your partner?.. rather difficult it turned out to do that!

Guess we will find out more in May

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

14 Mar 2017

Total posts 158

Frankly, I think this looks terrible. No recline, no back support, no elbow room, constrained footwell, and while it allows for some new relaxing positions try holding any of them for any extended period of time (esp. with a seatbelt on). Unless they've done some serious ergonomic engineering on the back (and given its curve I highly doubt that) this will be awful.


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