Finnair pushes back premium economy launch

The European airline is promising an “elevated long-haul experience” for international travellers.

By David Flynn, January 12 2022
Finnair pushes back premium economy launch

Finnair is gearing up for the launch of its long-awaited premium economy seat, and the airline’s business class could also be in for a shake-up.

However, the Finnish flag-carrier has pushed back the planned January 19 reveal of what it has described as a “fully renewed long-haul cabin.”

"Due to the pandemic situation and related restrictions in Finland and globally we have made the decision to postpone the launch event of Finnair’s elevated long-haul experience slightly," a spokesperson for the airline tells Executive Traveller. "We will communicate the new launch date soon."

Finnair has already hinted at what’s to come on social media, with a 25-second video clip teasing slow-panning views of a seat shell and a reading lamp, among other nondescript elements.

Glimpses of Finnair's new long-range travel experience...
Glimpses of Finnair's new long-range travel experience...

The colour scheme leans hevily on Finnair’s signature dark blue – a centrepiece of the airline’s ‘modern premium' brand refresh – with accents of silver, champagne gold and black.

This is markedly different from Finnair’s familiar aesthetic of creams and whites, with pale blues and other highlights often provided courtesy of pillows, blankets and seat covers from iconic Finnish design house Marimekko.

Finnair's current A350 'Nordic business class' cabin.
Finnair's current A350 'Nordic business class' cabin.

The clip has, of course, sparked questions and speculation in equal measure.

Perhaps the most significant clue is the glimpse of a seat badge, specifically 3L, which is a window seat in the third row of Finnair’s business class.

Oh Finnair, you're such a tease...
Oh Finnair, you're such a tease...

Is this a glimpse of a new business class seat design – the same seat which also boasts that elegant little reading lamp?

If so, it would be a ‘next generation’ product for both the current Airbus A350 and A330.

This would also leave scope for a second teaser in the coming weeks, this time dedicated to the all-new premium economy seats.

What to expect from Finnair premium economy...

Finnair previously intended to begin flying these in late 2020, but the impact of Covid pushed back their debut by more than a year.

The Oneworld member has previously said the seats would sport a "highly customised design" and be located in their own dedicated cabin.

Just how large that cabin is – and how much space it takes away from both business class and economy – will be eagerly watched.

Following the presentation of Finnair’s Q3 interim report in October 2021, the airline described itself as “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.”

Also read: Business class unbundled – your guide to Finnair Business Light fares


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.

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 1394

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.


19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1428

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 155

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 36

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 74

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.

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