Review: Finnair 833 A321 Business Class Helsinki to London Heathrow

Introduction
Finnair 90 A350-900 Business Class Bangkok to Helsinki
Finnair 833 A321 Business Class Helsinki to London Heathrow
British Airways 462 767-300 Euro Traveller London Heathrow to Madrid
Hotel Preciados Madrid
Hotel Catalonia Square Barcelona
Finnair 3270 A321 Business Class Barcelona to Helsinki
Finnair 89 A350-900 Business Class Helsinki to Bangkok
Cathay Pacific 754 A340-300 Business Class Bangkok to Hong Kong


Connecting in Helsinki really is a seamless process. I was expecting maybe a short walk to security, before passing immigration and whatnot. However, what I was greeted with instead was a 1 minute walk to security, where we were ushered into the priority lane. It was really impressive that every lane was open, especially given that there was only one flight arriving.

Helsinki Airport is nice enough, with a ton of cool shops. I seem to have lost all of my pictures from the ground experience in Helsinki, but I’ll note that it’s easy to navigate. However, it’s so small that it’s often really crowded, but I didn’t mind that. Our flight departed from remote stand 36D, which was a short walk from the security checkpoint. For your reference, here’s a map of the airport.

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Helsinki Airport Map 

36D can be gotten to by turning left when you reach gate 36, where you’ll be brought to a remote stand terminal of sorts with a small coffee shop and some bus boarding gates. It’s a nice enough place to spend half an hour, but it’s certainly not somewhere I’d like to spend my entire connection waiting.

At 4:00, “boarding” was called for the flight, starting with “pre-boards” and Group 1 passengers. We were let into a holding pen…to board a bus that wasn’t going to arrive. What was this? Shouldn’t “boarding” start when the bus arrives, so that passengers can be whisked away to the aircraft as soon as possible? Nope? Okay.

At this point passengers were starting to get a little grumpy. The holding area was completely full, and yet people were still being let into the pen, without a bus in sight. To say that the customers were confused would be a huge understatement.

Eventually, the bus arrived and whisked us away to the aircraft, only to park in the wrong spot which meant that we had to circle around another plane multiple times before we got off to the tarmac…only to be greeted with a hoard of people trying to board a flight, in the hot Finnish sun. Really?

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This was the only picture that I found of the hoard of passengers. Suffice to say it sucked. 

Eventually, after a 5 minute wait, I made it to the top of the airstairs, and was greeted with a view of the aircraft, one of the biggest reasons why I love boarding through remote stands.

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Finnair Airbus A321 Helsinki Airport

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Finnair Airbus A321 Helsinki Airport Boarding Door Stickers

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Finnair Airbus A321 Helsinki Airport

Finnair Flight 833
Saturday, 2 July, 2016
Origin: Helsinki Vantaa (HEL) Gate: 36D Departure Time: 16:00 (16:03)
Destination: London Heathrow (LHR) Gate: 11 Arrival Time: 17:10 (17:33)
Duration: 2 h 10 min (2 h 30 min)
Aircraft: Airbus A321
Seat: 3F (Business Class)

We were welcomed aboard by the friendly Business Class flight attendant who directed us to our seats.

Boarding was a bit of a commotion, and I wasn’t able to grab a nice picture of a cabin. Consequently, this is the only picture of the cabin that I took. The aircraft was decked out in a similar “Nordic” theme as the A350 was, but I found the use of materials to be less varied when compared to the A350. Nevertheless, the overall feel was sharp, businesslike, clean and simple.

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Finnair Airbus A321 Business Class Cabin

I settled down in my seat 3F. Even with my low expectations, I was disappointed by the EuroBusiness seating. I mean, what did you think? It’s essentially an Economy seat, with a blocked middle seat. This means that there are no middle seats, which is either a blessing or a curse. I was lucky to be travelling with someone that I knew (my mother), and we used the seat to place our bags. However, for two strangers, I imagine it’s going to be a matter of “First Dibs” as to who gets to use the seat.

Finnair hasn’t also really done much to differentiate the EuroBusiness seat from a regular Economy seat by simply blocking the middle seat. This is in contrast with what airlines like British Airways and Lufthansa have done by creating a centre console in order for people to place their drinks and other crap.

Of course, European Economy is pretty lacklustre too. The seats are typically rock hard, with small amounts of storage space here and there. There’s absolutely no entertainment aside from food (So BYOD and prepare to charge it, people!). So, there’s that.

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Finnair Airbus A321 Business Class Seat 3F

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Finnair Airbus A321 Business Class Seatbacks

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Finnair Airbus A321 Business Class Legroom

However, as I settled into the seat, I was actually quite impressed at the amount of space. The seat felt really spacious for Economy, with a decent amount of legroom. It really wasn’t too bad.

Being at the front of the cabin means no wing pictures. Bummer.

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Finnair Airbus A321 Business Class “View” of the Wing

Parked next to us was an airberlin A321, which was deplaning at the time that this picture was taken.

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airberlin Airbus A321

Looking up at the passenger service unit (PSU) did I really begin to appreciate the cabin architecture of the A350. Compared to the A350, this aircraft seemed like it was in the stone age, both in terms of noise levels and the quality of the cabin engineering…

Finnair also has individual air nozzles, which are a nice touch, especially given that Finnair tends to keep their cabins at mid-summer Hong Kong temperatures, which isn’t comfortable. At all.

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Finnair Airbus A321 Business Class PSU

Unlike in Asia, there’s no welcome drinks, nor are there pre-departure hot towels, so it might be a good idea to nick a bottle of water from the lounge before your flight. However, I didn’t, so I spent much of the climb out begging for a drinks run. Oops.

Eventually, we began our pushback in preparation for departure. At the point, the flight attendants also came around with a manual safety demonstration, which was actually very comprehensive. So, thumbs up?

As we taxied to the runway, we were treated to some nice views of aircraft.

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airberlin Airbus A321

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Finnair Embraer E190 

The traffic included a British Airways A320 and two Finnair E190s.

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Traffic Helsinki Airport

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Traffic Helsinki Airport

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Traffic Helsinki Airport

At this time I tried my best to take a picture of the wing, which turned out unsurprisingly terribly.

Something to note about Finnair is that their pilots taxi really, really quickly. It just feels like Southwest trained these pilots. Not that I’m complaining, but just something that’s noteworthy.

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Finnair Airbus A321 Business Class Wing View

Eventually, we taxied to the runway and began our takeoff.

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Takeoff Helsinki Airport

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Takeoff Helsinki Airport

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Takeoff Helsinki Airport

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Climbout Helsinki Airport

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Climbout Helsinki Airport

On the way up, we saw some pretty interesting cloud formations.

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Cloud Porn Helsinki Airport

Shortly afterward, the seatbelt sign was switched off and the inflight service started.

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Finnair Airbus A321 Business Class Seat Belt Sign

First, pillows and blankets were distributed on request. They were designed by Marimekko. However, they weren’t as good as those on our flight from Bangkok. The pillows were economy-style, and were uncomfortable even when compared with Cathay’s Economy pillows. The pillow was also aesthetically really boring. Meanwhile, the blankets were wooly and warm overall, but felt like they had been used a billion times and had gone unwashed. At least the blankets looked really cool.

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Finnair Airbus A321 Business Class Pillows and Blankets

Shortly afterward, the sole Business Class flight attendant came by with the menus, which included a wine/drinks list.

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Finnair Airbus A321 Business Class Menu

Now, let’s talk allotment of flight attendants. There were two flight attendants serving 32 passengers. That’s a 1:16 passenger to crew ratio. That’s a really, really low ratio of crew to passengers, especially for a premium cabin. Although the service was done on one cart and really just involved the flight attendant asking what drink passengers wanted with their meals, the service was quite slow for the passengers at the back of the cabin.

Don’t get me wrong, the flight attendants were really friendly, maybe a step below the flight attendants on my flight from Bangkok, but still nicer than a Cathay Pacific flight attendant quite nice.

In fact, by the time the cart was pushed back into the galley, I was already done with my meal, and so were the people in the row in front of mine. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the meal that I was served.

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Finnair Airbus A321 Business Class Meal

Now, the presentation of that isn’t too bad. However, I’d expect that the tinfoil be removed before being served to Business Class passengers, especially on Finnair. It’s a little touch but it would certainly go a long way in the presentation of the meal.

For the starter, there was a smoked Baltic herring served with a potato salad. The herring was extremely flavourful(I mean, it’s smoked fish, can’t really go wrong with that), while the potato salad was light which complimented the heavier flavours of the fish. It was certainly a simple dish, but it was definitely well executed.

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Finnair Airbus A321 Business Class Appetiser – Smoked Baltic Herring with Potato Salad

The main was Finnish meatballs served with mashed potatoes and vegetables. Once again, not the most complex of dishes in the world, but it was darned tasty. The meatballs were full of flavour and juice, which the mashed potatoes were also flavourful and fluffy, while the vegetables were nice and crisp. Once again, another fantastic meal on Finnair.

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Finnair Airbus A321 Business Class Main Course – Finnish Meatballs with Mashed Potatoes and Vegetables

For desert, there was a chocolate brownie with raspberry sauce. Can’t go wrong with that either! The brownie was quite hard and held together well, while the sauce gave some sourness to a very sweet dish. Was the dish a panna cotta with a variety of exotic berries? No! But it was a simple dish that was executed well and tasted nice. I mean, I’d rather eat this than drink “Cold Elderflower Soup” on Lufthansa, put it that way.

Another flight attendant came and served us drinks. I selected blueberry juice, which was served in a Uma Thule cup. Once again, do not let the size of this cup in the picture deceive you. It’s really small.

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Finnair Airbus A321 Business Class Blueberry Juice!

After the meal, we were served coffee or tea. I had a nice cuppa with milk and sugar. It was a nice way to end the meal, if anything. The cherry on top was that it was served in a Marimekko mug, which was so. Cool.

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Finnair Airbus A321 Business Class Tea – Ft. My Laptop

After the meal, I visited the lavatory which wasn’t stocked with any amenities, but had a really nice faucet, the operation of which was actually intuitive and didn’t require a PhD in Engineering. One thing to note was that the trash can was broken, which is weird. What am I supposed to do with my paper towels?

I’m also told that these aircraft feature Samsung Galaxy Tablets for passengers. However, these weren’t offered by the crew, so has this been discontinued?

I worked on my laptop for a while and hammered out a couple of posts, and before I knew it we were descending into London, which was actually breathtakingly gorgeous.

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Cloud Porn London Heathrow

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Views upon Descent London Heathrow

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Views upon Descent London Heathrow

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View of British Airways Headquarters

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Views upon Descent London Heathrow

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Landing London Heathrow

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Touchdown London Heathrow

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Traffic London Heathrow Airport

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Traffic London Heathrow Airport

The flight attendant welcomed us to London, and we taxied to our gate, which was next to a Virgin Atlantic 747-400 (I seem to have lost the picture of the aircraft…), and we were off to my cousin’s house.

Bottom Line

Finnair’s regional product is fine. I mean, it’s EuroBusiness, which means that it can’t be all that good (It’s not). I can’t help but think that it’s bad value for money. The seats are uncomfortable, and the “complimentary seat” is only yours if your seat opponent actually lets you use it. The food isn’t bad, but the fact that it’s a one tray affair seems really cheap. The only saving grace of this flight were the charming and friendly flight attendants. So, I’d suggest that you save your cash, and fly Economy the next time you fly within Europe. Honestly, a really disappointing product, even compared to U.S Domestic First.

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