Finnair’s four youngest Airbus A330-300s feature both a new Business Class seat – a lie-flat bed which angles down to become completely horizontal –...

It’s not often I get the chance to sample two generations of an airline’s long-haul Business Class service within 30 months, but on June 11, 2012 I was able to do so upon stepping aboard a Finnair Airbus A330-300 at Helsinki-Vantaa Airport.

In late 2009, my wife and I had flown Business Class from New York JFK to Helsinki on one of the first Airbus A330-300s Finnair had received, not long after the airline took delivery of the twinjet aircraft.


Finnair A330-300 OH-LTT taxis towards the gate after landing following a long-haul flight from Asia

 

The Business Class Seats on that aircraft (registered OH-LTM) reclined to form full-length, or near full-length, beds but didn’t recline anywhere near 180 degrees.

Each Business Class seat row was in a 2-2-2 configuration and there were 42 seats in all, 30 in a forward cabin and 12 in a mid-fuselage cabin.

Those seats were very comfortable and the cabin service terrific. Apart from anything else, the flight gave us our first opportunity to sample the lovely Lapponia cloudberry and lingonberry liqueurs from Finland, which come in distinctive circular bottles with long necks. However, the angle of the seats at full recline was noticeable and (for me at least) not conducive to sleep.

Finnair’s first four Airbus A330-300 widebodies (OH-LTM, LTN, LTO and LTP) and all seven of its four-engine Airbus A340-300s still have those seats, in 2-2-2 seat rows.

Finnair’s fleet for long-haul scheduled services is comprised of eight Airbus A330-300s and seven A340-300s. The carrier also has 11 A350-900 widebody twins on order, with deliveries due to begin in mid-decade

 

According to Finnair, these are Recaro CL6510 seats. If you’re flying in Business Class on one of those 11 aircraft, you’ll probably have a very relaxing flight and thoroughly enjoy the in-flight service, as we did.

However, Finnair’s other four A330-300s (its four youngest of the type) feature both a new Business Class seat – this time a lie-flat seat which angles down to become completely horizontal – and a new seat-row configuration.

Like Swiss International Air Lines, whose long-haul Business Class cabin features a very similar arrangement, Business Class in these four Finnair A330s is configured with alternate rows of four and five seats, in 1-2-1 and 2-2-1 seat rows. All seats are upholstered in restful shades of light gray and pastel blue.

Finnair’s Business Class interiors for both long-haul and short-haul are upholstered in restful, eye-pleasing shades of pastel blue or blue and light gray. This is a short-haul Business Class cabin

 

Three of the four aircraft which have the new lie-flat seats – OH-LTS, LTT and LTU – have only the forward cabin dedicated to Business Class and the cabin has 32 seats. The fourth aircraft, OH-LTR, also has a Business Class section in its mid-cabin area, where there are another 13 seats.

The alternate-row arrangement provides loads of room for working and relaxation, offering large, flat spaces next to each seat where you can put drinks, books or other stuff you need during your flight.

It also offers a considerable degree of privacy and comfort and I have no hesitation in saying the new Business Class cabin lay-out is better than the older one.

Finnair’s four youngest Airbus A330-300s feature Business Class cabins with fully lie-flat seats, which provide 79 inches of bed length when fully reclined

 

For one thing, depending on the cabin configuration of the aircraft in which you’re flying, only four or five seats don’t offer direct access to an aisle – and these are usually the last seats to be booked, so you are unlikely to end up with no direct aisle access.

If you’re sitting in one of the single seats – usually the one on the left side of the cabin – in the 1-2-1 rows, the seat offers a big side table on each side. These seats are usually the first ones booked, because they offer the most working room and the most privacy.

On my June 11 flight from Helsinki-Vantaa Airport to New York JFK, I was seated in the single seat on the right-hand side of one of the 2-2-1 rows, seat 5L, and I felt I had oodles of space and enough room to work.

In Finnair’s latest Business Class configuration, found on the carrier’s four youngest Airbus A330-300s, alternate seat rows feature a 1-2-1 and 2-2-1 seat configuration. This means that only four or five seats in the Business Class do not have direct aisle access and one of the seats in the 1-2-1 rows have a double set of side tables. These seats are particularly prized by frequent business travelers on Finnair

 

I flew in OH-LTU, Finnair’s youngest A330-300, which has 32 Business Class seats and which I think may have been dedicated to the New York route at the time.

(I flew out to Helsinki on the same aircraft, but in Economy, which offered pretty decent service as far as Economy-class flying goes.)

For more on Finnair’s Business Class, see Page 2

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