Review of Finnair flight Helsinki Beijing in Business

Airline Finnair
Flight AY51
Class Business
Seat --
Aircraft Airbus A330-300
Flight time 06:50
Take-off 24 Dec 14, 18:05
Arrival at 25 Dec 14, 06:55
AY   #31 out of 68 Airlines A minimum of 10 flight-reports within the past two years is required to appear in the rankings. 163 reviews
Bo
By 6709
Published on 1st May 2015
Hello, welcome to my 9th trip report :)

This time I'm flying Finnair during the Christmas holiday period. Usually from Europe to China/Japan I'd go with LX via ZRH or LH via FRA/MUC. However since AY had this really attractive fare (~1700 EUR r/t) from Prague, I thought I'd give them a try and also earn some tier points with BA. The idea of transiting through HEL during snowy times of the year was initially worrisome as I remember flying through the northeast US in February always ends up in long delays. However I later remembered that the Finns should be good at dealing with this and decided I'd stick to my plan. Overall, the flights were very on time and I'd say Finnair is an interesting and reasonable carrier for travel to Asia (more on that below).

So let's start from the beginning. My connecting flight from Prague was uneventful onboard the E190 shown below. For what it is worth, I really think Finnair should add some taped cabin announcements in Chinese/Korean on their Europe-HEL routes. There are so many clueless connecting passengers on these flights because no language help is given. If you are going to be in the business of ferrying Asian passengers via HEL you should probably prepare accordingly.

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All airports in the EU/EEA/CH and the USA are considered clean by HEL authorities and therefore connecting passengers do not have to clear security again when making the transfer. This would be different on my way back from PEK as I had to clear security control in HEL before my connecting flight to DUS. I made it to the brand new Finnair lounge in no time.

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The lounge does not look all that special from the outside. However it is indeed very nice.

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The main sitting area has this very strange purple mood lighting, which I hate with quite a passion.

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The food spread - note that they are all individually plated. I was in the Premium part of the lounge due to my BA silver status. I was shocked to learn that any OW status passenger in Y will also be allowed in this Premium section. In this sense it functions like a LH Senator Lounge or a SK Scandinavia Lounge. However, this premium section has so much better food than the regular section for J pax - I still don't really get the rationale behind this.

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Since I spent most of my time on the last flight talking, I was quite hungry. I found the food selection to be of great quality.

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More shots of the lounge with the ugly purple mood lighting.

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News of the day: QR takes delivery of A350.

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Departure board of the afternoon. A lot of flights to Asia leaving in the evening.

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A boarding announcement was soon made for my flight to Beijing. I left the lounge and saw the two ads outside the gate. I think Finnair has been playing this HEL-Asia game very well thought I don't see much collaboration with oneworld aside from the BA/IB/AA JV and JAL's one single flight to HEL.

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The gate area was crowded but not overwhelming. HEL can get crowded if the wide body flight is full but there's never too many of them at a time. Also for those who want to buy Rimowa luggage, there is a store after passport control at HEL that sells Topas at Germany retail price ex-24% VAT (around 460 EUR) - a very good deal given the EUR/USD rate right now.

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I was soon onboard. I think all PEK/NRT/PVG/HKG flights now get the refurbished business class cabin, which is very nice - physically the same as those on Swiss and Austrian. I do like the light blue color tone of the cabin.

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The cabin soon filled up and there were no empty seats. As I remember from check in that J cabin was mostly empty, I asked the cabin crew who offered me the pre-departure drink why the cabin filled up so suddenly. She told me that the flight was oversold in Y and also there was a group of late arriving connecting passengers to the PVG flight who missed their connections joining our flight to PEK. Business cabin passengers were predominantly Finns and Swedish - only three Asians including myself and I did not hear the CCs speak English to any of the passengers surrounding me.

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As I took the beverage a menu card was distributed. Since it was Christmas eve I found this menu very time appropriate if not anything else.

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We soon took off from HEL, heading east towards Russia.

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One more picture of the same seat.

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Dinner service started shortly after take-off. Based on others' trip reports on AY, the service provided on this flight seems to have been enhanced. This was confirmed by the Chinese cabin crew member on my return flight that AY was trying to match BA/LH in J offerings and therefore has revised some of their programs.

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The three items platter is a Christmas special and not listed on the printed menu. I thought it was very good.

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For the entree I had AY's reindeer special. The meat was all right but the potato had way too much cheese to my liking.

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Cheese and dessert were served after dinner. I declined dessert but got an eclair with my tea.

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After dinner the CCs walked down the cabin to collect breakfast order cards. I asked to not be woken up for breakfast since I was meeting friends for breakfast upon landing in Beijing.

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And when I woke up I did indeed have missed breakfast. I woke up about an hour outside of PEK. I thought AY probably could offer some kind of to-go breakfast like BA does on their JFK-LCY flights since the PEK flight is pretty short.

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A few morning shots outside the city. I was very lucky to have such clear skies.

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Upon landing we taxied to Terminal 3. We passed by a LOT 788.

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Parking by AY's Russian Oneworld partner - S7.

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One last shot of the seat before disembarking.

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See more

Verdict

Finnair

7.9/10
Cabin9.0
Cabin crew7.5
Entertainment/wifi8.0
Meal/catering7.0

Finnair Silver Wings Lounge

7.5/10
Comfort7.0
Meal/catering7.0
Entertainment/wifi9.0
Services7.0

Helsinki - HEL

8.9/10
Efficiency9.0
Access9.0
Services7.5
Cleanliness10.0

Beijing - PEK

7.5/10
Efficiency9.0
Access7.0
Services7.0
Cleanliness7.0

Conclusion

Overall AY is a very reasonable carrier, especially at the the given J fare, for travel between east Asia and Europe. As their service becomes more refined I think it's probably going to be even better. HEL is a very pleasant airport to transit although the Finnish immigration did not like the idea of my Schengen visa being in an old passport. Since I was leaving and Frankfurt let me in there was not too much trouble - but it did take some convincing on my way back. The EU really should have a uniformed rule on visas in expired passports as the decision right now seems to be dependent upon the specific airport of entry (not even country of entry) and some embassies are unwilling to issue another visa if the applicant has a currently valid visa of the same category.

Upcoming flight report:

ZRH-JNB and two weeks in South Africa.
JFK-LCY, LGW-ALG and tourist bonus in Algeria.

Cheers.

Information on the route Helsinki (HEL) Beijing (PEK)

The contributors of Flight-Report published 5 reviews of 1 airlines on the route Helsinki (HEL) → Beijing (PEK).


Useful

The airline with the best average rating is Finnair with 7.2/10.

The average flight time is 7 hours and 33 minutes.

  More information

8 Comments

If you liked this review or if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to post a comment below !
  • Comment 135348 by
    whitelight44 346 Comments

    Great FR with excellent pictures. Thanks for sharing. You were lucky to have clear skies over Beijing :)

  • Comment 135374 by
    KL651 TEAM 4512 Comments

    Thanks for this FR.

    That kind of price for a J class ticket really is interesting.

    The design of the lounge is pretty nice in the end, given it's mostly based on white and gray.

    I think AY really needed to improve its business class offering as just competing on the shorter flight time isn't enough.

  • Comment 135375 by
    Mathieu 2081 Comments

    Thanks for sharing this great experience on Finnair.
    The HEL's lounge is very nice and the lights are very warm.
    Nice cabine and good seat.
    Catering is quite good.

    See you,

  • Comment 135448 by
    02022001 4340 Comments

    The Lounge is really nice !
    Thanks to sharing this FL and to show Business Finnair flights ;)

  • Comment 135449 by
    BombieFlyer 93 Comments

    Thank you for this FR. I think AY is really trying hard to up their game. I have heard similar comments from my friends who tried AY's J class and most of them agreed that AY really does offer something solid at reasonable price.

    I think the lounge is quite beautiful and pleasing the eyes compared to KL's crown lounge or AF's lounge. THere is something very stylish and chich about the design.. or shall I say it's so scandinavian? And the chinaware and cutlery onboard is beautiful! those glasses and ramekins are so stylish!

    Looking forward for your next FR!

  • Comment 135517 by
    lagentsecret 12449 Comments

    Thanks for sharing this FR

    You got a rather cheap fare for this trip

    The lounge looks nice but it seems there is only cold food offer (except a soup)

    On board the new cabin and seats are great

    The catering has been enhanced

    Unfortunately you didn't take a picture of the menu and the wine list

    See you soon for your JNB report

  • Comment 135618 by
    KévinDC TEAM GOLD 5655 Comments

    That's a nice fare from Europe to Asia. Definitely worth taking AY and racking up some BA TP (though BAEC has been so devalued lately). The lounge looks really nice. I get that not everyone is a fan of the purple mood lighting, but I like it. Of course, I would much prefer huge windows and natural light, but if that it not possible, the purple works for me.

    It's nice to see that AY is improving their service and the catering does indeed seem good. I like the presentation of the appetizer. I like this seat and have flown in it many times on other airlines. Only criticism is that I find it a bit narrow in bed mode.

    Looking forward to the next reports!

  • Comment 136181 by
    NGO85 1622 Comments

    Thanks for sharing this rare AY report with us Bo!

    The purple mood lighting in the lounge reminds of CA's blood red mood lighting on the 77Ws, definitely not very pleasant at all.

    I think all PEK/NRT/PVG/HKG flights now get the refurbished business class cabin
    - NGO is still stuck with the older cabins (from what I've heard), which is probably keeping tabs on LH since they still use their old cabins.

    It's interesting you mention catering enhancements. I agree the three appetizers look great they way they are served in the little glass cups, but then comes the exploded main in a ramekin... But it sounds like you were more interested in sleeping than eating. I've never flown in these seats, how is the privacy? Your solo seat looks very private, but the seats that are in pairs don't look to be too private.

    You forgot to mention the paper bag amenity kits ;)

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