During our autumn trip to Iceland, we experienced the business class of Finnair's Airbus A319 and A321. Although the service was superior compared to the economy class, there were areas that could be further improved. Read our review to discover our assessment of Finnair's short-haul business class and what we think is the ideal price range for it.
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Finnair - the Finnish Flag Carrier
Finnair, the national carrier of Finland, operates primarily from its hub in Helsinki. It provides services within Finland, across Europe, and to far-off destinations. Celebrating its 100th anniversary, Finnair is one of the world's oldest aviation companies.
In our past reviews, we have explored Finnair's economy class, but now our focus shifts especially to the short-haul business. It's a well-known fact that airlines' narrowbody business class significantly varies from a widebody business class, leaving many to question if it gives value for the money. This review aims to provide a balanced assessment of Finnair's business class and evaluate it against ticket pricing.
Our Flights to Reykjavik and Back
Our commitment to sustainable and cost-effective travel usually discourages us from opting for business-class flights. However, we found an incredible deal using Finnair Plus points that were about to expire, making business class travel within the Nordic countries an excellent value proposition. We managed to get return flights from Helsinki to Reykjavik for just 25,000 points plus taxes of 43.90 euros per person, which is slightly more than economy-class flights. With Finnair transitioning their miles program to Avios in January 2024 and introducing an additional award booking fee, this seemed like an opportune moment to make the most out of our existing Finnair Plus points.
Securing two seats on the same flight proved to be a formidable task. Initially, our plan involved travelling to Iceland during the summer, but the lack of available seats thwarted our plans. Consequently, we rescheduled our trip for September. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise as accommodation prices in Iceland were lower during this period and the popular tourist spots, such as the Blue Lagoon, were less congested, making for a more enjoyable visit to the beautiful country of Iceland.
Our outbound flight was operated with Airbus A319 and the inbound flight with Airbus A321. Both the aircraft are narrow bodies having 3+3 seating.
Finnair Business Class Experience
We describe and evaluate Finnair's short-haul business-class experience based on our flights.
Booking award flights necessitate utilizing the Finnair website or its affiliates. You can´t book them via online travel agencies. We booked our flights through Finnair's user-friendly website. However, the primary obstacle was seat availability, as many flights only had "a single seat left". Finally, we found a suitable combination with at least two free award seats. After settling the taxes by Curve card, our tickets were promptly delivered to our mail inbox.
Due to the utilization of both our points, we needed two distinct bookings. Fortunately, free seat selection was included in the ticket price, enabling us to promptly secure adjacent seats for one another without any additional charges.
The luggage policy for our journey was quite liberal. We were both permitted to check in 2 pieces of luggage, each with a weight limit of 32 kilograms. Furthermore, we were permitted to carry onboard luggage and personal items with a combined weight of up to 12 kilograms. As Finnair Plus Silver members, we were also entitled to an additional check-in bag. However, we didn't require this much luggage for our barely almost a week-duration trip. If you're someone who needs to transport a considerable amount of items, opting for a business class ticket might be the ideal solution.
Remember that the luggage rules change often and vary based on the route. Business Light tickets do not have a free check-in luggage allowance at all.
We utilized the Finnair application for the check-in process, which proved to be efficient. As we had already selected our seats during the booking, the process was expedited requiring only a few clicks. At Helsinki Airport, we used a check-in machine to print our luggage tags and an automated desk for luggage drop-off. Although a queue-less manned desk would have been available for business class passengers, we opted for self-service. In our experience, the check-in procedures at Helsinki Airport are always swift and seamless.
On the return flight, the check-in procedure at the Reykjavik Airport was similar except they did not have automated desks for the luggage drop off for Finnair customers.
At both Helsinki and Reykjavik airports, our tickets granted us access to priority security checks, allowing us to bypass the queues.
Complimentary lounge access is a standard perk for those flying on Finnair's business class, provided a lounge is operational at the airport. During our journey, we were privileged to access Finnair's lounge in the Schengen zone of Helsinki Airport. Moreover, while in Reykjavik, we were welcomed into Icelandair's Saga Lounge, thanks to the cooperative relationship between Finnair and Icelandair on the Helsinki-Reykjavik route.
While passengers often anticipate a superior seating experience in business class, Finnair's short-haul business class seats might not meet these expectations. These seats are essentially the standard seats found in the front region of the plane, offering no additional space, recline, or softened comfort. In a 3+3 seating layout, the only advantage is that the seat next to you remains unoccupied. However, this benefit is absent in smaller Embraer aircraft.
The silver lining is that these seats are positioned at the front of the aircraft, facilitating a swift exit upon landing. Moreover, a curtain separates the business class from the economy class, offering a semblance of privacy. A funny detail was that one only blanket was provided for every two passengers.
Short-Haul aircraft operated by Finnair are equipped with a commendable Wi-Fi system. However, the usage policy allows business class passengers to enjoy this service free of charge only for a brief duration of 30 minutes, after which additional charges apply. This seems somewhat unusual, considering the premium price of business class tickets and the fact that this basic amenity incurs an extra cost. Using the inflight entertainment system through Wi-Fi is free for both economy and business class passengers.
The process to connect to the Wi-Fi was straightforward. All that was required was your surname and the seat number to gain access to the internet.
The most marked distinction between Finnair's short-haul economy and business class lies in the in-flight service. The cabin crew demonstrated a commendable blend of friendliness and efficiency in their duties, fostering a welcoming atmosphere for the passengers. However, it was observed that the inbound flight to Helsinki featured a crew that was noticeably more congenial compared to the outbound flights, suggesting a potential variance in service level depending on the crew assigned.
The flight journey included the provision of hearty meals, although the lack of variety was noticeable as only one food option was available. The meals were devoid of salads. A noted difference in service was observed, with the outbound flight providing a straightforward meal service. In contrast, the inbound flight offered a more personalized touch as the crew took the time to explain the meal components in a friendly manner. The redeeming aspect was the exceptional taste of both meals.
Included in the fare were unlimited alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages served in design Iittala glasses. However, it was found odd that Finnair had discontinued the complimentary champagne service, replacing it with regular sparkling wine - a move that seemed to cut corners, given the hefty fare paid by business class passengers. The beverage service was rounded off with the serving of coffee and tea post-meal together with cognac.
There were no printed magazines available on board but free and paid magazines could be accessed online by connecting to the aircraft's Wi-Fi. This does not require purchasing an internet connection or using free internet credit.
We assign Finnair short-haul business class a 4-star rating, as it comprehensively provides all standard amenities with satisfactory quality.
However, there is room for improvement, particularly in terms of seat comfort, expanding the variety of food and beverage options, and providing complimentary internet access throughout the entire flight duration. The friendliness of the customer service depends on the crew. Perhaps, Finnair could standardise all aspects of business-class service?
What Would Be a Fair Price?
Cost is a primary determinant of people's expectations. Consequently, we have evaluated a reasonable expense for Finnair's short-haul business class experience.
Based on our experience, we believe that an extra charge of 250 euros on top of an Economy Light ticket would be a reasonable price for a one-way short-haul business class journey. This amount adequately covers the additional services provided and includes a modest premium for business-class travel. Unfortunately, Finnair's business-class pricing is often higher. A standard economy class return flight to Reykjavik is priced at around 300 euros. The same flight in business class costs much more. We opine that the most cost-effective methods to experience business class would be to use points, Avios, or purchase a business class upgrade. That way, the price for your business class ticket doesn't become overly burdensome. Buying business class tickets directly is seldom cost-effective.
- Does Finnair have Business Class on short-haul routes?
- Yes, it does.
- Does Finnair narrowbody aircraft have reclining seats in Business Class?
- Unfortunately, no. The seats are the same as in Economy Class.
- What services does Finnair offer in Business Class in narrowbody aircraft?
- Business Class passengers have usually free adjacent seats, complimentary meals and drinks, lounge access and priority services at the airport.
- Are there many meal options in Finnair's short-haul Business Class?
- Based on our experiences, only one option is available.
- Does Finnair serve champagne in Business Class?
- No, it does not. Instead, they serve sparkling wine.
- What are the seats like in Finnair narrowbody business class?
- They are just regular seats. If the aircraft has a 3+3 layout, the adjacent seat will be free.
- Is Wi-Fi free for Finnair Business Class passengers?
- It is free only for 30 minutes.
- Does a Finnair Business Class ticket include lounge access?
- Yes, it does. Sometimes, Business Class upgrades may come without lounge access.
- How to find inexpensive tickets for Finnair Business Class?
- We recommend buying Business Class tickets with loyalty miles or upgrading an Economy Class ticket to Business Class with money or miles.
Our journey with Finnair's short-haul business class was a pleasant one. The complimentary services onboard heightened the experience, and we felt it was worthwhile to utilize our Finnair Plus points. However, had we paid in cash, we may not have invested as heavily in business-class tickets. In our future trips with Finnair, we'll be on the lookout for affordable business-class upgrades, particularly if we have substantial luggage or wish to avail of Finnair lounge access.
While the Finnair business class experience was good, it wasn't without its flaws. We hope for more comfortable seating in the future. It's worth noting that Finnair can easily increase its business class capacity on short-haul flights by adjusting the division of classes onboard. However, this could potentially dilute the exclusive feel of the business class for those who have invested significantly in it. We would also appreciate complimentary Wi-Fi service in the business class.
Have you had the chance to experience Finnair's short-haul business class? Would you consider it for your future travels? We'd love to hear about your experiences in the comments below.
About the Author
Niko is one of the founding members of Finnoy Travel. He does not only handle the technical operations of the Finnoy Travel, but also generates content, both independently and in collaboration with others. His content primarily focuses on reviewing travel services, providing information about Finland, and sharing useful travel tips.
Niko's passion for aviation complements his vast global travel experience. When crafting articles, he devotes substantial amounts of time to thorough research on his subjects. His pieces are not only enlightening but also encompass his individual experiences.