June 15, 2024

Finnair Business, Helsinki to Delhi

THE FLIGHT: I flew Business class on a Finnair Airbus A330-300 aircraft in April 2024 on flight AY121 from Helsinki, Finland (HEL) to Delhi, India (DEL). 

THE CHECK-IN: My check-in was with the Finnair app 36 hours in advance of departure, in response to a text message reminder. The process was smooth and intuitive.

The app has benefitted from recent updates, and the digital boarding pass transferred easily to my iPhone’s Apple Wallet.

Helsinki Airport has an airy and spacious landside departure hall that has recently been expanded and modernised.

I arrived at the airport two hours before my scheduled departure (18.00) and the processing of tags and bag drop at the unstaffed baggage-drop took 15 minutes. Finnair staff were stationed near the machines for assistance, but I did not need their help. In Business class on this route, I was permitted to check-in a maximum of two items, each weighing up to 32kg.

Without needing to queue, I passed through the Priority digital gate to security using the boarding pass on my iPhone. Helsinki Airport has state-of-the-art security equipment for carry-on items, eliminating the requirement to remove liquids and electrical items for separate scanning, expediting the process and reducing stress for all passengers. Security staff politely asked to quickly inspect my camera equipment but the whole security process took about seven minutes.

THE BOARDING: After passing quickly through the passport scanner and gate to the airport’s non-Schengen, as a Finnair Business class passenger I was able to spend time in the Finnair Lounge, a two-minute walk from the designated gate (52).

The walk from security to lounge took about 15 minutes. The lounge had a good buffet of hot and cold dishes, with free self-service for hot and soft drinks, wine and beer and a staffed bar for other drinks. The lounge was calm and comfortable, with private alcoves conducive to work, fast Wi-Fi, more open areas, and bathroom and shower facilities.

Info screens and a message to my phone alerted me to boarding. I joined the Priority line for boarding at the gate, showing visa documentation and moving quickly through the gate to the aircraft, which departed on schedule.

THE SEAT: My seat was 4H, an aisle seat in a 2-2-2 configuration. Cabins on Finnair long-haul Airbus A350 and A330 aircraft have been completely revamped in the last two years. In Business class they feature new seating with a 60-inch pitch and 21-inch width which converts to lie-flat with Finnish Marimekko sleepwear and textiles.

I found the controls for extending the Collins’ AirLounge seat and table, and the various storage compartments, a little confusing but cabin crew were quick to assist. The seat, with ample leg room, had a personal lamp and USB-A, USB-C and PC power points.   

THE SERVICE:  Cabin crew, with both English and Hindi language competence, were efficient and attentive.

Champagne was offered on boarding, and all subsequent meals and beverages were complimentary. The menu, served soon after the evening departure, included an Indian main-course option.

A choice of excellent wines and other drinks was available, both with the three-course meal and on request at any time during the flight. A cooked breakfast was served before landing at Delhi.

I found the movie selection rather dated, but the screen and noise-limiting headphones were high quality. Subtly-coloured lighting was dimmed as the flight progressed, and I managed to sleep for three hours without disturbance, apart from a few short spells of turbulence.

The toilets were spacious and kept clean throughout the flight.

While some may believe it’s good to have a break from the internet during a flight, I found the permitted one hour of free Wi-Fi in Business class to be too restricted. Paid-for Wi-Fi was also available.

The nine-hour flight landed about 20 minutes ahead of schedule but we had to wait on the apron for about the same period before a gate became available.

THE VERDICT: The designs of Finnair’s Business class and other cabins are elegant and comfortable. Judging from my experience, Business class passengers receive the level of priority attention, comfort, service and privacy that they will rightly expect. The flight was punctual and enjoyable.