Flight Review: Finnair A330-300 Economy Class

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Flight #: AY10

From: Chicago O’Hare (ORD)

To: Helsinki (HEL)

Flight time: 8h approx.

Aircraft: Airbus A330-300

Class: Economy

This was not the first time that I was flying Finnair’s long haul, but on the previous occasion I had the chance to try a rather different product, business class on an A350-900.

This time, though, I would travel at the back of the cabin (I had also flown Finnair on economy, but on a European flight, you can find my flight review here) and on a different aircraft, an Airbus A330-300.

So I thought it was worth to write down my impressions in this flight report of Finnair’s economy class on an Airbus A330-300.

The boarding

By far the worse part of the experience: the boarding process was a mess!

Right before boarding at ORD and when there was already a perfectly formed queue, ground staff announced that those that had been provided with a boarding pass by one of Finnair’s partner airlines, such as American Airlines (easily between one third and half of the passengers), had to go to the counter to get a Finnair boarding pass or would be denied boarding.

Some scenes of confusion ensued, with a new long queue forming by the Finnair counter by the gate and another queue to board the aircraft. People that had been at the front of the queue to board first found themselves suddenly at the end of another, even longer queue, before they could board. Plus people arriving at the gate got confused as well about what was happening.

Now, I understand this is possibly an external, regulatory requirement that Finnair has to comply with, and most likely gate agents are not Finnair staff, but people working for some local supplier. also, this is a relatively trivial matter, BUT, still, in any case, the airline or their representatives there could have done a much much better job in communicating this issue and people could have used the time more efficiently and avoided all the confusion!

The Cabin

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The economy class cabin on the A330-300 follows pretty much the same style as that found on the A350-900.

The combination of grey and pale blue and green tones (the latter found, for example, in the individual passenger blankets), do a great job in conveying a rather light, soothing atmosphere. Nordic-style rules.

Every seat is equipped with a seat-back screen.

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Seat pitch, at 32’ is correct. Although, unlike on the A350-900 there were no sockets to recharge electrical devices.

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finnair economy class seat pitch.JPG

A couple of details that caught my eye:

  • The wide gap between the armrest and the cabin wall in the window seat (left)

  • There was a bottle of water at every seat’s pocket. Nice touch! (right)

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The Flight

Why I try to get always the window seat!

Why I try to get always the window seat!

We had two complimentary hot meals during the flight: the first, that you see below, about one hour after take off (it was around 18.30 local time, so dinner). The other (pictured further below), breakfast, when we were already overflying Europe.

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Dinner was quite good. I would not say was super abundant (chicken with potato mash, a small salad, some crackers and a small dessert cake, plus butter). Overall looked healthy and tasty and crew walked down the aisle a later time to top up wine glasses.

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A rather small detail that I found interesting is the quality and size of the Marimekko designed napkins. I don’t know what sort of paper and ink were used to make them but were super soft and smooth to touch, with a silk-like texture (not exagerating!)

(to learn more about the partnership between Finnair and the Finnish fashion and design house Marimekko, check out this blog post from some years ago)

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I also liked this “retro” look of the flight info display available through the IFE system and back-seat screens! I am not sure whether this design is specific of Finnair or it is standard of whomever supplies the flight info interface, but it is really cool!

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This Finnair A330-300 was equipped with internet access, but it is not free for economy class passengers. I often use flights to disconnect a bit from the internet, read and sleep, so I did not go online. But you can check the price structure here below.

The Nordic Sky system has a strong shopping component, with a rather sleek interface.

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finnair inflight shopping.PNG

There are some items of content that can be accessed for free, though, such as some magazines and press, as well as ebooks. You can see below how it looks on the screen of an electronic device.

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And when it comes to good “old fashioned” inflight magazine in paper, Finnair’s is also top notch. Quite a few interesting pieces inside the magazine, so I even took my own copy home to finish reading it!

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Here is the second meal of the day (or I should say, of the night!), the breakfast we were served as we were approaching Finland. Again, simple, but tasty, nothing superfluous.

A comment apart for coffee, that is possibly among the best I have tried on a flight.

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Although the main two meals and the drinks are complimentary, If you are left hungry or wish to get some stronger alcoholic drinks, you can order extra, but you will need to reach for your wallet.

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A little sweet detail before landing, and another iconic Finnish consumer brand (in addition to Marimekko) that makes an appearance: a Fazer chocolate.

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Helsinki Airport

A final comment to praise the passenger experience at Helsinki airport, that is as good as it gets, even in economy.

Stepping out of the plane in Helsinki after the buzz (and mess!) of O’Hare, was like getting into a spa or a high end boutique. Calm, clean, well indicated and at human scale. I had a really short connecting time and I got from my gate to the next in less than 10minutes.

On the way I could pass through this relaxation area, with bird songs, where several people were trying to get a nap between flights!

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Our Take:

Great inflight experience.

One of the best in long haul economy so far.

Please, fix the boarding process at O’Hare, though, to make it even better!