You Might Want To Avoid Finnair’s New York Flight This Winter

Finnair ordinarily flies the A330 between New York and Helsinki, which features their staggered, fully flat business class seats.

Finnair-Business-Class-A340 - 3

Unfortunately they don’t regularly fly their A350 to New York, which features their excellent reverse herringbone business class seats. I lucked out last year when I had the chance to fly the A350 between New York and Helsinki, given that Finnair operated the plane in the market for a very limited time.

Finnair-Business-Class-A350 - 1

Instead they choose to fly the A350 primarily to Asia, which is where most of their longhaul flights are to anyway. So far Finnair has seven A350s in their fleet, with another 12 A350s on order, so I hope that eventually they’ll fly the A350 to New York.

While Finnair’s A330 business class isn’t amazing to begin with, it looks like Finnair’s product between New York and Helsinki is about to get even worse. Per @airlineroute, Finnair will be operating a leased plane on their New York to Helsinki route between November 3, 2016, and January 8, 2017.

While it’s normal for airlines to have aircraft shortage due to maintenance, etc., I’m a bit surprised they couldn’t plan this better given that they’re in the process of taking delivery of new planes.

The leased plane that Finnair is using to New York will be a Hi-Fly Airbus A340-300 aircraft, featuring 24 business class seats and 271 economy class seats.

Based on the leasing company’s website, it seems like they’ll be using the plane with the trail number 9H-SUN, which used to be operated by SriLankan. This plane features fully flat business class seats in a 2-2-2 configuration — it’s the same business class I flew on SriLankan early last year.

srilankan-a340-business-class

There shouldn’t be too much difference in terms of the quality of the economy product, though I’m not sure what the inflight entertainment will be like.

a340-economy

Ultimately this plane still has a fully flat business class product, though if you’re booked on the route or planning on booking yourself on the route, it’s at least worth being aware of the different product you’ll receive if flying during the above period.

Comments

  1. This is quite a bit better than some of the 767’s that American was flying across the Atlantic this summer.

  2. They can’t use leased planes on Asia routes because those are operated in Russian airspace and the agreement requires them to use Finnish planes on those routes. That is why they use Hi-Fly on New York route.

    The reason is A350 training of the pilots and some delays they are facing. Not sure exactly what.

  3. They also used a leased plane last winter for this route. December through January I think. I rescheduled my flight to avoid it

  4. Considering you seldom if ever fly in the back of the plane on long haul flights, you’d not be aware that Finnair offers a very good extended legroom Y product in the first few rows of its wide body economy cabin that exceeds what UA and AA offer, and likely equates to DL’s Comfort class in some ways. This area is available to those who pay full Y or a small premium (available at airport check-in counters for under U$100 across the Atlantic) or free to AY’s own or other OW elites. In addition to extra leg room, AY gives a modest but nicely designed amenity kit and 500 ml bottle of water, plus guaranteed choice of entree since this section is served first. In my view, this hard/soft product is superior to BA’s World Traveler Plus true premium economy product even if the seats on AY are the same as those in the rest of the cabin. (Having flown this “cabin” twice this year, the section is sparsely populated and I’ve always had en empty seat next to me to add to the space and comfort.) As you do note about the back cabin, the only (other) uncertainty would be what the IFE system is.

    So for me, this would be the most significant loss if the leased plane has not be reconfigured (highly unlikely). One can certainly live with yet another variant of a lay flat business class seat (hey, AA now has almost a half-dozen to contend with.

  5. They flew this exact plane between HEL and MIA for a bit this summer. One of my colleagues flew on it in J and did not have any good things to say about it…

  6. NCSAM is correct. They pulled this bait and switch on me one month before I was scheduled to fly MIA-HEL-WAW in business class this summer. They even mentioned in the e-mail that it was a substandard product to their service. See below:

    .Unfortunately Hi Fly Business Class on this aircraft doesn’t completely meet with the standards of Finnair’s Business Class product. If you decide not to make changes to your original reservation and fly with Hi Fly, as the compensation you will receive either Finnair Plus points or a gift card, depending on the original payment method. If you choose this option, please contact Finnair Customer Service.

    I was on an Aadvantage Award. I complained NICELY to Aadvantage Customer Service and they re-routed me MIA-LHR-WAW on AA/BA.

  7. Like some of the other posters, I had booked HEL-MIA in J on an AA code-share earlier this year. Only when I was checking my reservation did I notice my seat number fell out of the system. Then I noticed the aircraft change. AA didn’t notify me of any airline change as the flight number and schedule remained the same.
    Calling the Executive Platinum desk they changed me to a BA/AA connection, no questions asked.
    After some online research, it showed that Hifly’s business class isn’t up to par. They apparently use HiFly crew, but with a Finnair representative on board.
    It is obvious booking Finnair business class is a bit of a gamble. Two Finnair transat routes in one year operating a substantial schedule on a sub-par charter airline. These swaps can’t be doing the Finnair brand much good.

  8. At least they’ll be staffed by Finnair crew, right? I flew their wonderful A350 BKK-HEL and the crew was wonderful, Finnish with a couple of great Thai crew, one of the best I’ve ever had. Unfortunately flying HEL-HKG the crew are outsourced, Hong Kong based and not Finnish. I encountered the most brusque, cold crew member who should not have been serving business class. No mater how nice the hard product is on the A350, the soft product was awful and a huge disappointment.
    So, New York flights would be disappointing on those leased aircraft, but if it’s proper finnair crew I’m sure they’ll do an amazing job to make pax feel welcome.

  9. Oddly, FinnAir flies a daily A350 between London and Helsinki. Quite a short route for a long-distance widebody.

    Perhaps it is a fill-in for a A350 usually on Asian routes with a few hours to spare

    FinnAir focuses more on Asia than the US

  10. @Martin,

    The A350 (or in some occasions an A340) is due to cargo, as the flights operate in conjunction with IAG Cargo.

  11. Hi Ben,

    In what way do you think the Business Class experience on these HiFly operated flights is going to be more modest compared with the original Finnair product? The catering should be the exactly the same and in your reviews, you seem to give SriLankan Business Class more positive overall feedback than in the Finnair A340 review with the staggered configuration.

    I have flights booked during this HiFly period and I’m wondering whether to change my flights from direct HEL-JFK-HEL service to BA/AA operated flights via LHR. Finnair doesn’t offer any sort of compensation in terms of Finnair Plus Points etc. if you stick to the HiFly service as seems to have been the case with last winters MIA flights, as per to this conversation.

    Great thanks for your help!

  12. I have just landed in NYC off Finnair AY05, operated by HiFly. I was in Business Class.

    Mediocre is the best description. It was the polar opposite of my flight yesterday on Finnair AY090 from Bangkok which was great – love the A350 and the cabin crew were outstanding. They worked hard the entire flight to make sure every passenger was happy even though we were two hours late and the entertainment system packed it just after takeoff.

    Whilst there are two Finnair representatives on board the flight today, they didnt appear to do anything to add value to what the Portugese crew were doing…which wasnt a lot.

    We didnt start well. The flight was scheduled to leave Helsinki at 14.10. About 40 minutes prior to that, an announcement was made in the lounge that the flight was delayed and more information would be provided at 14.10. That sounded like a long delay to me so I got some lunch and an espresso. Suddenly, an announcement was made we were boarding at the scheduled time. Great! Abandoned lunch and much needed espresso! We then sat on the plane until well after scheduled departure before the de-icer showed up. We got to JFK an hour late – just in time for rush hour into Manhattan. Fun! Not!!

    The seat was hard to sit on but not too bad when lowered into a fully flat bed. There was a fearsomely cold air vent at floor level down the side of the plane, so dont select the window or you, like me, will freeze the entire way. I wore boots and the Finnair doona wrapped around me to survive. 😉

    Food was a a Finnair menu/wine list but the service of it was atrocious. The meal was served with no care at all. The person seated next to me and I had to ask for a drink with our meal. It was not offered. The first time I asked for a sparkling water with ice and lemon. It came with no lemon. Second time around, with the same request, she repeated I wanted ice. A minute or two later, I got neither ice nor lemon and the sparkling water was pretty flat and warm. At that stage I gave up on the drinks front. Chocolates were dished out hand to hand, not offered on a plate..

    Between meals, the cabin crew were gossiping in the galleys or crew seats…

    There was no personal welcome or attention whatsoever from the Finnair representative in the Business Class at any time.. We were ignored. One would think they would be working to make sure people were happy despite the switcheroo!

    What has annoyed me was the use of HiFly was not advised until the day before I fly this route regularly and had wondered why the seat selection had changed(!). There is compensation for a return trip so I am out of luck as it was a one way for me..

    When I did this run in June this year, their were hints that an A350 would be deployed on this route so hopefully that is the reason why they are chartering from HiFly.

  13. More Finnair drama…I’m booked Business Class on AY8 MIA-HEL on 4.23.17. This flight is now an Iberia codeshare with Iberia A330 and Iberia crew.

  14. Uncomfortable Airline to fly with! flat seats in every cabin! horrible food and terrible service.
    Not to mention their policy about luggage weights. if slightly heavier then 23 kilos they charge you a fortune!

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