Finnair A350 XWB Flight Experience: AY81 Helsinki to Singapore

February 18, 2017

This is my flight experience of Finnair, onboard the Airbus A350 XWB aircraft, from Helsinki (HEL) to Singapore (SIN) as flight AY81.

Flight Details

Operator: Finnair

Flight: AY81

Routing: Helsinki (HEL) to Singapore (SIN)

Aircraft: Airbus A350-941

Registration: OH-LWF

Take-off from Helsinki: 12.30am

Landing in Singapore: 5.39pm (+1)

Actual Flight Time: 11 hours and 8 minutes

 

Depature from Helsinki Vantaa Airport

Check-in at Helsinki Vantaa Airport was a smooth and seamless experience, with self-check-in kiosks to print out my boarding pass and luggage tag, and an easy-to-manage self-luggage-drop. There are plenty of duty-free and dining options at the departure hall, including a Burger King fast food restaurant, which is a short walk away the departure gate.

 

I walked past this giant advertisement featuring Finnair's A350 aircraft, which got me quite excited to experience "a new sense of flying" onboard the Finnair's state-of-the-art A350.

Boarding and take off

It was going to be a very full flight, not surprising with the flight packed with many Singaporean tour groups and holidaymakers heading back home from a winter's vacation in Europe. Upon boarding, we were warmly welcomed by the cabin crew. Whilst it is not uncommon for airlines to deploy native language speakers on certain flights and routes, I was quite surprised to see the entire team of cabin crew onboard AY81 were all Asian - I presumed that they are Singaporean cabin crew outsourced by Finnair to handle cabin services. Observing the passenger profile on my flight, I don't think Finnish speakers will be necessary for this route. Cabin crew announcements are made only in English, and flight deck crew announcements are made in both English and Finnish.

Before take-off, there was de-icing done - no surprise given the freezing weather in Helsinki. I was glad to be able to watch the entire de-icing process from the tail camera view in the entertainment system. Immediately after the de-icing, the aircraft took off gently and glided into the night sky.

Seat

My Economy Class seat features a 31 inch seat pitch and an 18 inch seat width. Even though the seat is slim and streamlined, I found the seat wide and quite comfortable in the reclined position. The winged headrest is adjustable, which I found very useful to rest my head against when I wanted to sleep.

The seat is furnished with a soft green pillow and a green spotted blanket. I observed that they are designed by Finnish home furnishings, textile and fashion company, Marimekko. Finnair's close relationship with Marimekko is strongly evident in the hard cabin and service products, from blankets and pillows to paper cups and napkins to the flight attendants' aprons (worn during the meal services). I welcome this collaboration as Marimekko's cheery bright green/dark blue colours and circular patterns do liven up the sterile cabin environment.

In the seat storage are an onboard shopping catalogue, Finnair Sky Bistro menu for those wanting to purchase extra snacks, and the Airbus A350-900 safety information card.

There is also a small bottle of spring water in the seat pocket, which I found very convenient to quench my thirst when I was thirsty during the flight.

Cabin

I should highlight that the aircraft features LED mood lighting which creates a diversity of stunning yet soothing light scenarios in the cabin. Here's a few light scenarios during my flight:

Entertainment

I started on my entertainment after a video introduction to Finnair's services (in English and Finnish) was screened. The Nordic Sky entertainment features a wide variety of movies (I counted over 80 available movies), television programmes, and music on 11 inch touchscreens. There is also an USB port for recharging personal electronic devices.

 Audio jack and USB port

 Earphones

The Route Map function is most excellent, featuring a diversity of angles (including Cockpit, Left/Right Side, Left/Right Window, World Map, Night View etc) and allows map enlargement at the touch of your finger tips. I loved it!

I watched the "American Horror Story" television series, in which 4 episodes of Season 1: Murder House were available (I watched all 4 episodes). The programme got me glued to the screen and I found myself devouring one episode after another.

The Home page of the entertainment featues a "live" hour-by-hour timeline of the inflight services from take-off to landing, which I found really awesome. On this almost-12 hours flight, dinner would be served, followed by duty-free shopping, then breakfast in the morning. Lights would be dimmed for passengers to rest in-between the services.

Services

Cabin service commenced with the distribution of hot scented towels.

This is followed by a dinner service, with the option of minced beef steak with smashed potatoes or chicken with potatoes for the main course. I opted for the beef steak, which was described as a popular choice by the cabin crew. The nutritional information is listed on the casserole wrapper.

Opening the aluminum wrapper, I found the beef steak to be similar to a hamburger patty in onion sauce, with creamy chard and mashed cauliflower on the sides. The main course was a little on the saltier side but otherwise, it was a generous portion and taste was not bad.

The other components of the tray are:

Root vegetable salad 

Bun

Apple crumble cake

Cheese and crackers

 Spring water

The cabin crew were cheerful and provided good eye contact. I noticed they conducted regular water rounds using a 1.5 litre mineral water bottle during the lull period. They were attentive in asking awake passengers if they wanted water. I also observed call bells were promptly attended to.

 

After the duty-free sales, the cabin lights were set to a bright orange (depicting sunset?) before turning down for passengers to rest. I noted that the cabin crew required passengers to close their window shades after the dinner service. There was a snack bar set up in front of the rear galley of the aircraft, with the availability of chocolate sticks, and sour cream pretzels. Assorted juices and water were available for self-service as well.

Breakfast was served 2 hours before landing, with a single choice of egg roll with tomato filling, hash browns, broccoli and turkey sausage. Breakfast was served with coffee and tea, and juices. I observed many passengers opted for blueberry juice, Finnair's signature drink.

The other components of the tray are:

Bun

Bilberry yoghurt

 Orange juice

Lavatory

The lavatory is basic, with the availability of hand soap (Delux'air cleansing cream) and air freshener (Aero Freshener).

Routing

After take-off, the aircraft cruised south over Estonia, then the expansive Russian territory, passing Moscow, over the Caspian Sea and the tip of Kazakhstan, before overflying Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, then over the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, to the southern territory of Thailand, the coast of Malaysia and down to Singapore.

 

From time to time, I enjoy watching the tail camera view in the Nordic Sky entertainment from time to time throughout the flight.

Landing

After breakfast, it was almost time for landing. I was able to enjoy my movie "Suicide Squad" until the landing. The downward camera view enabled me to watch the deployment of the nose-wheels during the final approach into Changi Airport, which was really awesome! The landing was smooth but the FINNAIR 81 heavy came down quite hard onto the runway. We soon taxied to our arrival gate at Terminal 1.

Summary

It was a smooth and very enjoyable flight with Finnair. The Airbus A350 aircraft is very quiet and I really enjoyed the state-of-the-art Nordic Sky entertainment. Time flew quickly between my sleep and watching "American Horror Story" series. The meals were well-presented and portions were good. The cabin crew were also nice. It was a very pleasant experience onboard Finnair.

 

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