Finnair A350 XWB Economy Comfort Flight Review: AY69 Helsinki to Hong Kong
Economy Comfort is Finnair's version of the Premium Economy Class, and I am fortunate to be able to sample this enhanced Economy product on one of Finnair's flagship Airbus A350 XWB fleet, on a flight from Helsinki to Hong Kong as AY69.
Route: Helsinki to Hong Kong
Operating Aircraft: Airbus 350-941
Registration: OH-LWB (in Oneworld Livery)
Departure from Helsinki: 23:45 / 00:06*
Arrival in Hong Kong: 14:30 / 14:38*
Flight Time: 9 hours and 45 minutes / 9 hours and 32 minutes*
(*denotes actual timings)
Departure from Helsinki was close to midnight, with the airport relatively quiet except for two red-eye Finnair heavies (AY69 to Hong Kong and AY81 to Singapore, both operated with the A350).
Welcomed onboard by the enthusiastic cabin crew, I grabbed a complimentary newspaper at the boarding door and headed to my seat, which is conveniently situated in the front of the Economy cabin, just behind Business Class. I notice the A350 XWB's overhead compartments are massive - no excuses at all to be sharing your precious legroom with your bags. The Economy Comfort seat itself looks more ordinary, given its similar width (18 inches) to standard Economy seat, however, sitting down, you will definitely notice the much more generous seat pitch - a good 4 inches above the Standard Economy seat.
A well-appreciated bottle of Finnish Spring Water was available in the seat pocket.
The seat itself was furnished with a blanket, pillow, as well as Business Class-like noise cancelling headphones and personal amenity kits. Notice the bright colours and distinctive patterns? They are part of the inflight products that are specially designed for Finnair in collaboration with renowned Finnish home furnishing brand Marimekko.
The amenity kit comprised socks, eyeshade, dental kit and ear plugs.
The Phitek noise-cancelling headphones was really good - they fit snugly on my ears (a little too snug but I could still use them effectively as sound barriers when I sleep). Noise-cancelling effect and audio quality were amazing!
Finnair's A350 XWB Nordic Sky entertainment features an 11-inch screen in Economy Class (both Economy Comfort and Economy), which was crystal clear and highly touch-responsive. I love that the screen is matte, thus, non-reflective, at any angle the passenger in front of you reclines his or her seat.
What I truly like about Nordic Sky entertainment is its flight plan, giving hour-by-hour flight progress with live service details, even information on the menu and when the cabin lights will be dimmed. This flight plan is very useful for passengers to plan their inflight journey.
However, my seat's entertainment had some major issues that was unresolvable for the entire flight.
Firstly, the flight plan was set as AY57 to Shanghai and was unworkable for the entire flight.
Secondly, the flight cameras (both forward and downward) and route map didn't work! Definitely an #avgeek's nightmare.
Thirdly, the flight attendant call and light buttons aren't functional - how convenient!
Fourthly, there was a limited selection of movies (just 7!) and music channels and no television series while other passengers had what seemed to be an endless selection of entertainment options. I was thankful that the precious 7 available movies were the latest Hollywood films that could sustain my midnight movie marathon.
Fifthly, official announcements (including the safety video) were not playable on my screen, this might have been a blessing as I could enjoy the movies (all 7 of them -_-' ) uninterrupted without being coerced to watch in-house commercials on buy-on-board snack options or duty-free shopping (I swear I was tuned in to the safety video demonstration though).
Anyhow, from my seat. I had a clear view of the main screen on the bulkhead which showed the take-off and landing forward camera views, and was more than happy with it.
Note that Finnair's A350 seat only offers USB charging ports to recharge personal devices, so fill up the juice on your laptops before your journey.
The cabin crew literally sprung into action immediately after take off, rolling out the dinner carts almost immediately after the inflight service videos (advertisements) ended - I was honestly surprised how quickly they commenced the dinner service after the take off. Given the less than 10 hour duration on this red-eye flight, keeping meal times tight would maximize rest time for the passengers and the cabin crew seemed to know this well. In fact, I noted breakfast service started a tight 1 hour and 30 minutes before landing! Kudos on the cabin crew team's excellent passenger-oriented customer service.
I observed the Economy Class cabin crew (an all-male team) seemed to be from Finnair's Hong Kong base, and hearing their conversations with fellow passengers, I found them to be eloquent in Cantonese, English, and Mandarin, and were able to converse proficiently with the diversity of passengers onboard the flight that night.
Though the meal options are same as the Standard Economy Class, Economy Comfort passengers enjoy privileges in being the first to be served and meal choice priority, with a guaranteed choice of main course.
The main course choices were chicken with rice or macaroni. I had the chicken with rice option, which was Chicken with Rice, Broccoli and Spicy Sauce with Prawns. This Asian-style dish was served piping hot and delicious. The chicken pieces were tender and coated in a mildly spicy prawn sauce. I couldn't make out the prawns in the dish but it certainly had a savoury taste of prawns.
It was great that the meal contents, allergens, and nutritional information was given on the packaging.
Appetiser was Carrot and Swedish Turnip (Rutabaga) Salad - a dish of julienned root vegetables that my pet rabbits would approve.
There was also Rye Bread and Cheese - a nice change from the usual airline bun.
A small cup of Finnis Spring Water was pre-set on the tray.
To end the meal was a sweet treat: Milk Chocolate with Crunchy Caramel and Sea Salt.
I had white wine for my drink.
Wine service was actually very generous. The cabin crew made a second round of wine refills, and when the meal trays were cleared, coffee and tea were offered while wines were avail to passengers. I was certainly very pleased with Finnair's generous serving of wines!
A quick duty-free sales service was conducted before the lights were turned down for passengers to rest. I loved the soft mood lighting which gently faded from deep purple to darkness.
Visiting the lavatory, it was pretty basic, with hand towels and hand washing cream available.
Snacks (salty sour cream pretzels and chocolates) and drinks were available at the self-service bar in the rear galley. Note the Marimekko design on the paper cup.
I continued to enjoy my late night movie binge before getting some snooze. Given the generous Economy Comfort legroom, I didn't feel guilty towards the passenger behind me about reclining my seat to a more comfortable sleeping position.
A dim light brightened up the cabin and wet towels were served to passengers before breakfast was served.
There was a single choice of omelette for the main course.
Omelette with Turkey and Onions, Spinach, Bell Peppers and Potatoes
On the tray was interestingly, a Karelian pasty, a traditional Finnish pasty from the Karelian region. It had a unique rice taste.
On the tray were also a cup of orange juice and Lingonberry-Apple yoghurt. I appreciate the little Finnish elements (Lingonberry-apple yoghurt and Karelian pasty) that make up the components of the meal tray.
I had Finnair's signature drink, Blueberry juice for my drink, which was really refreshing!
After breakfast, it was more or less time for landing, with immigration forms distributed and the cabin carefully prepared for the arrival into Hong Kong. There was some traffic congestion resulting in a slightly delayed arrival but it was a smooth landing on a sunny day.
Being seated in the front of Economy Class, Economy Comfort passengers enjoy a fast exit from the aircraft, immediately after the Business Class passengers.
It had been a comfortable and very pleasant Economy Comfort experience onboard Finnair's A350. What I really truly enjoy about the Finnair flight is its provision of minimalist yet highly functional product. Even without the bells and whistles of five-star airlines, Finnair retains a distinct Nordic heritage onboard and offers an intercontinental product and services that are comfortable, enjoyable, and highly value for money.
Having experienced Finnair's Economy Comfort Class, here's why you should or should not upgrade yourself from regular Economy:
if you appreciate more legroom (a good 4 inches more than regular Economy)
if you value creature comforts such as Business Class-like noise cancelling headphones and personal amenity kits, as well as 1 hour complimentary Wi-Fi
if you enjoy priority privileges in meal service, meal choices, and disembarkation
DONT UPGRADE YOURSELF
if you are looking for a wider seat (the seat width is the same as standard Economy)
if you are looking for better entertainment (Nordic Sky entertainment is the same for the Economy cabin)
if you are looking for an exclusive cabin (the Economy Comfort zone is located at the first few rows of Economy Class, without any dividers)
If you are seeking premium meal options (Economy Comfort passengers are served first but meal choices are the same as the Standard Economy)
If you have long legs or appreciate a more pampering and privileged flying experience without forking out for Business Class ticket, do consider upgrading yourself to Economy Comfort, which are available under Manage Your Booking or even at the boarding gate - subject to seat availability.
At the time of travel (September 2017), the cost of upgrade to Economy Comfort was €90 from Helsinki to Hong Kong.
Thank you for reading this Finnair A350 Economy Comfort flight review on FlightTravels.
The full flight video experience may be viewed below:
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