TURNING left on an airplane is exciting, but for someone as frugal as me, it doesn’t happen very often. However, since the pandemic, the price difference between economy cabins and more premium cabins has narrowed. Now, paying a little more money for a lot more luxury is a lot more appealing.
that seems to be the case for many travelers, as the airline industry sees a demand for more premium experiences now that travel is opening up. But customers aren’t just looking for the champagne and cosmetic bags that usually come with those luxurious seats in the front of the plane. They are looking for extra space and fewer people in the cabin to minimize the risk of catching Covid versus being shoehorned in economy sitting side by side with strangers.
So Finnair, Finland’s national airline and the world’s fifth oldest airline, perfectly timed the launch of its all-new premium economy cabin and revamped business class on its long-haul aircraft.
I tried out the airline’s brand new business class seat on a three hour flight from Helsinki to London. Why radical? Well, it lacks the one thing many travelers deem essential in business class: recline. Yes, you read that right: Finnair got rid of the reclining Business Class seats and replaced them with Collins Aerospace AirLounge seats.
These new-style seats are inspired by lounge furniture and are designed to “maximize comfort, space and freedom of movement during a long-haul flight”, and it’s no surprise that the airline Finland is the first to have them installed on its After all, Finland has long placed design at the forefront of its national identity, and its capital, Helsinki, is a UNESCO City of Design.
Good design is part of everyday life in this Nordic country and this philosophy also applies to Finnair. Water and wood are synonymous with Finnish style, which is largely inspired by nature, and you’ll find this theme in Finnair’s airport lounge and new business class cabin. Nature expresses itself in many forms – the dark blue materials, the beautiful wood finishes, the soft, wavy shapes and the new mood lighting inspired by the Northern Lights. It’s a unique design language that expresses the airline’s Nordic roots.
As I settle into my AirLounge seat, I have to admit that I find it a little confusing at first. It’s unlike anything I’ve experienced before on an airplane. Luckily, there’s a video tutorial for the 18-inch entertainment system that shows how it all works. A member of the cabin crew also comes to show me the new features, including the guillotine seat belt.
The fixed, hollowed-out shell seat resembles a grand armchair and curves to create a private space. It doesn’t recline at all, but you can still lie flat by moving the various seating elements to fill in the gaps that create a nearly 200cm long bed. In this configuration, I have plenty of room to sleep on my side and curled up in a ball. A mattress and textiles designed by Marimekko make the space even more comfortable and cozy.
The flexibility of the seat allows you to sit in any position. For someone like me, who has trouble sitting still, this is an ideal setup. I was able to sit with my legs folded under me, straight, with one leg up and one leg down and in the lotus position – handy for a bit of meditation.
In fact, the entire cabin is zen with its cool, soothing color scheme, mood lighting, and the quietness that comes with private seating and fewer people chatting and moving around. I would have no problem falling asleep even without the help of the free booze you get in business class.
Speaking of which, the food and drink also pays homage to the airline’s Nordic heritage with a menu inspired by the natural ingredients Finland is famous for. Food is served in elegant Iittala porcelain, created by renowned Finnish designer Harri Koskinen, and the large leaf table offers ample dining space and wireless charging for your devices. They have really thought of everything.
All in all, flying in Finnair’s new business class cabin was a joyful experience, especially because it gave this agitator enough space and flexibility to get comfortable throughout the flight. . The cabin immerses you in Finnish design – I was surprised not to find a sauna in the toilets, to be honest – and gives you a taste of what to expect when you land in Helsinki. After such a cool, calm and comfortable flight, you’ll arrive fresh in Finland with a smile on your face – incredibly fit to visit the happiest country in the world.
Finnair’s first three long-haul destinations to benefit from the new cabins will be Helsinki to Singapore, Helsinki to New York and Helsinki to Dallas with flights beginning in May.
■ MELANIE was a guest of Finnair. Return flights from Dublin to Helsinki start from €155 in economy class and from €573 in business class.
■ Direct flights between Dublin and Helsinki operate up to nine times a week all year round.
■ For more information on flights and fares, visit the Finnair website.
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TOURIST season is officially open in Galway now that the Aran Island ferries have resumed operations.
Ireland’s largest passenger ferry, Saoirse na Farraige, will depart Galway City for Inis Mór and the magnificent Cliffs of Moher daily at 9.30am.
Awarded ‘Best Irish Experience 2021’, Aran Island Ferries offers a 90-minute luxury cruise on Galway Bay.
Ticket prices for a return trip from Galway City Docks are €49 (adult) and €44 (student/senior) and €25 (child). Day tours, overnight tours, individual tours and family rates are all available.
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