Review: Finnair Business Class Helsinki to Brussels (HEL-BRU)

Finnair Airbus A319 regional business class seat
Aircraft: 319 (Airbus A319) Intra-European Business Class Seat

Introduction

Flight Details:

  • Date of flight: July 27, 2019
  • Where: Helsinki (“HEL”) to Brussels (“BRU”)
  • Flight time: 2 hours 35 minutes
  • Flight #: AY1545
  • Seat: 1A
  • Paid flight / points: Paid

I wasn’t expecting too much from this intra-European business class flight, but I was pleasantly surprised by the service. From my past experience the difference between economy and business class on these short flights rarely justifies the additional cost / miles. This was a continuation of my JFK-BRU via HEL flight so I technically didn’t pay a premium to sit in business.

I priced out a stand-alone flight on this route and a last minute one-way ticket in economy came in at $539. Compare this with $978 for business class. Is business class worth a $439 premium? I’d say that’s a hard no, but let’s take a look.

Cabin

Finnair Airbus A319 regional business class signage
Business Class signage

Like most intra-European business class products the seats are the same as in economy. They’re converted into “business class” seats by blocking off the middle seat. The divider between economy and business class can be adjusted to accommodate between 4 and 14 passengers based on a particular premium flight load.

Recommended Seats

Seats 1A, C, D and F should be your go-to as they have slightly more legroom. With that said don’t expect enough room to fully stretch out. The seats are just 18″ wide with 31″ of pitch.

Finnair Airbus A319 regional business class seat layout
Expert Flyer Seatmap of Airbus A319 Business Class

In-Flight Entertainment

There’s no in-flight entertainment on this aircraft other than Finnair’s in-flight magazine, Blue Wings, which you’ll find in the seatback pocket.

Service

Upon boarding I was greeted with a smile by the business class flight attendant. She didn’t seem surprised to see a giraffe on-board, which immediately put me at ease. After settling in I was offered a pre-departure beverage (“PDB”) of water or juice.

Food and Beverage

Shortly after takeoff drink orders were taken. I ordered an Arctic Blue Gin & Tonic, which was promptly delivered in Finnair’s signature Ultima Thule glassware. The flight attendant informed me that the gin maker recently opened a pop up bar on the North Pole. I thought I misheard her until I later googled it and found out it was in fact true. The drink was accompanied by a bag of sour cream and chive pretzels.

Finnair Airbus A319 regional business class gin and tonic
Beverage service

There weren’t any menus distributed, but I was given the option of beef or cod and I chose the cod. The meal was served all at once on a tray and consisted of a smoked salmon starter, cod in lobster sauce/ risotto main and a strawberry shortcake dessert.

Finnair Airbus A319 regional business class smoked salmon starter, cod in lobster sauce/ risotto main and a strawberry shortcake dessert
Cod in lobster sauce

I don’t care for smoked salmon so moved straight in for the cod. It was moist, but not super flavorful. The dessert didn’t look fresh and after a small bite I decided it wasn’t worth the calories. The meal was average for an airline meal, but a lot better than what you’d find on a US domestic first class flight.

The flight attendant came through the cabin multiple times topping-off passenger’s wine, offering water refills and coffee / tea.

Upon landing things took a turn for the worst. I almost never check a bag, but it was unavoidable this 17-day trip. I ended up waiting almost an hour for my luggage to arrive at the carousel. Finnair wasn’t to blame for the situation. Brussels Airport baggage computer systems were down and luggage needed to be manually sorted, which led to significant delays.

Overall Verdict

First Class Giraffe Not Impressed

Finnair’s intra-European business class hard product leaves a lot to be desired. Service on the flight was quite good and made being in a cramped seat much more pleasant. The food was average, but totally acceptable for such a short flight.

My view that intra-European business class isn’t worth the incremental cost remains unchanged after this flight. The baggage delays were also frustrating to say the least.

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