PaxEx Review: Finnair’s New LAX-HEL Route
Finnair’s A350-900 in-flight experience meets the standards that won the company five-star status in the Official Airline Ratings, according to APEX Media contributor Jenny Peters, who was a passenger on one of the airline’s first flights from Los Angeles to Helsinki.
Finnair has returned to Los Angeles with a direct flight to Helsinki, after leaving the City of Angels over 25 years ago. Back in the 1980s, Finnair flew nonstop between Helsinki and Los Angeles using DC-10 planes, but ever since those days the Nordic airline, whose major shareholder is the government of Finland, has been absent from the second largest airport in America.
The new direct flight, which launched on March 31, operates three times a week from both HEL and LAX and features the new Airbus A350-900 aircraft. Part of Airbus’ A350 XWB family of planes, Finnair’s version features 46 business-class flat-bed seats, 43 economy comfort class seats and 208 economy seats. This is the airline’s first US route to be regularly operated with the new aircraft.
The cabin interior reflects many of Airbus’ advances in passenger comfort, ranging from wider seat sizes to custom ambient lighting, larger windows, a calm and quieter environment and expanded overhead bin space. And the plane’s state-of-the-art air filters mean the cabin air is circulated and filtered every three minute. The plane’s fuselage is made of carbon-fiber reinforced plastic, which substantially reduces the carbon footprint of the aircraft; and it boasts wings that adapt to conditions while airborne, creating a smoother, safer ride.
Finnair has personalized the experience by creating partnerships with top Nordic manufacturers and chefs to give the 10.5- to 11-hour trip a particularly Scandinavian flair. The airline’s partnership with Finnish design brand Marimekko involves pillows, blankets and a “collectable” business-class amenity kit in four different “classic” designs originally created by Marimekko founder Maija Isola. The kits contain an eye cover with Marimekko design, a toothbrush, toothpaste, ear plugs and a small box of “flying essentials” by Swedish skincare company L:a Bruket, which translates to lip balm and lotion. All are made using environmentally friendly materials – even the slippers supplied are made from recycled plastic bottles.
Business-class meals created by Swedish chef Tommy MyllymÃ¤ki feature seasonal, Nordic-inspired ingredients. His current dishes include a cold smoked salmon with horseradish coleslaw appetizer, cheek of beef and Jerusalem artichoke salad. The menu also features cheese from small Finnish producers and Kahvikutsut, the country’s unique coffee service that features different sweet and savory bites including Finnish chocolates, berries, cakes, cinnamon rolls and more.
In all three classes, the cabin feels open and airy, as a result of Airbus’ design, which removes the overhead bins from the center of the aircraft while still keeping enough storage for carry-on luggage. The feeling of openness extends to the lavatories, where a window opens out onto the skies.