Qantas Frequent Flyer, using a oneworld Classic Flight reward. This is a continuation of our second leg as we stayed for less than 24 hours in Bangkok.
Business - 6D & 6H, the two middle seats.
There are two business class cabins. We are in the first section of 8 rows. There are no overhead cupboards in this section, which makes the already large cabin feel even more spacious. This confused us somewhat at boarding - where do our bags go? Somehow everything fits in the cupboards above the window seats, despite this part of the cabin being full.
There are a further 4 rows of business class behind the bulkhead. Curiously there are overhead cupboards for the middle row in that section.
The back section was almost empty. We flipped back and forth between the sections to watch the view during the flight - you will read why.
Just over 10 hours. We depart right on time with typical Scandinavian efficiency.
Finnair flies twice daily from Bangkok to Helsinki. One flight departs late at night and the other first thing in the morning. We are so glad to have chosen the day flight - read below.
Our great circle took us across the north of India, over the top of Kolkata and just south of Kathmandu. It was almost a perfectly clear day so we could see the Himalayas from the right hand side of the plane. This is why we raced back and forth!
We sat in the rear section for over an hour as we skirted around the Roof of The World. What looked like clouds at first glance very quickly became apparent as massive, snow capped mountains. There were three peaks clearly visible, all of roughly the same height.
The flight continued across India, over Varanasi and Lucknow then to the north of New Delhi. The mighty Mother River Ganges was clearly visible, as were more snow capped mountains. We must have crossed over the Khyber Pass as well but were too slow to realise what we were looking at.
Into Pakistan, over Lahore and then a detour around Peshawar before entering Afghanistan. The difference in landscape is immediate and stark, with the ground quickly turning from verdant green into desert literally from one side of the mountains to the other. We flew over Kabul but apart from that the country looks desolate. The mountain ranges are steep and have tiny valleys of green. We could clearly see a defence air force runway and encampment. From the air one understands why Afghanistan is so difficult to control. Local knowledge of the mountains and narrow valley passes give an upper hand even in the time of satellite imaging.
Then over the "rest of those Stans" - Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan as well as the Aral Sea. Over Russia we flew just to the west of Moscow and St Petersburg, over Tallinn and down into Helsinki.
This was an amazing flight with a spectacular view for large parts. Seeing Mt Everest was something neither of us thought we would experience in our lifetime and we were blessed with clear weather to get an almost uninterrupted view.
Next time you head to Europe, seriously consider the day flight from Asia and make sure you get a window seat (although check the in-flight map to make sure you are looking out of the correct window).
Finnair uses the familiar 1+2+1 reverse herringbone layout on the A350. However the configuration is not deployed as well as Cathay Pacific. The extra 10-15cms width we experienced yesterday is still there but it does not seem to be utilised as effectively.
For example, where Cathay had a little closed cabinet for headphones and other storage, Finnair's is open and one cannot store phones/cables/glasses/etc during take-off and landing. The main storage unit could not accommodate our little 11" computer, whereas the Cathay storage bay did. The elbow rest on the inside of the seat is lower than the table area and The Navigator found that change in height got in the way when typing. Finally, the seat adjustment for lie flat or sit up was not one-touch like on Cathay.
In the end these are minor quibbles, given we are flying business class and have the luxury of extra width, seat pitch and can lie flat.
The touch-screen monitor folds out as per usual but does not latch. The unit is the same size as Cathay but the actual screen is smaller at perhaps only 14 inches. This means there is a frame of approximately 2 inches all the way around the screen. This seems an odd decision at design time.
Nonetheless there are plenty of things to watch. There is also a very useful flight schedule which shows how far we are into the flight and what service is coming up. There is also an excellent interactive route map.
Wi-Fi is also available with some free content, although to go fully online costs up to EUR19.95. Business class passengers get 1 hour free, which The Navigator didn't discover until the flight was nearly over!
Nothing was unpacked last night, so we are still within weight limits. We could have had our bags checked all the way through to Helsinki from Singapore, despite changing carriers. We chose not to because of the Accor Plus porter at Bangkok. It is strange that Qantas is unable to offer a similar service, unless it is a requirement at HKG that baggage is collected.
A blanket, pillow, slippers and amenity pack are provided. All are decked out with different marimekko (yes, the brand is officially all lower case) prints. The amenity packs have earplugs, an eye mask, a toothbrush and L’Occitane cosmetics. Socks, a shaving kit and a comb are available upon request.
There is also a 500ml bottle of water stowed in a dedicated holder under the table.
In flipping back and forth between the two sections there was a noticeable difference in temperature, with the rear section being hotter.
Brilliant, as we have experienced previously with Finnair. They asked about The Navigatrix's sashiko stitching and were interested in our comparison of the Finnair A350 to the Cathay equivalent.
One of the staff asked why we were swapping between the cabins. When we told her about Mt Everest she rushed to look through the window with us. It almost brought tears to her eyes.
"I have done this flight maybe 200 times," she said. "I have never seen that."
Lunch was served 90 minutes after take-off, despite it being 10:30 in the morning. For entrée The Navigatrix had gravadlax and The Navigator had duck (again!) with a chili oil dipping sauce. For main course, The Navigatrix had salted cod which was delicious - two thumbs up. The Navigator had stir fried beef and should have known better. One of the many travel shows we watch recommends steering clear of beef on aeroplanes because it is so easy to overcook (especially with the re-heating). He also had a Bordeaux wine which was nice but not as spectacular as The Navigatrix's Sangiovese. Haagden Dazs ice cream for dessert is now becoming a standard.
Throughout the flight there was a regular serve of snacks such as cake, fresh tropical fruit, sandwiches and chocolates.
There was another food service two hours before landing. We both chose the pork red curry, which also came with fresh tropical fruit and more Haagden Dazs ice cream. Yum.
We certainly did not go hungry.
This was a lovely flight with wonderful crew and a spectacular view from the window. We will not fault the food because of The Navigator's poor choice.
The A350 is definitely quieter than other planes. So quiet you can hear everyone else snoring, which is a bit annoying but not Finnair's fault.
The only downsides were the not quite perfect seat and the running water not working in some of the bathrooms.
9.5 out of 10.