Skift Take

Finnair becomes the latest airline to take advantage of the passenger experience features of the A350, with a Nordic design appeal. It is an enlightened vision for the future of flying.

Finnair has recently taken receipt of its long-anticipated A350 Aircraft, which gives us a glimpse of dominant trends for long-haul flight. CEO, Pekka Vauramo, has declared the A350 “the future of flying,” and we tend to agree.

The Finnish national carrier becomes only the third airline in the world, and the first airline in Europe, to take delivery of Airbus’ newest aircraft.

It has embarked on a tour of European cities giving passengers a taste of what they can expect when the aircraft starts service on longer routes to Asia later this year.

Skift attended a special walk-through ceremony in Hamburg and then flew two hours in Economy on the new aircraft from Hamburg to Helsinki.

Finnair first introduced its cabin design concept for the A350 last year. While renderings are never exact representations of the final product, the final product we saw in the walk-through did not disappoint.

The Finnair A350 cabin is open and spacious, delivers a distinctive Nordic design aesthetic, and introduces two mood-lighting display settings: Northern Lights, and Warm Asia.

Business class is comfortable, with fully lie-flat seats, all aisle access, large IFE screens, power outlets and enough room to dine, work, or sleep. As a nice extra, ladies get their own bathroom in Business class with special toiletries.

Economy offers adequate legroom (31-32” pitch), lots of space for bags in overhead bins, and brilliant resolution with easy-touch navigation on the Panasonic IFE system.

There is also an Economy plus section, at the front of the Economy cabin, which offers 43 passengers four extra inches of legroom.

Wi-Fi connectivity, first introduced by the airline on this aircraft, will carry-over to full installation on Finnair’s fleet. During our in-flight test, Finnair’s Wi-Fi performed at speeds comparable to a 3G mobile connection on the ground.

The A350 is a strategic purchase for Finnair which hopes convenient connections through Helsinki and efficient routes will help it compete with Gulf carriers in the Asia market.

The airline has ordered a total of 19 A350s which will be added to its fleet between this year and 2023, supporting Finnair’s plans to double its Asian traffic by 2020. The aircraft will enter into long-haul service on November 21, 2015, on Finnair’s Helsinki-Shanghai route.

Airbus has booked orders for 783 A350s so far, from 41 airlines around the world.

The A350 includes a number of passenger experience features first introduced on the popular Boeing Dreamliner which also carry-over (with a number of yet undisclosed improvements) to Boeing’s upcoming 777X.

That all these aircraft have focused on the same features supports Vauramo’s argument that this is the future of long-haul flight, regardless of airline or aircraft.

We should expect airlines to better utilize space, but that doesn’t mean we’ll sacrifice comfort. We’ll enjoy better environmental controls, better air quality, reduced cabin noise, better lighting, larger windows, larger luggage bins and plenty of technology to keep us busy.

With these aircraft ready to enter service, and long lead times on new program developments, we can rest easy over scary cabin concepts--they won’t happen for another fifty years, at least. Most likely, they will never take-off.

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Tags: finnair, inflight, passenger experience

Photo credit: Finnair A350 Business class seat, foot-well and IFE. Finnair

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