Flight test: Finnair business class

THE ROUTE

Singapore to Helsinki

THE PLANE

Airbus A340-300

THE LOYALTY SCHEME

Finnair Plus

UP THE BACK OR POINTY END

The pointy end - business class, seat 1C, close to the toilets and the galley and with leg room to spare.

TIME IN THE AIR

12 hours, overnight.

THE SEAT STUFF

The flat beds are not fully so; there is a slight slope, with a footrest ensuring you don't slide down. Seat width is 21 inches (53.3 centimetres) and the pitch is 60 inches (152.4 centimetres). Configuration is 2-2-2.

BAGGAGE

Business-class passengers can check in two pieces of luggage up to 23 kilograms each. Ten kilograms of carry-on luggage is permitted, comprising one piece of hand luggage and a laptop or briefcase.

COMFORT FACTOR

There is a shoe bag waiting for us on our seats, a nice invitation to take a load off. There is a pillow and blanket - and the flight attendant tucks me in at sleep time. (Since my flight, Marimekko-designed blankets, pillows and headrest covers have been introduced to business and economy, in a partnership between Finnair and its compatriot design powerhouse.) The paper amenities bag is no-frills: socks, an eye mask and ear plugs; moisturisers and toothbrushes are available on request.

THAT'S ENTERTAINMENT

The on-demand selection is limited compared with other airlines; there are 100 TV shows and 24 music channels; of the 40-odd movies there are a few recent releases but the selection is such that you might not be guaranteed of finding something you genuinely want to watch.

SERVICE

With Scandinavian-style efficiency, the advice on the airport monitors appears to skip "boarding" and goes straight from "gate is open" to "last call"; I am on the plane by 11.05, a full 30 minutes before departure, being offered bubbly and orange juice in Finnish-designed Iittala glasses. It is gentle, service-with-a-smile all the way from the crew.

FEEDING TIME

In September, the airline will introduce menus in business class by two well-known Finnish chefs, promising Nordic-flavoured dishes by Pekka Terava and Asian-inspired meals by Tomi Bjorck, all served on Marimekko-designed tableware. In the meantime, my pappardelle pasta with chicken bolognese sauce (other options included steamed snapper and grilled beef tenderloin) was much tastier than it looked, while the breakfast frittata had an unexpected mousse-like texture.

ONE MORE THING

In May, Finnair unveiled with fanfare in Helsinki an Airbus A330 spectacularly emblazoned with a blue-forest livery by Marimekko artist Kristina Isola, who spoke at length about her inspirations for the design, the forests and the seasons of Finland. Less than a month later, Finnair said it would be painting over the artwork after it was revealed to have been plagiarised from a Ukrainian artist. Kristina is the daughter of Maija Isola, designer of Marimekko's signature Unikko (poppy) design, which features on another Finnair Airbus - making it surely the prettiest airplane in the sky.

THE VERDICT

A solid business-class offering moving closer to the best of them by introducing signature chef menus and Marimekko designs.

FREQUENCY

Finnair codeshares out of Sydney and Melbourne to Singapore with other members of the oneworld alliance. It flies from Singapore to Helsinki once a day. A business-class ticket Sydney to Helsinki is $6816.

Tested by Sarah Maguire, who flew courtesy of Finnair.

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