Inflight Editor Satu Dahl reports on her recent trip to Singapore on board Finnair during which she got to experience the carrier’s impressive new long-haul cabin and the superb Finnish and Singaporean hospitality.
Singapore is once again booming as a destination of choice: for the third quarter of 2022, Singapore Changi Airport recorded 10 million passenger movements, representing 58.1% of pre-Covid levels. According to Lim Ching Kiat, Changi Airport Group’s Managing Director for Air Hub Development, with more borders re-opening and as travel recovery picks up pace, Changi Airport is expecting to handle 80% of pre-Covid flights by the end of this year. The airport’s all four terminals are also now open after more than two years.
89 airlines operate over 4,800 weekly scheduled flights at Changi Airport, connecting Singapore to around 130 cities in 48 countries and territories globally. One of these carriers is Finnair, Finland’s flag carrier. Finnair, which will be celebrating its centenary in 2023 and is the world’s sixth oldest airline still in continuous operation, is also one of the mainstays of the oneworld alliance and operates fast connections between Europe and Asia via its Helsinki hub.
Finnair’s reimagined business class
Finnair revealed the impressive new design of its long-haul cabins in February this year. “Our investment to enhance the long-haul customer experience demonstrates the continuing commitment of the whole Finnair team to deliver a premium experience in every cabin on our aircraft. The pandemic has had a dramatic impact on our industry, but it has not changed our ambition to offer a modern premium experience as we continue to be the first choice for travellers connecting Europe and Asia,” Finnair’s CEO, Topi Manner, said at the time of the unveiling.
The new design has certainly impressed the aviation industry as well as passengers: Finnair received top recognition in Long Beach, California in October, with airline being awarded the accolade for Best Cabin Innovation at the APEX/IFSA Awards, as well as a ‘Five Star’ airline global ranking. The carrier’s newly redesigned in-flight entertainment (IFE) system also received a top prize, winning an international Red Dot Award 2022 in the Brand and Communication Design category.
The new Business Class cabin features the extremely comfortable and spacious Collins Aerospace AirLounge seat. AirLounge takes inspiration from lounge furniture and is designed to maximise customer comfort, space, and freedom to move during a long-haul flight.
David Kondo, Finnair Head of Customer Experience Product Design, who led the design work for the new Finnair long-haul experience says: “We wanted to rethink Business Class and create more of a residential environment, emulating the comfort you would expect at home. By doing away with complicated seat mechanisms and using 3D curved shells, we’re able to provide a larger flexible living space. This allows customers to move more freely and take up different positions which traditional aircraft seats do not allow.”
Having experienced the incredibly comfortable seat in person, I strongly agree with David. The AirLounge seat really is a game-changer and provides so much space to move around during flight. It made me feel very much at home during the whole journey, in addition to providing a very restful sleep. The seat’s innovative fixed contoured shell, with no recline, enables a wide variety of sitting and sleeping positions. Customers can sit at different angles, rest their feet on the ottoman or use infill panels to create a large flat surface. There is also a dedicated space for every item which I appreciated – each seat has a very practical design when it comes to storage.
I very much enjoyed the onboard catering with the Nordic touches, and the friendly and efficient service by the crew. The award-winning IFE system offered many great choices for entertainment and music (I went with the soothing jazz option which I loved!) and the headphones that were provided were extremely high quality. The ARC map platform worked flawlessly and kept me updated on the flight progress and I found it really informative and easy to use.
The attention to detail is very impressive when it comes to design: Finnair worked with top Finnish design houses such as Iittala and Marimekko to complement the beautiful and relaxing design with new chinaware and textiles, which matched the cabin interior design beautifully.
The lighting options on board allow passengers to tailor their ambience: along with a customised lamp which doubles as a reading light, a ‘Do not disturb’ light is included. The in-seat lighting complements the new cabin mood lighting which was designed in partnership with Jetlite to combat the effects of jetlag. The design scheme is inspired by Nordic nature, complete with the Northern Lights lighting experience as the cabin is dimmed for sleep.
When preparing the cabin for rest, Finnair uses very warm tones and gradually reduces the lighting levels. “This very much aligns with our brand and geography, but was designed in such a way that it does not conflict with the overall calm we transition to in the cabin,” a Finnair spokesperson explained, continuing that for arrival, the carrier uses colder and higher intensity lighting but this was programmed as a sequence that takes over an hour and half and is timed with the second meal service. “As the warm lights come up to wake passengers, this gradually shifts to quite a cold/clean and high intensity night light to wake and energise passengers ahead of arrival.”
When it comes to accommodation in Singapore, the city boasts a wealth of beautiful hotels, such as the Parkroyal Collection Marina Bay which is a perfect example of a luxurious and comfortable accommodation located perfectly just a stone’s throw away from all the sights Singapore has to offer. The views from the hotel are breathtaking, with the impressive cityscape and its iconic landmarks easily seen from many areas.
And as a destination, Singapore certainly has a lot to offer too. The city is is full of unique experiences such as the highly entertaining Singapore Sidecars Tour. Just one example of the intriguing cultural offerings in Singapore is the Intan private home museum owned by Alvin Mark Yapp which showcases Singapore’s Peranakan culture. “Peranakan” refers to a person of mixed Chinese and Malay/Indonesian heritage and the culture features a hybrid of Chinese, Malay and Western cultures.
“With a deep love for all things Peranakan, I have devoted my home to be a haven for the treasures of the Peranakan Culture. And it is this love that gives me inspiration to share with you a glimpse of the yesteryear as a guest to my home,” Alvin Mark Yapp says.