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Passengers setting foot on Qantas flights from Sydney to Singapore from late October 2023, and between Sydney and Bangkok from late March 2024, will be forgiven for briefly wondering if they’ve accidentally boarded the wrong plane.
That’s because the Airbus A330 jet parked at the gate and carrying that QF flight number will actually belong to Finnair, and be staffed by Finnair pilots and cabin crew wearing the uniform of the Helsinki-based airline.
With international flights soaring but facing a shortfall of aircraft, Qantas confirmed today it would add a pair of Finnair A330s to its fleet for the next six years in order to free up its own aircraft and crew to boost flying elsewhere.
Under a leasing arrangement between the two Oneworld partners, the two Finnair A330s “will operate selected Qantas flights between Sydney and Singapore from late October, and all flights between Sydney and Bangkok from late March 2024.”
While the Sydney-Singapore and Sydney-Bangkok Finnair A330 flights will be operated by Finnair pilots and cabin crew, passengers will continue to see Qantas’ inflight catering (no reindeer burgers), amenities (no Marimekko throws and pillows) and inflight entertainment.
But these Qantas Finnair A330s will offer a real treat to business class passengers: the Australian debut of Finnair’s radical but highly-praised ‘AirLounge’ seat, which is more like an over-sized cocooning sofa.
This is Finnair’s very latest business class, and unlike conventional seats it doesn't recline – instead, the entirety of the seat is a single space which the passenger is invited to treat like a sofa in the sky – and, in the airline's words, it's "an exclusive space that you can make your own."
Wrapped in a fixed contoured shell, with a high cocoon-like surround for privacy, it's a cosy crib where you can feel free to sit or sprawl, rest your feet on the ottoman or swing up the legrest and footrest sections (which the airline calls 'infill panes') to create a fully-flat bed dressed by a mattress and duvet.
This is a crucial take-away: while the seat doesn't recline, it still offers a lie-flat bed where your feet tuck into a recess beneath the shelf of the seat in front of you.
"We wanted to rethink business class and create more of a residential environment, emulating the comfort you would expect at home," explains David Kondo, who leads Finnair's Customer Experience team.
"By doing away with complicated seat mechanisms and using 3D curved shells, we're able to provide a larger flexible living space. This allows you to move more freely and take up different positions that traditional aircraft seats do not allow."
Qantas has confirmed the leased Finnair A330s will sport this radical new business class, with the configuration also now showing on a seating chart issued by the airline.
The leased Finnair A330s will also include Finnair's latest premium economy seat, in its own dedicated cabin of 21 seats between business and economy.
With up to a 38" pitch and an 8" recline the premium economy seays feature memory foam cushions, a single-piece 'waterfall' legrest, AC and USB-A power ports for every passenger, a 13" video screen paired with a noise cancelling headset, plus within-reach stowage for laptops and small personal items.
While the Finnair A330s also offer inflight WiFi, it’s not known if this will be activated and available to passengers on the Singapore and Bangkok routes.
So which Qantas flights will feature these Finnair A330s? It will be easier to spot them, because Qantas is assigning the Finnair A330 flights their own special QF flight numbers:
- starting October 29 2023, watch for QF291 on Sydney-Singapore and QF292 on Singapore-Sydney – these won’t flying every day, as some days will see the conventional QF81/QF82 flights on Qantas’ own A330s
- from March 31 2024, Qantas’ daily Sydney-Bangkok service will be handed over exclusively to the Finnair A330s, under flight numbers QF295/QF296.
There will also be no change to earning Qantas Points and status credits on these flights, or your ability to book points-based reward seats or use points for upgrades to premium economy or business class.
Although these A330s will be operated by Finnair crew through to late 2025, Qantas pilots and cabin crew will take over for as many as an additional three years through to late 2028.