There’s quite a surprise in store for Qantas travellers headed to Singapore and Bangkok.
Passengers setting foot on Qantas flights from Sydney to Singapore in late October 2023, and between Sydney and Bangkok in 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 oversized 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 largest 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 takeaway: 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, the mastermind behind the seat and leader of 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.