What It’s Like Flying Qantas’ Finnair Business Class Wet-Lease To Singapore
— 11 December 2023

What It’s Like Flying Qantas’ Finnair Business Class Wet-Lease To Singapore

— 11 December 2023
John McMahon
John McMahon

It’s a Qantas ticket, a QF flight number, but hang on a minute… it’s a Finnair jet?

That’s what thousands of passengers will be thinking when flying on nearly half of the Qantas services operating between Sydney and Singapore over the next few years. 

As of late October, the national carrier is running a duo of Airbus A330s wet-leased from fellow Oneworld airline, Finnair. This means you’ll see Finnair metal at the gate and be greeted by Finnair cabin crew at the door. Throw in a pick-n-mix of Qantas accoutrement such as amenities kits and menus, and you’ve got one very unique offering that’s rarely seen in Australian skies.

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The loan agreement is slated to run until 2028 to make up a shortfall in Qantas’ aircraft capacity, after which Qantas will take delivery of a suite of new A350 and 787s.

Until then, however, this shake-up to the status quo will surprise and delight passengers at the pointy end of QF291 and QF292 between Sydney and Singapore for one key reason — Finnair’s radical A330 business-class product.

Finnair’s A330 sitting at Gate 53 of Sydney International Airport operating as QF291

Finnair’s business class seat doesn’t recline. It’s hardly mechanised at all. The acclaimed “AirLounge” (which is essentially a sofa in the sky) is unmatched at least in its uniqueness. It’s a breath of fresh air, an opportunity for passengers to rewire how they approach long-haul flying, and above all, just a bit of fun to try out.

So that’s exactly what I did a week or so after Finnair’s wet-leased A330 began flying between Sydney and Singapore on behalf of Qantas. I enjoyed a glorious afternoon in the air, like a kid in a candy store. That was until I tried to have a snooze horizontally (but more on this later).

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How I booked this business class seat on Qantas’ Finnair wet lease

Using the multi-city booking window on the Qantas website (which was actually working for once), I managed to find a one-way Classic Reward flight in J on QF291 shortly after the wet-lease announcement was made. At 68,400 points (plus $234.26 in taxes), and being a hard product I’d never flown before, I thought why the hell not enjoy a long weekend in Singapore? 

If you’re looking for an easy way to top up your points balance, consider arming yourself with the American Express Ultimate Card and its juicy 60,000 bonus Qantas points offer happening right now.

Qantas Finnair business class
Seat 2a on the Qantas Finnair A330

On The Ground


I’ve flown Qantas internationally half a dozen times this year. But never before had I ever checked in on the app and bypassed the counters completely. I’ve always felt an obligatory drop-in to the check-in counter was necessary, be it to enquire about a better seat, check-in luggage, or obtain a physical boarding pass.

On this occasion, sporting a cabin-only setup, I walked straight through Sydney’s First & Business Class security line and directly to the lounge. If you are checking in from scratch, or putting a bag or two in the hold, J-class flyers on QF291 can use the business class check-in counters. Baggage allowance is 40 kilos per passenger before any frequent flyer add-ons.


Business class ticket holders for Qantas/Finnair’s Sydney to Singapore service are eligible to use the Qantas business class lounge which is found to the left of the top of the escalators immediately after duty-free, before the food court. It’s well signposted and you won’t miss it. Eligible Qantas Platinum and Platinum One status holders can use the revered Qantas First Class lounge instead.

As a Platinum flyer, I arrived early enough for a spot of breakfast by the window in the First Class lounge. QF291 departs at 12:30 PM, with boarding at 11:45 AM. The lounge’s menu changed over at 11 o’clock, which meant I could sample both breakfast and all-day dining menus. Given the tight window between the kitchen changeover and boarding the aircraft, the staff kindly let me order from the latter about five minutes before 11. 

Up in the air

It’s a decidedly strange feeling boarding a Finnair A330 only to hear the Qantas welcome music playing as you find your seat. It was a warm and friendly atmosphere before takeoff as the Finnair (not Qantas) safety video rolled.

As part of this wet-lease agreement, Finnair pilots and cabin crew are substituting for their counterparts at Qantas. The arrangement will convert to a dry lease in late 2025, when Qantas staff will take over until the lease’s termination in 2028. It’s worth noting that there’s no change to redeeming and earning Qantas points or status credits for these flights.

I was individually welcomed by the cabin crew with a rehearsed, one-sided conversation that apologised for the 45-minute delay and made sure I had everything I needed. Being up the front of the plane, it’s hard to know if this was just something they did for all business flyers or Platinum frequent flyers generally.


First impressions are everything, and first impressions of the Finnair business class were good

I was in 2A by the window on the left-hand side of the plane. The cabin’s 1-2-1 reverse herringbone layout means you can do away with your strategic efforts to nab a seat as close to the window as possible, like I often do on Emirates, for example.

The dark blue seat is private and tall on the sides, creating a cocoon-like effect. I couldn’t see anyone else or their screens, which made me feel like I was flying alone, or perhaps even in first, not business. The windows on the A330 are small in comparison to most long-haul aircraft, but I had three abreast to myself and they lit up the space beautifully.

These walled shells in the business class cabin are unique for one key aforementioned reason. They’re more akin to a sofa than they are a classic reclining business-class seat. There’s only one motorised swing-up leg rest paired with a manual trap-door-like piece that folds up to fill the gap where your legs would go when seated upright.

Call it what you want — sky couch, sofa, “AirLounge” (as Finnair official comms would put it) — it’s a brilliant piece of engineering that will no doubt save the airline some dollars on maintenance and weight. It also invites the passenger to choose their own adventure with pillows and blankets to find the right position that’s comfortable for them.

My love for this arrangement extended as far as my time awake in the seat. I don’t like the half-half recline of standard J-class seats or the upright position you’re forced to assume for the hour or so before and after take-off and landing.

Finnair’s A330 seat, however, allows you to slouch a little, cross your legs if you wish while sitting upright thanks to its remarkable width, or have one leg half-bent tucked under the other as you kick back to watch a movie. My legs are long, and this added real estate was very much appreciated.

Horizontally, on the other hand, I found myself in a pickle. While the top half of the seat is capacious, the L-shaped lower half and foot nook are unfortunately quite narrow. It comes to a tapered apex that felt cramped for my feet. 

When lying flat with my feet perfectly side by side, pointing upwards, it was manageable, but I usually sleep on my side and so struggled to find the width I needed to comfortably snooze in any other position than flat on my back. If you’re on the smaller side with respect to both height and shoe size, I don’t think you’ll come across the same issue.

Thankfully, being a day flight, I happily shelved the idea of a nap and enjoyed the service and space for my 8 hours to Singapore. If it was a night flight though, I might have had stronger opinions on this.

Qantas Finnair business class
Seat 2A with the trapdoor raised for a sleeping configuration.

A wood veneer panel protrudes from the left of the seat and hosts a range of sleek, minimal controls (you can appreciate the Scandinavian less is more attitude here) as well as a wireless charging pad. The charger, albeit slow (think 25% charge in two hours), is nice to have and declutters the seat of excess cords. Parallel rubberised skids built into the wood stop the phone from sliding around.

Behind your head, you’ll find a discreet push-button panel flush with the seat wall with a small storage area that houses Qantas-supplied headphones and the IFE remote. There’s enough space to pop in your AirPods or your watch if you desire.

The other storage bin is down by the left of the footwell, flush with the seat, and can take a variety of medium-sized items and also plays home to the safety card and assorted magazines.

Overall, I enjoyed this seat, especially for a day flight. I think my frustration at the lack of room in the footwell would have snowballed if I had flown overnight, but the beauty of this design is that there are limitless possibilities for comfort. You just need to use your imagination. Maybe I haven’t cracked the code yet.

Side note: as is the case for the first row of most premium cabins, Row 1 on the Finnair A330 has larger footwells than the rest of the business class cabin. Worth considering if the seats are free upon booking.

Food & Drink

I’ve never been the biggest fan of Qantas’ inflight dining. A lot of it feels like an afterthought, or a corner cut to save a bit of money. Take the menus, for example, which are fold-out pieces of flappy, glossy paper. On said menus, you’ll also find (or won’t find) the wines, which are referenced as a single line that reads “premium Australian wines selected by the Qantas Neil Perry sommeliers.” They don’t even tell you what they’re serving anymore, which is wild considering the grape game touted by the competing airlines out there.

Mozzarella & pine cut pesto arancini ball with a Tommy’s margarita from Curatif.

Lunch kicked off with a mozzarella & pine nut pesto arancini ball and Tommy’s margarita from QF’s partnership with Curatif. They were both yummy, but the single golf-ball-sized arancini ball seemed like a comical effort for a single bite.

It got the mouth watering for the entrée: I chose the Bannockburn chicken skewers. A safe, palatable option that was also dished up with a piece of sourdough and a frozen serving of Pepe Saya butter. I like to use the hot plate of the entre or main meal to melt the button to a spreadable temperature. The remaining entre menu consisted of carrot & thyme soup and salmon crudo salad.

For the main event, I opted for the plant-based dining option of roast cauliflower with couscous, zucchini, and an almond and tahini dressing. The sprinkle of pomegranate on top added a delightful touch of sweetness. You could also consider seared snapper with shiitake mushrooms, Barrington Hinterland beer fillet with roasted potatoes, or Barrowdale pork stir fry.

After filling up in the lounge, the plant-based option seemed lighter and fresher, and I was happy with my choice.

Dessert and drinks cart with a selection of cheeses.

Entertainment & Wi-Fi

Interestingly, on this Finnair plane passengers will still be able to access Qantas’ inflight catalogue of entertainment. It’s hiding behind Finnair’s UX and an 18-inch video screen. I found the navigation around the IFE system simple, but because of this it didn’t have many of the shortcuts I was used to on other carriers and made it a bit of a process to swap from an episode of TV, for example, to the flight tracker.

The seat makes for a delightful space to work in the sky, with plenty of room for laptops, notebooks, and power outlets. Unfortunately, Finnair’s Wi-Fi system has been disabled for these Qantas-operated flights.

Service & Amenities

As mentioned, the Finnair staff were warm and friendly upon arrival. That being said, they were few and far between outside of service times. 

I prefer to get up and go to the galley and politely ask for another beer or a snack, rather than ding the call bell like Richy Rich. However, when I found myself hovering or waiting for a moment to interject and make a request, nothing about the staff felt too proactive or receptive to the idea. My presence seemed like an annoyance. Wines were poured at your seat once only when the entre arrived, and not before or after.

It’s just these little things that take the (very expensive) fare class to a new level on other carriers and make you feel good about yourself. Ironically, it’s probably the least costly bit of effort an airline can put in to make the experience 11/10.

The famed Qantas pyjamas were nowhere to be found on this day flight, which is understandable. The amenities kit consisted of an eye shade, socks, toothbrush and toothpaste, as well as facial and hand cream. The bedding was also supplied by Qantas.

One thing I wish I had known before flying Qantas Finnair business class

Those who are above six feet in height with large feet (probably size 12 or higher) need to be prepared for an awkward sleep in the Qantas Finnair A330 business cabin. But it really depends on how you sleep, so the best option would be to nab one of the four seats in the first row if you can as a way to mitigate any pain points while lying flat.


When you put Qantas’ regular A330 business product back to back with Finnair, the latter wins every time in my opinion. The other Qantas plane that flies this route, the A380, has a proven but unadventurous business class seat.

For this reason alone I would recommend everyone go out of their way to try the Finnair product. It’s innovative, a first for Australian skies, and a much more comfortable experience when lounging during daylight hours. When it comes to snoozing, I’ve made the point clear about horizontal comfort. That being said, this could easily be a non-issue for most.

Regardless, the Qantas-Finnair partnership will likely be unavoidable for any QF flyers heading to Asia at some point over the next few years. Not only is it sharing the long-haul load to Singapore, but from March 2024 Qantas’ Sydney to Bangkok route will also exclusively fly the Finnair product.

So why not give it a shot?

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John McMahon
John McMahon is a founding member of the Boss Hunting team who honed his craft by managing content across website and social. Now, he's the publication's General Manager and specialises in bringing brands to life on the platform.


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