One of the World’s most Unusual Flights in the world’s most Controversial Business Seat.

  • Sydney (SYD) to Singapore (SIN): 6301km/ 3915 mi, 7 hours 26 minutes
  • Qantas Airways: QF291
  • Finnair Airbus 330 Business Class

Boarding Qantas Flight 291 is like stepping into a paradox where the expected norms are all flipped on their heads. The flight belongs to Qantas but Finnair provides the plane, pilots crew and service. Meals, amenity kit, and entertainment are all provided by Qantas and all carry Qantas branding. But the true twist comes with the cabin crew—rather than Finnish, they’re all Singaporean, adding another layer of fascination to this already unconventional flight experience. And right in the middle is the Finnair business seat, which is like no other and which has divided its users into two different camps: fans and foes.

The Qantas Finnair Wet Lease is not a Code Share

When I described this flight to friends, they all nodded sagely and described code-share flights they had been on. A code-share flight is a partnership where an airline sells a ticket on another airline. So, while I have a Qantas ticket with a Qanats flight number, my flight turns out to be an Emirates or American Airlines-operated flight. The original airline that sold me my ticket has nothing to do with the actual flight. This flight, however, is not a code-share but a unique partnership between Qantas and Finnair…

Qantas currently has a shortage of planes. Due to sanctions halting its Russian flights and the closure of Russian airspace, prompting the cancellation of some popular routes to Asia , Finnair has spare aircraft. Qantas has contracted Finnair to run a service from Sydney to Singapore (QF291/292) and another from Sydney to Bangkok starting on 31 March 2024. The arrangement known as a “Wet Lease,” is a contractual agreement where Qantas is leasing two A330s along with crew, maintenance, and insurance from oneworld partner Finnair. This arrangement will be in place until 2025.

Booking (Online): 10/10

I needed to travel to Asia and was waiting to book my flight to take advantage of Qantas’ double status credit promotion. My goal with this promotion was to find the most affordable seats that also offer the highest number of status credits, which are essential for maintaining my high-status frequent flyer benefits! After monitoring fares for several weeks, I seized the opportunity when Qantas launched their promotion. However, I quickly discovered that all available discounted business class seats to Asia had been snapped up. Turning to Google Flights, I meticulously searched for the optimal route from Australia to Asia to maximize my status credits. Eventually, I secured a booking on this flight and was thrilled to have chosen the Qantas/ Finnair option.

After booking, I snagged a seat in 2A. I closely monitored seat availability after that as I was hoping for , a window seat in the coveted Row one. It never became available. As it turns out, I believe that any seat position in this cabin is a good choice.

Check-In: 10/10

On this occasion, I was only transiting through Sydney. I checked in at Coolangatta Gold Coast Airport and received a warm welcome at 5 in the morning. Express check-in via the business line ensured a swift process, although my bag, tagged with priority, wasn’t among the first off the plane in Singapore.

Security at Coolangatta went smoothly. Upon arriving in Sydney, I took the bus between the Qantas domestic and international terminals. While the journey across the tarmac provides great plane-spotting opportunities for a nerd like me (see below), this is one of my least favourite transit arrangements in the world. Sometimes, the wait for the inter-terminal bus can feel quite lengthy and the journey across the airport so slow. Fortunately, a bus departed soon after I arrived at the bus gate.

Navigating passport control and security at Sydney’s international terminal via the express lane, was efficient, with no wait for passport machines and quick clearance through immigration. Despite a slightly longer security queue, the staff were friendly and helpful. Overall, it took exactly 60 minutes from landing at Sydney airport to sitting down in the Qantas Lounge.

Lounge: 10/10

My ticket granted me access to the Qantas International Business Lounge, but my One World Emerald/Qantas Platinum status bumped me up to the Qantas International First Lounge. Despite my disdain for Sydney Airport, this lounge ranks among my favourites worldwide. If one must wait for a plane, this is the place to do it. Fantastic furnishings, breathtaking views of the runway (which make this plane spotter happy), plenty of natural light, and tasty food and drinks characterise the Qantas First Lounge Sydney. Additionally, there is a spa offering free services to those booked in First Class.

I downed an iced latte, enjoyed fresh pancakes, and had an energizing juice before settling into some work. The lounge is known for its amazing squid, which I normally get but it is not on the breakfast menu, which was in full swing when I arrived. I thought I would order some from the lunch menu, after some work calls and before my boarding. Unfortunately, time was against me on this occasion so I left thelounge squid less.

I also booked a meeting room for a private Zoom conference call, which the staff were very helpful with. They even managed to chase out a squatter who had set themselves up in the room despite not booking it: “Oh, I thought I might have booked it,” she said

Boarding: 10/10

I was thrilled to board the flight. Having flown with Finnair and enjoyed their service multiple times before, I was particularly excited about this journey on this unusual route.

The staff at the door greeted me warmly and efficiently. The crew member who greeted me at my seat offered me a welcome drink and took my meal orders, setting the perfect tone for the entire flight. Very impressive staff member. The cabin manager soon followed with a personal “hello”, reinforcing the incredible welcome. Pyjama delivery occurred soon after. I chose to fly in the PJs once we had reached the cruise. (I have long ago decided if something goes wrong with take off, I don’t want to be rescued wearing Qantas pyjamas!)

Onboard the Aircraft:

A week before my flight, I went for a morning run alongside Sydney’s bustling Kingsford Smith Airport and stumbled upon the very aircraft that would be taking me to Singapore, a Finnair A330-300.

It was stationed near the perimeter fence, undergoing its routine maintenance. This plane nerd was very excited. Finnair boasts a fleet of 18 of this type of model. They have three cabins aboard: Business, Premium Economy and Economy.

a map of an airplane

230 Economy seats arranged 2-4-2 ( 2-3-2 toward teb back fo the noane) with a very ordinary 31″ Pitch, a seat Width of 17.5″ and a recline of 5″

The small Premium Economy section is equipped with 21 seats (three rows of seven seats arranged 2-3-2) offering ample legroom (38″ pitch), comfortable width 18.7″, and a generous recline of 8″. Qantas has not operated preomum economy on its bangkok Airbsu 330 servuces previously so this wll be a new option.

Business Cabin:

I thought the cabin was stunning. It was fitted with 28 oversized “sofa” seats covered in high-walled shells in a 1-2-1 arrangement numbered A,D, H, L. The A and L seats face the window. In the D and H middle seats, people sit near the aisle with their seat shelves between them. The privacy barrier comes raised but can be lowered if travelling with a friend or family member.

THE Seat: 10/10

The new seat was developed by Finnair with seat-maker Collins Aerospace, and the Tangerien design was based on a British Airways 2014 concept. Featuring a Scandinavian-inspired design that, to my eyes, prioritises simplicity and efficiency, the Finnair business class seat provides passengers with a one-of-a-kind cocoon-like experience that is appealing to some passengers while leaving others feeling disappointed. The reasons why people hate the seat and have said they will never fly again using it are:

  • They find it uncomfortable – especially during sleep mode.
  • There is a lack of preset recline options
  • People find challenges in maneuvering into a comfortable position.
  • The firmness of the seat
  • The cushions are too small to properly feel comfortable
  • The footwell may restrict mobility, cause discomfort for taller passengers, and is unsuitable for sleeping on your back
  • Some passengers struggle to get in and out of bed without messing up the topper
  • Some find the completely retractable sleeping seat belt constricts firmly around the hips, making it hard to shift or rollover

I was unsure how I would feel about it as I read negative comment after negative comment before the flight. However, I didn’t experience any of these issues, and I loved it for the following reasons:

  • Privacy I was amazed at how cocooned and private I felt. I barely noticed there were other passengers around me.
  • Versatility: I appreciated being able to choose how to use it. Considering the best ways to sit, relax, and eat was fun.
  • Originality.
  • Incredibly spacious: A long, broad area for lounging and snoozing, meaning I had plenty of room and plenty of foot space. Here is me enjoying the chair:
  • Fabulous cushioning for side sleeping- I even slept which I don’t often do on a plane.
a man lying in a bed with headphones
  • Generous space around the head and shoulders: I felt no claustrophobia at all.
  • Ample room for a laptop, book, and small tote bag.

I found the two pillows provided by Qantas essential for relaxation but they are a little too small.

I appreciated the instructional video guide that explained how to use the seat. Such guides should be a standard feature for every business class seat.

The classy table that slides out from its storage nook gives lots of flexibility in location and angles nicely as a meal table or laptop workspace

a table on the side of a plane
a laptop on a chair

I applaud Finnair’s bravery in debuting something so “controversial,” but I wonder how long it will last. The frustration, anger, and negativity by so many, surrounding its usage suggests that it may not be worth persisting with. I think this is a shame

a man sitting in an airplane

Safety: 10/10

Airline ratings consistently awards Finnair a sevenstar rating, positioning it among the safest airlines globally. Qantas typically ranks at the top of the list or in second place.

The safety video featured during our flight was from Finnair, so we did not have the opportunity to view the new Qantas safety video, which I had commented on back in January. This year alone, I have encountered that Qantas safety video three times, now.

Amenity Kit: 5/10

Qantas could do better. This is a kit that has been stripped down to the least amount of content possible. Out of the ten airlines I have travelled in Business Class with, over the last year, this has to be the least genrous and dullest kit. Its one major “selling point” was that the kit is made of recycled materials.

Entertainment: 8/10

A power outlet, which requires some maneuvering to access, is provided. Additionally, there are USB-A and USB-C ports, as well as wireless charging capabilities.

The screen in Business class is an 18-inch personal television fixed into place. Some passengers have commented that the screen restricts their viewing pleasure because of its angle. I had no such issue.

The Qantas entertainment programming seamlessly integrates into the Finnair entertainment system and works well. I watched a couple of episodes of Golden Shows and started two movies, although I never finished them.

The lack of Wi-Fi is a significant downside in 2024. However, I did enjoy the opportunity to be disconnected. Nevertheless, I got some work done without the distraction of being pinged with emails.

Finnair offers a very extensive range of maps which kept this nerd amused. More imprptantly there is a video feed from acmersa mounted at the front and also on the belly of the plane!

Take Off

After a long taxi, which gave me more opprotunity for plane spotting we took off on Sydney’s third runway , th North-south runway 34L which is 3.96km long.

We then headed west before moving north west on course to Singapore.

Meals: 7/10

The late afternoon appetizers were a mozzarella and artichoke salad and Korean-style pork belly skewers, both of which were tempting along with a pumpkin and ginger soup. I chose the delicious soup. The staff offered me some bread, and I opted for a slice of equally delicious sourdough. Although I expected the crew to come around with more bread, unfortunately, my soup was finished, and there was definitely no second round of bread.

For the main course, the choices were:

  1. Vegan stir-fry
  2. Herb-roasted salmon
  3. Bannockburn roast chicken with polenta
  4. Barrington Hinterland beef filet with wasabi butter

I settled for the beef and was absolutely stunned by the incredibly small portion. It was accompanied by just two vegetables which I have to admit were perefctly cooked. Compared to Qatar, Singapore, Lufthansa, and Etihad, the portions were lacking, however. I was actually hungry after the meal. I should have had that squid in the lounge.

For dessert, I grabbed a cheese platter and an ice cream sandwich. I found the presentation of both underwhelming. I had to ask for the accompanying dessert wine.

In the A330’s galley, there were biscuits (cookies), chips, and Lindt chocolate for mid-flight munchies. Tea and coffee were also available.

Before landing in Singapore, there was a choice of rigatoni or fried rice with prawns which I opted for.

a bowl of food on a table


My score for this flight is 86%. I would do it again in a heartbeat.

Airline Ratings provides Finnair with a Product Rating of 5.6/7, while TripAdvisor rates them at 3.5 stars. Skytrax awards them a four-star rating.

About Qantas: My rating of them is an average: 92%

Since its founding in 1920, Qantas has had a long and interesting past. As Australia’s main airline, Qantas has had a huge impact on the country’s flight scene and has helped connect Australians to the rest of the world. With its famous red kangaroo logo, which represents the spirit of Australia, Qantas continues to be a leader in flying, representing the warmth and strength of the Australian people.

About Finnair: My rating of them is an average: 81%

Finnair has been around since 1923 and takes people to over 100 places around the world. Finnair has built a reputation for quick and easy travel by taking advantage of its position between Europe and Asia.


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