I flew basic economy on Finnair from New York to Helsinki and it was surprisingly great despite my initial fears - here's why
Thomas Pallini/Business Insider
- Finnair flies between New York and Helsinki with daily service on an Airbus A330-300. I recently flew on it during a trip to Copenhagen for $280 roundtrip in basic economy.
- Basic economy is known for being the most restrictive fare with strict rules limiting what passengers are entitled to including seat assignments and baggage allowance.
- Despite flying in basic economy, Finnair's customer service agents didn't treat me like a steerage class flyer and I was able to get extra amenities just by asking.
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Finnair is one of the many airlines that connects New York with Europe, offering daily service between the Big Apple and the airline's hub in Helsinki.
The Finnish flag carrier has been faithfully flying the route for over half a century, celebrating its 50-year anniversary in 2019, while operating the only current nonstop link between the US and Finland with connections into Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.
Clicking through Google Flights one day, I noticed an unbeatable flight deal to Copenhagen from New York for Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend that involved two legs on Finnair with a return on British Airways for only $280 in economy.
The catch: the ticket was a basic economy fare.
Finnair joined the growing list of airlines adopting a basic economy fare for transatlantic flights in 2018 when it introduced an economy "light" fare. The fare has allowed full-service carriers such as Finnair to fight back against the low-cost carriers that entered the transatlantic market in recent years, selling deconstructed tickets where passengers could select what add-ons they wanted.
With this ticket, according to the American Airlines website where I booked the ticket, I would have to pay to select a seat, pay to check my bags, and board the aircraft in the last group. While I was getting a great deal, it seemed I was being intimidated to pay more for the standard economy fare, which had a difference of a few hundred dollars.
As it would only be a quick weekend trip with no reason to check bags, I decided to book it and flew my first transatlantic flight in basic economy from New York to Helsinki on Finnair.
Here's what it was like.