After the Finnair flight from New York, I had a long layover in HEL – Helsinki, Finland that is. Deplaning at Gate 33, I headed to the Finnair Non-Schengen lounge.
I had also thought about making a quick trip into Helsinki. There are tours that depart from the airport or one can take the train to the city and meet a tour group there. Layover tours last about three hours. Tours can be booked in advance or upon arrival at the airport. My layover was almost eight hours so I had more than enough time.
I was not in an adventurous mood so decided to stay at the airport. Besides, time in the lounge would give me a chance to scratch off a few items on my always expanding “to do” list. Also, I could save a short Helsinki tour for the layover on the return from Bangkok, or so I thought. That is another story.
Location, Access and Hours
The lounge is located near Gate 50 and is open from 05:30 to midnight daily. These are the access rules:
- Free of charge for Finnair Business Class customers and Finnair Plus Platinum Lumo, Platinum and Gold members (+ four guests with Finnair Plus Platinum Lumo or one guest with Platinum or Gold cardholders), and oneworld Emerald and Sapphire cardholders (+ one guest), when the departure flight leaves from the non-Schengen area and is operated and marketed by a oneworld airline. Access may be limited during peak hours.
- Access (max. 3 hours) may also be purchased from the lounge reception for a charge of €48, children (2–12 years of age) for €15. Access can be purchased from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. or from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m.
- Finnair Plus Platinum Lumo, Platinum, Gold and Silver members can also buy Finnair Lounge Pass from Finnair Shop.
- Passengers under age 18 can only visit the lounge accompanied by an adult.
The Finnair Lounge is located near the Finnair Premium Lounge which was a little confusing. The name “Premium Lounge” sounds like it might be better than the Finnair Lounge, but that is incorrect. The Premium Lounge is a frequent-flyer lounge for certain Finnair and Oneworld elites. Those who have access are better off in the Finnair Lounge.
The Finnair Lounge occupies an area of 940 square meters and accommodates up to 305 guests. It features items from designers such as Arabia, Iittala and Marimekko, as well as furniture designed by Alvar Aalto, Eero Aarnio, Eero Saarinen and Yrjö Kukkapuro. The decor creates a decidedly Nordic ambience.
Electrical outlets are plentiful and WiFI worked well. I was able to work on the laptop for a while and then dozed for a bit in a semi-private area with lounge chairs.
The lounge has shower suites and a sauna. They are scheduled to reopen in February 2019.
Food and Beverage Service
Food and beverages are offered at the buffet at the front of the lounge. Breakfast with hot and cold items is available from 06:00 to 10:30. From 10:30 to midnight buffet choices include salads, soup, snacks, hot entrees and desserts.
Menu items echoed the Nordic theme. The variety and quality of the buffet items was outstanding. Over the course of the day, I went back so many times it was almost embarrassing.
Most of the available beverages are located behind the buffet. A staff member fills orders. The selection includes soft drinks, tea, coffee, beer, wine and spirits.
The Finnair Lounge and Premium Lounge are both undergoing renovations that will continue through April 2019. I’m not sure why the Finnair Lounge is being renovated because I thought it looked great.
The lounge has personal computers, printer and copier, and a free conference room. There are TVs, flight monitors, and newspapers and magazines. The WiFi was very good.
The Finnair Lounge in the non-Schengen area exceeded my expectations. Except for the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse at London Heathrow, this was the best business-class lounge I’ve visited in Europe. The buffet reminded me of American Express Centurion lounges in the U. S., although the Finnair buffet had better food and greater variety. I see no need for (but welcome nevertheless) the current renovations that should make this very good lounge even better.