Having completed our Finnair A350 Business Class flight from Heathrow, we had a few hours to kill before our onward connection for our two days in Tallinn. After deplaning and being bussed to the terminal, because of the construction work our gate didn’t have an airbridge attached, we headed straight for the Finnair Lounge in the non-Schengen area.
Access to the lounge is available for free to Finnair Business Class customers and oneworld elite status holder. This includes Finnair Plus Platinum & Gold members, and oneworld Emerald and Sapphire cardholders travelling with a oneworld carrier. However, if you don’t qualify for free entry, you can buy lounge access, for €48. Presently, this is only available during off peak hours; 9 am to 1 pm and 6 pm to 11 pm.
The lounge is open from 6:00 am until midnight. This was our first visit to the lounge and we also had a second chance to visit it on our return flight.
Getting into the Finnair Non-Schengen Lounge
The Finnair Lounge in the non-Schengen area at Helsinki Airport is located between gates 36 and 37. It shares a common reception with the neighbouring Premium Lounge. (Which is exclusively for Finnair Plus Platinum & Gold members, and oneworld Emerald cardholders).
We got a warm welcome from the lady at the reception desk, then we were directed to the right to go into the Finnair Lounge. Premium Lounge guests make a turn to the left and go around the other side of the reception desk.
A light and open space
When we arrived, the Finnair Lounge was pretty much packed. This was due to arrival during the afternoon peak, it was a Friday and the fact there was a strike at Helsinki Airport. The strike had resulted in delays and cancellations, so people were longer than usual in the lounge.
Despite the number of people, the lounge still felt open and spacious. (The lounge has the seating capacity for 250 guests). The design is composed mainly of light and clean colours, with high ceilings and modern lighting. Some of the furnishings are in vibrant bold colours, which nicely accent the otherwise neutral tones. Furthermore, there is a host of metal tree-like structures, that are not only art but also functional as coat stands.
The Finnair Lounge is divided into different zones for eating, dining and relaxing. As you enter there is a large food and beverage area just to your left. The main section to the right is a dining area, with tables and chairs. This part of the lounge almost felt at odds with the rest of the lounge. To be honest it was more reminiscent of a department store cafeteria than a business class airport lounge.
Moving further away from the entrance was a little section on tables that had more comfortable seating, with a fire next to each table. On the mezzanine level, there were sofas, a few more tables with the canteen-style tables and a whole host of comfy chairs.
Food and drink options
Hot food is available in the lounge at three points in the day. Hot breakfast is served from 6 am to 10 am, hot meals from 3 pm to 5:30 pm and from 9 pm to midnight. We arrived just after 3:30 pm and whilst there was a hot dish available, it didn’t look particularly inspiring.
There was a large selection of fresh and vibrant looking salads, cold meats and cheese. On top of that, there were some nice looking (and seriously tasty) cakes and biscuits.
In terms of spirits, there was a good selection. These included Finlandia Vodka (naturally), Jack Daniels, Grant’s and Glenfiddich whiskies and Finnish Napue gin. The spirits were all served from behind a bar at the hot food counter.
On the wine front, there were two reds, two whites and a sparkling. The reds were an Argentinian Malbec and a South African Shiraz. The whites were a South African Riesling and an Argentinian Chardonnay, with the sparkling wine being an Australian Semillon Frizzante. In addition, for the beer and cider drinkers, there was a choice of Carlsberg and Koff beers and Crow Moor cider. These three were on draft, and the pumps even had step-by-step instructions on how to pour the perfect glass of beer.
Softer drink options
As well as the alcoholic drinks, there was a good range of soft drinks and hot beverages. The coffee machines are self-service and offer a pretty good latte. The food and drink in the Finnair Lounge are served on Marimekko crockery. Marimekko have been a Finnish design icon since 1949 and gained international prominence when Jackie Kennedy wore one of their designs for the cover photo of Sports Illustrated in 1960. Famed for their bold and striking designs, Marimekko collections can be seen at Fashion Weeks around the globe. You can buy their designs at their stores worldwide, including their flagship store in New York and of course, Helsinki Airport.
On our return flight, we hit the lounge during breakfast service, which turned out to offer a reasonable choice of hot foods. They included Finnish Rice Pasties and Mini Hulled Grain Sausages. The hot breakfast options looked tasty, but we knew we would be eating on the flight, so didn’t indulge.
The different areas of the non-Schengen Finnair Lounge
As mentioned earlier, there is a large area intended for dining, close to the food and beverage area. Running along one wall was a set of desks equipped with iMacs. They also had charging stations and offered wireless charging.
For those who want to use their own devices in the lounge, there is no dedicated lounge WiFi. However, the Helsinki Airport free WiFi is available in the lounge and offers good download speeds. In addition, connecting to the Helsinki Airport free WiFi is easy – you just have to enter your flight number. You then get a count-down to boarding timer for your flight and a connection speed of 100Mbs. The seating in mezzanine level and on the sofas at the ground level have sockets for charging, though no USB charging ports.
It was pretty packed when we arrived on Friday, but we managed to find a space on one of the very comfortable sofas. From here we had a good view of the lounge and of the Samsung UHD curved TV. (One of which was rather bizarrely showing Emmerdale!!).
In normal circumstances, the best seats in the lounge are mezzanine seats by the window, which overlook the runway. However, on our visit, they offered a slightly less interesting view of large sheets of plastic, which were covering the construction work at Helsinki Airport.
A bigger and better airport
The improvement works at the airport will massively increase the size of the terminal and double the number of gates that can handle wide-body aircraft. When the works are complete in 2020, Helsinki airport will be able to handle 20 million passengers a year. The terminal improvements, together with Helsinki’s 3 runways, will make it an even stronger contender as a transfer point between Europe and Asia.
Other facilities in the lounge include a sleep chamber, that fully encloses you to get a nap. ACtually, to be honest this looked a bit to coffin-like for my tastes. There is also a meeting room and an enclosed pen to lock away play area for the kids.
A uniquely Finnish touch
There is one feature that sets the Finnair Lounge apart from other airport lounges. No other lounge I know of comes complete with a sauna.Click to tweet
The loos are on the lower floor level and whilst nice enough were nothing amazing. On our first visit, they seemed to be struggling to keep on top of restocking and cleaning the gents, possibly due to the extra business created by the strike.
All things considered, the Finnair Lounge was a pleasant space to hang out for a few hours between flights. If we fly long-haul with Finnair, we’ll visit again and check out the sauna. In addition, there is another Finnair Lounge in the Schengen area and it would be interesting to give it a try to see how it matches up.
When is the Finnair Non-Schengen Lounge at Helsinki Airport open?
The Finnair Non-Schengen Lounge is open Monday to Sunday from 5:30am until midnight and welcomes:
- Business class passengers on Finnair flights and those of Oneworld airlines departing from Helsinki Airport (British Airways & JAL)
- Finnair Plus Platinum Lumo, Platinum & Gold (and one quest plus member’s own children under 18 years) frequent flyers and their Oneworld Emerald and Sapphire equivalents, when on Finnair or Oneworld flights
- Finnair Plus Silver and Basic member with prepaid Finnair Plus Lounge Pass when travelling on a Finnair operated and marketed flight
NB: Oneworld flights do not include codeshare flights with non-Oneworld airlines, even those marketed by a Oneworld member but operated by a non-Oneworld carrier, or those operated by a Oneworld member but marketed by a non-Oneworld carrier.