Finnair non-Schengen business class lounge, Helsinki Airport

Review: Finnair non-Schengen business class lounge, Helsinki Airport

Country:
Finland
City:
Helsinki
Airport:
Helsinki
Cabin Class:
Business
Alliance:
oneworld
Airline:
AY (Finnair)

location:

dining:

work:

overall:

What's Hot

  • Private shower suites plus seating to suit everybody
  • Passengers can buy access at the door

What's Not

  • Domestic-style food options
  • Some design elements appear dated

X-Factor

  • Nothing says Finland like the in-lounge sauna

Introduction

Serving Finnair's business class passengers in its home hub of Helsinki Airport, the aptly-named Finnair Lounge offers all the basic amenities you'd expect within the airport's non-Schengen area.

That means it's used by travellers en route to destinations like Hong Kong, Singapore, London and Russia, rather than within Finland or to 'Schengen' countries like Italy, France and Germany.

Whether you're flying home or are jetting onward, here's what you can expect to find before your next Finnair business class flight.

Location & Impressions

After clearing security and outbound passport control at Helsinki Airport, take a stroll to Gate 36/37 – opposite which you'll find the Finnair Lounge: Greeting travellers is a modern and funky entrance with friendly staff fluent in English, before you emerge into a space filled with modern lighting and divided into various zones across two levels: While parts of this lounge are great, it is the oldest lounge in Finnair's network – meaning some elements, particularly the dining areas, don't quite match the otherwise modern feel.

Access

  • Finnair, British Airways, Japan Airlines and Qatar Airways business class passengers
  • Travellers connecting to or from a 5+ hour business or first class flight with a Oneworld airline, even if the connection is booked in economy
  • Qantas Gold, Platinum, Platinum One and Chairmans Lounge members prior to Oneworld flights, including with Finnair
  • Finnair Plus Gold and Platinum members travelling with Finnair or another Oneworld airline
  • Other Oneworld Sapphire and Oneworld Emerald frequent flyers departing on a Oneworld flight
  • All other Finnair passengers can pay €48 (A$72) for entry (maximum three-hour stay), or €39 (A$59) during off-peak times

British Airways passengers are directed to the separate Almost@Home lounge by default, but may visit this lounge under Oneworld rules.

Oneworld Sapphire and Emerald frequent flyers (including Qantas Gold and Platinum and Finnair Plus Gold and Platinum) are also invited to visit the neighbouring Finnair Premium Lounge, which is a significant notch above this facility.

As to fare-paying business class passengers? This is where you'll stay, unless you also hold one of those frequent flyer cards.

Dining

Most of the food and beverage options here come self-served, with hot breakfast items available between 6am and 10am daily, followed by a salad and soup bar between 10am and midnight.

But for a lounge catering to passengers flying long distances, those salads options prove very basic by international standards... ... although the nearby chicken soup doesn't skimp on the meat and offers croutons and roasted onion to sprinkle through for a heartier meal: There's also machine-made espresso coffee available, along with a tea selection... ... all of which can be poured into designer Marimekko mugs: Between 3pm and 5:30pm and again from 9pm through to midnight, more hot dishes make an appearance such as chilli con carne with rice... ... but which was the exact same as offered in Finnair's Schengen business class lounge earlier that same day:Chilli con carne, also served in Finnair's domestic/Schengen business class lounge... Most travellers certainly wouldn't visit both lounges before their flight, but frequent jetsetters through Helsinki Airport would surely appreciate more variety in the menus.

In the beverage department are self-pour soft drinks... ... a selection of beers on tap with instructions on how to pour them... ... a reasonable selection of spirits... ... along with liqueurs and both French and Spanish red and white wines, plus the La pieve Prosecco (sparkling) from Italy: There are tables nearby where you can enjoy your meal, although the setup lacks the usual vibe of a high-end business class lounge: Extra tables on the upper level don't prove much better, although offer improved views and a tad more colour to break up the 'timber and tile' look:

Work

While much of the lounge is geared towards relaxing and unwinding before a long flight, business travellers getting work done are still catered for, with laptop work benches offering runway views... ... with some seats providing access to AC (but not USB) power: Small buffet-adjacent tables are also nearby, ideal for shorter stays where you need to eat while also checking emails... ... and for more serious work, set up camp at one of several computer desks, complete with Apple iMacs: For something more casual such as browsing the web on your tablet, most seats around the lounge provide easy access to power points – if you get stuck without power, just look for the nearest lamp: There's no dedicated WiFi network for Finnair's lounge guests, although with the airport's own wireless service pumping out downloads at 59.1Mbps and uploads at 57.97Mbps during our visit, we daresay that's good enough.

Relax

Whether you're flying on your lonesome, as a couple or in a larger group, the Finnair Lounge fortunately has you covered.

Solo travellers can slot themselves by the windows with each seat separated from the others by a sizeable cocktail table... ... or, look to the nearby blue seats which again provide cocktail shelves, but also power points: Couples can cosy up on the sofas – again, with each seat divided from the others by those always-useful beverage benches... ... while larger groups can crowd around the fireplaces during the winter months... ... or hang out around these semi-circular seats: If you'd rather avoid everybody and catch up on some sleep instead, there's a pod for you too...Just don't forget to set your alarm: there's no wake-up service here... ... while kids have their own small playroom tucked away in the corner: All travellers can help themselves to a variety of reading material also... ... but for some, the highlight here will be the sauna – yes, sauna – shared between this and the Premium Lounge next door. It's a mixed-gender, towels-optional-but-recommended affair, with dedicated showers nearby plus six fully-private shower suites which many travellers will prefer: We weren't kept waiting to use the sauna or the showers, but during peak times you can relax nearby with a beverage in hand until the facilities are ready: But while the sauna brings a real X-factor to this lounge, the overall experience is more akin to what Australians expect of a domestic lounge as opposed to one that's international-grade – particularly when it comes to dining.

It's also unusual that Finnair's fare-paying business class passengers are relegated to this lower-level lounge, while any elite Oneworld flyer booked even on the cheapest economy ticket is instead invited into the superior Premium Lounge next door.

We'd love to see that experience improved for pointy end passengers: whether that's by opening up the Premium Lounge to business class flyers or improving elements of this 'Finnair Lounge' to make the two more comparable.

Also read:

Chris Chamberlin travelled to Helsinki as a guest of Finnair.

Follow Australian Business Traveller on Twitter: we're @AusBT

Chris Chamberlin
Chris Chamberlin is a senior journalist with Australian Business Traveller and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, a great latte, a theatre ticket and a glass of wine!
 

3 comments

  • Blair Coull

    Notso Swift

    15 Oct, 2016 12:29 pm

    Pretty much a spot on review
    By FAR the beast seat are the ones on the top overlooking the tarmac, with the cocktail table between, they are also fine for couples.
    No member give thanks

  • Andrew

    andyf

    5 Nov, 2016 11:38 pm

    Would it be rude to say, this looks like what you would get if Ikea ran an airport lounge? It looks like one of their in store canteens, but without the variety of food!
    No member give thanks

  • Rav

    Rav

    18 Oct, 2018 07:46 pm

    Used this lounge for 4 hrs acouple of weeks ago, the only good thing was the apple cider, the food was only for vegans it seemed, vegetables covered in goat curd or some such crap, after an hr the server came around and could not fill a tray with plates from about 40 people let alone a trolley. The bread was rubbish and had little fruit flies around it, people were ok but this is a crap lounge, so disappointed. The lounge in Riga run by an independent was so much better they had 4 servers keeping busy, simple but good fare and good drinks with a view of the tarmac. Add that to uncomfortable seats and it wasa mistake to fly Finnair. People are good but the rest leaves me cold.
    No member give thanks

Guest

21 May, 2019 08:55 am

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