I’m quite a fan of Finnair, one of the smaller members of the oneworld alliance. Their hub in Helsinki is small, but super efficient and is the epitome of Scandi design.
I was passed through there a few weeks ago, on my way back to London and then on to Texas with British Airways.
In Helsinki, Finnair have three lounges in total, one in the Schengen area, and two others in the non-Schengen area. In the non-Schengen area, there’s one for business class passengers and those who hold oneworld sapphire status, and a second, the premium lounge for oneworld emerald card holders. It’s not a true first class lounge, but a step up from the main area.
It also has a unique feature in that it has a sauna, of which more later.
I arrived from Göteborg in Sweden which is in the Schengen part of the terminal; that necessitated going through immigration of which there was no queue, and a *very* hot 6’3″ immigration officer in his mid 20s, blond and who looked like he did Crossfit. A quick scan of the passport and the porn movie scenes faded in my brain, so I wandered through the duty free shop to the lounge entrance.
The lounge agent directed me to the left, towards the premium lounge. Immediately as you enter on the right, is a bar and buffet.
There’s an extensive selection of fruit, desserts, cold food and hot food to choose from. If you want a more substantial meal, they have bowls of food on request.
The lounge itself is nicely broken up into various seating areas.
There’s an area at the far end of the lounge that used to have a great view over the apron, indeed the seats are still arranged facing the windows, however for some reason they’re now boarded up with some metal sheeting. I have no idea if it’s temporary due to some construction work, but either way it’s a huge shame as there’s now far less natural light than there used to be. However the variety of seating is great, including some private arm chairs of which all have euro style 220V power plugs next to, so you can keep charged.
There’s also a small room with recliner seats where you can take a nap.
So I guess this is where I should talk about the sauna. It’s located in the shower area and it’s mixed and naked, although the guidance is that one should wear a towel.
There’s a changing room provided for you to store your clothes.
So, leaving my clothes and only in a towel, I ventured forth. I was the only one there for the 20 mins or so I spent. However for the first five minutes, I did wonder why it was so tepid – it turns out there’s a button to left of the heater to raise the lid. It very quickly got *hot*.
I managed to hold out a bit, but enough was enough so I retreated to the changing room for a cold shower.
There were plenty of towels and water available to rehydrate after the experience.
It was pretty amazing – I felt hugely relaxed and chilled out after the experience, far better than some of the mediocre treatments that some airlines offer to business and first class passengers.
A few minutes later, boarding was called for my flight back to London, from one of the bus gates, located a 30 second stroll from the lounge.
There wasn’t a premium or priority boarding queue, however given it was a bus gate and there wasn’t a business class bus, it didn’t really matter. I made the first bus and we were driven to the Finnair A321 taking us to London, treating us to some great views of the apron and the on-going construction work for the terminal expansion.
In summary, it’s a pretty pleasant place to spend a couple of hours waiting for a flight. I don’t think its a destination lounge in the same way that the Qantas First Class lounge in Sydney, or the Lufthansa First Class terminal is, but the sauna is a truly unique Finnish experience. If you’re passing through and have time, I highly recommend it.