Finnair New Lounge & Sauna Helsinki

Get ready to sweat in HEL!

Last summer I visited Helsinki for a couple of nights on American’s seasonal Chicago to Helsinki service. Finnair isn’t an airline we hear all that much about, given that they’re smaller than their joint venture partners American and British Airways. And while they have a ton of routes to Asia, their US route network is limited.

That being said, I quickly discovered that they’re actually a pretty awesome airline, and especially that Helsinki Airport is one of the easiest in Europe to connect in, with the shortest minimum connection times of any airport in Europe. Compare that to London Heathrow and Charles de Gaulle, and it’s downright heavenly.

Helsinki Airport Terminal

One other thing I enjoyed is the Finnair Lounge in Helsinki, which is spacious and bright. While the food spread wasn’t amazing and it didn’t have any special amenities, it was a pleasant place to spend a couple of hours.

Finnair Lounge Helsinki

Finnair opening a new Premium Lounge July 1, 2014

It appears as if Finnair will be improving their non-Schengen lounge facilities even further. On July 1, 2014, Finnair will open a new premium lounge which will be adjacent to their current lounge, located near Gate 36 in the non-Schengen area of Helsinki Airport.

They’re marketing this as a “premium” lounge, and it will exclusively be available to Finnair Plus Platinum & Gold members, as well as oneworld Emerald & Sapphire members. Business class passengers will continue to have access to the current lounge.

The new lounge will be 407 square meters (~4,400 square feet) with enough seating for up to 122 guests.

Finnair’s New Premium Lounge Helsinki Airport

Finnair’s New Premium Lounge Helsinki Airport

Finnair’s New Premium Lounge Helsinki Airport

Finnair’s New Premium Lounge Helsinki Airport

Finnair’s New Premium Lounge Helsinki Airport

Finnair also adding new shower suites and Finnish sauna

But the greatest new feature is actually available to guests of both the old and new lounge — Finnair is adding new shower suites as well as a Finnish sauna. Going back several years Finnair used to have a sauna in their lounge, which they closed due to lack of demand. That’s probably because Finnair does an amazing job scheduling short connections given their minimum connection times, so connecting passengers rarely have a need to wait in the lounge.

Finnair’s New Premium Lounge Helsinki Airport Shower Rooms

Finnair’s New Premium Lounge Helsinki Airport Shower Rooms

Finnair’s New Premium Lounge Helsinki Airport Sauna

Merits of not making best lounge available to business class passengers?

I always find it fascinating how different airlines take different approaches to lounge access policies. With Singapore Airlines, business class passengers get access to a better lounge than top tier Star Alliance elite members (Business Lounge vs. SATS Lounge). Conversely, at Lufthansa, top tier Star Alliance elite members get access to a better lounge than business class passengers (Senator Lounge vs. Business Lounge).

I do find it interesting when you can’t buy a ticket that in and of itself gets you access to an airline’s best lounge, so I tend to think the Singapore approach makes more sense than the Lufthansa approach, for example.

Of course that’s perhaps against my own self interest in the Finnair case, as a oneworld Emerald member.

What do you think? Does it make sense to give an elite member traveling in economy class access to a better lounge than the passenger traveling in the airline’s top product?

Filed Under: Other Airlines
  1. In reality the average business traveler and the average elite member are just happy to have a lounge to go to while in transit.
    If the business class passenger knew the elite members have a better lounge than the one he has access to, then he obviously wouldn’t think it made sense. Same for the elite member if he finds out the business class folks have a better lounge than the one he has access to.

  2. Can we at least agree that US travelers have it worse by not automatically getting access to clubs/lounges when traveling domestically?

  3. I think it makes sense given that those categories aren’t mutually exclusive. That is – any business class traveler that takes more than a couple business class international trips a year is probably also a top level elite (at least by alliance criteria – Star Gold or equivalent). Thus, your most profitable business class travelers will be in the premium lounge anyway, as are your frequent flyers in economy. Then, the only people in the business class lounge are infrequent passengers who may or may not be valuable customers long-term. I also don’t think flying economy as a frequent flyer says much about your actual value to the airline (assuming that’s what they want to reward). I rarely fly business class international fares (most J class international is upgrades or award travel for me) but all my domestic work travel is on Y-fares which can be obscenely overpriced at times.

  4. It doesn’t really make sense to barr Business Class passengers from this new lounge, since they are more profitable than a Oneworld Sapphire traveling in Economy Class.

  5. Where we fly, why we fly and under what fare bucket terms we fly is as different as the souls in the seats. As one who used to have substantial status through high annual mileage, but now has little or none (semi-retired) I see far few lounges that I used to. These days, for me, it depends upon the lounge, the airline/city and especially the length of the connection wait. If the time, facilities and cost(s) come together and there is no other choice, I willingly pay the one time access fare. Now only three-four times per year, maintaining other access often a poor investment. That said, for some trips, a few hours of quiet relief from the masses, modest but quality food/beverage and the all-important shower is easily worth the expense. A very few lounges do not offer this rarely used option, but most airports have alternatives. For that odd-bird, no-status flyer at the bottom of the fare bucket list, that carefully selected single visit fee can be the the best-spent money of the trip. (You’ve already saved a ton by selecting a Y or lower ticket, so spend a tiny fraction of the savings and be comfortable.)

  6. @Ivan Y: I think the main difference is that US-based elite passengers regularly get free upgrades if space is available, whereas overseas elite passengers regularly receive free lounge access. Non-US airlines will usually only upgrade for free if the lower cabin is full.

    Depending on what you value more is where you should assign your points/miles. For example, I credit all of my One World flying to BA… I reach One World Emerald faster as I usually fly in paid J or F, and I’d rather have lounge access than a free upgrade since I’m usually paying to fly in a reasonable cabin.

  7. I’m more amused by the hilariously awful copy-and-paste jobs they’ve done on those “customers” enjoying the new facilities.

  8. Finnair has a lot of Asia routes, but I think they still use “slides” AKA 160 degree only business class seats instead of full 180 degree flat beds, e.g. for HEL-HKG.
    Is this correct and does anyone know if and when they are going to change that to real flat beds with full 180 degree decline?

  9. I dont know…this lounge looks snazzy, but the @Home lounge is one of my favorites.

    I have also learned that airline rules don’t make sense. That seems to go double with lounge access.

  10. The LH approach makes some sense for their own program, where Star Gold is extremely hard to come by, far harder than on any US carrier. But I have never understood how LH then justifies giving access to that same lounge to partner Star Gold members who earn the status through much lower qualifications.

Leave a Reply

If you'd like to participate in the discussion, please adhere to our commenting guidelines. Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *