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My flight from Helsinki to London was at 8AM, and Finnair’s lounge only opened at 6AM. I still took the 5AM shuttle from the hotel to the airport.
Why? Because I was jetlagged, and frankly thought the Helsinki Airport terminal would be a nicer place to sit at 5AM than in my hotel room. I’m not sure whether that’s a reflection of the Holiday Inn, Helsinki Airport, or both. 😉
I arrived at the airport at around 5:15AM, and took the escalators up to the check-in hall.
The check-in hall had a pretty cool departures board, which I always love.
Check-in counters were to the left and right, though I had already gotten the boarding pass for my flight in New York a couple of days prior.
There was a premium security line, and I was through within a couple of minutes, as there was no one else in that line. As is the norm at many airports nowadays, security dumped out into a duty free shop, which you had to navigate your way through to enter the actual airside terminal.
I followed the signage towards gates 27-40, since that’s where my flight was leaving from.
I had toured Helsinki Airport back in 2013, and was extremely impressed by it. My experience this time was exactly the same. The airport is simply gorgeous, with wood floors, great shopping, and free wifi which is easy to connect to. The airport is a decent size, though manages to feel much smaller than it is. For that matter, the airport also has among the shortest minimum connection times in Europe, showing just how efficient it is.
I continued to follow the signage for gates 32-40, which are the gates located in the non-Schengen area.
There I had to clear passport control, where there was no queue. I found myself in what was a rather dead terminal, and not quite as nice as the departures hall before you go through passport control.
To access gates 32-40 you can either walk through the duty free shops or through a hallway. I went through the hallway, and as I walked through it I noticed something interesting.
Next to the Finnair service desk was the [email protected] Lounge, which I remember very briefly touring back in 2013. While the Finnair Lounge opens at 6AM, this lounge opens at 5:30AM. As luck would have it, it was exactly 5:30AM.
Helsinki Airport Lounge [email protected] entrance
Helsinki Airport Lounge [email protected] signage
There are several way to get a Priority Pass membership through credit cards, including:
- The Citi Prestige® Card comes with a Priority Pass Select membership, and you can take two guests or immediate family members for free
- The Platinum Card® from American Express and The Business Platinum® Card from American Express also come with a Priority Pass Select membership, though only the cardmember can access the lounge for free; additional guests cost $27 each
The lounge attendant quickly swiped my Priority Pass card, and after a signature I was in the lounge.
As you’d probably guess based on the name of the lounge, it’s intended to feel like home, and it’s executed brilliantly. In terms of design, this might just be my favorite Priority Pass lounge. Admittedly part of that might be the fact that I was the only person in the lounge. I might have felt a bit differently if I were sharing my “home” with a hundred other people. 😉
Near the entrance to the lounge was a section with magazines and newspapers.
Helsinki Airport Lounge [email protected] entrance
Helsinki Airport Lounge [email protected] magazines & newspapers
The lounge is basically separated into two seating areas separated by the buffet in the center; the seating on the left side is designed more around dining, while the seating on the right side is designed more around relaxing.
On the left there were several dining tables, both against the wall and by the window.
In the far corner of the lounge was a small business center with a few PCs.
At the far end of the other lounge was more traditional lounge seating, with a variety of seats facing one another.
Next to that was a fantastic espresso machine, which made surprisingly great cappuccinos.
The most “home” feeling part of the lounge was the far right corner, where there was high-top seating, and then an area intended to simulate a living room.
Next to the living room area was a tea station.
The food and drink selection was in the center of the lounge, and simulated the kitchen “islands” you might find in a home.
Drinks were on one “island,” with self serve beer, wine, juice, soda, water, etc.
Then there was a continental breakfast spread, with cheese, cold cuts, veggies, yogurt, eggs, fruit, etc.
There were also a few types of cereal, as well as several types of bread and pastries.
Then there was another station with filtered coffee, chocolates, and delicious cookies.
And then there were also some peanuts and crackers.
To further add to the feeling of being home, all the cutlery was located in a drawer, and there was even an oven with mitts hanging from it.
I only spent about 25 minutes in the lounge, and at 5:55AM headed over to the Finnair Lounge, given that it was opening at 6AM.
[email protected] Lounge Helsinki Airport bottom line
This lounge really impressed me, and is one of my favorite contract lounges I’ve been to. While the food spread was fine, I thought the design was especially well executed. Maybe I’d feel differently if the lounge were completely full, but in the meantime this is a great lounge option for anyone with a Priority Pass membership, or anyone flying an airline which uses this as their contract lounge.