Hub business class lounges are ultra-competitive in 2023, and Finnair's lounge is beautiful with good seating, food and drinks, and showers – minor improvements include proper work cubicles and daybeds
Earlier this month I checked out Finnair’s beautiful new(ish) non-Schengen lounge at Helsinki Airport. This lounge opened in late 2019, and is open to oneworld business class passengers and Sapphire members departing on non-Schengen flights.
It’s worth noting that Finnair is unique in introducing a separate lounge for oneworld Emerald members, which was adjacent to this lounge. Finnair doesn’t offer a first class cabin, though the lounge acts as a first class lounge, open to top-tier status members, and featuring more premium amenities such as a sauna and a-la-carte dining. I didn’t have access to the Platinum Wing, though did have access to the adjacent business class lounge, as I was flying to London in Finnair business class.
Here’s my review of Finnair’s non-Schengen business class lounge at Helsinki Airport, where I’ll detail the seating, food and beverages, and other facilities available at the lounge.
Finnair Business Class Lounge Helsinki Access and Opening Hours
Finnair’s non-Schengen business class lounge in Helsinki is open from 6 AM to 12:45 AM daily, and is open to the following passengers:
- Oneworld passengers departing on a non-Schengen flight (including Finnair) – except passengers on a Finnair Business Light fare
- Oneworld Sapphire cardholders
Non-eligible passengers, including Business Light passengers, can purchase a lounge pass for €51.59 from the Finnair Shop. If you purchase a lounge pass, you can use it if your flight departs outside peak hours (peak hours are 3-6:30 PM).
Finnair Business Class Lounge Helsinki Location
In order to access this lounge, you need to be leaving to a non-Schengen destination. If so, after security, follow the signage to gates 36-60, which is where you’ll find the non-Schengen gates at Helsinki Airport.
Post-Security View at Helsinki Airport
I got to security just short of 6 AM, so it was a breeze – while a good number of flights fly out of Helsinki in the early morning, most fly within the Schengen area. The border control officer asked where I’d been, which was a bit of a mouthful, given that I’d been to Spain, Italy, and was now in Finland.
After navigating through a few more shops, I found a left fork to the lounge. Signage to the lounge was clear throughout the airport.
Helsinki Airport Non-Schengen Area and Signage to Finnair Lounges
After turning left, the entrance to the lounge was directly to my right.
Finnair Lounges Helsinki Exterior
While the lounge features some friendly attendant, they were assisting someone else when I entered, and there were also automated gates where I could scan my boarding pass.
Finnair Business Class Lounge Helsinki Seating and Atmosphere
The Finnair business class lounge features two massive rooms with lots of seating variety, separated by a partition featuring a food spread. The outer room was emptier, though featured very comfortable seating, including curved bench seating and tables, table seating, partitioned-off booths, and some comfy-looking circular loungers (they did look a bit too close to the entrance to be comfortably secluded, though).
Finnair Business Class Lounge Helsinki Outside Seating Area
The partitioned booths featured some more comfortable seating for relaxing, including some individual armchairs (complete with power ports at almost every seat) and some armchairs and sofas for families.
Finnair Business Class Lounge Helsinki Auxiliary Seating
The main lounge area was located further inside the lounge, and was partitioned off into a dining and a lounging/bar area. The dining area featured proper restaurant-style seating, once again well-equipped with power ports. There were plenty of spaces to perch a laptop here if you wanted to catch up on emails while working, and even the seating here was still fairly comfortable.
Finnair Business Class Lounge Helsinki Main Lounge Area
The most aesthetically stunning area of the lounge was definitely the inner lounging area. The bar served as the centerpiece (we’ll get to that in a bit), though there were so many partitioned off areas with well-placed tables, and even a massive U-shaped sofa for those literally looking to sit down and have a drink.
Finnair Business Class Lounge Helsinki Bar Area and Private Seating
There was certainly no shortage of aesthetic appeal in this lounge, down to the Finnish casks which highlighted the country’s rye production.
Finnair Business Class Lounge Helsinki Decor
Power ports were aplenty in this lounge. However, they weren’t universal, which is a trend I’ll never understand (since you’re in an airport, and many would presumably be connecting).
Do note that the lounge has no tarmac views – there is natural light, though the windows are frosted. I didn’t mind this since the frosted glass and curtains fit well with the rest of the lounge, though this isn’t a lounge for planespotting.
The lounge had more fellow passengers than I was expecting given I visited within a few minutes of opening, though it was still largely empty. I can’t speak for how much the lounge fills up during peak hours (presumably around early evening, when many flights to East/South Asia depart).
I’ll note that I was fairly surprised that daybeds weren’t available at the lounge. While I wouldn’t have an issue relaxing in the lounge’s comfortable furniture, those with long layovers may appreciate being able to snag a private space. As far as I’m aware the Platinum Wing has daybeds, though those aren’t available to business class passengers on long layovers. I also couldn’t find any proper work cubicles or large desks for working. So in terms of lounge facilities, this isn’t the most pimped out hub lounge out there.
Still, what a stunner of a lounge!
Finnair Business Class Lounge Helsinki Food and Beverages
The main food spread is aptly located in the lounge’s dining area. The lounge features an open kitchen concept, and while nothing is made-to-order, everything was fresh, and replenished with high frequency. In other words, the quality is better than your typical “sad airline lounge food”.
I was at the lounge at around 6 AM, so breakfast was being served. The spread was good but not amazing, though admittedly breakfast is definitely the least creative out of the three meals as far as mass catering goes.
Finnair Business Class Lounge Helsinki Food Spread
I was very intrigued to see Karelian pasties on offer, since I had never had them before. I ended up having about four – they were delicious! These are little pies with a rye crust and a rice filling, and served with a chopped egg and butter spread. These pasties seem popular in Finland (I didn’t otherwise eat anything during my few hours in Finland, so wouldn’t know if these are very low effort to cater), though I was very glad to have a few before my next flight.
Finnair Business Class Lounge Helsinki Food Spread
Drinks included a few house wines and a touchscreen juice dispenser (I peep some soft drinks in the bottom right hand corner of the below photo, though didn’t notice it when I was taking the shot). That was all that was available at this time of day, though the drinks spread gets significantly more impressive after 10:30 AM, for reasons I’ll talk about in a bit.
Finnair Business Class Lounge Helsinki Drinks
As aforementioned, I indulged in some Karelian pasties, and also had some lingonberry juice – this is before I realised that egg butter was the traditional spread for Karelian pasties. The touchscreen juice dispenser outputted a concentrate, so I mixed it with water to make the below drink.
Finnair Business Class Lounge Helsinki Karelian Pasties and Lingonberry Juice
I’m not sure how impressive the food spread gets throughout the day. The breakfast spread was a 4/5 in my book – nothing over-the-top, though well executed and had some local flair.
Not photographed are some coffee machines dotted at drinks stations throughout the lounge. I didn’t have a coffee, so it’s on me – I know Finland is known for their filter coffee, so should’ve given it a try. Typically I tend to associate coffee machines with “low effort coffee” (i.e. if reviewing any other lounge, I’d note the lack of barista coffee), though being on four hours of sleep, I didn’t put two and two together to recognise that Finnish coffee culture revolves around machine made filter coffee.
Finnair Business Class Lounge Helsinki Bar
The centerpiece of the lounging area is a beautiful bar, though unfortunately it only opened at 10:30 AM. The drinks list seemed to feature seven cocktails and two mocktails, which I would’ve been able to enjoy if my flight was later in the day. This isn’t a massive selection, though one that’s good enough if it’s well-executed.
I can definitely appreciate the bar’s shorter opening hours – personally I wasn’t really looking for a drink at this time of day. If I had to suggest an improvement I’d serve fresh juices/mocktails and coffee in the morning, though I understand that demands a higher level of staffing.
Finnair Business Class Lounge Helsinki Bar and Menu
Finnair Business Class Lounge Helsinki Showers
The lounge features five shower rooms, and there was no wait (which seems obvious at 6 AM, though a handful of flights from East Asia arrive between 5-6 AM, with many containing connecting passengers). I simply used the touchscreen interface outside the shower room to “book” myself a slot, and was automatically given a half-hour slot within seconds.
The shower rooms were modern, clean, and adequately ventilated, and featured some really nice toiletries from La Bruket. Water pressure in the shower was excellent.
Finnair Business Class Lounge Helsinki Showers
Since I had a short night, my plan was to leave my hotel room at the Clarion Hotel Aviapolis as late as I could so I could still check out this lounge during opening time. My plan worked – I woke up at 5:30 AM, scrambled to the airport, cleared immigration, grabbed a shower room after briefly checking out the lounge, and was enjoying a Karelian pasty refreshed as could be by 6:30 AM.
Finnair Business Class Lounge Helsinki WiFi
WiFi at the lounge clocked in at an adequate-but-not-excellent 15 Mbps down and 26.5 Mbps up, which was fast enough for most purposes. WiFi was very easy to connect to at the lounge.
Conclusion: Finnair Business Class Lounge Helsinki
Finnair’s new non-Schengen hub lounge at Helsinki Airport is an absolute stunner. It’s very well appointed, there’s such a wide variety of seating, and the entire setup feels really comfortable. The WiFi works well, and the shower rooms are very well appointed. Additionally, while there isn’t a ridiculous investment in food and beverages here, the food spread is high-quality, and you won’t go hungry. I’d love to have a drink at the bar next time if I’m departing on a longhaul flight out of Helsinki, or if I’m flying back to London on a later flight.
This probably isn’t one of the most impressive hub lounges out there, though. I’d note that some travelers would probably appreciate access to a large desk, or daybeds for longer layovers. There also aren’t any over-the-top amenities such as a-la-carte dining. Unless you’re really into stunning design, this lounge probably isn’t worth a €52 voucher if you’re flying on a Business Light fare, or in economy, especially since the rest of Helsinki Airport is excellent.
Do note that if you’re flying within the Schengen area, the lounge you have access to is less nice. That lounge still gets fairly positive reviews (here’s one from Head For Points), though the design of this lounge seems far superior.
Read more from this trip:
What’s the prettiest airport lounge you’ve ever been to?
If you don’t have complimentary access to Finnair Lounge, there is a Plaza Premium Lounge in the non-Schengen area too. It is a good choice if you happen to American Express Platinum card.