Finnair has now closed its Premium Lounge in the non-Schengen area at Helsinki airport for renovations. The lounge was closed in October and the lounge renovations are expected to be completed in February 2019.
Given that the lounge only opened in 2014 and did not look particularly tired this may come as a surprise. But apparently this is part of a bigger project to expand the non-Schengen lounges and at the same time give them a new and fresher look, so the non-Schengen business lounge is next.
Apparently the Premium Lounge, the lounge for Finnair Gold/Platinum and OneWorld Emerald cardholders, will move slightly towards the south, i.e. towards the gate areas in the concourse where the lounge is located, to an area which was previously used as a play area. After that the business lounge will be enlarged and will use some of the space that was previously used for the Premium Lounge. So this means there will in fact be a brand new Premium Lounge to visit in the first quarter of 2019.
After the renovations of the Premium Lounge have been completed, somewhere around February 2019, the business lounge will close for renovations, which is expected to be completed by May 2019.
Since the non-Schengen business lounge is not able to accommodate all eligible passengers there are several restrictions in place when it comes to access. Basically you only get in if you fly Finnair to a longhaul or non-Schengen destination.
British Airways and Qatar Airways premium passengers seem to be directed to the almost@home lounge while JAL premium passengers are given meal vouchers to use in one of the restaurants in the transit hall.
And if you travel to a Schengen destination you will be directed to the Finnair Schengen lounge. However this is actually not a bad thing. As the combined kitchen for the non-Schengen business and Premium lounges has been closed the food offerings are much more limited than they usually are. Also both the sauna and the showers in the non-Schengen lounge are closed, but there are showers in the Schengen lounge.
The interesting thing about the Finnair lounges in Helsinki is that they can really go from completely packed to virtually empty within just an hour. This is because most Finnair flights arrive and leave at specific times during the day, to enable as many connections as possible.
So while the business lounge may be packed to its limits around 4 pm it was almost completely empty at 8 am with no more than a dozen guests.
And the Christmas decorations are now in place, with a nice Finnish design.
But as mentioned the selection of food and drinks is much more limited during the renovations. And the normal plates and the Marimekko coffee cups are gone, now replaced by single-use paper cutlery, plates and cups. Most likely because of the limited kitchen and washing up facilities. This is what the breakfast looked like this morning, not particularly premium.
However it will be very interesting to see what the new Finnair Premium Lounge will offer when it reopens. Hopefully the sauna will still be there, and the same excellent selection of food and drinks.