In December the brand new Finnair Business Lounge in the non-Schengen area at Helsinki Vantaa airport opened after nearly a year of renovations. I already got a sneak peek of the lounge in July, when the first part of the lounge opened, but the remaining parts (what used to be the old business lounge) were not finished until just before Christmas.
But finally the new non-Schengen lounge is open and time to have a proper look inside.
The entrance to the lounge has been moved and is now in a slightly different location but not very far from the old entrance, the lounge is still in the same location. Upon entering there is a rather spacious lobby with the reception desk where the boarding pass is scanned. The entrance is the same for both the Business Lounge and the Platinum Wing. Once inside the lobby the Platinum Wing is to the left and the Business Lounge to the right.
In order to access the Platinum Wing you need a OneWorld Emerald card or a Finnair Plus Platinum or Platinum Lumo card. All other passengers who are eligible for lounge access are directed to the business lounge, including OneWorld Sapphire and Finnair Plus Gold members as well as Finnair and OneWorld business class passengers.
You can also pay to access the business lounge during off-peak hours, which means during most of the day with the exception of the late afternoon and early evening when most flights to Asia leave.
The first thing you will see upon entering is the smaller self-service buffet area and the adjacent dining area. There are also some seating areas in this section. This is typically the place to be for those who only want to make a quick visit, perhaps just to have something to drink. Finnair call this a ‘coffee area’, which is fairly accurate, even though there is more than just coffee.
The new lounge has seating for 340 guests and has a brand new design, completely different compared to the old lounge. Not surprising there is also a new design firm behind the new design, the same firm who also designed the Platinum Wing. The two lounges concepts are fairly similar but completely different compared to for example the old Finnair Premium Lounge, which was designed by Vertti Kivi.
As you leave the coffee area you continue along a corridor with some seating areas on the right hand side and you then reach the main lounge. This is basically the same space as the old business lounge, and if you look carefully you will recognise the space, even though the ceiling is much lower and the interior completely different. There also used to be some windows in this area in the old lounge, which are now gone.
The focus of the new design, according to Finnair, is on Nordicness, simplicity, clean lines, natural materials and textures, to provide a warmer and more human experience. And you can notice that. The design is actually rather simple, but elegant. There is hardly anything on the walls, no art and no designer objects. The focus is very much on Nordic functionality and simplicity.
In this main part of the lounge there are various seating areas with either sofas and armchairs in mostly pastel colours. They call these seating areas ‘pockets’.
The centrepiece of the main part of the lounge is the circular-shaped manned bar where you can order wine, beer and spirits. Overall this area is quite elegant and feels more like a large living room than an airport lounge. As mentioned there are no longer any windows in the lounge so there is no natural light, but the design is very much based on not having any natural light.
Next to the bar is the self-service buffet area and the dining area. If you want to eat properly this is where you should go.
The self-service buffet area has an open kitchen concept and the selection of food and snacks is significantly better than in the old lounge.
In the morning from 5.30 am until 10.30 am there is breakfast on offer. During the rest of the day until midnight there is a lunch and dinner buffet with salads, hot meals, side dishes, soup, snacks and desserts.
The focus is on seasonal, fresh Nordic ingredients. There is a rotating menu with meat, fish and vegetarian options and you should be able to have a three courses meal in the lounge.
There is also an improved selection of desserts, cheeses and fresh fruits on a separate table.
Wine, beer, soft drinks, coffee and tea are available for self service from drinks stations throughout the lounge but if you want spirits you need to make your way to the manned bar.
The lounge offers restrooms and showers, which can be booked using a touchscreen reservation system. There are also various other services such as private phone booths and lockers.
Free Wi-Fi is available and there are printing facilities in the lounge. There are also newspapers and magazines. And if you did not bring your own laptop or tablet you can borrow a tablet free of charge.
A great business lounge and a great improvement compared to the old lounge, which was really starting to show its age at the end. The concepts are completely different and the design is also new and quite nice, in a functional and minimalistic Nordic kind of way. Overall the lounge feels much like a large Nordic living room. Also the selection of food and drinks has improved significantly compared to what used to be available in the old lounge. Well done Finnair.