Tag Archives: finnair

Lounge Review: Finnair Premium Lounge Non-Schengen Helsinki Airport (HEL)

I had previously transited the Helsinki airport, but the Finnair Premium Lounge in the non-Schengen region did not exist at the time (the lounges I did visit include the Finnair lounge, the Almost@Home lounge, and the Aspire lounge). Finnair doesn’t have a first class product, so this lounge was opened essentially for oneworld emerald members.

The lounge was pretty crowded when I visited, but there were tons of seats and electrical outlets, and things were cleaned up quickly. Nothing felt particularly fancy, but I appreciated the general design and furnishings of the lounge.

Seating

Seating

More seats

More seats

Crowded seating area

Crowded seating area

The lounge has a bar with bartenders, as well as some self service champagne and wine options.

Bar menu

Bar menu

Bar

Bar

Champagne

Champagne

Wine

Wine

The food options were pretty decent. There were two soups, a bunch of meaty things (including herring, if you’re so inclined), some cold items (including Karelian pasties), desserts, and fruits. Everything that I tried was pretty good for lounge food.

Fruit and desserts

Fruit and desserts

Salad and cold food

Salad and cold appetizers

Cold foods

Cold foods

Soup and hot food

Soups and hot food

Perhaps the best part of the lounge is that they have a sauna. It’s small (maybe fits about 4 people comfortably?), but it’s an actual Finnish sauna. I’ve used a hot tub in an airport, but this was my first sauna experience in an airport. Now, in Finland, you’re supposed to be naked when you’re in the sauna, and everyone that used the sauna while I was there was naked, but everyone was also male, so I don’t know the norms for when women want to use it, since I only saw one sauna…

Overall, I thought that this was a solid lounge offering, and it’s cool that Finnair has this premium lounge even though they don’t have a first class product. The sauna is also a novel amenity that’s worth trying out if you have time during your visit. One thing that’s also nice about the Helsinki airport is that you can visit this lounge even if you’re arriving on a non-Schengen flight and connecting to a Schengen flight. You can wait to clear immigration and use this lounge prior to your flight, which is a great perk.

Flight Review: Finnair Business Class A330-300 KIX to HEL

I’ve flown Finnair before, but this was my first time flying Finnair in business class. Finnair doesn’t fly as much to North America (they used to fly to a number of destinations, but I believe only New York, Miami, and Chicago still have service, with San Francisco coming next year), but they seem to connect many people between Asia and Europe.

Finnair A330 taking me to Helsinki

Finnair A330 taking me to Helsinki

This A330-300 featured flat-bed seats business class in an alternating 1-2-1, 2-2-1 seating pattern. This seat is very similar to the product I’ve flown on Swiss and Austrian.

Business class cabin

Business class cabin

Business class cabin

Business class cabin

I was seated in seat 9L, which is a single window seat closer to the window in the second mini-cabin of business class. In the future, I’d probably try to go for a bulkhead seat, as the foot cutouts are larger for those seats.

My seat

My seat

The IFE screen was also on the smaller side and a bit hard to navigate, but I appreciate that the IFE was started on the ground. I also appreciated that announcements weren’t deafening if you have headphones in. As a trivial aside, there were ads before movies, and even though the movies had swear words dubbed, the ads had audible swear words that were not…

IFE screen and leg room

IFE screen and leg room

At each seat were slippers, an amenity kit, and headphones. I always appreciate slippers, but the slippers were actually pretty small, and I’m not sure if that’s because we were flying out of Japan. The amenity kit was designed by Marimekko, so it was colorful and playful. The contents were basic–ear plugs, eye mask, Clarins lip balm and lotion, toothbrush, and toothpaste–and there was a note saying that you could ask for a shaving kit, mouthwash, hair brush, and makeup remover wipe.

Marimekko amenity kit

Marimekko amenity kit

The menu offered both Western and Japanese options, but I had pre-ordered a special Asian vegetarian meal (AVML).

Menu

Menu

The AVML started off with raw vegetables. This is a major pet peeve of mine. I do not know many people who like eating cold raw vegetables, so I do not understand why they serve them. They could at least serve them with hummus or something.

AVML amuse bouche

AVML amuse bouche

For an appetizer, there was a cold spring/egg roll of sorts with some super hard bread, but I managed to snag some much better bread from the bread basket. The roll would have been tastier if it had been served warm, but it was edible.

AVML appetizer

AVML appetizer

The main course had some cauliflower, chickpeas, mushrooms, and rice. It was passable for an AVML, but nothing special.

AVML entree

AVML entree

For dessert, I had some jello-like substance that came with my meal, as well as some tarts from the dessert menu.

Dessert

Dessert

One thing that I appreciated about the flight was that the cabin was kept quite cool. Too often, I find myself overheating on non-US carriers. The pillow and blanket were also pretty good for business class. I found the seat to be pretty comfortable for sleeping. I don’t think the seat is truly lie flat to the plane floor, but I don’t mind that since being flat to the plane floor would mean that you’re actually leaning back slightly.

Foot area when seat fully reclined

Foot area when seat fully reclined

Partway through the flight, I had a pretty delicious cinnamon roll of sorts. There was a small self-serve snack bar with packaged snacks and other things available.

Delicious pastry

Delicious pastry

Prior to arrival, I again had my AVML. This time, it was some green beans, lentils, and rice pilaf. Again, nothing great, but perfectly passable.

AVML pre-arrival meal

AVML pre-arrival meal

Overall, I thought this was a solid business class flight. The service was great (all of the flight attendants working the cabin appeared to be Japanese–not sure if that had any bearing on anything), the seat was comfortable, and the food was passable. I would happily fly Finnair again, and I’m big fan of transiting the Helsinki airport.

Review: Finnair Lounge Helsinki Vantaa Airport (HEL)

The second lounge that I stopped in at the Helsinki airport was the lounge that I could access via my oneworld status, which was Finnair’s lounge (although it used to be accessible via Priority Pass as well). When I was checking into the Finnair lounge, I asked a question about seating on my flight, and the lounge agent told me that she didn’t work for Finnair and thus couldn’t answer any questions about my flight, which I found very strange.

When I first arrived at the lounge, it was pretty empty, but even by the time that I left when the lounge was considerably busier, it still didn’t feel crowded. There was ample seating of various arrangements.

Lounge seating

Upper seating

They also had computers and showers available for people to use (hopefully not at the same time), but I did not check out the shower facilities.

Work stations

Work stations

The food options were okay. The hot food mostly consisted of a soup with croutons and fried onions (fried onions make almost anything taste better, right?), and a dish that was confusingly labeled as chili con carne but looked more like rice with a couple of beans and maybe some ground meat. Probably not enough options to make a full meal out of it, but definitely better than US domestic lounges and enough food for a hearty snack.

DSC03839 DSC03840 DSC03841

 This was labelled as chili con carne

This was labelled as chili con carne

Alcoholic beverage selections seemed limited to wine and beer. I apologize for knowing almost nothing about beverages as I mostly just stick to water.

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The Finnair lounge is a good, basic lounge. There’s plenty of seating and it didn’t get overly crowded when I was there, the food options are decent, and wifi is fast. There weren’t any boarding announcements made in the lounge, and the flight monitors weren’t particularly helpful, but the Helsinki airport is small so it won’t be a very far walk to your gate.

Review: Finnair Economy Class New York JFK to Helsinki

In order to hit American Executive Platinum status, I did two mileage runs, one to Shanghai and one to Helsinki. For my trip to Helsinki, I flew American from SFO to JFK and then Finnair between JFK to HEL.

Upon boarding the plane, the first thing that I noticed was that I was being pushed. I’m not a slow walker by any means, but there were people blocking the aisle in front of me, and yet someone behind me was literally trying to push me past the blockage. I was also pushed multiple times when I was in Helsinki–they weren’t violent pushes, but rather sustained nudging/force that was clearly intentional–so I’m not sure if this is a Finnish thing or if it’s a passive aggressive racial thing or what. For what it’s worth, the vast majority of people on the flight were Finnish (or at least speaking Finnish), and I was the only Asian person that I saw on either of my Finnair flights.

The seats were typical coach seats, but they at least have personal screens and video on demand. Just a note: it’s probably a bad idea to watch “The Notebook” on a flight, unless perhaps you’re in an enclosed suite where no one can watch you bawl.

Economy class seats

Economy class seats

In-flight entertainment system

In-flight entertainment system

I ordered a VGML as I usually do on coach flights. The first vegetarian meal on my flight out was surprisingly tasty: eggplant in tomato sauce with greens and rice, a potato corn salad, and some decently ripe fruit.

Surprisingly tasty vegetarian meal

Surprisingly tasty vegetarian meal

But the rest of the food on Finnair went downhill from there. The pre-arrival “meal” was two slices of pita with a couple of vegetables in it. On my flight back, the first hot meal was a little bland and odd, consisting of some sort of beet patty, potato balls, peas, tomato salad, and fruity syrup. The pre-arrival “meal” was similarly disappointing as it was mostly just a large piece of bread. I think there were supposed to have been vegetables in it, but I couldn’t find any.

Very disappointing pre-arrival meal

Very disappointing pre-arrival meal

Mediocre vegetarian meal

Mediocre vegetarian meal

Another disappointing pre-arrival snack

Another disappointing pre-arrival snack

The service was fine for an economy class flight. They seemed to be pushing the duty-free sales quite hard (I think due to high liquor taxes in Finland), which was slightly problematic because it meant that the cabin was pretty noisy and there were multiple extraneous announcements on a red-eye flight to Europe. Brutal if you’re trying to maximize your sleep on the way over.

Overall, it’s coach, so what do you expect?