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Editorial Note: Finnair is expanding and updating their Helsinki Intl Business Lounge as of Nov 2018, and this review is constructed before the expansion. Some info may longer be accurate.
The Finnair Business Class lounge in the International terminal area of Helsinki is located near gate 50. It is very easy to find your way there. For transfer passengers like us, we have to go through security re-check before entering the sterile transit area.
Finnair prints lounge invitations on your boarding pass, all you need is to hand them to the lounge associate for a quick scan on the machine. Transfer passengers like us arriving on a Finnair Business Class flight are also eligible for lounge entry even though our next flight is in economy class. There was a bit of queue as we arrived, but nonetheless, we were in the lounge within a few minutes.
The lounge was extremely busy. It was so busy I felt uncomfortable taking photos of the interiors of the lounge. A lounge attendant told me that this was one of their busiest days ever and normally there are “100 people less”. Most occupants are Japanese and Chinese nationals catching the afternoon flight to Finnair’s Asian destinations.
The Highlight: Shower suites and Sauna
Finnair’s signature amenity in their International Business Class Lounge in Helsinki is their Sauna and shower suites so I will talk about them here first. The Sauna and shower is located on the left of the check-in desks. You will walk down a corridor and after a few turns, you will see the sauna and shower suites.
At the end of the corridor is the Sauna Room. You will also find changing rooms with storage cabinets and pre-Sauna shower facilities. You can store your belongings and clothes in these cabinets. In Finland, Sauna rooms are shared between the two genders, and that is also the case here. If you feel uncomfortable sharing a Sauna Room with the opposite sex, you can still enjoy their shower suites.
I enjoyed my 20 minutes in the Sauna Room. It really eleviates stress from my body after a flight. I believe this is the only airport Sauna in the world. In case you don’t know, Sauna originated from Finland in the 19th century. So Finnair really did a good job by showcasing the Nordic culture with the Sauna facility in their lounge.
Food and Drinks
When you enter the lounge, immediately it is the dining area. On the left is the food and drinks section. There is only a couple of hot dish choices. I will let the pictures speak for itself. Spoiler: The salmon soup was delicious!
The selection of drinks is ok, including a number of wine and spirits. With spirits and some house wine located at the bar by the hot foods, while more wine can be found in the wine cooler at the back of the lounge. You can also find bottled beer as well as draft beer from the tap by the soda fountain. Overall the drinks are not the best of quality but is sufficient for most travellers.
There are several sleeping pods at the back of the lounge seating area. These are not for overnight passengers as the lounge closes each night after midnight. But nonetheless looks comfortable for a quick nap in the day. However, the lounge attendant does not seem to actively clean up the space after each use.
There is also a kids zone with lots of toys. The space is quite small but will definitely entertain your kids as it did to ours. I do not recommend leaving your kids in the room for too long as I find the ventilation to be lacklustre.
There is also a “premium Lounge” reserved for Oneworld Emerald passengers. My brother, who visited that section of the lounge told me that better food and drinks are served in that lounge and it is less crowded.
Overall, I find Finnair International Business Class Lounge in Helsinki to be a decent lounge. It is definitely not top notch compared to some Middle Eastern Airlines but certainly has the Nordic flair Finnair aims to offer. All I hope is that they can solve the crowding issue soon (which they did by starting a renovation in Nov 2018). I would definitely recommend this lounge without a heartbeat with the Sauna facility to be a one of its kind lounge amenity in the world. However, access to this lounge has a 3-hour restriction although I did not find it to be enforced strictly.