Finnair opens new lounge and spa at its ‘Via Helsinki’ hub and goes full-flat in business

Since the start of this decade, Finnair has been promoting its Helsinki hub as the ideal geographic hub to connect Europe and Asia, and cities like New York and New Delhi. This strategy has proved to be successful: In eight years, the number of passengers traveling back and forth between Europe and Asia via Helsinki has grown from 300,000 to over 1,3 million in 2009 (despite Finnair’s Asian traffic declining nearly ten percent this year). Part of their strategy to accommodate transfering Asian passengers, Finnair and Helsinki Airport were one of the first to introduce Mandarin-speaking staff at terminals to greet passengers arriving from China, and to display signs in Chinese, Korean and Japanese. Also, passengers arriving from Asian destinations with under an hour to change flights are given boarding cards with a short connection notification which allow them to fast track security. 

To further position itself as the gateway between Europe and Asia, Finnair and Helsinki Airport have invested EUR143/USD207 million in a new terminal extension which opened earlier this month. The new Terminal 2 annex sports Finnair’s new 1,000 sqm lounge, and a 600 sqm spa, both with runway views. The Via Lounge has room for around 250 customers and its services include six private shower rooms, seating areas for working or relaxing, free Wi-Fi, three iMac PCs, and ‘Powerkiss’ workdesks (which use wireless technology to recharge mobile phone). The Via Spa is located just behind the lounge and offers 4 different saunas (including a traditional Finnish one). Designed with transit passengers in mind, the spa also has a cold water paddling pool and a mineral water pool to alleviate travel fatigue and the effects of jetlag. The rest area has loungers facing the runway, with the lower parts of the windows blacked out so people can’t see in.

Access to the Via Lounge is free for all Finnair business class passengers and top-tier Finnair and members loyalty members, while Finnair Plus Platinum members have free access to the spa. Other passengers can use the lounge or spa for EUR45/USD65 each (combined entry to both facilities is EUR70/USD100), although Finnair Plus members can pay with a combination of points and money. 

Meanwhile up in the air, Finnair has just introduced its first fully-flat bed in business class on the fifth A330 it received this year. This latest A330 is part of an order of 8 A330s that will replace the carrier’s MD11s by early next year. The first 4 A330s (along with its A340 fleet) still have the Recaro angled lie-flat offering, while the latest 4 will all have the new Contour Vantage lie-flat bed installed (also offered by Swiss). The new seat layout gives 90 percent of the seats direct aisle access, and one third of the seats has no seat next to them. An additional benefit for Finnair is that it could increase the number of seats from 42 to 45, while at the same time moving to a fully-flat offering. Finnair uses its A330s on shorter long-haul routes from Helsinki, such as New York, Delhi, Seoul, Osaka and Nagoya.

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