Go Back  FlyerTalk Forums > Miles&Points > Airlines and Mileage Programs > Finnair | Finnair Plus
Reload this Page >

Transiting in HEL - Devilishly difficult or seraphically simple?

Transiting in HEL - Devilishly difficult or seraphically simple?

    Hide Wikipost
Old Sep 23, 19, 10:05 am   -   Wikipost
Please read: This is a community-maintained wiki post containing the most important information from this thread. You may edit the Wiki once you have been on FT for 90 days and have made 90 posts.
 
Last edit by: riku2
Wiki Link
This Flyertalk wiki deals with transiting in the Helsinki Airport (HEL). As the number of connections to Asia through HEL has grown, so has the number of passengers as well. This has meant more and more inquiries in the AY+ Forum regarding the transit in HEL. This wiki is meant to provide answers to the most usual questions. Providing this information in wiki format means that everyone can contribute.

HEL terminal interiors can now be viewed with Google Street view.

1. HEL Airport

Helsinki Airport is still a relatively small airport and therefore easy to navigate. The minimum connection time (MCT) is 35 minutes (40 minutes from Schengen to non-Schengen), which is usually more than enough to make the transfer, if your arriving plane is not obscenely late. At least AY flights are known to wait for their connecting passengers, if feasible (as offering connections for people travelling to and from Asia is basically that airline’s strategy).
Lately, with ongoing airport expansion and heavy reliance on bus gates, there have been more reports of missed connections and of Finnair proactively rebooking passengers on late incoming flights. MCT has not (yet) changed, but traveller should perhaps not fully rely on departures waiting on late arrivals as they used too.

The airport consists of one terminal building with one part named T1 and the other part named T2; there is free movement between the two parts, both airside and landside. Transit passengers do not need to concern themselves where the notional divide between T1 and T2 is; only the gate number is important (the split is actually near gate 20). There is a very good interactive map of the airport and its services on the web site of the airport.

There are some hidden gems in the interactive map. You can zoom to great detail and examine the different floors. By clicking on a gate number, you will get the current scheduled departures from that gate, and even gate changes. This information is very difficult to find elsewhere.



HEL is split into Schengen (gates 11 to 31) and non-Schengen (gates 32 to 55) areas. Schengen is an agreement between (most) EU countries and several non-EU European countries (Norway except Svalbard, Iceland and Switzerland) that allows travel between the countries without having to pass through passport control. (You are still required to be in possession of a valid travel document.) When thinking about transiting in HEL, it is very important to know on which side of the dividing line your arriving and departing flights are, as there is a passport control between two areas.

Transfer services
There are two transfer service desks, one "hidden" in the non-schengen taxfree-maze (before gate 32, next to [email protected] lounge) and one in the schengen area, next to gate 25. which has moved to near gate 31X.
There is also a "Hello" transfer service, primarily aimed at Chinese speaking who wants help spending money at the overpriced airport stores.

How to understand gatenumbers
All gates without a suffix are jetbridge gates. Currently only gate 53-55 are dual jetbridge gates (separating business and economy boarding), but more are to come. (Exception to the rule is gate 11, which is a tarmac boarding gate.)
Some jetbridge gates doubles as busgates.
If your gate has a letter-suffix it is a bus-gate. 50A-M is actually a newly build bus terminal, separated from main building. 23AB, 31A-E and 51A-D are other typical busgates.
The exception is 32A (aka 31X although 31X is never seen on boarding passes/departure displays). For capacity reasons, sometimes gate 31 is used for non-schengen departures, despite it being located in the schengen area. Passengers are then boarded at 32A (adjacent 32) and then led back in a long corridor to gate 31 that is then sealed off from the schengen side - this op mode is called 31X.


2. Different ways to transit

In the following it is assumed that you are really transiting in HEL. If you start your journey in HEL, you will need to go through a security check before entering airside.

2.1 Schengen to Schengen
This is the easiest option. You arrive from a country in the Schengen area and continue to another Schengen area country. Since Finland is itself a Schengen country, there is no passport control. There is also no security check. However, if you arrive at a bus gate, you will arrive at the ground floor entrance of the terminal from the bus. You will then need to take the stairs up to remain airside. If you go through the automatic doors to the baggage claim area, you can't come back. You will then need to exit the baggage claim area to the arrivals area, go to the second floor, and enter through security again.

2.2 Schengen to non-Schengen
If you arrive from the Schengen area and continue to outside the Schengen area, you need to clear the passport control before gate 32. However, if you arrive at a bus gate, you will arrive at the ground floor entrance of the terminal. You need to take the stairs up to remain airside. If you go through the automatic doors to the baggage claim area, you can't come back. You will then need to exit the baggage claim area to the arrivals area, go to the second floor, and enter through security again.

In the afternoon before the bank of Asian flights departs, the queues at passport control can be quite long. However, holders of biometric EU/EEA/Swiss, Australian, Canadian, Japanese, New Zealand, South Korean and US passports can use the automatic passport control machines. They are generally reliable and fast. A general description can be found here. There is no security control after the passport control.

2.3 Non-Schengen to Schengen
For most travelers arriving from a non-Schengen country and then continuing to Schengen, you need to clear both security and passport control, in that order.
If you arrive from a clean (trusted) airport in the USA or EU (UK, IE, BG, CY, HR, RO) you pass only immigration, no security, as the authorities have deemed those security checks sufficiently tight. These passengers should pay close attention to the signs after passport control since the passageway to the Schengen gate area is easy to miss. Going downstairs to the baggage claim area is a one way trip and access to the schengen gate area is then out via arrivals, upstairs to the check in area and needlessly back through security.
If you arrive from any origination city not deemed secured, be prepared for long walk along the edge of the building without any access to any WC. (even if your arrival gate is same as your departure gate)

At security they sometimes devote the first few lines to passengers on short connections. Access is based solely on how tight your connection really is. Sometimes there is a sign with entitled flight numbers, and sometimes an airport staff member will direct you. If your incoming is late, then it might be a good idea to look for it. If you have a normal short connection, don't bother. After the security you will be airside, close to gate 32, i.e., still in the non-Schengen area.

2.4 Non-Schengen to non-Schengen
Since you are not entering into the Schengen area, you do not need to go through the passport check. However, you do need to go through the security check before proceeding to your departure gate, unless you are arriving from a clean (trusted) airport in the USA or EU (UK, IE, BG, CY, HR, RO).

At security they sometimes devote the first few lines to passengers on short connections. Access is based solely on how tight your connection really is. Sometimes there is a sign with entitled flight numbers, sometimes an airport staff member will direct you. If your incoming is late, then it might be a good idea to look for it. If you have a normal short connection, don't bother. After the security you will be airside, close to gate 32, i.e., still in the non-Schengen area.

2.5 Bringing liquids through security

As a rule of thumb, the standard one-litre resealable plastic bag is valid for security. Exceptions are made for medicine and baby food.

Liquids bought during your travel from a non-EU airport or onboard a non-EU registered plane are not allowed through security. These items, including alcohol and cosmetics, will be taken away at the security control. This rule does not apply to liquids bought at international airports in the USA, Canada, Singapore or Kuala Lumpur provided that they are safely packed including a receipt stating the place of purchase.

Onboard EU airlines, however, you can buy liquid duty-free items provided that the liquids are packed into a plastic bag and sealed. At the security check for the connecting flight, show the sealed and unopened bag together with a receipt on the purchased items.

Liquids bought at an airside duty-free store at an airport within the European Union and Norway, Iceland and Switzerland may be brought through security within 24 hours of purchase (i.e., you may go to land-side and re-enter security within the time period) provided that the items are in the original sealed and unopened bag together with a receipt for the purchased items.


2.6 Minimum legal connection time MCT

As the airport is expanding, this whole section will sooner or later become outdated. Use at your own risk, do your own research.

The minimum legal connection times are (to many people surprisingly) short when you transfer AY to AY:

Code:
Domestic - Domestic 25-35 minutes
 Schengen - Schengen 35 minutes
 Schengen - Non-Schengen 40 minutes
Many connections sold by Finnair uses this fact and that sometimes raise the question "Will I make it?". The answer is Yes. You can quite easily move from Schengen to Non-Schengen in 10 minutes, if you are in normal physical condition and hold a EU passport or a passport valid for the e-gates (see section 2.2). For others, it is suggested you go straight to passport control as the waiting can be long during peak hours.

Your bags will be tagged with a crazy-striped "Short Connection" lable and will make it too.

Also, AY will generally delay departures (within reason) to accommodate passengers from delayed incoming AY-flights. Naturally, you need to hold one (1) ticket for your complete journey for this to work, otherwise AY might not know you are transferring.
This seems to be a policy of the past, as more and more reports comes in with AY not accommodating even smaller delays.



For seasoned travellers it is possible to book separate tickets with even shorter connections and still make it. Seasoned in this case means you are fully aware of the fact that you alone has responsibility of making your flight and you are clever enough to not have checked luggage. Finnair uses a few banks (narrow time bands where almost all incoming and departing flights are coordinated) so you especially need to check if there is a later flight and/or prepare accommodations yourself.



(sources www.finavia.fi and www.trafi.fi)


3. Use of lounges while transiting in HEL

Since this is Flyertalk, the possibility of using lounges is obviously on many passengers’ minds. Finnair has all in all three lounges in HEL, see the Finnair page on HEL lounges.
  • Finnair Business class Lounge in the non-Schengen area, opposite gate 50.
    Access: Tierless business class travelers, AY Silver tier can purchase access for €25 or use 8500 AY Plus Points, oneWorld emeralds and sapphires. Must have an AY marketed ticket or flying in Business on JAL or British Airways.
    Finnair Platinum Lounge in the non-Schengen area opposite gate 50.
  • Access: oneWorld Emeralds. Ay Sapphires can access the Premium Lounge during non-peak hours until the expansion of the business class lounge is completed.
    Finnair Lounge in the Schengen area above gates 23 - 26. Entry stairs and elevator close to gate 22.
  • Access: Tierless business class travelers on Finnair or airberlin, AY Silver tier can purchase access for €25 or use 8500 AY Plus Points, oneWorld Emeralds and Sapphires. Must have an AY marketed ticket! Those who are on the AY operated flight sold by AF to CDG can use the Aspire lounge.

All three serve hot breakfast 6-10 and hot meals 14-18 Non-schengen lounges also serves hot meals from 21.00 to 24.00. All lounges serve salad and soup from 10.00-24.00.
Platinum lounge offers "upgraded food & beverage selection" and has "Gourmet snacks" (cold cuts, canapés) 10.00-24.00. During the afternoons there is also a menu service served at your table.

When transiting, you can use these lounges if your class of travel or Oneworld status permit you access. Also, there is the [email protected] Lounge in the non-Schengen area, which is used by BA. The Finnair Lounge in the non-Schengen area has several showers available and even a small sauna. There are showers also in the Schengen lounge and [email protected] has one. There is no arrival lounge as such at HEL, but at least AY Plats and occasionally OW Emeralds have been granted access to the Finnair Lounge in the non-Schengen area even if they are not transiting. This is YMMV category.

In addition, there is an Aspire Lounge (with shower) close to gate 27, which is used, e.g., by Skyteam airlines and Turkish Airlines, but also allows Priority Pass card holders in, or you can buy single entry at €35. Finnair lounges offers single entry at 48€, sometimes there is a discount in your MMB or BP or can be purchased online for €39 if your itinerary is eligible. Star Alliance has a lounge near gate 13 operated by SAS.

4. Hotels at HEL airport
GLO hotel, inside the actual terminal (landside, basement level).
Offers rooms with 10% off for Finnair plus members. Campaign code PROFP at the time of booking and show card when checking in. Benefit includes free cancellation.

Hilton, a short walk outside terminal mostly under roof. Due to expansion of the airport security, the passageway to Hilton is now more cumbersome and only accessible via stairs. Airport operator suggest taking a taxi (!). Just as before, it is also accessible by the free parking shuttle bus. Get off at parking P5 to save a few meters.

Scandic has opened an airport-hotel in H1 2018, in the TOKE building, between T2 and Hilton. Despite being closer to the airport than Hilton, the walk is actually longer as entrance is in south end of building. Around 400 m. The free parking shuttle stops at P5 which is about 100m from Scandic entrance.

Clarion opened a hotel next to Aviapolis train station in 2016, but it is a stretch to call it an airport hotel as it is not within walking distance. It is easily accessed by train though.
Take the I-train one stop to station Aviapolis, use exit Aviabulevardi and the hotel entrance is to the right at the top of escalators. The train ride takes 2 minutes, but requires a BC zone ticket (currently €2.80) sold in machines at the train station.


5. Getting around
The immediate vicinity of HEL airport is serviced by parking shuttle bus and hotel shuttle bus.
Helsinki downtown is serviced by public trains and buses, and by the "Finnair citybus" shuttle. Finnair Citybus can be paid with points (currently 2500p oneway) by simply swiping your AY+ membership card.
Tickets to public trains/busses are sold by vending machines, at R-kioski shops or via the mobile app. Tickets must be purchased before boarding. On April 27 2019 a new zone structure will be implemented for the capital area. The airport is in zone C and the city centre is zone A, meaning an airport-city centre ticket is zones ABC. Journeys close to the airport can be done solely in zone C (eg to nearby shopping mall Jumbo) although the transport authority does not sell single zone tickets, so a BC or CD ticket must be bought (with BC tickets substantially cheaper). Sadly, they have removed the map that explained the zone-system. To know what zones you will be travelling in, you need to use the in-app route planner, and a small e.g. "ABC" will be shown on each suggested route, indicating you need a e.g. ABC-zone ticket.

The "HSL" smartphone app is easy to use, works in english, accepts foreign phones and mastercard/visa. It sells single tickets, 1-7 day tickets and 30 day tickets. It no longer requires a constant internet connection, ie you can buy a day ticket using the free wifi at the airport and then go off line and still have a valid ticket.
The 1-7 day passes are better value if you take ≈3+ single trips a day or if you plan to use night time traffic as that is included in daily passes but single night time tickets are priced higher than normal single tickets.
Print Wikipost

Old Jul 6, 13, 9:06 am
  #1  
Ambassador: Finnair Plus
Original Poster
Hilton 5+ BadgeHyatt Contributor Badge
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: HEL
Programs: AY+ Plat, HHonors Diamond, Hyatt Discoverist, Priority Club Plat Amb, Miles and Smiles Elite
Posts: 4,267
Transiting in HEL - Devilishly difficult or seraphically simple?

Wow, that was easier than I thought. Please edit the wiki as you see fit.
SPBanker is offline  
Old Jul 6, 13, 10:44 am
  #2  
TTL
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: KUO
Programs: HH Diam, AY Plat, IHG Plat, Visa Plat, PP Prest, BT Vip
Posts: 1,782
UK to Schengen/non-Schengen is like US to Schengen/non-Schengen, no security check.
TTL is offline  
Old Jul 6, 13, 11:12 am
  #3  
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 1,230
Originally Posted by TTL View Post
UK to Schengen/non-Schengen is like US to Schengen/non-Schengen, no security check.
...Text removed as corrections made...

Sorry, I don't know how to make changes to wiki. Is it just editing?

Last edited by nordic; Jul 7, 13 at 3:22 pm
nordic is offline  
Old Jul 6, 13, 1:05 pm
  #4  
Ambassador: Finnair Plus
Original Poster
Hilton 5+ BadgeHyatt Contributor Badge
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: HEL
Programs: AY+ Plat, HHonors Diamond, Hyatt Discoverist, Priority Club Plat Amb, Miles and Smiles Elite
Posts: 4,267
Yes, just hit the Edit button.
SPBanker is offline  
Old Jul 6, 13, 1:39 pm
  #5  
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: try to stay home
Programs: AY, M&M, BAEC ...and don t care of status anymore
Posts: 1,427
If the security lines busy you can follow the signs to HEL, downstairs they have a security lane as well, I use this quite often with no problems. Last time they told me that I can t stay in the non Schengen aera, but after a few words they let me go.
Ed Size is offline  
Old Jul 6, 13, 5:44 pm
  #6  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: HEL
Programs: lots of shiny metal cards
Posts: 10,434
Originally Posted by SPBanker View Post
Yes, just hit the Edit button.
Just did
WilcoRoger is offline  
Old Jul 7, 13, 5:04 am
  #7  
Ambassador: Finnair Plus
Original Poster
Hilton 5+ BadgeHyatt Contributor Badge
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: HEL
Programs: AY+ Plat, HHonors Diamond, Hyatt Discoverist, Priority Club Plat Amb, Miles and Smiles Elite
Posts: 4,267
Originally Posted by WilcoRoger View Post
Just did
^
SPBanker is offline  
Old Jul 7, 13, 12:47 pm
  #8  
Moderator: Lufthansa Miles & More, External Miles & Points Resources
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: MUC
Programs: LH SEN
Posts: 40,167
Stickied as per OPs request.

Terve Oliver2002
Vanhempi Moderator
oliver2002 is offline  
Old Jul 7, 13, 2:03 pm
  #9  
Ambassador: Finnair Plus
Original Poster
Hilton 5+ BadgeHyatt Contributor Badge
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: HEL
Programs: AY+ Plat, HHonors Diamond, Hyatt Discoverist, Priority Club Plat Amb, Miles and Smiles Elite
Posts: 4,267
Originally Posted by oliver2002 View Post
Stickied as per OPs request.

Terve Oliver2002
Vanhempi Moderator
Kiitos, thanks, Danke, tack!
SPBanker is offline  
Old Jul 7, 13, 3:20 pm
  #10  
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 1,230
I changed the list of EU non-Schengen countries and added a chapter of the liquid rules.

I am not quite sure about the last paragraph. Does the 24 hour rule apply also to purchases made onboard EU intercontinental flights and items bought at US, KUL, SIN airports. Probably so.

"Liquids bought at an airside duty-free store at an airport within the European Union and Norway, Iceland and Switzerland may be brought through security within 24 hours of the purchase (i.e. you may go to landside and re-enter security within the time period) provided that the items in the original sealed and unopened bag together with a receipt on the purchased items."

One further question:
Arriving from Schengen using a bus to terminal. Do the buses always arrive near the T2A baggage claim area now that even baggage claim area T2B is used for some Schengen flights. I remember that a couple of years ago a bus (arriving from Budapest) left us by the door near the T2B area resulting in that we had to go through arrivals and departures to be rescreened for our domestic connection flight. This T2B door was used earlier for arrivals from Norway and Iceland before they introduced the customs phones in the tubes.

Last edited by nordic; Jul 7, 13 at 3:32 pm
nordic is offline  
Old Jul 8, 13, 1:50 am
  #11  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: HEL
Programs: lots of shiny metal cards
Posts: 10,434
Originally Posted by nordic View Post
I remember that a couple of years ago a bus (arriving from Budapest) left us by the door near the T2B area resulting in that we had to go through arrivals and departures to be rescreened for our domestic connection flight.
That was because BUD was deemed "unsecure" for a while a few years ago, so connecting from BUD you had to be rescreened (not only in HEL but at all EU airports) This is history now.
WilcoRoger is offline  
Old Jul 8, 13, 12:18 pm
  #12  
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Helsinki, Finland
Programs: TK *G, BA Gold
Posts: 549
I updated the document to more accurately describe what the airport is: one terminal with 2x departure halls and 3x baggage claim areas. There aren't actually two terminals (in the normal sense of the word) it would be hard to even realise when you are crossing from T1 -> T2.
The finnavia site used to sell the airport to airlines as "one terminal" but I pointed out to them that their passenger pages talked about two terminals. Probably one terminal is a selling point for airlines, two terminals makes it sound a grand place from a passenger point of view. Now finnavia call it "two terminals under one roof" .. in the same way that my house is four bedrooms under one roof I suppose.

Similar goes for the inability of Finnavia to accurately name the non schengen part and they call it the "long haul" area.
riku2 is offline  
Old Aug 4, 13, 8:12 am
  #13  
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: BOM/DEL/GAU
Programs: A few airlines, hotel programs and car rentals
Posts: 1,139
Hello FTers, this thread is a GODSEND for my parents, as they will be flying Finnair this time!

They are flying Finnair business class, and both of them have OneWorld Emerald Status! However, I do have a couple of questions, as this is their first time transiting through HEL:

1. My parents will be flying in from New Delhi, India, and will be transiting through to Paris CDG. First, is there a priority lane for security and passport control, for business class guests?

2. Do they have to go through security, or is passport control enough?

3. Is the connection time of 1:15 hr sufficient ? (Please bear in mind that they will be transiting from a non-schengen country, to a schengen country)

4. The lounge, in the non-schengen area, is it good enough for about a half-hour visit?

5. And, by any chance, does anybody have an idea, from which gate, does usually, HEL-CDG flight depart (AY 873)? I, understand, that it's a really vague question, but, I was wondering, if it's near gates 24 and 25, they can actually avail of the shower facilities, even in that short period of time!

Thanks!
AvidFlyer1990 is offline  
Old Aug 5, 13, 9:08 am
  #14  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: May 2011
Location: MMX (CPH)
Programs: QR PC Platinum, AY+ Platinum, A3*G, SK EB silver, Nordic Choice Platinum, Liberokerho GOLD, SJ Black
Posts: 11,532
1. Normally no. (if their flight is delayed there might be a temporary fast track through security). As they are in business, they will be first off the plane.
At this time of day, there are quite a few longhaul planes arriving, and at 15:20 there are 3 planes landing at "the same time". So it is a bit of peak hour, and they should not linger getting off the plane.
2. Security and then passport at 2 different stations.
3. Yes, should be more than enough.
4. Absolutely. Wine, beer, soft drinks and salad is offered. A quick snack and a seat is perfect for the short stop they are having. At peak hours it might be crowded.
5. I have no experience of this flight. But normally AY will display all connecting flights and gate numbers onboard before landing. If they ask a FA they should also be able to tell them the gate
They can also sign up for text message service (for a fee), and they will get message with gate number
http://www.helsinki-vantaa.fi/timetables/sms-service
intuition is offline  
Old Aug 5, 13, 10:50 am
  #15  
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: BOM/DEL/GAU
Programs: A few airlines, hotel programs and car rentals
Posts: 1,139
intuition, thank you so much for your reply! It really did help clear out the doubts! Thank you, once again. And my parents sends their regards!
AvidFlyer1990 is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search Engine: