Helsinki-Vantaa (HEL) Airport

Helsinki-Vantaa HEL Airport Overview

Helsinki Vantaa Airport HEL is Finland's most important airport and is a leading transfer point for air traffic between Europe,  Asia  & North America.  Vantaa Airport is managed by Finavia, which continuously upgrades its airport facilities throughout Finland. The Airport is also recognized for its on-time performance.

HEL Airport is located three miles from Vantaa, Tikkurila, and 19 km, or half an hour drive,  from the city center of Helsinki and is accessible from Helsinki's Keha III circle motorway 50, and a number of motorways merging into it (motorways 51, 1, 120, 3, 45, 4 & 7).

With 3 long runways and serving near 15 million passengers annually, Helsinki Vantaa Airport can accommodate Airbuses 340/350, is hub for its flag-carrier Finnair & to Blue1, and is served by many national and international airlines offering direct and connecting flights to all points of the globe. 

NOTE:  15 Automated Boarder Control Gates, each for departing & arriving passengers, are used by 'citizens holding a biometric passport issued by EU/EEA countries'  - no pre-registration required. Citizens of the European Union can pass through border control, using one of the 30 automatic border control checkpoints serving both arriving & departing passengers.
Late July 2014 it was announced that 'Helsinki Airport is now the world’s first airport to introduce passenger flow management technology covering the whole passenger pathway from carparks to departure gates'. Developed by Finnish company 'Walkbase', this technology allows presently airport managers to identify passenger flow bottlenecks within the terminal - however, soon passengers will also benefit from this tech, as they can be notified on their smart phones about gate information, departure time changes or finding transfer directions.

On-Airport hotels include the Hilton Helsinki-Vantaa Airport and the Hotel GLO Helsinki Airport.

Helsinki Vantaa Airport' passenger terminal is partially divided into  Domestic (T1)  and International (T2)  terminals - both joined by a 250-meter internal pedestrian walkway, and surrounding parking facilities & hotels. The airside is not divided by international/domestic traffic, but by Schengen & non-Schengen traffic.  Transfer desks are located at T1 and at T2,  gates 25 & 31.  The Arrivals level is divided between Terminal 1Arrivals 1) and Terminal 2 Arrivals 2A & 2B - each one having their own baggage claim and lockers.

The small T1 Domestic Terminal area, located at the south-eastern tip of the terminal complex, with Departure Hall 1 and check-in desks 101-114,  is home to members of the Star Alliance. T1has gates 11 - 23.
T2, the International Terminal area, houses all other airlines, Departures Hall 2, 3  4 and check-in desks numbered 201-232, 240-271 & 400-423.  T2 has recently undergone renovation work giving it a fresh look. As part of the ongoing 6-year development program until 2020 - already at service are a total of 62 check-in machines, 14 baggage drop machines & a new 5-lane security checkpoint able to serve 3,200 passengers per hour, as well as renovated shopping areas, more border control kiosks with biometric ID technology, renovation of waiting & baggage areas between European & long-haul flights, enhanced border control capacity, a large duty-free shop at T2 - while new restaurants open gradually until 2016.
T2 has airline gates 24 - 38.
Amenities & services inside the two passenger terminal areas include a growing number of food & drink and retail & tax-free concessions,  Sampo bank branch, ATM cash machines, currency exchange,  Finnair Spa & Saunas, Finnair service desk, mail box, rental car counters, free internet kiosks, travel bureaus, pharmacy, book swap, playroom, parking payment machine, hair salon, as well as lounges (see below). The pre-security area of the passenger terminal offers cafes, a grocery store open 24/7, and the new 'Restaurant World' - to open in Spring 2015. 
    Airline lounges:
Almost@home Lounge - gate 32 - accessible to all passengers (with small kitchen, dining area & living room)
ASPIRE lounge by Servisai - gates2--28
Finnair Lounge - gates 25-26 (Priority Pass members have rated the Finnair Lounge 'Best Lounge in the World 201')
Long-Haul Lounge by Finnair - gate 36
SAS Business Lounge - gate 13
VIP Center - open on request 24 hrs - at Terminal 2, check-in level.

Passengers transferring to another flight: 
If you have a boarding pass for your connecting flight, proceed to your departure gate. If you do not have a boarding pass yet, go to the Transfer Desk located near gates 24 or 30.
All passengers who transfer from a non-EU country to an EU country must go through the security checkpoint. 
If your luggage has not been checked through to your destination, you have to collect it first at the baggage claim hall, then go through check-in and through security control - make sure you check your connecting departure flight time again.

Free sleeping pods during Spring 2015:  GoSleep sleeping pods  (looking like giant eggs) are are currently being tested at gates 18 and 38.

Present and future Airport developments:  
   The Ring Rail Line will have direct access to Helsinki Aiirport - scheduled to open late December 2015.
   Terminal Expansion
by 807,000 sq.feet:  Prepartions are well underway and construction is to start in early 2016 - to be done in three phases, with tentative completion scheduled for 2020 (ongoing Phase One involves improvements to T2's retail facilities). Construction starts 2016 on an additional South Wing to the non-Schengen area, while a new West Wing will follow later. Upon completion of the entire US$1.2B project by 2020, the terminal is to have a capacity of 20M passengers/yr, with 70 new or renovated shops & cafes.

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