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. 

- 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.
- 'Helsinki Airport is 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.
- While in 2015 about 300,000 Chinese passengers went through Helsinki Airport, outnumbering Russian passengers - the Airport added Chinese guide service, whereby the easy-to-spot Guides can be of service to Chinese travelers.

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.

'GoSleep' sleeping pods  (looking like giant eggs) are are currently being tested at gates 18 and 38.

Present and future Airport developments 2016 - 2020:  Terminal and airfield expansions, acquisition of new wide-bodied Airbus aircraft and completion of rail connection between  Airport and central Helsinki are part of a strategy for Helsinki to become a premier hub between Europe and Asia and to reach an annual 20 million passenger by 2020:
Terminal Expansion
Phase 1 was completed May 2016: The new 3,000 sq.meter building now houses 12 departure gates for longhaul flights and added overall capacity. Its 'Fair Taste' cafe offers  fresh & healthy healthy food.  The security control was expanded, whereby non-EU arriving passengers transfering to a non-EU destination are able to use two added security checkpoints. Both the number of APCs (automated passport control kiosks) and manned border control booths have been added.
- Phase 2 involves improvements to T2's retail facilities and construction on an additional South Wing to the non-Schengen area - to be completed summer 2017, when the terminal area will have increased by a total of 6,850 sq.meters (on separate Arrival & Departure levels).  Also the terminal apron will be renovated, four parking spaces for wide-body aircraft added, and 3 double-boarding bridges installed. Simultaneous boarding through two passages - one to the front of the plane and one to the center - will significantly expedite both boarding and disembarking. (Once the new south wing is completed by 2017, the terminal will have grown by 6,850 sq.meters, representing a two-level building with for arriving & departing passengers on separate floors. )
- Phase 3 work will start on the  West Wing  - to be completed by mid-2020.  Upon completion of the entire US$1.2B project by 2020, a total of 75,000 sq.meters will have been added; capacity increased to 20M passengers/yr;  16 air bridges for wide-body aircraft and 70 new or renovated shops & cafes added.

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