HELSINKI: Finnair has revamped its airport lounges in a bid to enhance the passenger experience. The carrier’s thoroughly Finnish design aesthetic, and focus on comfort and practicality was recognised late in June when Priority Pass, the world’s premier independent lounge access programme, presented the airline’s Helsinki-Vaata lounge with a Highly Commended Award.
Markuu Remes, Finnair’s manager of VIP and lounge services, makes bold claims about carrier’s offering: “In our Helsinki lounge we offer passengers the chance to experience true love…” He explains that this is restricted to trying a Busk and Hertzog True Love Chair, an important component of the Helsinki lounge experience, but not a feature of all Finnair lounges, given the cost and exclusivity of the Danish furniture.
And while these very special chairs are in keeping with the regional design theme, the unique attributes of Finnish design are displayed elsewhere in the lounge. Food and drink is presented on Marimekko crockery, while elegant, swan-like individual lamps light the lounge tables.
Mika Ihamuotila, CEO of Finland’s iconic Marimekko design company says that Finnish design shares much with that of the country’s Scandinavian neighbours, but it must also be functional, practical and expressed in quality products. “Sometimes we Finns are unable to see beauty in wonderful objects that don’t work well, or are not made to last,” he says.
There is a clear synergy between Marimekko’s design ambitions and those of Finnair, which strives to offer top-class niche services, primarily on routes to Asia out of its Helsinki home base.
This synergy is not lost on Remes, who is keen to point out that passengers falling in love with the swan lamps or designer crockery can easily purchase their own, through Finnair’s online PlusShop, cleverly adding value to the passenger experience and driving ancillary revenue. And should passengers feel compelled to purchase there and then, Finnair’s lounge provides plenty of connections for laptops and phones, as well as an innovative wireless charging system for smaller electronic devices – all part of the peace of mind travel experience that the airline delivers.
As a relatively small player among Europe’s airlines, Finnair has founded its success on customer service and passenger loyalty. This ethos expresses itself throughout the operation and the carrier’s inflight service includes the Power Purser concept, especially on its long-haul routes. Here, very experienced senior cabin crew are empowered to act on their own initiative, reacting to emerging situations by problem solving or identifying opportunities for exceptional service – what Finnair calls Magic Moments.
According to Markuu Remes, Finnair has trained its cabin crew to see every passenger as an individual, anticipating and respecting their needs whenever possible. For its part, Finnair’s customer-facing representatives have been trained to use the best traits of their own personalities in passenger communication and problem solving. The result is truly effective, friendly service.
Power Purser Päivi Mäkelä expands on the Magic Moments concept with the story of two Finnish passengers flying from Oslo to Singapore. Travelling on Vappu – May Day – the two ladies in economy were the only Finns on the passenger manifest. Quickly identified by Mäkelä and her team as being away from home on this important day, they were treated to complimentary champagne for their own Magic Moment.
But Finnair’s garden does not entirely smell of giant poppies. As the carrier divests itself of its short-haul Embraers, so it is looking to shed cabin crew. But its long-haul routes, the cornerstone of its business, will continue to offer passengers access to some of the finest lounges in the world, as well as an exalted level of customer service.