Flights of Fancy: How Helsinki is Redefining the Airport Experience

Flights of Fancy: How Helsinki is Redefining the Airport Experience

A lot of words come to mind when considering your mental and emotional state at the airport, but I’d bet that most of them are variations of the word “tense”.

Between the heaving crowds and the invasive security screenings and the constant worry over flight delays and cancellations – not to mention the added stress if you’re a nervous flyer – most people fall somewhere between “mildly irritated” and “get me out of here now” on the stress scale.


Can Airports Be Fun?

But one airport wants you to actually enjoy your pre-flight time. Helsinki Airport recently started rolling out some exciting concepts as part of their TravelLab project, which allows customers to test new service concepts and experiences and provide their opinions on them. Ultimately, the plan is to make your travel experience smoother, more convenient, more enjoyable, and more fun.

“With TravelLab, we do not ask passengers what they would like to do at the airport. We do something with them, and then ask how it made them feel. Our goal is to create genuine experiences and evaluate real effect,”

Ville Haapasaari
Helsinki Airport Director at Finavia Corporation


Women doing yoga in Helsinki Airport


Pre-flight Pilates?

Earlier this year, TravelLab created a yoga and pilates space where customers could stretch out their pre-flight jitters in a quiet location away from the hustle and bustle of the departures area.

Held in the serene Kainuu space, the area was open 24 hours a day and yoga mats and instructions were provided. Fully instructed classes were also offered on occasion.


But It Doesn’t Stop There…

Other services that have been tested include:

 The Gate Roastery

TravelLab technicians on bikes roam the airport bring high-end Finnish coffee to passengers waiting for their flights at the gate area

 Midsummer Magic

A celebration that offered passengers a chance to experience Finnish midsummer through traditional birch decorations and workshops that allowed them to make their own flower garlands.

and (our favourite…)


Where passengers could take selfies against a photo wall that made it look as though they were enjoying a beautiful Finnish summer day – even if they were only passing through the departures terminal.


People taking photos from HEL


The initiatives proved popular, and the airport will be conducting further rounds of testing through August. We’ll be keeping an eye on the project to see what sticks, and hoping that the idea catches on in other airports.


If you could implement your own airport experience, what would it be? Tell us about it in the comments!


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