There are a few things in travel that are unavoidable. A frantic dash across an airport to catch a plane that leaves in 15 minutes is on that list. “I knew I should’ve left the house earlier,” you think to yourself. “Maybe I’d get to the gate sooner if other people got out of my way,” you continue, growing more stressed and desperate by the minute. What should you keep in mind to make those airline connections smoother?
As a hub, Helsinki Airport is quite compact and relatively uncrowded, with all gates under one roof. Flying via the Finnish capital means less time is spent waiting for flights; at best, changing planes can take just 35 minutes. Whenever there’s a connection, however, there’s always that chance that you could miss your flight. Sini Kaikkonen, Customer Experience Champion at Finavia, offers these pieces of advice for the following scenarios:
- For a Schengen to Schengen transfer – for instance, if you’re travelling from Kittilä to Paris – you just simply walk from one gate to another.
- For a Schengen to Non-Schengen transfer – if you’re flying from Kittilä to Tokyo, for example – you will have to go through immigration.
- For Non-Schengen to Schengen transfers – Tokyo to Kittilä, let’s say – you may have to go through security control and immigration.
- For Non-Schengen to Non-Schengen transfers – you might have to go through security control (depending on your airport of origin).
“So, the option that takes the most time is a Non-Schengen to Schengen transfer,” says Kaikkonen.
More tips for a fast transfer
In addition, she advises passengers with tight transfers to bear these in mind.
- In general, make sure to check your boarding gate as soon as you arrive at the airport. Flight information screens will display gate numbers, which direction to go and how many minutes it will take to walk to your gate. Remember to consider possible additional queueing time at passport control. The screens also show the status of your flight: Go to border control/Go to gate/Boarding/Final call/Gate closed.
- If there’s a letter after your boarding gate number – for example, 31A or 50C – expect a bus transfer to your plane. (Exceptions to this rule are gates 31X and 32A which have passenger boarding bridges.) At the bus gates, boarding starts and ends a bit earlier than at gates with passenger bridges.
- If you arrive on a Non-Schengen flight, keep your eye on the monitors. There can be an Express Connection security control lane open for you. All the short-connection flights are displayed on these screens and staff can guide you to the shortest possible lane.
- At border control, there might also be an option for an express connection. This can be a big advantage if you arrive during peak times or rush hour. Ask the staff for more information.