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From plank benches to Alvar Aalto classics – have you already sat on these pieces of furniture at Helsinki Airport?

Article published
20.6.2019 at 09:00
Helsinki Airport is home to thousands of chairs. Here are our tips for design enthusiasts and for those who seek the ultimate respite while waiting to board a flight.

Their flight to Miami is about to board, but passengers heading to sunny Florida still have time to stretch out in Artek 400 armchairs, also known as “Tankki”, the tank. Designed by Alvar Aalto in 1936 for an exhibition at the Milan Triennale, these chunky classics offer the ultimate in comfort. 

While there are only a few of these so-called tanks at Helsinki Airport, there’s an abundance of other chairs. The criteria for all these seats, numbering in the thousands, are the same. “The vital qualities are comfort and durability. We also prefer chairs that are not that easy to move around, as everything has its place at the airport,” says Johanna Laakso, Head of Customer Experience Development at Finavia. 

Classics that age well  


Most of the seating options at airports around the world are conventional row benches. They offer a cost-efficient way to offer places to plop down without compromising sturdiness. These robust benches also form the base of Helsinki Airport’s seating capacity, but airport staff wanted to make the chair landscape more interesting. 

“We want to excel in customer experience, so we started to think of what kind of exciting chairs we could bring to the airport. We favour Finnish design and thus have invested in classics by designers from our homeland. Designer chairs are of course expensive, but they are durable and easier to fix than mass produced ones.”  

For aficionados of Finnish design, Helsinki Airport is a haven. Besides the already mentioned Aalto Artek 400, one can spot Eero Aarnio’s revolutionary Ball Chair, Yrjö Kukkapuro’s famous Carousel, Ilmari Tapiovaara’s Mademoiselle rocking chair and contemporary classics designed exclusively for the airport. These pieces are most likely to be found in the newest areas of Terminal 2. 

Wooden benches for the ultimate stretch  

Wooden bemch at a gate.

Besides the classics, one can spot long rows of everyday wooden benches, straight out of a traditional Finnish cottage. Rugged but versatile, these wide seats are the innovation of Finavia’s own staff and made partly of recycled material.  

The advantage of a wooden bench is its versatility. For example, you can sit and have enough space to spread out your food and drink, or play card games with a group of friends. On long benches, even a taller passenger can take a good nap. 

But what about Johanna Laakso’s own favourites?  

“Besides Alvar Aalto’s tank chair, I need to root for the wooden bench! We are a nap-friendly airport, after all. On the wooden bench, a passenger can stretch one’s back easily so these benches are great places to rest between long flights.” 

The chairs mentioned in this article can be found near these gates: 

Alvar Aalto’s Artek 400 “tank chair”: Gate 54 

Yrjö Kukkapuro’s Carousel: Gate 53 

Ilmari Tapiovaara’s Mademoiselle: Gates 22 and 54 

Ilmari Tapiovaara’s Domus: Gate 55 

Wooden benches can be found at Gate 22, South Wing of Terminal 2 and from Terminal 1.  


Helsinki Airport awarded having the best customer experience in Europe