As we approach the autumn and winter holidays, people tend to want to travel and visit warmer climates. In this article, we share a few tips to help you travel with peace of mind.
Taking a trip after a long time without travel can be exciting not only for children but also for adults. A smooth travel experience is important for families with children. There are many things to consider when preparing a trip, especially when travelling with small children.
“It is important for Finavia that all passengers can enjoy an equally smooth travel experience, so we take the special needs of families with children into account at all stages of the passenger path at the airport,” says Finavia’s Hanna Hämäläinen, Head of Passenger Services and Development at Helsinki Airport.
Pre-departure procedures at the airport are largely the same as before. The only change concerns check-in, where travel documents according to the destination country’s requirements are checked for the entire group. Depending on the airline, there may be not one but two checkpoints: one for checking COVID-19 certificates and one for the normal check-in procedures.
“Several airlines check the certificates before the passengers reach the check-in. Children do this together with their parent, so there is no need to be nervous about presenting the certificate,” Hämäläinen explains.
Passengers are advised to check with their airline in advance whether children’s pushchairs, prams and safety seats need to be handed over to the airline at the baggage check-in or at the departure gate. Pushchairs for children who are old enough to sit upright are available at the airport. If you have an infant, you may want to bring your own wearable baby carrier.
“Helsinki Airport has a separate security control line for families with children. It is more spacious and includes a seat for setting down a baby or toddler for a moment. The security officers are used to working with children and are happy to help,” Hämäläinen says.
Passengers travelling with infants can bring the necessary quantity of baby food through the security control. Baby food items need to be taken out of hand baggage and presented separately at the security control.
Enjoy the airport’s services and have fun before your flight
After you have passed through security control, you can take a moment to relax. Helsinki Airport has a comprehensive range of services for families with children: restaurants with children’s meals, high chairs and the opportunity to heat small children’s meals and milk bottles when necessary.
The play area on the Schengen side near Gate 20 is open, as are the Maja Living Room and Christmas Cabin on the non-Schengen side. Visiting the shops at the airport is also entertaining. Moomin Coffee on the non-Schengen side is a big draw for children.
“In the terminal, you can move around as usual and watch the aircraft and various other vehicles out on the apron. Finavia strongly recommends the use of masks by passengers, but this does not include children,” Hämäläinen says.
There is a free wireless network at the airport as well as charging points for tablets and other smart devices near the departure gates. You can fill your water bottle at the airport’s water stations. Maintaining good hand hygiene is easy, as there are plenty of hand sanitiser stations and facilities for washing your hands.
“There are several quiet spaces at Helsinki Airport for childcare and breastfeeding. There are separate childcare rooms for changing diapers next to the bathrooms. Many of them also have small toilets or potty chairs for children. Childcare supplies are also available in the airport’s accessible toilets, which provide more space for parents with children,” Hämäläinen adds.
On the non-Schengen side, near Gate 40, there is a breastfeeding room with a microwave oven, childcare facilities and a separate toilet. Childcare rooms and accessible toilets are available for all adults travelling with children.
Check country-specific requirements ahead of time
According to Heli Lehtinen, Senior Manager, Customer Experience at the tour operator Aurinkomatkat, Greece and Spain will again be amongst the favourite destinations of Finnish tourists this autumn. Airlines and tour operators provide passengers with up-to-date information on destination countries and their requirements on their websites. Finnair maintains a map of travel restrictions that is a useful tool for planning your holiday.
“It is important for passengers to check the requirements of their destination country on websites maintained by the country’s public authorities and to keep monitoring them until the time of the journey, as the requirements may change. Many popular destination countries do not require children to have COVID-19 certificates, but you should check that as well,” Hämäläinen points out.
You should check with the authorities of the destination country or the tour operator to find out whether children are required to wear a mask in the holiday destination. You can also buy one at the airport.
If you are taken ill during your holiday, your insurance company or tour operator can advise you on what to do. You need to observe the instructions of the local authorities and not travel when you are unwell.
“We recommend that you always obtain travel insurance before you go on holiday. You should make sure that your travel insurance provides a suitable level of protection for your family and covers the costs of any illness during your holiday,” Lehtinen says.
Children under the age of 12 travelling with parents who are fully vaccinated or who are not required to have COVID-19 tests taken when they arrive in Finland do not, according to the current guidelines of the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), need to avoid contact when returning home.
Check the guidelines on returning to Finland on the website of the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare and the Finentry service well ahead of your return flight. You will find instructions concerning your return flight on the website of the airport at your destination.
Instructions and tips for passengers travelling with children are available on Finavia’s Little Airport page.