Greetings from: Helsinki

Snaps from Finnair’s Inaugural Flights from SEA to HEL

Finnair is the latest new international carrier to serve Stuck at the Airport’s home base airport in Seattle.

We were delighted to hop on the inaugural flight from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) to Helsinki Airport (HEL).

And, yes, we love that we can tell people we can now fly directly from Seattle to HEL(L).

(Courtesy Port of Seattle)

Flights to SEA to HEL now operate three times a week: Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, using an Airbus A330.

Here are a few more snaps from the gate celebration on June 1, some of the inflight amenities, and a few places we visited early in our Helsinki visit.

Thanks to Finnair for taking us along.

Cookies to celebrate the Inaugural Finnair Flight from Seattle to Helsinki

Souvenirs from the inaugural flight include cookies and luggage tags. For some passengers we met in the gate area before the flight, these were the only clues that they had booked seats on new service from SEA.

Combined with the champagne or blueberry juice welcome drink and the Marimekko amenity kit for business class passengers, this was a very festive welcome.

SEA airport sent off this inaugural flight with two congratulatory cakes for the crew, which they generously shared with passengers.

In Helsinki

We’ll have more time to explore the airport on our way home but we are encouraged to see bright spaces and artwork greeting passengers on arrival at the recently-upgraded terminal.

Licorice in Finland

Salted licorice (salmiakki) is a popular treat in many Nordic countries and a ‘you love it or you hate it’ treat for visitors from other countries. The team loves it. And we were pleased to find a candy store not far from our hotel filled with licorice varieties we’d never seen or tasted before.


Helsinki Attractions

We’ll share more photos over the next few days, but with charming guides from Visit Helsinki, a group of Seattle-area journalists has been roving around the town.

Rock Church

Temppeliaukio Church is, understandably, one of Helsinki’s major tourist destinations because this Lutheran Church was carved out of solid rock, lined with copper, and covered with a UFO-like dome.

Helsinki’s central library – Oodi

Photo by Tuomas Uusheimo, Courtesy Helsinki Partner

Helsinki’s Central Library – Oodi – has books, of course. But this sprawling, welcoming space also serves as a community center and resource palace with everything from an outdoor terrace and cafes, to work and meeting spaces, recording studios with loaner instruments, play areas for kids, 3-D printing stations, sewing machines, and seemingly anything you might want to use or try out.

We love the spiral staircase, a work of art decorated with hundreds of words describing the wide variety of users that the public suggested the library should be dedicated to.


The Helsinki Art Museum – HAM – is hard to miss with this giant seagull head outside. We’ve yet to make our way inside the building. But because about half of the 9,000 works of art in HAM’s collection are located in public spaces, we’re able to enjoy the museum’s offerings as we walk around town.

We’ll be back with more sites and spottings from Helsinki tomorrow.

(Photos by Harriet Baskas unless otherwise noted)

Travel Tidbits from SFO + Finnair +Indiana State Museum

SFO’s Wag Brigade Gets a Bunny

Most airports that had them before the pandemic have now brought back their teams of stress-busting therapy animals to the terminals.

A great example is SFO’s Wag Brigade, which is made up of about a dozen cute pups, a pig named LiLou, and the newest member of the team, a 28-pound Flemish Giant rabbit named Alex the Great. Look for them all next time you’re in SFO.

Finnair handing out Nort Pole Diplomas

Yes, even adults love getting a set of plastic wings when onboard some airplanes. But Finnair has brought back a cool amenity for travelers: a certificate for passengers who have flown over the North Pole.

Back in 1983, when Finnair became the first airline to fly non-stop from Europe to Japan, passengers on the carrier’s Tokyo flights were given a certificate for flying over the North Pole.

Now, Finnair is using that polar route again in order to avoid flying in Russian airspace. And the carrier has brought back the certificate – plus some Moomin stickers.

On March 9, flight AY073 from Helsinki to Tokyo Narita headed towards the North Pole, instead of heading East. With this flight, Finnair resumed its service to Tokyo Narita, skirting around Russian airspace that closed on February 28.

Where We’d Go: Indiana State Museum

Now that the Stuck at the Airport museum team is back in the field, we’re adding a stop to the Indiana State Museum to our list so we can see the exhibit about Major Taylor: Fastest Cyclist in the World.

How to join Finnair’s virtual reality flights to visit Santa

What does Santa do after he finishes all that hard work delivering presents on Christmas Eve?

He’ll go up the last chimney, climb into his sleigh, and make his way home to Rovaniemi, Lapland.

That’s the Christmas story Helsinki-based Finnair, “Santa’s official airline,” believes. And they’re backing it up with a series of eight virtual reality (VR) flights to visit Santa once he’s home.

Finnair’s VR flights are open for booking and take place between December 25th and December 30. The cost is €10 per person, or about $12. And all the profits will go to UNICEF’s fund to help children adversely impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The immersive 360-degree virtual reality flights are created by Finnish VR studio Zoan and will be viewable on VR headsets, mobile phones, or laptops.

For these special flights, Finnair is giving all travelers virtual business class seats. And from that vantage point, it should be easy to look out the window and take in the starry skies and incredible views of the northern lights.

The VR experience also promises flight soundscapes, festive decorations, and, for those who have been nice and not naughty, a “glimpse of a familiar festive figure sitting in one of the other seats.”

Who could that be??

Once the virtual flight lands in Rovaniemi, Finnair says travelers will be able to virtually cross the Arctic Circle and visit Santa in his cabin.

If you show and he find him sleeping after his long night out, please don’t wake him up.

Fashion show on an airport runway? Yes.

Helsinki match made in HEL

A while back, Helsinki Airport and Finnair turned an airport runway into a skatepark.

That worked out so well, they’re doing it again:

On May 24, Finnair and Helsinki Airport (HEL) will host Runway 2 – a fashion show featuring work by top designers from around the world presented on an airport runway.

The event is a Match Made in HEL and will feature the work of yet-to-be announced fashion designers from China, Korea, Japan, the UK, Sweden, Denmark and Finland.

Sounds like great fun. Especially if the planes landing and taking off that day use the other runway…