Helsinki Airport

Airports and Airlines offer COVID-19 Tests

 Organizations representing airports and airlines, including the International Air Transport Association (IATA), are calling for rapid COVID-19 testing for passengers at airports as an alternative to quarantine measures or bans on international travel.

“The key to restoring the freedom of mobility across borders is systematic COVID-19 testing of all travelers before departure, said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO. “This will give governments the confidence to open their borders without complicated risk models that see constant changes in the rules imposed on travel,” he adds.

Most groups are calling for some sort of government agency or coordination for this tests. But in the meantime, airports and airlines are coming up with testing programs on their own.

United Airlines’ offering COVID-19 tests for Hawaii-bound passengers. Brace for the fee.

Starting October 15, customers traveling on United Airlines flights from San Francisco International Airport (SFO) to Hawaii will be able to take either a rapid COVID-19 test at the airport or a self-administered mail-in test at home.

This pilot program is timely and welcome because both residents and visitors arriving from out-of-state to Hawaii are still subject to a mandatory 14-day quarantine. But starting October 15, arriving travelers will be exempt from the quarantine if they have written confirmation of a negative test result secured within 72 hours from their final leg of their departure.

How will the tests work and what will they cost?

The test at SFO airport will be a rapid Abbott ID NOW COVID-19 test administered by GoHealth Urgent Care and partner Dignity Health. Passengers can make an appointment at the testing site in the international terminal on the day of their flight. Testing site hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.

The cost is $250. Certainly not cheap. But results should be available in about 15 minutes.

The mail-in test option is less expensive – $80, plus shipping. Still not cheap. This test is offered by a company named Color. They recommend customers order the test kit at least 10 days before their trip so they can send in a sample at least 72 hours before they fly. Results are delivered via email or text.

COVID-19 Testing by Dog

Meanwhile, Finland’s Helsinki Airport now has a team of specially-trained dogs on duty whose job it is to sniff out passengers who may be infected with COVID-19.

Tests conducted by University of Helsinki find that dogs can smell the COVID-19 virus with almost 100% certainty, according to a statement from the airport. The trained dogs can also identify the virus days before the symptoms have even started and from a much smaller sample than tests used by other methods.

“The difference is massive, as a dog only needs 10-100 molecules to identify the virus, whereas test equipment requires 18,000,000.”

Airport Amenity of the Week: Sauna-themed transfer bus

Finland is celebrating 100 years of independence this year and Helsinki airport is part of the party.

In January, the airport opened the Arctic World of Santa Claus space, where visitors can see see and experience Finland in fifteen minutes. In April, a photo exhibition highlighting Finish nature photography was opened.

Now the airport transfer buses are getting make-overs to celebrate Finnish themes.

They’ve started with a sauna-themed bus, a bus dedicated to Finnish national composer Jean Sibelius and one dedicated to Formula 1 car racing, which is evidently also dear to the Finns.

At least two more themed buses are promised.

We’re declaring this the Airport Amenity of the Week.

 

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…

Quiet please: sleep pods at Helsinki Airport

Helsinki sleep pods

Helsiniki sleep pods

Sleep pods have arrived (again) at Helsinki Airport in Finland.

Back in 2013, the airport ran a test program that included several free rest and relax options.

Travelers favored sleep pods over larger rest areas and that has led to the installation of 19 GoSleep pods at the airport.

Each pod consists of an ergonomic seat that can be turned into a bed. Pillows and blankets are available, carry-on luggage can be stored under the seat and there’s a pull-up cover designed to block out light and noise.

As a bonus – there’s a power plug in each sleep pod for charging phones and laptops.

Sound cozy?

The cost of checking into the sleep pod seems pretty reasonable: 9 Euro per hour – at current exchange rates, about US $10.

Match made in HEL: skateboard at Helsinki Airport

Admit it: even if you’re not a skateboarder, you’ve looked down those long airport corridors and thought about how cool it would be to cover those distances on a skateboard.

Now Finland’s Helsinki Airport is going to give a select few skateboarders that chance. And more.

helsinki_airport_match_made_in_hel_finnair_finavia

As part of a promotion highlighting the airport as a transfer point, on October 12 and 13 Finavia and Finnair are hosting the Match made in HEL skateboarding invitational – which will turn the airport over Finnish professional skateboarder Arto Saari and skateboarders from Asia and Europe.

Want to join them? Skateboarders can apply by sharing their skate videos at matchmadeinHEL.com and four will be chosen.

I’m starting lessons now….