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I am searching for a flight from HKG to LHR. Finnair offers a combination of AY834 & AY069, including transit in Helsinki airport and a total flight duration as short as 13:25 hr. However, AY834 arrives (from LHR to HEL) at 11 pm local time and AY069 departs (from HEL to HKG) at 11:40 pm local time. I am concerned that that may not be enough time to transit.

Is 40 minutes enough time to transit in Helsinki airport? Or should I choose an earlier flight?

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    That's cutting it quite close, but it is a small airport. – Michael Hampton Jul 19 '15 at 2:23
  • @Michael Hampton small airport? – Him Jul 19 '15 at 2:27
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    Relatively speaking. And non-Schengen international arrivals and departures use the same portion of Terminal 2, so you literally will walk a few meters from your arrival gate to your departure gate. – Michael Hampton Jul 19 '15 at 2:50
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    The itinerary you've proposed is LHR-HEL-HKG. But your narrative seems to indicate you intend to fly the other direction. Can you clarify this? – Michael Hampton Jul 19 '15 at 2:53
  • @Michael Hampton edited – Him Jul 20 '15 at 13:10
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If Finnair gave you an itinerary using those two flights, then they feel it is a legal, doable connection. It seems short, but that late at night there may not be much traffic so connections might be easier to do.

If you are putting the two flights together yourself, then personally I would allow more time.

In both cases, if your Hong Kong flight is delayed you maybe stuck in Helsinki until they can find you space on a later LHR flight.

  • This itinerary is LHR-HEL-HKG. – Michael Hampton Jul 19 '15 at 2:52
  • It really doesn't matter which way, if the first flight is delayed, the second flight will be missed and the OP is stuck until the next flight. – user13044 Jul 19 '15 at 3:16
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    @Tom there are many flights between HEL-LHR but only 1 HKG-HEL flight daily – Him Jul 20 '15 at 8:34
  • Well then, if you have lots of flights to choose from, it makes no sense to choose a pair with such a short layover, Especially since there is only one Hong Kong flight. – user13044 Jul 22 '15 at 1:30
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Helsinki is a comparatively small airport. A walk from what they call ‘terminal 1’ to ‘terminal 2’ is quicker than walking from the furthest A gate in Frankfurt to the furthest B gate, although they are both in Frankfurt’s terminal 1. And apart from it being rather small, there are other reasons why that connection is well doable:

  • Helsinki does not separate incoming from outgoing passengers so there are no complicated ways to look for when connecting when compared to arriving. You will be dumped on the same level and just need to walk across to your next gate.

  • Both your flights are sold by Finnair and thus operated by a OneWorld partner airline. They will always arrive and depart from the part of the building labelled ‘terminal 2’ which further reduces the maximum number of gates you may have to walk along.

  • Finally, both of your flights are coming from or departing to outside of the Schengen area (Hong Kong and London). There is only a very small fraction of the far side of terminal 2 which handles extra-Schengen flights, separated from the rest of the terminal by passport controls.

If unluckily your arriving flight was late, you did book a through ticket which Finnair did sell to you without any issues, so it is their responsibility to get you to your final destination somehow. (i.e. on the next plane)

However, if your arrival flight is on time and since arrival and departure times are typically gate times, you’ld likely even have enough time to enjoy a coffee and a pulla while you wait until your connecting flight boards. Hyvää matkaa!

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    Caveat concerning the pulla: At 11 p.m. all the coffee places may be closed. – Jan Jun 17 '16 at 22:06
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    'Helsinki does not separate incoming from outgoing passengers' - That is not exactly so. There's an EU directive that mandates that transiting passengers should re-clear security unless they arrive from trusted airports. The question is, is HKG a trusted airport? – ach Jun 18 '16 at 7:01
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    @AndreyChernyakhovskiy You are correct. Arrivals from outside the EU+USA are segregated and go through security before their next flight. So an arrival from HKG will need to clear security (but not passport control) to go to LHR. An arrival from LHR can go to the HKG gate without delay. – Calchas Jun 18 '16 at 10:03
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When you've booked the flights with one airline, you don't have to worry about missing your connecting flight, also the chances of actually missing your connecting flight due to delays are a lot less compared to booking the flights separately. The gate staff will do everything they can to make sure connecting passengers will be able to board the plane. This is because there are financial consequences for the airline if you have to be re-booked on another flight.

You're already going to be checked in on the connecting flight when your still on your way. If your plane is delayed, the gate staff of the connecting flight will be notified. It's quite common for the connecting flight to be slightly delayed to allow passengers from connecting flights to board the plane. The gate will be left open until you arrive, provided the delay isn't too large. In airports that are much larger than Helsinki airport, the gate staff will sometimes deploy cars that are normally used for handicapped passengers to bring older passengers who cannot walk fast to their connecting flights in time.

If the delay is too large then you'll be either re-booked to another flight when you're still underway, or you'll be asked to go to the transfer desk where the re-booking will be sorted out. I've experienced such delayed quite a few times myself. I missed the connecting flight due to a large delay and I was re-booked during my flight. I had to print a boarding pass on arrival, and I saw that the boarding pass said that my new flight was due to leave 5 minutes ago, boarding had started 35 minutes ago when I was still in the air. But I could still walk to the gate, enter the plane and go to my seat.

If there are no connecting flights available that leave within a few hours, then you're going to be asked to go to the transfer desk. This gives passengers the option to not travel to their destination due to the delay, or pick another flight than the next one available. Depending on the delay, you'll be given meal vouchers, a hotel to spend the night in, and clothing, pajamas etc. as you won't have access to your baggage.

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