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Why Helsinki Airport Is Changing Its Name

by SharonKurheg

If you think about it, it’s kind of a big deal to get something named after you.

You usually have to make a donation and, depending on how much you give, a brick, chair, room, hall, or maybe the whole flippin’ building will have your name plastered on it.

Lots of airports go the easy route and are just named after the cities they’re in. Los Angeles. Abu Dhabi. Sydney. But others are named after famous people (even without a donation!). Examples of those are Bill and Hillary Clinton, Nikola Tesla, Indira Gandhi, etc.

But let’s face it…no airports are named after ordinary people like you and me. Well, not until now, anyway.

Now, I’ve admittedly never been, but Helsinki Airport (HEL) just strikes me as a cool place. They’re the ones who had this sign up a couple of years back:

From CN Traveler in December 2016:

While the sign specifically mentions November, the banner is still up, and visitors to the Nordic nation are sharing it on social media. The banner was created and sponsored by Slush, a tech organization hosting a conference in Helsinki from November 30-December 1, but after visitors to the country began sharing photos of the sign on social media, it remained up despite the event ending.

Any airport that’d be willing to keep a sign like that up, just because it’s fun and popular, is OK in my book.

Anyway, in what I’m personally labeling a continuance of HEL’s coolness factor, they’ve just upped their cred, because until the end of December, they’re renaming the airport, not just for the city it’s in, and not for someone famous, but for the people it serves. Read: ordinary citizens like you and me.

Instead of the airport’s sign just saying HELSINKI AIRPORT, they’re giving people the opportunity to add their name to one of the airport’s electronic signs.

It’s called their “Make Helsinki Airport your own” campaign. They’re doing it to celebrate the opening of HEL’s newly renovated Terminal 2.

Finavia Corporation is responsible for managing and developing Finland’s airport network. Their SPV of Marketing and Customer Experience, Katja Siberg, says:

We strongly believe that airports are, and always should be, for the passengers. Because what would they be without customers? We are beyond proud to be the first airport in the world to actually name ourselves after you, me, and all of us.

Would you like HEL to be named after YOU?

Here’s how it’s done:

First you go to https://myhelsinkiairport.fi/ and enter your name in the gray box that says ENTER YOUR NAME.

Note: You can only put in up to 20 characters. I put in Joe & Sharon because, well, those are our names. 😉 Note that you also have to agree to their notes about personal data (not collected, save for your name) etc.

Once that’s done, they tell you how many people’s names are ahead of yours and how long your wait will be (that gives you time to go outside and get a picture or selfie, if you’d like)

And then you can go see your name as part of Helsinki Airport!

PC: Finavia

Unfortunately, there’s no live feed of the sign, so there’s no way to see your name unless you’re there and in person (or know someone who’s there who can take the picture for you). Bummer.

Anyway, heads up that the naming is only available between 8am and 6pm Finland time (that’s 1am-11am ET, 12am-10am CT, 11pm-9am MT, 10pm-8am PT), “to ensure that as many passengers as possible get to claim Helsinki Airport as their own.” Seems to me that if they wanted to make sure “as many as possible” were able to get their name included, they’d offer it 24/7. So I wonder if it’s just during hours someone is there to ensure no one posts anything inappropriate ;-).

Here’s what you encounter if you try to fill out the form during off-hours:

“Make Helsinki Airport your own” will be available until the end of December.

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary


derek December 23, 2021 - 12:40 pm

In the US, there has been widespread abuse and silliness to use the word “International” in the airport name. Like Fort Wayne International Airport. It’s fine to leave it as Gatwick Airport or Shreveport Regional Airport.

I wonder if Helsinki will accept other than people’s names, like Mercedes-Benz Helsinki Airport or Taiwan Is Not the People’s Republic of China Helsinki Airport or Wear a N95 Mask Helsinki Airport?

SharonKurheg December 23, 2021 - 12:45 pm

Those all have more than 20 letters 😉 But I get your point. I was actually trying to make Your Mileage May Vary as ours, except it take up 21 characters so it was too long. Plus, of course, I’d never see if it was accepted or not. I really wish they had a live feed but I even wrote them them to ask and they said they didn’t.

Joe Mangini December 23, 2021 - 6:57 pm

Naming Helsinki Airport with your personal name is about as asinine as LAS dropping McCarren International to Harry Reid International Airport. How stupid is that. Harry Reid was a loser for the state of NV and more so for Las Vegas. He did not even show up for the dedication ceremony. This got push by a Democratic council with no input from local residence. The right name should have been put forward “PROUDLY” as Las Vegas International Airport.

SharonKurheg December 23, 2021 - 7:39 pm

Too bad they didn’t ask for your input.


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