Lufthansa made some headlines in Finland after the airline decided to launch flights to Lapland for the holiday season, claiming that there is a 400% increase in demand in some instances.
What made many baffled was the fact that Finland is closed for leisure arrivals from most countries, including Germany, and only residents and nationals can freely enter. Business travel is allowed, but why would these travelers go to see Santa Claus or skiing?
Here’s part of the press release issued by Lufthansa:
Lufthansa is recording a sharp rise in intercontinental and intra-European bookings for the upcoming Christmas and New Year travel season. Last week, up to 400 percent more people booked destinations overseas as well as Southern and Northern Europe than in the previous week. Particularly in demand were flight destinations in South Africa (Cape Town, Johannesburg), Namibia (Windhoek), the Canary Islands, Madeira and sunny destinations in the Mediterranean, but also snow-assured areas in Northern Finland.
In addition to the classic sunny destinations, the snow-assured and spectacular ski resorts in Northern Finland are back in the flight schedule. Thus one reaches over the holidays from Frankfurt Ivalo and Kuusamo as well as from Munich Kittilä.
But the problem is that you cannot enter Finland unless you are a citizen or permanent resident OR a resident of Australia, Singapore, South Korea, Japan, Rwanda, Thailand, and New Zealand.
There is no currently “passport” free travel intra-Schengen to Finland, but the Finnish border guard checks everyone’s documents.
Here’s the info from Raja:
Restriction category 1 applies to:
- Internal border traffic to Finland from countries to which internal border controls are still applied: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Lithuania, Poland, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Sweden and Switzerland
- External border traffic between Finland and Andorra, Bulgaria, Ireland, Croatia, Romania, San Marino, the United Kingdom, Cyprus and Monaco
3.1 Partial continuation of internal border control: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Lithuania, Latvia, Liechtenstein and Poland
Internal border control will continue to be in place in travel between Finland and Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Lithuania, Poland, Latvia, Liechtenstein and Switzerland, with the exception of pleasure craft travel.
Those wishing to cross the internal border must use border crossing points where border control has been reinstated. Crossing the border in other places is not permitted without a border crossing permit.
3.2. External border traffic from Andorra, Bulgaria, Ireland, Croatia, Romania, the United Kingdom, San Marino, Cyprus and Monaco
Travel between Finland and Andorra, Bulgaria, Ireland, Croatia, Romania, the United Kingdom, San Marino, Cyprus and Monaco is allowed with similar restrictions as at internal borders.
3.3. Restriction category 1, permitted traffic
Return to Finland
- Finnish nationals and their family members
- nationals of EU and Schengen countries residing in Finland and their family members
- third-country nationals residing in Finland with a residence permit
Return to or through other EU and Schengen countries
- nationals of other EU and Schengen countries and their family members
- third-country nationals residing another EU or Schengen country with a residence permit
Work related travel or essential travel
- work related travel based on employment or assignment
- diplomats, staff of international organisations, military personnel and humanitarian aid workers in the exercise of their duties
- state representatives participating in international negotiations and persons engaged in work for international NGOs
- persons studying in Finland
- persons with a Finnish residence permit and EU/Schengen citizens who have registered their right of residence
- traffic at the land border between Finland and Sweden between border communities (in Sweden the municipalities of Haparanda, Övertorneå, Pajala, and Kiruna, and in Finland, Tornio, Ylitornio, Pello, Kolari, Muonio and Enontekiö
- traffic at the land border between Finland and Norway between border communities (in Norway, the municipalities of Storfjord, Kåfjord, Nordreisa, Kautokeino, Kaarasjok, Tana, Nesseby, and Sør-Varanger and in Finland, the municipalities of Enontekiö, Inari, and Utsjoki)
- persons travelling for family matters (e.g. meeting a relative, relationship, funerals, weddings, illness)
- persons in need of international protection or who are travelling for other humanitarian reasons
- other necessary and justified reason (e.g. necessary personal reasons, representatives of foreign media, scheduled air services at airports, property, residence or secondary residence in Finland, property arrangements in Finland and in internal border traffic pursuit of the Sámi livelihood and culture).
The purpose and requirements of a work trip based on employment relationship or assignment are determined during the border check. During border checks, the person on a work trip may be asked to present documents to verify that the entry requirements are fulfilled. Such documents may in particular relate to information on the employment relationship and assignment. The entry of EU citizens as foreign seasonal labour is permitted in the same way as work related travel.
A border community is based on municipalities and defined as opposite municipalities located on the opposite sides of the national border with border-crossing traffic between them. As a rule, travellers are required to show that they are members of a border community, based on their place of residence.
In addition to diplomats, holders of service and official passports are allowed entry in the exercise of their duties.
Other essential traffic is assessed on a case-by-case basis based on information gathered during the border check.
Lufthansa sells leisure travel to Lappi from Germany that is banned unless you are a citizen of Finland or a permanent resident? Doesn’t make much sense.
Of course, airlines are free to sell airline tickets to destinations that you, the traveler, cannot enter. The document checks won’t occur before at the gate, and your boarding will be denied unless you fulfill the entry requirements.
Airlines are also not required to refund ticket purchases if the passenger doesn’t have the required documents to enter the destination.
I am still baffled why they would operate these flights?