Bits: new Finnair routes to Asia, SPG bonus in London, Iberia launches lifetime status

News in brief:

Finnair launches Fukuoka and Guangzhou in 2016 – new Avios redemption options

Finnair is on a bit of a roll at the moment.   They have literally, this week, started receiving their new Airbus A350 long haul aircraft – I am trying it out in mid November.  Edinburgh services are due to start next year.  They have also now announced two new Asian routes.

Finnair, if you don’t know, has a niche in flying long-haul to Asia.  If you get your atlas out you will see that Helsinki is well placed for short flight times.  As a fellow member of oneworld alongside BA, you can earn and spend Avios points on Finnair flights.

Fukuoka in southern Japan will launch next Spring with three flights per week.  It adds to existing routes to Tokyo Narita, Nagoya and Osaka.

Guangzhou in China will launch on 6th May with four weekly flights.

Both routes are timetabled only for the Summer season, ending 29th October, at present.  They will use Airbus A330 aircraft.

Great Northern Hotel

2,000 bonus SPG points at the Great Northern Hotel

I wrote about London’s Great Northern Hotel joining Starwood Preferred Guest a few weeks ago.  It is part of the new ‘Tribute’ brand which allows independent hotels to become aligned with SPG without having to (literally) adopt the full Starwood manual on how to operate.

Until December 20th, you will earn 2,000 bonus SPG points for every stay at the Great Northern, up to maximum of five stays.

I value SPG points at 1.5p each so you are effectively getting a £30 bonus when you redirect a stay there – not a bad incentive.  You need to register for this offer via this page at spg.com.

Infinita Iberia

Iberia launches lifetime status …. for 105 people!

Finally, BA’s sister airline Iberia has launched a new ‘lifetime status’ level called Infinita.  There are two levels – Infinita Prime and Infinita.

You won’t be reaching this in a hurry – Prime required 200,000 elite points.  Other criteria seem to include having been an Iberia Plus member for 20 years, including at least 10 years as a Platinum member, and having flown at least 350,000 miles per year.

When you remember that Iberia had sloping business class seats until two years ago, anyone meeting these criteria deserves sympathy, to be honest ….

Only 105 people have reached the criteria for Infinita Prime.  To be honest, that seems pretty pointless to me!  Was it even worth paying to get the card designed?!  The benefits they receive include four annual upgrades, business class check-in, limo service ‘at selected airports’, VIP parking and two Gold cards for friends.

A further 700 people who have earned 125,000 Elite points receive the basic Infinita status.  Again, a very small number of people given the size of the airline.  These people do NOT get VIP parking or a limo service, and only two upgrades per year!

You can read more about Infinita here.

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Comments

  1. Interesting, AY just got a bonus, KLM anounced they are withdrawing from Fukuoka. I have wanted this AY Edinburgh flight for so long, I hope it is a sucess and becomes year round. Regarding SPG; there appears to be 150 points available for improving account security.

    • You finally get your wish James! AY must read this post!

      • I wondered that too, I was. onsidering writing Finnair to suggest it and then before doing so somebody told usabout it in tbe commentshere. I’m a littleconcerned that an a320 may be too big for the route and last think I want to see is it switching to flybe. It would be good if more mainstream carriers would invest in smaller aircraft lime E190s or the new CS100s to make routes like this more doable.

        • Finnair have 2 Embraer E170 & 12 E190 aircraft in their fleet. They are presumably pretty confident the route will be a success using an A320. I was in Helsinki last weekend and was really impressed by the airport, Finnair’s offering of product and route network. Walking around the airport and seeing people who / hearing voices from across Asia, Australia & New Zealand made me realise just how popular Finnair & connecting through Helsinki is. Finnair fly to Helsinki fom over 60 European destinations.

          Helsinki Airport is compact with all operations under one roof with no queuing at immigration for many different passport holders (not just EU) by using e-gates. They’re easy to use – using them I got the green light more quickly than I’ve ever done when using e-gates at various UK airports.

          • Thanks, good to know they have the metal to adapt to rote demand so hopefully it will survive and prosper. I have seen a lot of people from far east arriving in Scotlsnd via EK and QR so presumably most of that traffic would now come with AY. Thr brnefit of transit in HEL over LHR or ME is huge provuded thr transit times to most longhaul destinations can be kept within 1-3 hours. Added to that the a350 which I understand to be very quiet, and the CX type seating have to make this a winner.

          • Helsinki Airport has among the shortest minimum connection times of any airport in the world. The minimum connection time for domestic to domestic connections is just 20 minutes, for domestic to international connections it’s just 30 minutes, for international to domestic connections it’s just 40 minutes, and for international to international connections it’s just 35 minutes.

          • James, you have been singlehandely promoting the AY routing for ages now, let’s hope it gets used to its fullest extent by other travellers to and from Asia. As I said before, it would certainly be a route we would consider t to Asia, as we like Scandinavia a lot. Seems like they have the aircraft to,support such routes. Long may it last for our Scottish colleagues ….

    • How do you get the points at SPG for improving account security. Does this mean change the account password?

  2. I flew Fukuoka to Tokyo on JAL as a BA codeshare connecting onto a flight to London earlier this year and OLCI is not available for domestic flights in Japan with BA – despite the fact their website had a countdown to OLCI opening, the app sent me a push notification when it ‘opened’ etc and the whole thing was a pain with me setting an alarm to get up early when checkin opened for no reason. I then got another push notification when checkin for the Tokyo London flight opened, but that wouldn’t work because I hadn’t checked in to the domestic flight first. I tried ringing BA, first they blocked my calls from Skype on their international number saying they were from the UK (presumably a hangover from when they ripped people off with an 084 number and wanted to stop UK people avoiding the charges by calling their intentional number instead), when I managed to get round this UK call centre line was closed, I figured US would be open and rang that they did agree to assign me seats. However these got rearranged (presumably to upgrade other people?) and as a couple we were stuck with two middle seats next to each other – at least we were still together but it made for a pretty uncomfortable flight. Of course when I complained to BA (why did it say I could checkin online when I couldn’t? Why do their international numbers block people on Skype? Why don’t their UK lines forward to their US lines out of UK working hours especially given – surprise – many of their customer will be in a different time zone to the UK?) their response was a mix of not caring and not understanding. Their first response apologised OLCI was down which is not the issue – BA just don’t support OLCI for domestic Japanese flights – suggesting their own staff aren’t event aware of this.

    If you had status or were willing to pay you could select your seats in advance anyway, but if not and you care about where you sit on the plane then my point is you might want to consider flying Finnair over BA anyway just to avoid the OLCI shenanigans (since you could fly from Fukuoka to London with no domestic leg in Japan while still earning Avios).

    (JAL have a separate OLCI for their domestic and international flights, presumably because the domestic flights let you save your boarding pass on the rough Japanese equivalent of an Oyster card etc. so I assume this is why OLCI is not available from BA).

    • I fly to Fukuoka 2-3 times a year as we have family there. Also, since the demise of BMI, we always use JAL or BA connecting onto JAL so this is a massive bonus for us. You can check in online. I find BA staff’s knowledge of JAL limited to say the least.
      Joe, you can’t check in online via BA, you have to check in via JAL international site. Yes,
      even though you are only flying the domestic sector. Also, you need to use the JAL specific six digit code (which you can find on checkmytrip) not the BA pnr

      • Ah, I tried using JAL’s checkin but didn’t know to use something other than the PNR. I’m sure there was a message somewhere late in the process which said you couldn’t do it either! Very frustrating BA staff don’t seem to know this – especially since I phoned them at the time. When I emailed BA to complain after I ended up getting emails from 3-4 different people as they kept saying things like ‘sorry BA OLCI was down’, which isn’t what happened so I’d follow up again, and literally none of them pointed this out to me! At least I know now :)

  3. Would most of the Iberia lifetime applicants be staff?

  4. Concerto says:

    So glad I don’t use BA, saw the writing on the wall with that monopoly decades ago.

  5. I’m taking a daytrip with Finnair to HEL on Thursday….out on an A320 & back on the A350, J class both ways.
    Even though it’s not long haul on the A350 I still cannot wait & am really rather excited! I like the “throne” seats in their A330 J class so this will be interesting to try – I’m suspecting similar to Cathay Pacific J class seat.