Finnair announced on Thursday that it was removing fuel surcharges on redemption flights for travel in Europe, to Dubai and to Tel Aviv.
Why is this interesting? Because Finnair is a member of the oneworld alliance, like British Airways, which means that you can use your Avios points to redeem with them.
Let’s take a look at the costs of flying London to Helsinki to Dubai in Economy:
British Airways – 40,000 Avios plus £328 per person, return
Finnair – 40,000 Avios plus £126 per person, return
This consists of 15,000 Avios + £35 to fly to Helsinki (using a British Airways Reward Flight Saver redemption) plus 25,000 Avios + £91 return for Helsinki to Dubai. You need to book each flight separately on the outbound to avoid paying long-haul Air Passenger Duty.
This means an impressive saving of £200 per person.
Whilst Finnair flies from Manchester, this would push up the cost and reduce the saving. An Avios redemption on Finnair from Manchester to Helsinki does NOT qualify for Reward Flight Saver and costs 15,000 Avios + £93. This means that the total cost of Manchester – Helsinki – Dubai in Economy would be 40,000 Avios + £184. You still save £134 over flying on BA but the saving is less impressive – on the upside, you save the trouble of changing planes in Heathrow!
Note that Dubai is a seasonal route for Finnair. Services will finish in late March and should restart in late October.
It is also worth mentioning that ba.com was behaving a little oddly when searching for Helsinki to Dubai. Some searches would bring up flights, identical searches a few minutes later brought up nothing. Occasionally it would refuse to price services that it found.
Similar pricing is available on Finnair to Tel Aviv. However, there is no point in booking this. As Tel Aviv is under 3,000 miles from London, the direct British Airways redemption is only 25,000 Avios points plus £164 return in economy.
In other fuel news ….
Qatar Airways has announced that it is cutting its fuel surcharges although it has not yet said when or by how much. Qatar redemptions to Doha are already cheaper than British Airways redemptions due to a lower fuel surcharge so this would open up the gap even further.
Japan Airlines has also announced a reduction in fuel surcharges. However, presumably because BA and JAL have a joint venture pricing agreement on flights to Japan, this does not seem to have lead to a reduction in taxes on JAL redemptions. This is the same joint venture system that BA operates on flights to the US, where Avios redemptions on American Airlines incur a fuel surcharge even though American Airlines doesn’t have one – at all.
(PS. For completeness, I should remind you that – if heading to the Middle East – there is an even cheaper option available than Finnair. This involves flying to Berlin, Vienna or Stuttgart and connecting to the airberlin services to Abu Dhabi. In economy this would cost 34,000 Avios and about £80 of tax, return, as long as you booked the long-haul leg separately to avoid Air Passenger Duty.
A friend of mine recently posted this very professional video review of his Berlin to Abu Dhabi business class flight starting with his free chauffeur transfer from the InterContinental in Berlin!)