Three outstanding Avios earning airfares … all with a catch!

If you chasing cheap British Airways tier points, or are simply looking for a good deal for your next holiday flight, there are three interesting deals with oneworld partner airlines which crossed my desk this week. As they are on oneworld airlines, you will earn Avios and tier points when you fly them.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that they all come with some degree of inconvenience …. but you may consider it a price worth paying.

Business class tickets to Asia for under £900

EDIT: This fare is no longer available as it had to be booked by February 15th

Cathay Pacific is currently running an excellent fare sale to just about anywhere in Asia.  From Moscow.

Don’t stop reading yet.  For a start, you don’t need a Russian visa if you are only transiting Moscow without passing into the country.  (Do NOT book this without getting proper advice on whether you can connect OK.)

Whilst you need to get to Moscow to start and end these tickets, it is a Reward Flight Saver route.  Club World (on a 747) is only 40,000 Avios + £50 return, although be careful which flight you book as there are also short-haul planes on this route. You can travel at any point from 1st April to 31st August.

As a typical fare, Moscow to Bali via Hong Kong comes up at £881 return.  That would be 560 tier points which is over 90% of a British Airways Silver card. Fares are non-refundable.  You can book via the UK Cathay Pacific site.  The flight from Moscow to Hong Kong is the old style Cathay seat (picture below) but your onward connection may be more modern.

Cathay A340 business class

Business class to Dubai for Euro 895 (£660)

Finnair is currently offering this very aggressive fare from Helsinki to Dubai.  Availability is good over Easter as well. Sounds great?  Well, here are the snags:

  • The route only operates 29 March – 27 April and 9 – 23 October
  • It is a short-haul A320 plane.  Whilst the business class seats are big and comfy, they are a million miles from an Emirates flat bed.
  • The outbound flight is 8.25am so you would need to spend a night in Helsinki
  • I couldn’t price the fare from London – although it would make more sense to do an Avios redemption anyway for the connection.  Finnair also flies from Manchester to Helsinki to connect.

Business class from Colombo to Auckland for $1,300 (£845)

I won’t go into this in detail, but View from the Wing had a piece on this fare yesterday.  You would be flying on Qantas for the bulk of the trip. It would be easy to get to Colombo on a SriLankan redemption from London with Avios or via a cash or Avios ticket from The Maldives (accessible via British Airways).

This ticket seems difficult to book in practice.  However, it is worth noting that there are many, many excellent fares out of Colombo which is probably the cheapest place in the world to buy premium airline tickets.  Qatar had a £900 business class return fare to London recently, for example!

(Want to earn more Avios?  Click here to see our latest articles on earning and spending your points and click here to see our list of current Avios promotions.)

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  1. The CMB-AKL fare, although it comes up on ITA, seems to have been impossible to book through any company as many people have found out. There’s more about it on FT.

  2. Jonathan says:

    Good deal out of Moscow but I’d suggest people be a little cautious on the Moscow route and ensure that there is an interline agreement with whoever you are flying with to Moscow and cathay Pacific, otherwise you may be forced to collect luggage from Moscow (and require a visa to entering the country)

    Also check your airline will accept that you’re on a transfer as the airline will check whether you have a valid visa to Moscow before letting you fly.

    Finally, if there’s any issue with the connecting flight out of Moscow be aware you’ll be trapped airside until you can get a flight out.

    • Given that one’s an award flight and one’s a paid flight, I assume they’ll be on separate tickets. If you don’t make the connection then CX may not rebook you onto a later flight.

  3. Bugger, paid £600 for CX in economy to Bali, would’ve been up for this Moscow deal! Damn.

  4. Peter Taysum says:

    Hi Rob,

    I’m feeling rather smug at the moment with club card points for wine, Tesco home delivery and more wine, and just booked two flights to Funchal business with 10 000 Avios discount for 160 tier points each. Thank you.

    I’m really interested in the above. How do I check which plane is flying to avoid the nasty planes?

    Also is a Russian Visa expensive? I was last there as a seaman (merchant navy) and didn’t have to pay anything off the ship I was on at St Petersberg. I like the idea of a holiday and HOPEFULLY stop over in Hong Kong before getting to Bali and having holiday before moving on to Oz…

    • Russian visas are expensive, if you value your time and sanity you’ll want to use an agent such as and it will cost upwards of £150 per person. Unfortunately, these days you also have to show up in person at the application centre to get your fingerprint scanned.

      • Not true. With the current ruble rate its less than £100

        • True. I was including agents fees. I would strongly advise against doing alone unless you “know someone”..

        • Not true – it’s straightforward compared to some…

        • Brilliant, well argued response! 🙂

          It really depend on your priorities. I did it once when I was a student at the embassy, and it was fine – it just took about 3 hours of waiting and dealing with Soviet style bureaucracy. However, I witnessed several people being denied because of very minor things such as signatures on the application not matching their passport or having incomplete travel itineraries. Moreover, the application has become more complicated now you need fingerprint scans etc. probably due to current diplomatic relations.

          Most of the agents have “ins” with the Russian embassy and know will change your online application for you to guarantee it is approved quickly. I have used this service numerous times (albeit before the recent changes) and would much rather pay an extra £50 or so than lose a few hours of my life! I would do the same for any visa application which requires you to apply in person.

        • Swanhunter says:

          I did 3 last year. Just fill the form in fully, ensure all the passport stamps you have are listed on the form (and on a seperate piece of paper if needed) and it’s pretty straightforward. The visa centre is efficient and generally pretty helpful. There are far more frustrating visas to get.

      • I got mine only 3 months ago for £82. No fingerprinting at all.

      • Also applied in person at the office near Old Street, agree it was easy and seemed well organised.

    • When booking on, click on the flight number. A pop up appears which shows the aircraft type.

    • Go through a dummy booking online, when you get to the page with the flights for that day (with timings) hover or click the flight number to reveal the type of plane. You can then get the flight number, go on to SeatGuru and seat the configuration.

  5. Finnair Business class seats on the A320 are not ‘Big and Comfy’

    They are standard euro business slmline seats with 32″ pitch. Which is better than BA to HEL. But will make for a long slog to DXB – AVOID.

    Other deals look good.

    • Have the 2×2 blue seats gone then?

    • AnthonyB says:

      I flew HEL-DXB with AY in December. It was operated by an A321, and was operated as an all economy configuration. Finnair regard this route as a seasonal ‘leisure’ route, so it was predominantly families travelling. A hot meal was served, however there was no choice of meals, and all beverages were buy on board, including water.

      It’s interesting to see they are now offering Business Class on the route, but as Rich says, it will be the same seating as their European short haul operations. £660 return in Business is a good price for the length of flight, but if you’re starting and finishing your trip in the UK it would require an overnight stay in Helsinki at either end. QF regularly offer Premium Economy from LHR-DXB for sub £700, which IMHO is a much more pleasant travelling experience, albeit not quite as lucrative in terms of earning TPs.

      • Agreed. Even a direct on BA in Economy (if you are originating from London) is a better idea, IMHO, particularly as the fares now very competitive.

  6. czechoslovakia says:

    Hmmm, I had booked PRG-SVO-DXB and back on Aeroflot. My booking had a schedule change and the last leg was rebooked (with my consent) on to a CSA operated flight (from a different terminal). After a conversation with a friend, he told me I needed in Visa. Spoke to three people at Aeroflot who all said I had to speak to the embassy. Spoke to the UK Russian embassy who told me if I was changing terminals at SVO I needed a transit visa at >£100. I subsequently rebooked on Swiss. Was I given duff info by the embassy? Or do you really need a transit visa to change terminals at SVO?

    • No, probably correct advice. DME has just one international terminal though so whichever airline you enter on, you should be able to leave OK.

      Also worth looking at Finnair connections to Moscow using Avios if the BA flight times are not convenient.

  7. Citychap says:

    We have just gone through the visa process for Russia. It is circa £50 for the visa itself, a c.£35 service fee per visa and c.£10 per visa for postage (unless you are content to return to the visa application centre to pick your passport up). All in all you are not getting much change from £100 per visa.

    As other posters have noted, adults must now supply biometrics (a fingerprint scan) which necessitates applying in person (either in London or Edinburgh). The whole application process has been outsourced to VFS Global (part of the Kuoni Group) who do the same for many other embassies. The online application is a bit of a faff however in my opinion there is now very little reason to use an agent as you will still have to apply in person.

    It may be useful to some to note that you can also apply for a double entry entry tourist visa for just £15 extra. This is valid for two entries in a three month period – potentially useful if you are looking to do the same route on the return leg.

    Finally, it would be worth having a look at easyJet fares as they fly direct to Moscow and good deals can often be picked up.

    • Good point, if you have to go in person it negates a lot of the benefit to using an agent. Out of interest, how long did it take to apply and get fingerprint scans at the application centre?

      • Citychap says:

        We have done it a couple of times recently (the biometric requirement only came in at the tail end of last year) and it all depends on the day/time. Earlier is probably better and you could be looking at less than an hour, a bad day could be three hours.

  8. Irons1980 says:

    Just a small point but all Moscow BA flights are long haul configured unless there’s a substitution – in Jan I flew out CW on a 747 and then back in WT on a mid haul A321.

    Of more interest is how long the 3 flights a day will last – both my flights had around 30-40 passengers on board

    • gnarlyoldgoatdude says:

      I flew out to DME on 24th December and back on the 17th January. CW out, First back. Both flights were 777s. Flight out was 50% full in CW and 90% in Y. (Admittedly it was in time for Christmas, New Year, Russian Christmas and Russian Old New Year) so may have been busier than normal.
      The flight back I only looked in my cabin which was 50% full.

      It’s worth noting that the Russian Visa changes are pretty much in line with the hardships that we put Russian applicants through when they apply for a British visa. (Fingerprints, list of dates of travel for all countries visited in the last 10 years etc.)
      At least we only have to travel to London or Edinburgh.
      My in-laws have to make the equivalent of a transatlantic flight to get to Moscow to have their fingerprints taken. Alternatively, there is a nearer consular outpost that is only a 72 hour round (trans-siberian) train trip.

  9. Peter Taysum says:

    Thanks Rob/all

  10. Peter Taysum says:

    Hmmm… I’ve been thinking about the Trans Siberian railway for a while. Maybe I should take that, and do Sri Lanka to Auckland as above…

    I fancy Moscow, as I’ve not been, and was blown away with St Petersberg.

    I’m planning on taking some time off to travel, I still want to travel in the style to which you’ve introduced me…


    • I used to think about taking the Trans-Siberian Railway, but changed my mind over the years. I get the impression the tourist train doesn’t really get you at the heart of the place. Having seen people get off that train at an intermediate stop and head off in a group on a guided tour of a small town, it seemed a bit restrictive…personally I think there are bettervways to see Russia and other, more adventureous rail lines there too…

      …it did look comfortable though!

  11. Josh Fisher says:

    Can anyone find any of the Cathay Pacific flights now? Seem to have disappeared. I’ve tried a number of different dates – Raffles was there an expiry date on the offer you saw? Thanks for the help!

    • Yes, now over – seems it had to be booked by today (15th) and in Moscow it is now past midnight. I did not know this when I originally wrote the piece (original offer page was in Russian) which is why I did not mention it, apologies.