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How to save £100 on an Economy Avios redemption to Dubai

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I ran an interesting article last week on exploiting Avios zonal pricing to save points or money.  The examples I gave (see the full article here) focused on Qatar Airways redemptions.

Today I wanted to give you another example – focusing this time on economy travel – of how you can save by playing around with the Avios zonal pricing charts.

The example in this article is just that – an example.  It doesn’t necessarily make a lot of sense for most people unless you’ve always wanted to visit Helsinki.  I am just using it to show what is possible.  For anyone who hates paying the high British Airways taxes on Avios redemptions, it is an interesting option though.

With the slide into bankruptcy of airberlin, the cheapest way of getting to the Middle East – flying from Berlin to Abu Dhabi on airberlin for 25,000 Avios in Economy, plus £50 or so of tax – is set to disappear.

There is another routing which saves money when travelling from London to Dubai, although it only makes sense if you are travelling on a BA ‘peak day’ and are not in a rush.

Finnair flies from Helsinki to Dubai.  Because Finnair is a member of the oneworld alliance, like British Airways, you can use your Avios points to fly with them.

Let’s take a look at the costs of flying London to Dubai in Economy:

British Airways (peak dates) – 40,000 Avios plus £254 per person in taxes and charges, return

Finnair via Helsinki (all dates) – 40,000 Avios plus £151 per person in taxes and charges, return

This consists of 15,000 Avios + £35 to fly to Helsinki on BA (using a British Airways Reward Flight Saver redemption) plus 25,000 Avios + £116 return for Helsinki to Dubai.  You need to book each flight separately on the outbound to avoid paying long-haul UK Air Passenger Duty and so you will need to recheck your bags in Helsinki.  The return flight can be on a single ticket.

This means a saving of £103 per person.  Keep an eye on cash prices though, because outside of school holidays you can often pick up flights to Dubai in economy for £350 – £400 anyway.  This makes any redemption look inefficient.

(Don’t bother with this structure on BA off-peak dates.  The cost of the British Airways economy ticket off-peak drops to 26,000 Avios plus £254 which, overall, I would say is cheaper than 40,000 Avios plus £151 on Finnair.)

Finnair A350

Whilst Finnair flies from Manchester, Edinburgh and Dublin to Helsinki, 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 + £102.  This means that the total cost of Manchester – Helsinki – Dubai in Economy would be 40,000 Avios + £218.  You only save £36 over flying on BA – 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.

The Finnair service to Dubai is on an A320 short haul plane.  I doubt this is less comfortable than a long haul aircraft in economy but is worth noting.

To be honest, instead of seeing it as a way of saving £103 on an economy redemption to Dubai, think of it as a way of getting a free short break in Helsinki on either the way there or back.  It is a lovely city, albeit your packing will get a bit complicated given the difference in weather between the two cities.


How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (December 2023)

As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Avios points from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!

In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.

You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:

Barclaycard Avios Plus card

Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard

Get 25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £10,000 Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £20,000 Read our full review

There are two official British Airways American Express cards with attractive sign-up bonuses:

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the famous annual 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review

British Airways American Express

5,000 Avios for signing up and an Economy 2-4-1 voucher for spending £12,000 Read our full review

You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points. These points convert at 1:1 into Avios.

SPECIAL OFFER: Until 9th January 2024, you will receive 30,000 Membership Rewards points (convertible to 30,000 Avios) with American Express Preferred Rewards Gold. You receive 25,000 points if you spend £3,000 in three months and a further 5,000 points if you hold the card for 15 months. You can apply here.

SPECIAL OFFER: Until 9th January 2024, you will receive a huge 100,000 Membership Rewards points (convertible to 100,000 Avios) with The Platinum Card. You receive 75,000 points if you spend £10,000 in six months and a further 25,000 points if you hold the card for 15 months. You can apply here.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 30,000 points (TO 9th JANUARY), FREE for a year & four airport ….. Read our full review

The Platinum Card from American Express

Crazy 100,000 points (TO 9th JANUARY) and a huge range of valuable benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Run your own business?

We recommend Capital On Tap for limited companies. You earn 1 Avios per £1 which is impressive for a Visa card, along with a sign-up bonus worth 10,500 Avios.

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

Get a 10,000 points bonus plus an extra 500 points for our readers Read our full review

You should also consider the British Airways Accelerating Business credit card. This is open to sole traders as well as limited companies and has a 30,000 Avios sign-up bonus.

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

30,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios Read our full review

There are also generous bonuses on the two American Express Business cards, with the points converting at 1:1 into Avios. These cards are open to sole traders as well as limited companies.

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points bonus and an annual £200 Amex Travel credit Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Avios. This includes both personal and small business cards.

Comments (44)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Peter K says:

    Maybe I have a different viewpoint to others but I’d view this as a cheapish, interesting way to visit Dubai for a couple of days to see what all the fuss is about while having my proper break in Finland!

    • John says:

      Not sure that I particularly want to visit Finland between November and February – unless you like snow and ice. And if you want to see northern lights then you need to get out of Helsinki

      • the real harry1 says:

        I’ve been there in dead of winter a couple of times – got invited to go skiing on company freebies – Helsinki wasn’t freezing cold off the scale or anything and upcountry in the hills could just have been (say) Austrian Alps in terms of coldness

        don’t go thinking it’s the Antarctic! 🙂

      • Johnny_c-l says:

        Helsinki is wonderful in the winter & snow!

        • ankomonkey says:

          Agreed. We went ice skating in front of the train station and my kids had their first proper snowball fight in one of the parks. I filmed the fight for posterity.

  • Rob says:

    I’ve been looking at doing something similar, but to NRT as I need a one way to Asia having already used the Lloyd’s avios upgrade voucher to set up a return flight from Hong Kong. Is it just me or does HEL to NRT one way for 25,000 plus £47 tax (JAL) feel like a good deal, especially as I would get free seat selection as a oneworld emerald?? Given I can acquire avios fairly easily, feels like good value to me when you consider you can get a LON to HEL one way for £70 on Norwegian. I’d do an overnight before hand to be sure, and as you say Rob, I’d treat it as a free holiday in Helsinki on the way out instead of paying UK tax.

    • Lumma says:

      You could also look at booking Norweigan one way to Singapore for cash perhaps if you’re not bothered about where in Asia you want to fly into?

      No worrying about missing flights or booking a hotel in Helsinki then

    • Cate says:

      We looked at the HEL-NRT option on JAL but noted the code shares with BA then dropped the idea. Too risky for our avios to find on the day we’d been bumped over to BA metal.

      • Genghis says:

        Last time I checked BA don’t fly HEL-NRT…

        • Cate says:

          Interesting, I was looking through yesterday for routes from NRT and they had code shares with Iberia, BA, and Finnair to/from HEL. I’ll take a look through my history and check.

          • Genghis says:

            All to do with the profit sharing arrangement. My point was that if you book HEL-NRT and anything happens to the JL flight, you’ll most likely be on AY. V unlikely to be back tracked to LON to fly on BA.

  • Briandt says:

    I’d be interested to see other ‘creative’ routes using Avios ex UK or EU that are tried and tested.

    • Alex W says:

      Try Iberia from Madrid or Aer Lingus from Dublin. Look at the Avios University in the favourite articles links in the menu above.

    • gomigo says:

      LHR to Doha J via Istanbul saves loads of avios & cash. LHR to IST is reward saver flight so just £50 + 12500 avios one way and connection to Doha from IST on J is 20000 avios + £60 only. Thanks to low surcharge from IST. 4 flights from IST & 3 flights from SAW ( I don’t think any one would fancy to travel 1hr to reach SAW airport from IST but an alternate option) to Doha and they are A330 with Lie Flat seat for 4hrs. Total travel time including transit will be less than 9hrs if you time it well compared to 6hrs 45mins direct from LHR via BA or QR for 60000 avios + £284 surcharge…..connection to Asia via Doha is easier and cheaper due to low surcharge from Doha vary from £54 to £70 depending on class of travel. Same surcharge applies for BA return to LHR from Doha. Qatar waived off visa for 80+ country nationals which makes transit hassle free + QR ability to bridge separate one world tickets for free direct check-in to final destination.

      • gomigo says:

        Athens will cost the same Avios for this itinerary but additional £40 due to slightly excess surcharge ex-ATH.

  • Concerto says:

    OT Does anyone know how long it takes to receive the Avios vouchers from ventes-privées ? I bought a couple of them back on Aug 30th.

  • Mike says:

    I’ve worked out a way to save 40,000 avios, about £50 and have two (different cities each way) interesting city breaks en route to and from dubai (DWC).
    W6 from LTN.
    Service down the back is the same as euro traveller too.

  • Max says:

    Very O/T, but I’ve just found a big bundle of my dad’s old paper Air Miles from BA (I have a photo if anyone is interested!). Are these still redeemable somehow? There are hundreds! I suspect they’re no longer transferrable to Avios in any way which would be a shame…

  • Sandy Anderson says:

    Hi – I’ve got 220k Avios points and want to visit Australia and NZ next year with my husband – do l book through BA and use the points or do I go through Avios

    • Alan says:

      For BA flights you can book with BA or with Avios – the points can transfer instantly between them. If you’re wanting to fly on other partners (e.g Cathay, Qatar, etc.) then you need to book via BA rather than Be aware though that Oz is a very difficult redemption – you normally need to book 355 days ahead just as new seats are released, but there are occasional days at other times with availability.

    • Alex W says:

      Sandy – I believe on the reward tickets are released at midnight GMT (1am BST), 355 days before travel. Good luck as Oz is one of the hardest redemptions to find availability.

      You might want to consider a cheap cash ticket to Oz/NZ in the next Qatar Airways sale, these can be excellent value. Especially as the fees on Avios tickets are ridiculous, nearly £500 even in economy!

  • Phillip says:

    Finnair’ Economy Light fares to Europe and Middle East do not include luggage. It’s worth making sure that award bookings allow baggage for those who need it.

    Also, nothing beats the value of Cathay Business class with just 42,500 Alaska Miles one way from anywhere in Europe to HKG. Which can be had for less than 40,000 Starpoints!

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