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

Links on Head for Points may pay us an affiliate commission. A list of partners is here.

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 350

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!

(Want to earn more Avios?  Click here to visit our home page for the latest articles on earning and spending your Avios points and click here to see how to earn more Avios from current offers and promotions.)

What is the best use of American Express Membership Rewards points?
Earn free travel with the National Express loyalty scheme

Click here to join the 15,000 people on our email list and receive the latest Avios, miles and points news by 6am.

Amazon ad
AMEX Gold 20,000 bonus points
About Head for Points

We help business and leisure travellers maximise their Avios, frequent flyer miles and hotel loyalty points. Visit every day for three new articles or sign up for our FREE emails via this page or the box to your right.


  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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…

  4. 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

    • 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.

    • 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!

  5. 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!

Please click here to read our data protection policy before submitting your comment.