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.)
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:
There are two official British Airways American Express cards with attractive sign-up bonuses:
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.
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.
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.
Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Avios. This includes both personal and small business cards.