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 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!

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  1. Must be a slow news day. This is a terrible example of using your points.

    • guesswho2000 says:

      As stated above “The example in this article is just that – an example. It doesn’t necessarily make a lot of sense for most…”

    • feel free to chip in with a more interesting and informative article then.

  2. This is stretching the principle of using the least amount of points and money to get somewhere. You have to have separate tickets on the way out to avoid higher UK APD so will reclaim your luggage and check in again in HEL. Also the HEL-DXB is a short haul plane packed with boozing holidaymakers and buy on board catering (Finnair do not consider Europe – Middle East to be an intercontinental flight).
    I suppose it could be worse and you could have recommended a flight to BKK with Finnair. that’s a real favourite with the holiday crowd and the flight attendants talk of taping rowdy passengers to their seats and the union negotiated an extra male cabin crew member on each flight to try and keep law and order.

  3. Post a link up to you’re blog then and we’ll have a read of what you’ve been able to put together today.

  4. Economy? Can someone please explain what this is?

  5. I’m afraid Rob you are guilty of reimagining my travel habits so dramatically that going back to basics as Economy would be almost impossible regardless how cheap it is, but thank you the same

  6. The Original Nick. says:

    I paid £318 for a return LHR-DXB on BA on Christmas eve for my flight departing 20th of this month. Upgraded to WT+ for £63 for the outbound leg and £127 for the inbound.

    • That’s very good price for London but as I was placed in Lisbon dying to DXB costs me €340 in WTP, used 10000 Avios to reduce price for another 120 and another 15000 to upgrade inbound to J. I will get back about 26000 avios points back as per Gold, so very little money spent

  7. Air Berlin economy to Abu Dhabi was 12.5k Avios and business class 37.5k Avios.

    Will miss that route!

  8. the real harry1 says:

    Can you actually still book Avios redemptions (through BA) on AB to destinations such as Dubai? When AB goes bump next month, BA will re-route you onto their own metal.

  9. 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!

    • 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.

  10. 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.

    • 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

    • 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.

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

        • 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.

          • Well that was quicker than I thought….

            ‘Add a codeshare flight to your Itinerary
            It is possible to combine a JAL flight with a British Airways or Finnair codeshare flight. You can fly British Airways for the way over and JAL for the way back, or JAL for the way over and Finnair for the way back.

            *These flights will be listed with JAL flight numbers (as codeshare flights) on the JAL homepage and Booking Center .’

            Half way down the page:

          • 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.

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

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

    • 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.

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

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