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Finnair will join Avios – what does it mean for you?

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In an unexpected move, Finnair has announced it will be adopting Avios as its loyalty currency from early 2024.

It joins British Airways, Qatar Airways, Iberia, Vueling and Aer Lingus in adopting the currency.

With ‘just’ 4 million members, Finnair Plus is a minnow compared to British Airways Executive Club and Qatar Privilege Club, adding just 10% to the total member base. However, it brings new options to earn and redeem Avios on non-airline partners, as well as letting BA members use Avios to upgrade Finnair flights.

Finnair will join Avios - what does it mean for you?

Full details of the changes are on the Finnair website here.

Finnair Plus points will convert to Avios at 3:2

If you already have a few orphaned Finnair Plus points, they will be turned into Avios in ‘early 2024’ at a 3:2 ratio.

Off the top of our collective heads, we can’t think of any way of gaming this by moving points to Finnair Plus in advance. For example, whilst Finnair Plus is a 1:1 partner with American Express Membership Rewards, there is no value in moving points there only to see them devalued at 3:2 into Avios.

If anyone can think of an interesting one – perhaps a programme which offers conversions into Finnair Plus but which doesn’t allow Avios conversions – let us know.

The Finnair Plus redemption chart will also convert at 3:2

The Finnair Plus redemption chart is, in general, a Great Dane-sized dog. There are good reasons why, in 11 years of HfP, we have never suggested transferring (say) American Express points to Finnair for oneworld alliance flight redemptions instead of into British Airways Executive Club.

We need to see how the revalued chart looks after the 3:2 change, and also how the taxes and charges stack up.

Finnair can’t afford to be uncompetitive, otherwise its members will simply transfer points into British Airways Executive Club and redeem from there. Because of how these partnerships are accounted for, Finnair will not want this.

The way it works (as I understand it) is that Finnair will not pay IAG for the Avios it issues to its members as long as they are earned and redeemed within the Finnair ecosystem. If members transfer Avios to British Airways Executive Club to redeem, money changes hands.

For the same reason, it appears that ‘Combine My Avios’ will be restricted to moving to/from British Airways to ensure an income flow into IAG. Letting members move Avios directly from Finnair to Qatar Airways, or vice versa, wouldn’t generate any cash for IAG, although you will be able to do ‘Finnair to British Airways to Qatar Airways’ (or vice versa) if you wish.

‘Combine My Avios’ will apply to Finnair Plus

From the way the press release is worded, you will be able to move Avios in and out of Finnair Plus at will, for free, at 1:1.

What new opportunities will this give you as a British Airways Executive Club member?

When Qatar Privilege Club adopted Avios, it opened up a huge new list of car rental, airline and hotel partners. You can now earn Avios via Hertz and Virgin Australia, for example.

This is what Finnair Plus will bring you (I have only listed non-BAEC partners):

  • Car hire – earn Avios via Hertz, Europcar, Sixt and Rentalcars.com
  • Hotels – earn Avios via GLO, Scandic, Sokos, Strawberry / Nordic Choice, Shangri-La
  • Hotels – spend Avios via GLO, Scandic, Sokos, Strawberry / Nordic Choice, IHG One Rewards, Clarion Hotels Finland
  • Airlines – there will be two new airline earn and spend partners: Braathens (13 routes within Sweden) and Juneyao Air, a Chinese carrier

There are also a lot of individual earn and spend deals with specific hotels in Finland, plus leisure options such as restaurant vouchers.

How does the IHG One Rewards deal work?

Yes, assuming that the partnership doesn’t go away, you will soon be able to transfer Avios into IHG One Rewards points.

Don’t get too excited.

The current exchange rate is 20,000 Finnair points = 10,000 IHG One Rewards points.

Given the 3:2 revaluation, this will become 13,333 Avios = 10,000 IHG One Rewards points.

As we value an IHG point at 0.4p, you would be getting 0.3p of value per Avios. Forget it.

Whilst I am also very interested in the Strawberry / Nordic Choice option, since this is the top luxury hotel group in Scandinavia, I suspect it will go away. Strawberry is merging its reward programmme with airline Norwegian and I can’t imagine Finnair Plus wlll want you transferring points into a competitor airline.

Finnair Plus moves to a spend-based programme

Whilst not hugely relevant to HfP readers, the Finnair Plus programme will move to a new revenue-based earning platform.

Whilst very little information has been released, the program will feature new milestone benefits to enable members to receive extra rewards, such as additional upgrade benefits, when reaching certain point limits within their existing tier.

As an extra incentive to join Finnair Plus, members will receive complimentary internet access for messaging (not browsing) as a new benefit on Finnair’s short-haul European flights.

Finnair is also moving to spend-based elite status. Whilst the details are not known, members have already been told that the number of annual flights they take will play no part in earning status going forward.

Finnair will guarantee between four and eight award seats

This is more useful to HfP readers. Finnair will guarantee a minimum number of award seats for Avios redemption on each flight. This should make it significantly easier to redeem Avios for Finnair flights.

Finnair is promising:

  • 4-6 award seats on shorthaul European flights (two in Business where it exists, four in Economy)
  • 8 award seats on long haul flights (two in Business, two in Premium Economy and four in Economy)
Finnair Schengen lounge

A new Schengen lounge is coming

In addition to the changes to Finnair Plus, Finnair is investing in a new Schengen lounge at Helsinki Airport.

This is less relevant to HfP readers, since anyone connecting to/from Helsinki via the UK to a long haul destination will remain within the non-Schengen area.

Rhys was impressed with the Schengen lounge when he visited in 2022, although it admittedly doesn’t match Finnair’s new style, which you can see onboard with the new no-recline business class seating and in their Platinum Lounge at Helsinki (review here).

Finnair has generally been moving away from high-gloss, white finishes in favour of warmer, more natural finishes and textures.

The new lounge will be larger than the existing Schengen lounge and will be located elsewhere in the terminal. This will allow the existing lounge to continue operating until the new lounge is ready to open sometime in 2024.

The new Schengen lounge will also have a dedicated area for top-tier members. Presumably, that means Finnair Plus Platinum members. It will, hopefully, cater to oneworld Emerald (BA Gold) passengers.

Conclusion

Whilst, strategically, a big announcement for IAG Loyalty, the impact for British Airways Executive Club members isn’t huge.

The key things to look out for are:

  • the ability to upgrade Finnair cash flights with Avios
  • guaranteed Avios availability on every Finnair flight
  • the ability to earn and spend Avios with additional car, flight, hotel and leisure partners

We will keep you updated as we get nearer to the launch date.

You can find out more on the Finnair website here.


HFP-Barclaycard-Avios-Card

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (September 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.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & four airport lounge passes Read our full review

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points 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.

EDIT: Applications for this card are temporarily suspended due to IT issues with the British Airways On Business SME loyalty scheme.

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 (103)

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

  • Felim says:

    Re lounges – as I fly to Dublin ( non schengen) the platinum lounge ( with sauna & reindeer burger cooked to order is excellent. The non schengen is a cattle market and worth avoiding in current location

    • Dwadda says:

      Off topic: I’ve avoided travelling to Ireland because the last time I visited they put a HUGE half page stamp in my Canadian passport! Does anyone know if they still do that? Passport pages are precious.

  • Dwadda says:

    Weighing hand luggage: does Finnair actually weigh the hand luggage of business/elite members?

    Turkish tried to do this to me last month. I refused and the agent backed off. I’m TK Elite Plus (as well as SQ Gold, etc).

    I physically fly around the world every month. I live out of my carry on. This trend is very irksome.

    Airlines that confront genuine frequent flyers are asking for trouble.

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

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