Finnair Will Adopt Avios As Its Frequent Flyer Currency Next Year

Finnair will adopt Avios as its frequent flyer currency next year. That’s the same currency as IAG airlines British Airways, Iberia, Aer Lingus, and Vueling, and also that Qatar Airways adopted last year. This will occur “in 2024” and no additional details are provided. That’s great, since some of you bought a whole lot of Finnair points.

  • Finnair points will be converted to Avios at 3:2
  • Finnair’s redemption pricing will similarly decrease at a 3:2 ratio
  • Flight earning and status will become revenue-based
  • The airline will offer free inflight messaging to program members to encourage joining

We’re left with some speculation on how this will cash out. Assuming that – like other Avios integrations – points will be transferable between programs, that should be good for Finnair Plus members on net. That’s because, even though programs don’t have to offer the same prices for the same redemptions, the worst members can do is achieve British Airways, Iberia, or Qatar Airways redemption choices for their points.

June 15 Finnair Plus just devalued its redemption pricing, raising the points costs of awards by 8% – 33% and adding new segment surcharges. For instance, a roundtrip Finnair business class itinerary between New York and Helsinki went from 160,000 points to 190,000 points – plus an additional $175. (British Airways currently charges fewer points, but higher surcharges.)

Today, each Avios program has different pricing for Finnair awards. That may remain true, or we might see convergence. However,

  • Finnair members may be able to shop the best price if there’s no convergence, transferring their Avios to the program which offers the best redemption prices.

  • And when convergence happens, it isn’t always overnight. Similarly, when devaluation happens, it doesn’t always happen immediately across currencies. So there may be arbitrage opportunities.

Qatar Airways is managing its own bank for points. When you convert Qatar Airways points over into a British Airways Executive Club account, Qatar’s Privilege Club is buying those points. Without points transfers, adopting the currency is virtually meaningless to the consumer. It isn’t really additive in terms of options for points accrual and redemption. And transferability means it’s necessary to have coordinated action for devaluation.

Currently Finnair is one of the worst airlines for award redemption. They promise this is changing, by guaranteeing a minimum number of award seats on each flight: 2 in business, 2 premium economy where it exists, and 4 coach (whether long haul or short haul). British Airways does something like this. Qatar promised something similar when announcing its move to Avios, but it hasn’t worked out that way.

IAG Loyalty is clearly growing, adding Qatar Airways in 2022 (Qatar is the largest single owner of IAG). Now they’re adding Finnair, and IAG carriers British Airways and Iberia (along with American Airlines) are in a revenue-sharing metal neutral joint venture together with Finnair for transatlantic flying.

There may be additional programs in the pipeline to join Avios as their loyalty currency. Seven years ago IAG reported that a binding MOU was signed with Royal Air Maroc for the now-oneworld airline based in Casablanca to move to Avios. Kulula, Meridiana, and flybe all used to be part of Avios as well.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. In the short term to medium term period, this will provide some useful opportunities for somewhat savvy consumers to seize to benefit; but longer term this kind of development is a back door form of consolidation in the frequent flyer program world and will turn out to be to my longer term detriment as a consumer.

  2. I think it would be a HUGE advantage if all OneWorld airlines in a JV used the same plan and also build out OneWorld lounges around the world. Would rock skyteam and star on their heels.

  3. When QR adopted Avios their redemption rates went from bad to worse. I’m sure this will happen to Finnair too, but it’s less of a loss. Seems to me that the best move for anybody flying OW carriers anywhere is to credit the flights to AA, which has – by a very large margin – the best program in that universe and redemption rates that offer vastly better value and much lower fees.

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