Just three months ago, Finnair announced – with only a month’s notice – the deterioration of its frequent flyer program, Finnair Plus. At that time, prices for award flights were significantly increased, and baggage allowances for status holders were reduced.
Now, the website has another post on Finnair Plus Changes. And if you thought that you could somewhat understand the changes in June, you will now be overwhelmed by the next set of changes. The most significant change: Starting in early 2024, award miles and status points will be awarded based on spending. Therefore, only the flight price will determine the credit, and travel class and distance will no longer matter.
Simultaneously, the program’s award miles will be phased out. Instead, a switch will be made to Avios as a shared currency with British Airways, Iberia, and Qatar.
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Many Details Still Awaited
At this point, we would like to present all the details of the new system, but unfortunately, Finnair has not disclosed them yet. It’s not even clear how much Euro revenue will be needed under the new system for achieving Silver/Gold/Platinum status:
We will communicate the new tier limits later this year.Finnair Plus Changes on Finnair.com
Therefore, here’s a brief summary of what is already known:
- Starting in early 2024, all Finnair flights will get you spending-based reward miles (Avios) and spending-based status points. The number of points per Euro is not yet known.
- Existing award miles will be converted at a 3:2 ratio into Avios.
- The spending-based calculation will apply when the flight bears a Finnair flight number and is operated by Finnair. The price is calculated from the flight fare, excluding taxes and fees.
- Avios & status points will also be awarded for additional services such as baggage & seat selection.
- Frequent flyers will continue to receive a 10% to 25% bonus on award points and status points.
- The possibility of achieving frequent flyer status based on the number of segments will be abolished.
- At the beginning of 2024, all existing status points will be converted into the new system. This likely means that if, at this time, you have achieved 2/3 of the requirements for a Gold status, you will receive 2/3 of the necessary status points under the new system, and so on.
- What happens with flights after this deadline is unclear. Most probably, only the points under the new system will be awarded, which generally results in significantly fewer points than hoped for.
Codeshares as a Possible Solution
As with the spending-based calculation of award miles in the British Airways Executive Club, there will initially be a way out. At least across the Atlantic, most flights can also be booked as codeshares with BA, AA, and other partners at the same price.
In this case, a revenue-based calculation is not possible. Hence, booking classes & distance will remain crucial for credit. Only the unit of measurement will change from kilometres to miles.
Tier point qualification and collecting loyalty currency on flights that are marketed or operated* by a partner airline, including Finnair codeshare flights, will continue to be based on the travel class, booking class and distance flown, but the distance flown will be changed from kilometres to miles.
Currently, the clear sweet spot with Finnair Plus is flights with Finnair itself. In the future, a codeshare might be more worthwhile than a flight with an AY flight number. Yet, you could just as well collect miles with British Airways (Executive Club) or Alaska Mileage Plan.
What About Already Booked Tickets?
At this point, there are still a few question marks. Finnair states:
If you book your Finnair flight before the new rules are implemented in early 2024, you will collect loyalty currency and tier points based on the ticket type or booking class and the region. You won’t collect tier points and Avios from travel extras for bookings made before the changes take effect in early 2024 even if you purchase travel extras after the changes have been implemented.
However, all collected status points will already be converted into the new system by early 2024. It is unclear how points for flights after this deadline will be calculated or converted.
Changes in Upgrades
This is pretty much the only point where there are no deteriorations. Currently, Finnair Plus offers two types of upgrades: one for flights within Europe and one for long-haul flights. These are granted to Gold, Platinum, and Platinum Lumo status customers.
In this case, one long-haul upgrade is worth four short-haul upgrades. In the future, there will only be one upgrade type, and all vouchers will be converted according to the 4:1 ratio. This will require:
- 1 upgrade for economy → business within Europe
- 2 upgrades for economy ⇾ premium economy on long-hauls
- 3 upgrades for premium economy → business class on long-hauls
- 4 upgrades for economy ⇾ business class on long-hauls
Here, there is even a small improvement: Currently, a long-haul voucher is needed to upgrade from Premium Economy to Business Class. In the future, 3 of the new upgrades will suffice, meaning it will be 25% “cheaper.”
It is sad to observe how Finnair Plus has been hollowed out and turned into Finnair Minus within a few months. A spending-based calculation of award points was expected, but such a system for status points has not yet gained traction in Europe.
What is particularly incomprehensible is how these changes are being pushed through within just a few months. Six months before implementation, it is not yet clear how many miles and points will be awarded in the future. However, it can already be said: Those who usually book cheap flights will likely be worse off than before. Similar changes have been seen in other frequent flyer programs.
Currently, the British Airways Executive Club is likely the next best alternative for disappointed frequent flyers. However, it seems possible that BA will soon make the same changes as Finnair. After all, the use of Avios as a unified currency is already a clear convergence.