Finnair appears to be restricting redemptions by partners like American Airlines

Jan 23, 2020

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It looks like a handy use of American Airlines miles for travel on Oneworld partner Finnair is now being severely restricted. As first reported by Ben Schlappig at One Mile At A Time, Finnair appears to be restricting availability on all business-class flights to members of its own frequent flyer program only. Upper-level status members of Finnair Plus are reportedly getting much better availability.

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We reached out to Finnair. They would not confirm new restrictions, but Mari Rouvi from Finnair Communications told TPG:

“The availability for award seats is the same for Finnair Plus members and other FFP members. The only difference is that Finnair Plus members can waitlist for their desired business class upgrade/award even if there is no availability and we don’t offer the waitlist option for other FFP members. Award seats are not guaranteed and are subject to availability and forecast. The availability is limited on every flight, and on some flights, there are no upgrades or business class award seats available due to high business class demand. In most cases we don’t open availability for business class award seats more than 60 days prior to departure, mostly because our forecast is better the closer to departure we get.”

The tighter inventory is not only for long-haul flights on Finnair from the U.S., but also on flights inside Europe and to and from Nordic regions.  There is some availability in business on the London to Helsinki route up to two months out, but nothing after that at any mileage price unless you want to fly in Finnair economy class.

In fact, I was unable to find almost any business-class seats on Finnair from the U.S. even within 60 days using the American Airlines website. Some awards appeared to be available, but when I went to book them, they were either routing via London on British Airways or not available at all. Finnair flies to several U.S. cities from its Helsinki (HEL) hub in Finland, including Los Angeles (LAX), New York-JFK, Miami (MIA) and San Francisco (SFO).

Related: Maximizing redemptions with American Airlines AAdvantage

Search results on AA.com for flights to Helsinki showing no business class availability . (Image courtesy American Airlines)
Search results on AA.com for flights to Helsinki showing no business-class availability.

 

AA award calendar showing phantom availability in business class to Helsinki. (Image from AA.com)
AA award calendar showing phantom availability in business class to Helsinki.

 

AA award calendar showing no actual availability in business class to Helsinki. (Image from AA.com)
AA award calendar showing no actual availability in business class to Helsinki.

Finnair had been a great way to redeem American Airlines miles because they don’t impose huge taxes and fees on award redemptions. If this pattern holds, it further reduces the ability to use American Airlines miles for travel to and within Europe. While Finnair business-class seats from the U.S. have always been hard to find, this makes these seats even more of a unicorn.

Related: Choosing the best credit card for American Airlines flyers

AA.com showing business class seats between London and Helsinki for 45K roundtrip in business class. Note these flights only available within 60 days. (Image from AA.com)
AA.com showing business-class seats between London and Helsinki for 45K round-trip. Note these flights are only available within 60 days.

Featured photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy. 

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