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It’s always good news when a credit card lets you transfer your rewards to airline miles, like the recent announcement on the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card. New applicants can earn 50,000 Capital One miles after spending $3,000 within three months of account opening. Finnair is one of those new transfer partners to consider.
Finnair is an attractive European airline that operates brand-new Airbus A350 aircraft for the majority of its long-haul fleet. And it offers an amazing sauna in the lounge at it’s Helsinki hub. On the other hand, it’s Finnair Plus frequent flyer program is not known for having many exceptional values. But since you will be soon be able to transfer your Capital One miles to Finnair and 11 other frequent flyer programs, the important question is: Should you?
How Finnair Plus works
There are three different ways to redeem Finnair Plus miles.
- You can redeem them using the award chart for flights operated by Finnair.
- A chart specific to an individual partner.
- Distance based chart for awards that includes flights two or more different airlines (Finnair plus one partner, or two partners.)
Finnair is a member of the OneWorld Alliance, which includes American Airlines, British Airways, Japan Airlines (JAL) and others. Finnair also partners with several airlines outside of OneWorld including:
- Alaska Airlines
- Braathens Regional Airways (of Sweden)
The Award Chart for Finnair Flights
This chart is not very clear, but you can confirm the price of an award by using their online flight award calculator. And while many of these options are terrible, there are a few bright spots. Also note that awards are slightly more expensive when booked over the phone, and two one-way flights cost far more than a single round-trip ticket.
Here are two awards that are worth it:
1. Flights to Tel Aviv or Dubai
One thing that stands out to me on this chart is the footnote that Finnair includes Tel Aviv and Dubai as part of Europe. So add this to the list of award chart sweet spots that can be found by using airline geography. While a 90,000 mile round-trip award to Europe in economy class isn’t too attractive, round-trip business class awards to Tel Aviv or Dubai for 160,000 miles can be a pretty good deal. The trick is finding award space in business class on a flight operated by Finnair, which is rare. However, their recently announced flight to LAX shows some award space if you search dates very far out.
2. Flights within Northern Europe
You can book economy class, round-trip award flights within Northern Europe for just 15,000 miles, round-trip. Their definition of Northern Europe stretches from Iceland to Moscow and includes all of their flights within Finland. So if you’ve reached Iceland on a discount carrier’s ticket and you want to stretch your trip visit mainland Europe, this is a very inexpensive option. In fact, business class flights are are still a good deal, at a mere 25,000 miles, round-trip.
The Single Partner Award Chart
The award charts for flights on one of Finnair’s partners can be horrific. For example, I don’t imagine too many are lining up to pay 27,000 miles for one-way domestic economy class flight on American Airlines. Other “sour spots” include Icelandair flights from North America to Europe or 135,000 miles in economy class and one-way business class flights to Australia on Qantas for a staggering 162,000 miles. I tried hard to find find some values in these partner award charts, but came up empty.
The Multi-Partner, Distance-Based Award Chart
Here too, there’s little value to be had. For example, round-trip award flight of up to 6,000km (3,728 miles) are 60,000 Finnair miles in economy class and 100,000 in business class. This is a tremendous amount of miles for a relatively short distance, about the equivalent of a round-trip flight between Chicago and San Francisco. And remember, you can only redeem these awards for itineraries that contain flights operated by two or more partners.
Other Uses for Finnair Miles
You can use Finnair miles for upgrade awards. The good news is that the rules don’t specify a minimum booking class to be eligible for upgrades, and you can search upgrade availability before you book your flight. This means that you should be able find a highly discounted flight and upgrade it using miles. Of course, the bad news is the very high number of miles required, 50,000 miles each way on flights to Europe. This is not much less than most airlines charge for the award itself. You might use this to dispose of unneeded miles, but you probably shouldn’t transfer your miles to Finnair to purchase upgrades at these prices.
Upgrades within Northern Europe and the Rest of Europe zones, including Tel Aviv and Dubai are a much more reasonable 7,500 and 10,000 points respectively. However, your “upgrade” will only get you an economy class at the front of the plane, with the middle row blocked. This, and priority service, increased baggage allowance, lounge access and a meal. This award may be worth it, especially if you have a long, connecting itinerary and hope to visit the sauna in lounge in the Helsinki airport.
There’s nothing wrong with Capital One including Finnair Plus as a transfer partner, but it will be very hard for most people to find any real value in their various award charts. The exceptions are Finnair flights to Tel Aviv and Dubai, and flights within their definition of Northern Europe. A low-priced upgrade within Northern Europe could be nice too. By carefully considering these options, you can make the right decision when it comes time to redeem your Capital One miles.
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