Man, wouldn't it be nice to fly in Finnair business class? Finland sounds like a pretty cool place to visit, and with Finnair adding cool new routes like direct flights from San Francisco and LA to Helsinki, now seems like a better time than ever. Plus, they're a oneworld partner, so theoretically there should be a lot of options for redeeming miles on their flights. Except there aren't, because Finnair sucks.
It turns out that business class saver awards show up pretty often on American Airlines, but every time you go to book it, the website throws this cute little error:
When Finnair and Alaska Airlines announced their new partnership, I joked that I was excited for phantom Finnair award space to start showing up on Alaska too. Get it? It's a joke because I didn't think that Finnair would push out bogus inventory to multiple partners. You can probably see where this is going, though... because believe it or not, Finnair business class awards on Alaska error out too. Hooray!
This was an especially painful discovery for me, since Alaska doesn't tell you the space isn't real until you get all the way through the booking process, enter payment details, etc. At least American has the decency to tell you right away -- Alaska makes you think you're actually getting to sit in that sweet sweet white cabin right up until the moment that they tell you that you're yet another victim of Finnair being dicks.
The thing is, over the course of writing this post, I did find an actual seat on the A350 from LAX to Helsinki, but it's such an anomaly that I'm not even sure if it's worth writing about. And just because American's site let me choose that flight and proceed to booking past where the error normally shows up, there's still the question of whether Finnair would actually ticket the flight. Given their track record, I'm not optimistic.
As I said in the title, Finnair's fanntom space is common knowledge in frequent flyer circles, but I still wasn't aware of it until recently. So, I guess I'm writing this post to provide a warning to anyone who might get excited that they have a snowball's chance in a Finnish sauna of ever booking one of these awards.
One quick tip if you're using Alaska's site and you want to check if the award space is real before going through the whole booking process: search the same date for seven people. If it's fake space, you'll still see availability in the calendar, and I think we can all agree that if Finnair won't release a single seat on most of these flights, they probably aren't going to release seven.
I'd love to see this change at some point, and availability is cyclical sometimes, so who knows. But for now, I'm gonna have to put my "direct flight to Helsinki" dreams in cold storage until global warming melts the frozen hearts of the Finnair executives that run their loyalty program enough for them to let me redeem miles for a business class seat.
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