Finnair Introduces “Basic” Business Class

Filed Under: Finnair

We’ve seen airlines around the world introduce basic economy, and now Finnair is joining the ranks of airlines offering “basic” business class.

Finnair’s new business class “light” fares

Finnair is in the process of overhauling their fare types, and the most significant development is the introduction of business class “light” fares, as they’re called:

  • These will go on sale as of tomorrow, Tuesday, March 31, 2020
  • These will be valid for travel as of fall 2020
  • These will be valid for flights within Europe, as well as for flights between Europe and Asia; they won’t be available on transatlantic flights, since Finnair is part of the oneworld transatlantic joint venture

Finnair is overhauling fare types

Restrictions on Finnair’s new business class light fares

Finnair business class light fares will come with most of the same inclusions as other business class fares, including two carry-ons weighing 8kg, food, drinks, lounge access, and more.

What’s not included with these new fares?

  • They won’t include a checked baggage allowance, while other business class fares include two checked bags of 32kg each (which is already a reduction, as business class used to include three checked bags of 32kg each)
  • They’ll earn 150% elite miles, rather than the 200-250% elite miles offered by other fares
  • They won’t allow any changes or cancellations

Do note that any baggage allowance from elite status would still be valid on business class light fares. In other words, if you have status then you could potentially still check a bag.

Finnair is introducing business class light fares

Finnair isn’t the first airline to unbundle business class

In mid-2019, Emirates introduced unbundled business class, where their cheapest business class fares no longer included lounge access, chauffeur service, or the ability to upgrade, and they also limited the seats you could assign for free.

Emirates has started unbundling business class

This is something the airline had been working on for years, and it’s something they’ve maintained, so I guess it’s working quite well for them.

When (if?) Lufthansa introduces a new business class on their 777Xs, the airline plans on charging for certain seat assignments, essentially creating a premium business class. The airline hasn’t yet decided if they plan to differentiate the soft product, but it’s something that’s under consideration.

Lufthansa’s new business class, coming on the 777X

Perhaps what Lufthansa is doing there is the opposite of Emirates — rather than unbundling business class, they’re bundling it to create an even more premium product.

Bottom line

While the timing is strange, Finnair will be overhauling fare types as of tomorrow, including the introduction of business class light fares. These won’t include any checked baggage allowance and will have reduced mileage earning, but otherwise will be the same.

I’ll be curious to see how they price these fares.

What do you make of the expansion of the basic business class concept?

  1. I think pricing will be key. Business class at what other airlines might consider PE pricing? Depending on the situation, this could work. If I am traveling alone, I might be all about it. It also could potentially open up mileage runs, though until pricing is announced, all bets are off.

  2. finnair have published a guide for travel agents about these fares here
    The english language version misses out some information about europe-japan flights which is in the finnish language version here:
    So it’s unclear if the europe-japan flights have business light tickets available because the finnish language pdf specifically says no and the english language only has a category europe-asia which says yes.

    Separate to the introduction of business light, it seems that only full fare business (business flex) will come with advance seat reservation in business class, other fares (classic and light) have chargeable ASR.

  3. In my opinion LH is following through with what they started on LX, the seats vary greatly based on seating plan choices made long ago. The alternating rows involve certain seats referred to as throne seats are considered more desirable. Unlike most airlines that strive for universal aisle access, LH group often maximizes density by having some double toward the window. I will grant that I prefer seats that face straight ahead as opposed to angled to direction of travel which otherwise allows efficient use of the width of the cabin.

    Rather than strive for aisle access they penalize some late selectors and try to eke some more revenue, not cool.

  4. The timing seems bad for this change almost like it’s from a now out of date playbook. Airlines are going to eventually start falling all over themselves to get passengers back. Throwing in all the so-called extras for no extra change might become more common not less common.

  5. CF Frost

    I agree with some hope about this.

    Hopefully, as one of the few good things that comes out of this, especially if involving state bailouts, is that airlines have to start respecting customers more again. Rather than the constant fleecing we have seen during the recent boom times.

  6. AY has long been offering competitive price from US to Asia, so guess this will make their quote more appealing

  7. I suspect some flyers would be shocked to see how much they have been paying under the covers for things like seat selection, lounge access, “free” checked bags and “free” champagne.

    Probably $100 each or more. On many flights I’d be happy to skip those – it’s really all about the in-flight seat, space and service.

    So I am all for unbundling and choice.

    Would business-lite require fewer Avios for awards?

  8. Well, looking at their main competitors, they probably price them at the same level like the lowest fare before the change – but now with the restrictions mentioned. So a fare without such restrictions will become more expensive …

  9. @Tom – the problem with that logic, while true on the surface, is that airlines never actually -lower- fares for basic fares, but raise the prices on the higher fare buckets. In the end you end up paying more at any level than you did previously.

  10. So basically they are creating less attractive products to shell out more money without labeling price hike
    The price difference won’t be that much between basic business and regular business, but will provide illusion that spending little extra comes with more benefits
    It is like movie theater
    Small soda $1 and large soda $2, but introduction of medium soda will trick you to buy large one since large will be compared from pricing side to medium soda which they will sale it at $1.75
    So 8 oz.. small, 12oz. Medium while 16 oz. Will be large
    People dont buy usually small since it is just 8 oz.

  11. It will all come down to the price (and not the price difference) If it’s closer to a “Premium Economy” price then it will be worth it (as opposed to the actual cost of premium economy which is not value for money). Also interested to see if the OW status (eg from BA) allows baggage and seat selection.

  12. Thanks Lucky for the cursory reference to EK business class fare structure and its successful existence for some time.

    However you just couldn’t help but show the now replaced 2-3-2 config on a 777 (2-2-2 in progress) rather than the (IMHO) the best config of the staggered 1-2-1 of an A380, where, incidentally you don’t have to crane your neck if in a window seat to see out as you do in your beloved herringbone configs.

    Lets hear more positive comments like this, thanks. Especially when, having retained their (valued) staff, they return to the skies.

  13. PS
    Btw Lucky. The EK business class saver fare DOES include lounge access AND chauffeur car. (specific destinations as with all J fares)

    You may be confusing a BOOKED saver fare with an online email single sector last minute upgrade option, which does NOT include lounge, nor chauffeur car.

    You so rarely get your facts wrong, I didn’t want to break your habit!

  14. I’m wondering if this goes far enough. Maybe they should offer 50% status earning and one checked bag. I have a suspicion companies that set a travel policy of requiring business booking for travel more than 5000 miles may book it. The checked bags and mileage benefit the employee whereas the employer may only value the additional sleep from traveling business. I suspect most traveling on business could make due with one checked bag anyways. The airline could then charge for 75%, 100%, 150% mileage earning and additional checked bags.

  15. I lived in Geneva, Switzerland 2012-2016 and was lucky enough to retire in 2014 while my wife finished her contract.

    I used to fly SwissAir business lite about every two weeks on short trips of three to five days. The tickets included one 8kg carryon and one personal bag – I took a backpack. The fare included seat selection, lounge access, priority boarding a meal but no checked bag and the gate agents were vigilant on the weight and number of carryon bags.

    The price of tickets varied by day and flight time but I regularly flew GVA/LHR/GVA for around $200. Other destinations like Porto & Dublin were less than $200.

    Being SwissAir the flights were rarely late and I flew regularly enough that I got to know some of the crew who used to welcome me by name.

    I used to book about a month in advance and because I was retired, I had flexibility in destination and itinerary. You had to do a bit of searching on the web site but I remember taking about 20 such trips over two years.

    I don’t know if LX still offer these fares but from 2014 to 2016 they offered terrific inter-Europe business lite fares.

  16. @ UpperDeckJohnny – Nope, he’s not. On select routes Emirates features a Special fare bucket which is priced below their Saver fare bucket. These don’t feature lounge access, chauffeur service, etc.

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