Oneworld’s Finnair has begun charging Business class passengers extra for seat selection. Passengers with Business class tickets are now being asked to shell out up to $271.40 per flight to choose a seat.
On a return Finnair Business class journey from Hong Kong to Paris via Helsinki, for example, seat selection fees could now add up to $687.60 to the cost of the ticket.
It comes as Finnair unbundles its Business class fares, introducing “Light” tickets – which exclude checked baggage and cannot be changed – in some markets.
Finnair Business class seat selection charges
Finnair’s new seat selection fees in Business class depend on the aircraft type, the type of seat and the length of the flight. For example, on long-haul Airbus A350 flights (where Business is in a 1-2-1 configuration), it now costs €150 ($271.40 when charged in AUD) to choose any window seat.
But the fee to choose an aisle seat in the middle section is only €30 (AU$54.30).
On long-haul Finnair Airbus A330-300 flights, the $271.40 seat selection fee is applicable to the more private “throne” seats, as well as single seats by a window. The lower $54.30 fee is charged for other seats, except bulkhead seats in row one which attract a charge of around $125.
On Finnair intra-Europe Business class flights, the fee to select any seat is now €40 ($72.40).
The seat selection fee now applies for passengers that have booked a Business Light or Business Classic fare. Seat selection fees are waived for Business Flex tickets.
According to Finnair’s seat selection policy, passengers with Oneworld Sapphire or Oneworld Emerald status, such as Qantas Gold or Platinum status, can avoid paying seat selection fees by reserving a seat through Finnair customer service. Finnair Business class flights to and from Japan also appear to be exempt from these fees.
Finnair’s new Business class fare types
Finnair’s new Business fares launched on 31 March 2020. As part of the fare revamp, Finnair now has 3 different Business class ticket categories:
- Business Flex (J, C & D fare classes)
- Business Classic (I fare class in markets including Australia; or R fare class in markets where “Light” fares are being sold)
- Business Light (I fare class in markets where “Light” fares are being sold)
Finnair’s new Business Light tickets will not be sold in some markets such as Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and Hong Kong. But they will be available in other markets, including Europe and some Asian countries. The new “Light” fares still come with a Business class seat, meals and lounge access. But they exclude checked baggage and cannot be changed or cancelled.
If you’re purchasing a Finnair Business class ticket in a market where Light fares are being sold, beware that Qantas Frequent Flyer still classifies Finnair R class fares as “Discount Economy” for the purpose of earning Qantas points and status credits. Presumably, this will be updated at some point.
In Australia, Finnair is now selling Business Classic and Business Flex fares. The Classic fares exclude complimentary seat selection, but still come with 2 checked bags and can be changed or cancelled for a fee.
Tickets purchased before 31 March 2020 are unaffected.
Unbundled Business class fares
Finnair is not the first airline to unbundle its Business class fares. Last year, Emirates began selling “Business Special” fares which come with a Business class seat, but exclude lounge access, chauffeur drive service, seat selection and cannot be upgraded. But it’s unusual for full-service airlines to adopt this approach – especially in Business class. The “unbundling” model is typically used by low-cost carriers.
British Airways is also notorious for the exorbitant seat selection fees charged to most Premium Economy and Business class passengers.
Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: Changes to Finnair fare types