NEWS: Accor status and flexibility improvements and Finnair reveals plans for long haul flights

Railay beach in Krabi, Thailand

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Accor status and flexibility improvements 

Accor has had a bit of a mish-mash of flexibility policies as it has been different in different regions. They have this week announced further improvements to the policy with a more consistent approach. 

All guests globally who booked a non-flexible rate directly with Accor for travel until 30 June 2020 can modify their reservation for a future date (within 18 months) at the same hotel or receive a credit voucher for the full value for later use. 

Pullman Maldives Maamutaa

ALL-Accor Live Limitless members

They have also improved their status extensions with a full extra year extension for all status levels as well as rolling over any status nights and points to next year which I think is pretty generous.

Here is the full list of what they are offering:

  • Status Extension: The status you earned in 2019 will be extended to 31 December 2021 
  • Points Expiration: To provide ample time to redeem your points, the expiration of Reward points will be paused until 15 December 2020.
  • Roll-Over Status Nights / Points: ALL Status nights and points earned between  1 July 2020 and 31 December 2020 will be rolled over to jump-start your elite qualification on 1 January 2021, allowing you to earn elite status faster in the 2022 programme year.
  • Suite Night Upgrades: For Platinum and Diamond members, all unused Suite Night Upgrades as of 31 December 2020 will be extended for 12 months to provide you more time to enjoy a suite night upgrade on us.

With the exception of the IHG Ambassador program, most hotel groups have done a much better job than the airlines. For me, it seems obvious to offer this. Many people, myself included, have a number of status with various hotel groups. When I start to travel again, if one status has not been extended, I will simply move my business elsewhere. Or in the case of Ambassador, not bother to renew it anytime soon. (it’s a paid program you can read about here)

 

Finnair resumes more routes on its network, with long-haul routes beginning in July

Finnair a350

From July, Finnair will gradually add frequencies and routes back to its network. Finnair will review its schedule on a monthly basis and will update it as travel restrictions are removed and demand starts to recover. Sadly, they have also announced that they will be looking at layoffs as well, although at the moment they are talking about it on a temporary basis. 

”We expect aviation to recover gradually, starting in July”, says Finnair Chief Commercial Officer Ole Orvér. ”Our intention is to operate approximately 30% of our normal amount of flights in July, and we will also start long-haul flights to our key Asian destinations. We will then add routes and frequencies month by month as demand recovers.

Our recent customer survey shows that customers are already planning both business and leisure trips”, Orvér says. “We want to meet this demand with our network offering.”  

Finnair will flexibly add flights as demand develops. The flight schedule will also take into account the changes in travel restrictions in different countries.

Long-haul operations start from Asia

Hong Kong harbour with junk boat

Finnair’s long-haul operations will commence in phases from July, with strong focus on Asia, which is strategically important for Finnair. Finnair will fly to Beijing, Hong Kong, and Shanghai in Greater China (subject to government approval); to Nagoya, Osaka and Tokyo Narita in Japan; and to Singapore, Seoul and Bangkok. Long-haul operations are supported by the cargo demand. In August, Finnair will start flights to Delhi and to New York, and in November to Tokyo Haneda airport. Finnair also has flights to Miami, Krabi and Phuket during the winter holiday season.

European routes

On European routes, Finnair will first focus on key centres, and will start flying to London again in July as well as Berlin, Brussels, Budapest, Copenhagen, Dublin, Düsseldorf, Edinburgh, Frankfurt, Gothenburg, Geneva, Hamburg, Malaga, Manchester,  Moscow, Munich, Oslo, Paris, Prague, Riga, Tallinn, Stockholm, St Petersburg, Vilnius, Vienna and Zürich. BA recently abandoned Helsinki for some reason, leaving Finnair as the only, and very expensive option from Heathrow.

In August Finnair will start flights to Barcelona, Milan, Madrid, Rome and Warsaw. During the summer holiday season, Finnair will also operate individual flights to some of the holiday destinations in Southern Europe.

If like me you had the Bologna-Hong Kong fare booked, they have now cancelled Bologna until March next year. If you still want to fly, you can change the start point to a nearby airport such as Milan or Rome instead. I rebooked to Rome for the last possible dates within the validity of my ticket which was October. I do think that airlines should add additional validity to tickets as Qatar have done up to two years.

 

Flexibility for customers

Since March, Finnair has offered flexibility to change travel dates, and this continues. Customers can change their travel dates for all flights bought from Finnair directly between 1 April and 30 June 2020 flexibly and travel within the ticket validity (one year).

As Finnair publishes its flying schedule from July 2020 to end of March 2021, it is also cancelling those flights that will not be operating. Finnair will handle flight cancellations in phases, and you will be contacted by the end of June about any cancelled flights you were booked onto. I would, therefore, advise anyone who has a Finnair flight and wants to cancel, to see if it gets cancelled first so you can get a full refund!

A list of routes that Finnair will not operate during summer 2020 and winter 2020/2021 at all is available on Finnair’s Travel updates page.

  • If a customer’s flight is cancelled, but Finnair still operates to the destination in question, Finnair does its best to automatically offer an alternative flight.
  • Customers can seek a refund for cancelled flights.
  • Customers, whose flights are cancelled, can change their travel dates until 31 May 2021 through Finnair’s website or customer service.

 

What are Finnair doing to keep people safe?

Finnair has already earlier this spring implemented several changes to protect the health of customers and employees. The service process and in-flight service have been amended, customers are seated as far away from each other onboard as possible, there are plastic shields at service points and aircraft cleaning has been further intensified. Customer service personnel follow a no-touch policy with customers’ travel documents and baggage.

The most visible change to customers now is the requirement wear a mask for the entire duration of the flight. This measure is in effect from May 18 to at least until the end of August.

“Customers will board the flight with their own mask and wear it throughout the flight,” Piia Karhu tells. “Also, Finnair’s customer facing staff at the airport as well as the cabin crew will wear surgical masks. We decided to introduce this measure because the usage of masks is becoming more widespread and they protect passengers from possible droplet infections. When everyone wears a mask, we’re able to protect each other.”

“We recommend that customers acquire a mask that fits them already before their flight, pack as little as possible and check in online or with a mobile app – all of these reduce waiting times and contacts at the airport”, Piia Karhu continues. “I’m confident everyone also understands that they won’t be able to board a flight if there is the slightest suspicion of a Covid-19 infection or if they have respiratory symptoms.”

In addition, Finnair will implement several changes in its processes.  They have taken into account the regulations and instructions by authorities as well as general developments in the industry. The measures took effect on May 18:

  • Customers are asked to maintain a minimum social distance of 1 meter at the airport
  • All Finnair customer-facing staff at the airport will wear a mask
  • Onboard, customers are seated apart from each other whenever possible; seating arrangements are reviewed by our staff at the gate before boarding
  • Customers will board the aircraft starting from those seated at the rear of the cabin
  • In bus transportation, max 50% of the capacity of the bus is used
  • Finnair cabin crew will wear surgical masks during the flight
  • All customers are required to wear a mask from boarding to leaving the aircraft.
    • Customers are asked to bring their own masks that cover both nose and mouth.
    • Children under the age of 7 are not required to wear a mask.
    • Other exemptions from the mask rule are subject to prior clearance from Finnair Medical desk.
  • Aircraft cleaning has further been intensified, with a special focus on high-touch areas
  • Sanitising wipes are available for customers onboard.
  • An adjusted in-flight service concept will help to decrease contact between customers and cabin crew.
  • Customers are asked to travel light to minimise the amount of hand-baggage in the cabin and avoid unnecessary movement in the cabin.

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