Finnair advertised today in amNewYork that it had fares to Asia: Seoul, Beijing, and Shanghai for $848; Hong Kong, Tokyo, Osaka, and Nagoya for $948. Let's leave out for a minute that you can't see these fares listed on their site. I find it fascinating that Finnair is flying people from New York to Asia via Helsinki:
Now you can fly Finnair's brand new aircraft from New York (JFK) via Helsinki (HEL) to Asia at a very good price.
Isn't it a lot farther this way? Concretely, how far is it from JFK to TYO via HEL versus the direct route? Fortunately, the web has the answer. Using a great circle, the most direct route on our ovoid planet, JFK-HEL-TYO is 8981 miles. JFK-TYO is 6763 miles. So the Finnair route is about one-third longer. I guess that's good if you are accumulating air miles.
And how long does this actually take? I went to Sidestep.com to look up a hypothetical JFK-TYO flight leaving 2009-06-23 and returning 2009-06-30. Northwest quotes a JFK-NRT return flight for $848 that takes 14:10 outbound and 12:40 on the return. Finnair's flight leaves JFK at 17:40 and arrives at HEL at 08:50 the next day. I think that's 15 hours less 6 hours for timezones or 9 hours. Then there is an 8:30 layover before the flight leaves HEL at 17:20 and arrives at NRT at 08:55 the following day. I'm not certain of the math, but it sounds like you could:
- take Northwest and leave JFK at 13:50 and arrive at NRT at 17:00+1 day or
- take Finnair and leave JFK at 17:40 and arrive at NRT at 08:55+2 days.
So on Finnair, you leave 4 hours later and arrive 16 hours later, for a trip that is 12 hours longer: 26 hours on Finnair versus 14 hours on Northwest.
And it's cheaper on Northwest anyway: Northwest for $848 versus Finnair for the advertised price of $948 or the Finnair.com's current price of $1178.
So on cost, time, and distance, this is a non-starter. It just doesn't make any sense to me.