Finnair announced this week starting from 1 November 2018 they will now begin charging for the bar cart in Economy. While the airline will still serve passengers a complimentary drink with their meal on some flights, this is by no means the case on all routes. In all circumstances, anyone looking for an aperitif or a digestif outside of meal times will need to part with some cash, but on some flights they’ll need to pay for meal-time alcoholic drinks too.
However, the new rules won’t apply to all destinations, just some. And while many online have been referring to these as the Finnair dry flights, this isn’t strictly true. But we’re interested to know exactly what you can get on which flights. And also why Finnair feel the need to introduce this measure.
Which flights are affected by the new Finnair alcohol charges?
The new rules will affect three different groups of destinations.
Flights to Bangkok, Goa, Havana, Ho Chi Minh City, Krabi, Phuket, Puerto Plata and Puerto Vallarta will still offer soft drinks, juices and water throughout the flight, free of charge. Beer, wine and other alcoholic beverages will be available for purchase during the flight. So while the idea of Finnair dry flights to Asia are an exaggeration, it’s flights certainly are drier than they were previously.
Flights to China, Japan, Seoul, Delhi and Singapore will have a slightly different set of rules. On these flights, passengers may have soft drinks, juices, water, beer and wine with their meal free of charge. But ‘other’ alcoholic drinks (namely spirits) will come with a price ticket.
For those travelling to the United States (New York, Miami, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Chicago), their first (main) meal will come with a soft drink, juice, water, beer and/or wine free of charge. They will also be able to buy additional drinks during the flight.
In addition, according to the new rules, the Finnair website directs passengers to Europe and the Middle East to a different page. Here it says – rather cryptically – “Business Class passengers… can also choose from a diverse range of beverages that have been selected specifically to complement your meal.” But it doesn’t tell us if these are alcoholic or not. Further down, it says, Economy passengers may order from the Nordic Bistro in advance. But here there is no mention of any drinks at all.
Why do you have to pay for drinks on Finnair now?
There are many reasons why Finnair may have started charging for drinks, but these won’t be as clear as you’d expect. For example, Finland has the highest tax on alcohol in the EU, which adds around an additional $2 per bottle of beer. So if a hundred fliers all ordered two beers, that’s already $400 in lost revenue, just on the tax. Ironically, Emirates and Qatar Airways offer full complimentary bar service to Helsinki. Although we only recommend you take advantage of this when flying West, as arriving in some middle east nations with alcohol in your system is illegal.
But the good news is, Finland is looking to lower it’s alcohol tax in the years to come. So hopefully, Finnland prohibition move won’t be forever.