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Finnair offers free plastic surgery

HELSINKI - Bloomberg | 11/17/2009 12:00:00 AM |

First it was free flights, hotel rooms and magazine subscriptions. Now, Finnair has a new idea for attracting frequent flyers: free plastic surgery.

First it was free flights, hotel rooms and magazine subscriptions. Now, Finnair, Finland’s biggest airline, has a new idea for attracting frequent flyers: free plastic surgery in exchange for air miles.

Breast implants, hair replacement surgery or a face-lift performed by the Nordstroem Hospital in Helsinki are among the newest offerings in the carrier’s Finnair Plus loyalty service, according to the program’s Web site.

“Finnair contacted the hospital,” Mikko Tuomainen, the airline’s director of loyalty programs, said in a telephone interview. “The idea was to incorporate partners and services from all walks of life.”

About 1.3 million flyers are enrolled in Finnair’s loyalty program, Tuomainen said. Earning the 3.18 million points for breast augmentation surgery requires 120 round-trip, business-class flights between Helsinki and New York, according to a points table on Finnair’s Web site. Miles earned with the airline are valid for five years.

Finnair, which added the cosmetic surgery service about a month ago, is in talks with medical practices to offer other health care services, Tuomainen said. Points can also be combined with cash and used for services ranging from restaurants and clubs to car rentals and hotels. Frequent flyers use three-fourths of all points for flights, Tuomainen said.

Finnair has been unprofitable for five consecutive quarters, posting a 20.7 million-euro ($30.8 million) net loss in the three months through September. Finnair shares have dropped 19 percent this year, valuing the carrier, which is 55.8 percent owned by the state, at 506 million euros.

Customers wishing to use air miles for enhancement surgery must first book a 95-euro consultation at the hospital before using loyalty points for the voucher. Cooperation with Finnair is so new that no one has yet bought a voucher for surgery, Rolf Nordstroem, 62, who founded the hospital in 1976, said.

“For us, this is a good opportunity to highlight our top class services in Finland and internationally,” Nordstroem said. “We also wanted to use our brand to help Finnair in its current temporary financial troubles.”

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