Category Archives: Flying Blue

The Coolest Thing You Can Do with 60k Miles

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Last week I urged people to be realistic with their miles and listed The Easiest Places to Get with Miles. Today I’m telling you to dream big and to look to do things with miles that you couldn’t easily or cheaply do without miles.

For instance, for 60,000 miles, you can book yourself a “triangle trip” that lets you practice your Spanish in Chile and Spain. The trip would let you see the wildlife of Patagonia and the nightlife of Barcelona.

Screen Shot 2014-09-08 at 8.59.52 AM

How many thousands of dollars would a similar trip cost? Could you even have dared to dream about such a routing before you knew the power of your miles?

The routing I’ll talk about relies on three discounted awards, and award space is plentiful on all routes. Best of all, you can live anywhere in the continental United States to take advantage, and you can customize the destinations to your taste.

  • What three discounted awards combine to form the legs of this triangle trip?
  • What 60,000 miles do you need? How can you get them?

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How Long Does It Take to Transfer ThankYou Points to Flying Blue Miles

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Last week, Citi announced that ThankYou Points are now transferable to Air France/KLM Flying Blue miles. You can now transfer Citi ThankYou Points from the Citi ThankYou® Premier, Citi Prestige®, or Citi Chairman card a 1:1 ratio to:

  • Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
  • EVA Air Infinity MileageLands
  • Etihad Guest
  • Garuda Indonesia Frequent Flyer
  • Qatar Privilege Club
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer (transfer in 22-36 hours)
  • Thai Airways Royal Orchard Plus
  • Air France/KLM Flying Blue
  • Malaysia Airlines Enrich

You can also transfer 1,000 ThankYou Points to 1,500 Hilton HHonors points.

I singled out Flying Blue as the second best transfer partner of ThankYou Points because of 12,500 mile awards to Europe and Israel and 15,000 mile awards to Hawaii and the Caribbean.

I wanted to test the transfer time from ThankYou Points to Flying Blue miles, so folks can plan ahead for future Flying Blue redemptions.

It took me two attempts to have one successful transfer.

  • What was the process to transfer Citi ThankYou Points to Flying Blue miles?
  • What time did I transfer the points and when did they arrive as Flying Blue miles?

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Gold Mine Award Space to All of Argentina

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Edit 9/3/14: Readers are reporting that Air France and Delta cannot ticket all the space shown on airfrance.us. There may be some sort of glitch. I’ll try to get to the bottom of this.

Award space is wide open in economy and business class between the United States and Argentina for the next 11 months, including award space over the peak December to March summer period.

You can book this award space on wide-open Aerolineas Argentinas flights with your Delta or Flying Blue miles. You can fly the awards into cities other than Buenos Aires to explore more of one of my favorite countries.

Screen Shot 2014-09-03 at 1.42.48 AMWhether you’re interested in tango, steak, wine, Patagonia, or Iguazu Falls, you can get there for as little as 50,000 miles + $120 roundtrip.

This award space even extends over Christmas and New Year’s and for 2+ people.

Plus right now Delta miles and Flying Blue miles are even easier than usual to accumulate.

  • What is the award space picture?
  • How is Aerolineas Argentinas Business Class space?
  • What costly mistake do you need to avoid while booking?
  • How can you book the awards?

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Fly to Europe or Israel for 12,500 Miles

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Flying Blue–the loyalty program of Air France/KLM, Air Europa, Kenya Airways, and TAROM Romanian–has released its newest Promo Awards that let you fly from select US cities to anywhere in Europe or to Israel for as little as 12,500 miles each way with only modest fuel surcharges.

Flying Blue is a 1:1 transfer partner of ThankYou Points, Membership Rewards and Starpoints. You can get over 50,000 ThankYou Points from the Citi ThankYou® Premier Rewards Card: 20,000 points after $2,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening and an additional 30,000 points after another $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of your second year of being a cardmember

My Review of the Citi ThankYou® Premier Rewards Card

These Flying Blue Promo Awards must be booked in September 2014 for November and December 2014 travel. There are three American cities on the discounted list with discounts for economy and Premium Economy travel.

  • What cities are these Promo Awards good for? What if you don’t live in one?
  • How do you book a Promo Award?
  • How do these awards compare to awards with lower fuel surcharges?
  • How is the Air France Premium Economy product?
  • How can you eliminate the out-of-pocket cost of the award?

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Do This to Avoid an Error When Transferring ThankYou Points

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I got an error when I tried to transfer ThankYou Points to Air France Flying Blue miles. A Citi representative called me to let me know that my transfer would be cancelled, and I could re-initiate at my leisure.

Screen Shot 2014-08-25 at 11.03.30 PM

The problem was that I had put my 10 digit Flying Blue number in when asked my Flying Blue number. My number is written with 10 digits at airfrance.us and on Award Wallet.

The Citi rep who called and left me a message told me that I should have entered a 12 digit Flying Blue number, in my case starting with 00.

How could I have known, I wondered? Good thing this points transfer was just 1,000 points to test out the process and report back to you all like I did with my transfer to Singapore KrisFlyer miles.

The rep further explained that my points transfer would be cancelled, and I’d get my points back. She said I’d need to re-initiate if I wanted to transfer 1,000 points to Flying Blue.

  • How do you transfer from ThankYou Points to Flying Blue Miles?
  • What number should you enter for your Flying Blue account number?
  • Why would you want to do transfer to Flying Blue?

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Only Flying Blue Award Chart Online

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Yesterday I wrote that Citi ThankYou Points had added Air France Flying Blue as a 1:1 transfer partner.

That’s big news because there are some amazing high value uses for Flying Blue miles, and ThankYou Points are so easy to earn from the Citi ThankYou® Premier Rewards Card with its 50,000 point sign up bonus and 3x category bonuses.

  • Earn 20,000 points after $2,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn an additional 30,000 points after another $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of your second year of being a cardmember
  • Earn 3 ThankYou Points for every $1 spent on purchases for dining at restaurants and entertainment

When I was researching that post though, I couldn’t find Flying Blue’s complete award chart. All I could find was an award chart for awards originating in Europe:

Screen Shot 2014-08-25 at 11.56.17 PM

I took it upon myself to compile an award chart for awards departing the United States, which I believe to be the only Air France/KLM Flying Blue award chart online for awards departing the United States. I priced out awards from the continental United States to every region on the Flying Blue award chart.

  • What is the award chart?
  • Where is it cheaper than Delta’s award chart?

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Citi ThankYou Points Now Transfer to Flying Blue Miles

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Citi ThankYou Points now transfer 1:1 to AirFrance/KLM Flying Blue miles.

Screen Shot 2014-08-25 at 11.07.11 PM

This is huge news because:

  • Flying Blue Promo Awards to Europe cost only 12,500 miles each way
  • Flying Blue miles can book one way awards on Delta flights, with no fuel surcharges
  • Flying Blue miles can book award flights on any of the 20 SkyTeam member airlines, a few with no fuel surcharges
  • Flying Blue charges only 15,000 miles each way between the continental United States and Hawaii

You can transfer Citi ThankYou Points at a 1:1 ratio to nine airlines across all three alliances plus Hilton points. Singapore KrisFlyer miles are still my favorite transfer partner, and Flying Blue miles are now my second favorite transfer partner.

Right now the Citi ThankYou® Premier Rewards Card is offering 50,000 bonus points: 20,000 after spending $2,000 in the first three months and 30,000 more after spending $3,000 in the first three months of year two.

  • What airlines can you book with Flying Blue miles?
  • What are the best value awards with Flying Blue miles?
  • How can you book Flying Blue awards?

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Free First Class 2014: Basics of Redeeming Singapore, Aeroplan, Lufthansa, Avianca, ANA, Flying Blue, and Korean Miles

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This is the twentieth post in a monthlong series that started here. Each post will take about two minutes to read and may include an action item that takes the reader another two minutes to complete. I am writing this for an audience of people who know nothing about frequent flyer miles, and my goal is that by the end, you know enough to fly for free anywhere you want to go.

I’ve covered how to earn miles and the redemption options for miles. Now I’m giving the basics of several international airline programs which are transfer partners of one or more of the following types of points:

  • Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • American Express Membership Rewards
  • Starwood Preferred Guest Starpoints
  • Citi ThankYou Points

I think of these international airlines programs as niche programs. Most of their redemption options are terrible because of fuel surcharges, but a few redemptions with each program are great because of no fuel surcharges or a super cheap miles price.

Know the great options in each program to save yourself miles and cash by maximizing these programs:

  • Singapore KrisFlyer (UR, MR, SPG, and TY)
  • Air Canada Aeroplan (MR, SPG)
  • Lufthansa Miles & More (SPG, also the only one of these programs that offers a big 50k sign up bonus on an American credit card every few months)
  • ANA Mileage Club (MR, SPG)
  • Air France Flying Blue (MR, SPG)
  • Korean SkyPass (UR, SPG)

Why Collect These Miles?

Most of these programs have a sweet spot that lets you book the same flights for fewer miles than if you used United or Delta miles. For instance, pay 30,000 Singapore miles each way in First Class between the continental United States and Hawaii instead of 40,000 United miles.

Korean, Singapore, and Lufthansa miles allow the booking of mind-blowing First Class products you can’t book with Delta and United miles.

  • What airlines can you fly with these miles?
  • What are the routing rules for these awards (stopovers, open jaws, free one ways)?
  • What are the special deals in each program?
  • What about fuel surcharges?

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Book Now: Only 12,500 Miles to Europe Each Way

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Flying Blue–the loyalty program of Air France/KLM, Air Europa, Kenya Airways, and TAROM Romanian–has released its newest Promo Awards that let you fly from select US cities to anywhere in Europe for as little as 12,500 miles each way with only modest fuel surcharges.

Flying Blue is a 1:1 transfer partner of Membership Rewards and Starpoints.

These Promo Awards must be booked in July 2014 for September and October 2014 travel. You can fly from Dallas to anywhere in Europe roundtrip for only 25k Membership Rewards or 20k Starpoints + $264 out of pocket.

  • What cities are these Promo Awards good for? What if you don’t live in one?
  • How do you book a Promo Award?
  • How do these awards compare to awards with lower fuel surcharges?
  • What Promo Award routes can you fly without fuel surcharges?
  • How can you eliminate the out of pocket cost of the award?

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Fly United States to Europe this Summer for 12,500 Miles with Air France Promo Awards

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Flying Blue–the loyalty program of Air France/KLM, Air Europa, Kenya Airways, and TAROM–has released its newest Promo Awards that let you fly from select US cities to anywhere in Europe for as little as 12,500 miles each way with only modest fuel surcharges.

Flying Blue is a 1:1 transfer partner of Membership Rewards and Starpoints.

These Promo Awards must be booked in June 2014 for August and September 2014 travel. You can fly from Houston to anywhere in Europe for only 25k Membership Rewards or 20k Starpoints + $264 out of pocket.

  • What cities are these Promo Awards good for?
  • How do you book a Promo Award?
  • How do these awards compare to awards with lower fuel surcharges?
  • What Promo Award route can you fly without fuel surcharges?
  • How can you eliminate the out of pocket cost of the award?

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Fly from the United States to Europe this Summer for 25k Miles Roundtrip

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Flying Blue–the loyalty program of Air France/KLM, Air Europa, Kenya Airways, and TAROM–has released its newest Promo Awards that let you fly from select US cities to anywhere in Europe for as little as 12,500 miles each way with only modest fuel surcharges.

Flying Blue is a 1:1 transfer partner of Membership Rewards and Starpoints.

If you book in April 2014, you can travel in June and July, 2014, you can fly from Boston to Europe for only 25k Membership Rewards or 20k Starpoints + $266 out of pocket.

What cities are these Promo Awards good for? How do you book a Promo Award? How do these awards compare to awards with lower fuel surcharges? How can you eliminate the out of pocket cost of the award?

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Incredible Trick: Flying Blue Promo Awards with No Fuel Surcharges

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A few weeks ago, I discussed Flying Blue Promo Awards at length.

  • Flying Blue is the loyalty program of Air France and KLM, the Dutch flag carrier.
  • Every few months, a rotating list of discounted awards are released that can allow you to get from cities in the US to anywhere in Europe for only 25k miles + taxes + small surcharges roundtrip.
  • Business class awards to Europe are as low as 62,500 miles roundtrip, though fuel surcharges are substantially more.
  • See the full story on Flying Blue Promo Awards in How to Get to Europe for 25k Points Roundtrip Through March 31, 2014

Today I want to share a way to fly to Europe on Flying Blue Promo Awards with no fuel surcharges. That means you get the incredibly low price in miles and only pay taxes on the award. A Flying Blue Promo Award with no fuel surcharges is on the short list of best awards in the world.

Of course, there’s a catch, but I see the catch as a further opportunity. ;)

How can you fly Flying Blue Promo Awards to Europe with no fuel surcharges? How can you get Flying Blue miles?

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United Announces Off Peak Awards to Europe for 48,000 Miles Roundtrip (20% Off)

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United has announced a 20% discount on economy class awards from the US to Europe:

  • Roundtrip awards booked between now an November 19, 2013
  • for flights flown between January 13 and March 11, 2014
  • on itineraries wholly operated by United and United Express flights
  • will cost only 48k miles roundtrip, a 20% discount on the normal 60k price.

United ran a nearly identical promotion last year, so maybe this is becoming a yearly occurrence.

I know many of us are trying to burn United miles because of its recent devaluation, so this promotion might be a good way to see Europe during the low season on a cheap award and burn some United miles in the process.

How Do You Book the United Off Peak Award to Europe? How does it compare to off peak awards from Flying Blue, American, and US Airways to Europe this winter?

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How to Get to Europe for 25k Points Roundtrip Through March 31, 2014

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Flying Blue–the loyalty program of Air France/KLM, Air Europa, Kenya Airways, and TAROM–has released its newest Promo Awards that let you fly from several US cities to anywhere in Europe for as little as 12,500 miles each way with only modest fuel surcharges.

Flying Blue is a 1:1 transfer partner of Membership Rewards and Starpoints.

Through March 31, 2014, you can fly from Los Angeles, San Francisco, and several other US cities to Europe for only 25k Membership Rewards or 20k Starpoints + $281 out of pocket.

What cities are these Promo Awards good for? How do you book a Promo Award? How do these awards compare to awards with lower fuel surcharges? How can you eliminate the out of pocket cost of the award?

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Anatomy of an Award: Membership Rewards to Argentina

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I recently booked a family of four an economy award from Miami to Buenos Aires with their Membership Rewards. It was an interesting award that I think demonstrates the complexities and fun of booking with American Express points.

I won’t talk about that award specifically, but I’ll use it as a jumping off point for discussion since it illustrates a typical Memberhip Rewards situation. Imagine you have a family of four trying for an economy roundtrip from Miami to Buenos Aires for two weeks in October with 300k Membership Rewards.

Membership Rewards are awesome because they can be transferred to any of the three airline alliances, so you can use them to book on almost any airline in the world.

But Membership Rewards are frustrating because they transfer to programs with which you may be unfamiliar like ANA or programs with major drawbacks like British Airways’ fuel surcharges.

I would approach an award like this looking first at the flying options, then at the transfer options. I know if I could find award space, I can probably find a transfer partner with access to that space. And if I find several ways to get to Buenos Aires, I cancompare the transfer options to see which is the best deal with Membership Rewards.

From checking the Buenos Aires international airport’s (EZE) wikipedia page, I know there are direct flights to/from Miami on American, LAN, and Aerolineas Argentinas. Of course, United and Delta also fly to Buenos Aires from their hubs.

Aerolineas Argentinas

Aerolineas Argentinas is the state-owned flag carrier of Argentina. I haven’t heard too many kind words about it, but it does have a direct flight from Miami to Buenos Aires. The best way to search for the space is on ExpertFlyer.

ExpertFlyer only displays economy award space on the airline. The space that Aerolineas’ SkyTeam partners like Delta have access to is T class space.

Aerolineas Argentinas flies twice daily between Miami and Buenos Aires–its only US route–once in the morning and one redeye. Up to seven seats are widely available on each!

The return is also wide open.

This was a promising start!

American

American has direct flights from Miami to Buenos Aires also. The best place to check for space on those flights is aa.com.

I can look at the whole month of October in just a few seconds with AA’s awesome calendar view. Unfortunately there is no MileSAAver outbound space–the low-miles-price space open to partners– in October, though there is some space on return flights.

Outbound: No Saver Space

Return: Some Saver Space

LAN

LAN is another oneworld airline with direct flights from Miami to Buenos Aires. I go to ba.com to check for LAN space to Buenos Aires, since aa.com doesn’t display LAN space.

I ca’t find any LAN space on ba.com, though it did pick up the same American Airlines space I’d seen on aa.com.

ba.com not finding any LAN space

…but it did find the same space on American Airlines

Delta

Yes, it seemed like a complete longshot that Delta would have space for four from Miami to Atlanta to Buenos Aires at the low-miles-price because Delta has putrid availability to South America, but I checked anyway.

Green shows low-miles-price itineraries. There actually are some returns possible.

While oneway tickets with Delta miles are a huge mistake since Delta charges the roundtrip price for all awards even oneways, I kept the returns in mind because AMEX has some transfer partners like Flying Blue that can be used to book oneway Delta awards reasonably.

United, TACA, Copa

The final place I checked was united.com to see what United, Copa, or TACA award space there was that I could snag with a transfer to a Star Alliance partner.

Green and yellow days have an award with four economy seats.

I found a few more possible awards to add to the bounty.

Search Results

I found space in both direction on Aerolineas Argentinas’ two daily flights. I found space in both directions on connecting United and Copa (via Panama) flights. I found return space on American Airlines and Delta, but no outbound space. I found no space on LAN.

Transfer Options

Delta

We can transfer Membership Rewards to Delta to book the Aerolineas Argentinas space and/or the Delta space. Delta charges 60,000 miles roundtrip to Argentina in economy class whether you fly it or one of its SkyTeam partners like Aerolineas Argentinas.

Although Delta does charge fuel surcharges for awards on a lot of its partners, it does not collect fuel surcharges on Aerolineas redemptions.

That means a transfer to Delta would mean the transfer of 240,000 Membership Rewards to 240,000 Delta miles. American Express charges $7 per 10,000 miles transferred to US-based airlines, with a maximum charge of $99, This transfer would incur that $99 charge. The award itself would have government taxes of around $75 per person, meaning a total cost of 240,000 Membership Rewards and approximately $400 for four people.

In return for that outlay, the family could get direct flights in each direction or could sub a one-stop itinerary on Delta on the return if they really didn’t want to fly Aerolineas Argentinas.

Flying Blue

Air France’s frequent flyer program, Flying Blue, is not always the best option because it levies heavy surcharges on several partners. But it doesn’t levy surcharges on Delta or Aerolineas Argentinas. And it’s price from the US to Argentina is 25,000 miles each way.

I’m not sure why the taxes collected exceed those collected by Delta by $15 per person, but that’s a minor concern. Flying Blue costs 25,000 miles each way, and it can be used to book oneways, which is a far better deal than Delta’s 60k miles roundtrip, which is the price whether you book oneways or roundtrips.

That means for 200k Membership Rewards and $360, a family of four could get on the same flights as with Delta miles: Delta and Aerolineas Argentinas flights.

British Airways

We can transfer Membership Rewards to British Airways Avios, but that would only enable booking the return leg in this case. Avios can be used to book American or LAN flights. We found only space on American, and only on the return.

The good news is that it’s only 25,000 Avios from Buenos Aires to Miami.

That means the return would be 100k Membership Rewards and $300.

ANA

I recently sang the praises of All Nippon Airways as a Membership Rewards transfer partner. ANA has a distance based award chart. You add up the distance of all the segments and see how many miles that trip will cost. Here is the economy chart.

Miami to Houston to Buenos Aires roundtrip is just over 12,000 miles. That works out 60,000 ANA miles (60,000 Membership Rewards) roundtrip. That’s not fantastic or awful.

But Miami to Panama to Buenos Aires is under 9,000 miles, meaning it is only 43,000 ANA miles roundtrip. That’s the lowest miles total we’ve seen.

image from gcmap.com

In neither case would there be fuel surcharges. ANA never charges fuel surcharges on United or US Airways flights, and Copa doesn’t collect fuel surcharges on this routing.

No fuel surcharges on Copa from Miami to Buenos Aires, so ANA won’t collect any.

That means ANA miles used to fly Copa would be 172k Membership Rewards and about $480 in taxes.

Transfer Options Summary

To summarize:

  • All the options here receive 1:1 transfers from Membership Rewards and incur only government taxes–no fuel surcharges.
  • Transferring to Delta is a bad idea. Why pay 60k Membership Rewards for a roundtrip when the same flights are 25k each way via Flying Blue? Total: 240k + $400
  • ANA is the cheapest option overall at 43k roundtrip if we route through Panama on Copa. Total: 172k + $480
  • British Airways and Flying Blue are the cheapest direct options at 25k each way. Total: 200k + $300

If you really value direct flights, take the Aerolineas Argentinas flight one direction for 25k Flying Blue miles and return on the American Airlines flight for 25k Avios.

If you really value the cheapest flights or want a free stopover in Panama, look for Copa flights for 43k ANA miles.

Recap

Membership Rewards have awesome versatility, which also means it’s more work to figure out the best deal. For a simple Miami to Buenos Aires roundtrip, all three alliances are possibilities.

Because some transfer partners have region-based charts, some have distance-based charts, some charge fuel surcharges sometimes, and some never do, you have to investigate every option for the best deal.

For Buenos Aires to Miami roundtrip, the best deals are with ANA miles on Copa to take advantage of the distance-based chart of a combination of Flying Blue miles and Avios to take advantage of their partners’ direct flights.