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?

Flying Blue Promo Awards Explained

Miles Price

Every two months, Flying Blue releases a new list of Promo Awards, which allow travel from specified American cities to anywhere in Europe for 25% or 50% off the normal miles price.

The current list of promo awards are available for booking through April 30, 2014 for flights between from June 1 to July 31, 2014.

There are only two discounted cities on this list, probably because it covers peak travel times.

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Flights from Boston in economy are 50% off and only 25,000 miles roundtrip to anywhere in Europe. Flights from Houston are 25% off and only 37,500 miles roundtrip to anywhere in Europe.

Out-of-Pocket Cash

Promo awards have the same out-of-pocket taxes and fuel surcharges as normal Flying Blue awards. The taxes are the same as you would pay on any award ticket. The fuel surcharges are listed on this table:

For the US to Europe, the fuel surcharge each way is 50 euros in economy, 110 euros in premium economy, and 180 euros in business or first.

That works out to a modest $137 + taxes out of pocket on roundtrip awards to Europe in economy, but a punitive $488 + taxes out of pocket on roundtrip business class awards to Europe.

Booking

To book a Flying Blue Promo Award, go to the Flying Blue Award Search and sign in or create an account. You can search with zero miles in your account, but you need to be signed into an account.

Everything on the form is standard except selecting the number of passengers. You have to manually add each additional passenger by age in the “Who’s going?” section.

In “Where to?”, you can select one-way or return. The promo awards are valid one way or roundtrip.

In “When?”, leave “My dates are flexible” checked to get a helpful calendar.

In “Which class?”, select your cabin and leave “Show Flex options only” unchecked.

In your search results, the discounted promo award prices are already coded into the price displayed on the calendars, which will display the one way price.

Example from Boston to Paris

Here was a roundtrip economy class search from Boston to Paris. The green dates are days with Promo Award space available for 12,500 miles each way.

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The return is just as good.

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On some days, you even have a choice of two flights with award space at the Promo price.

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As you can see, the Promo Award space is excellent, though the out-of-pocket cost of $266 roundtrip is not.

Screen Shot 2014-04-05 at 7.57.47 PM

Using a Promo Award, the roundtrip cost between Boston and Paris this summer is 25,000 Flying Blue miles + $266.

About half of that is fuel surcharges.

You can save a little bit of money by flying out of a lower aviation-tax country like Spain, but you’ll save less than $100.

How Good of a Deal are Promo Awards?

For peak summer travel, Promo Awards are an incredible deal. Let’s compare Boston to Paris for 25,000 Flying Blue miles + $266 to other options.

  • You could book an award with connecting flights for 60k United miles + $150 on Lufthansa planes.
  • You could book direct flights for 220k American Airlines miles + $94.
  • You could book direct cash flights on the same dates for $1538 (and earn miles from the flights!)

Of these three options, the Flying Blue Promo Award is clearly the best deal even with $266 out of pocket.

Getting the Miles

Flying Blue is a 1:1 transfer partner of Membership Rewards and Starpoints. And as usual, increments of 20k Starpoints transfer to 25k Flying Blue miles.

You can get the Starpoints from the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express with 25,000 bonus Starpoints after spending $5k in six months.

You can get Membership Rewards from several cards. My two favorite personal cards are The Platinum Card® from American Express with 40k bonus Membership Rewards after spending $3k in three months. The card has a $450 annual fee that is totally worth paying. I also love the American Express® Premier Rewards Gold Card with its 25k bonus Membership Rewards after spending $2k in three months, 3x points for flights booked with airlines, and 2x points at gas stations and supermarkets.

Bonus

The drawback for the Promo Awards is the out-of-pocket cash needed to book them. You can eliminate the out-of-pocket cash needed by paying for the Promo Award with your Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®.

The Arrival card comes with 40,000 bonus miles after spending $3k in three months, and the Arrival miles are worth 1.14 cents toward any flight, hotel, car rental, cruise, or other travel expense.

The $266 out of pocket for the roundtrip award from Boston to Paris could turn into zero out of pocket by redeeming about 26,600 Arrival miles.

Offer details:

  • Earn 40,000 bonus miles when you spend $3,000 or more on purchases in the first 90 days from account opening. 40,000 bonus miles equates to $400 off your next travel redemption!
  • 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 12 months after account opening. After that, variable APR, currently 14.99% or 18.99%, based upon your creditworthiness
  • Earn 2X miles on all purchases
  • No mileage caps or foreign transaction fees
  • Get 10% miles back when you redeem for travel statement credits (i.e. redeem 25,000 miles for travel and get 2,500 miles back)
  • Use your card to book through any airline, hotel or discount travel engine with no blackout dates or seat restrictions
  • Easily redeem your miles for statement credits towards all or a portion of your travel purchases within the last 90 days
  • Complimentary online FICO® Score access for Arrival cardmembers

Application Link: Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® (waived the first year)

Recap

Book by April 30 and fly in June or July and you can enjoy half price awards from Boston to all of Europe with Flying Blue miles.

Roundtrip economy awards are only 25k miles + $138 + taxes.

Get Flying Blue miles by transferring points earned on the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express or American Express® Premier Rewards Gold Card and avoid the out of pocket expenses with Arrival miles from the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®.

 

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