Flying Blue, the award program of Air France and KLM, often flies under the radar. Even with dynamic award pricing, there are plenty of reasons to check it out. Let’s move about the cabin and take a look. 

The Basics

Flying Blue is the name of the mileage program for Air France and KLM, part of the SkyTeam Alliance which includes 17 other airlines such as Delta Airlines and Alitalia. That means when flying on a revenue (e.g. paid) ticket on SkyTeam airlines, and a few other independent airline partners such as Copa Airlines and Bangkok Airways, you can credit those miles earned to your Flying Blue account by including your Flying Blue account number on the reservation. 

Top Tip: Always check to make sure your fare is eligible for earning miles with a particular program. For example, if you are flying Aeroflot and want to credit to Flying Blue, check the Flying Blue partner page to verify your booking class is eligible, and at what rate you’ll earn miles. The Where To Credit mileage calculator is also a useful tool.

The Air France and KLM program can be valuable for a number of reasons. First and foremost, it is a transfer partner of all the major credit card programs: Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou Rewards, Marriott Bonvoy, and Capital One Venture Rewards.

Dynamic Pricing

Flying Blue employs dynamic award pricing.

This means instead of a fixed amount of miles between regions, such as Singapore Airlines’ award chart, dynamic award prices fluctuate depending on a number of factors including route popularity, load factor, time of year, cash prices, etc. The downside is absurd prices at times, such as Delta charging a bank draining 320k for a one way business class ticket.

Thanks, dynamic pricing, I’ll pass.

More and more airlines are switching to dynamic pricing, including all three of the main U.S. carriers, much to the groans of the points and miles community. Sarah Page discussed this topic heavily in a recent podcast by Hack Your Wealth. But it is not all doom and gloom. We have seen the creation of American Airlines’ web specials including domestic flights available for as little as 5,000 miles and, at the time of this article, from almost anywhere in the US to a number of European cities for 17,000 miles each way when booked as a round trip. 

Flying Blue is Peachy

Flying Blue’s change and cancellation/redeposit fees are also a reasonable €50. That is on par or better than most programs. And for what it’s worth, during the current COVID-19 virus havoc, they have been very forgiving in waiving change and cancellation/redeposit fees. Kevin recently assisted a client via MileValue’s Award Booking Service to cancel a number of flights, and while the Air France flights in question did not appear to fall under the current waiver terms, the Flying Blue team waived the fees without hesitation. 

Speaking of, Flying Blue is one of the more pleasant programs to work with when it comes to customer service. Over dozens of calls, we’ve found their agents to be knowledgeable, efficient, and polite. You may even be lucky and catch the chat box popping up on the Flying Blue website. Via the chat, we’ve successfully completed many tasks, including putting flights on hold. 

Holds

Flying Blue is one of the few programs where you can put an award on hold before transferring your bank points in. This makes award bookers very happy. You can accomplish this via the chat feature or calling Flying Blue at 1-800-375-8723. Provide your Flying Blue number and basic information, then feed the agent your flight details and they’ll place it on hold at no extra charge. You’ll receive a reservation number so that you may view the hold online. Once the miles are transferred into the account, call back with a credit card in hand to pay the taxes. 

Premium Economy

Flying Blue also has attainable Premium Economy award tickets. Much of the time the required miles is right in between the economy and business prices. Most airlines either do not offer premium economy awards or have absurd prices.

Why, United, why?

Search Airfrance.fr Instead

A valuable final tip: Use the airfrance.fr/en site to do your searching and not airfrance.us. The airfrance.fr site allows more flexibility and has a more user friendly interface. For example, the search results page gives you a calendar view, allowing you to see the lowest price within a week. You can scroll
the calendar and click on a day to bring up the flight options. While the US site does offer a calendar view if you check the box which says “You are looking for a flight around these dates,” we would generally recommend you not check that box. Checking that box causes Delta flights to be excluded from the search results most of the time.

Furthermore, the calendar on the US site is not on the results page making it a little less user friendly to have to jump between pages.

C:\Users\K&K\Documents\Award Booking MileValue\Freelance Writing\Air France Mar 2020\calendar switch dates!!.JPG
Calendar view not available on the US site’s results page

There are also several filters available on the search page, something you will not find as user friendly on the US site.

C:\Users\K&K\Documents\Award Booking MileValue\Freelance Writing\Air France Mar 2020\Filter.JPG
Filter the results page

The results are also displayed better on airfrance.fr, showing the total trip time along with the layover time, the airline(s) being used, and how many tickets are left. Click on “View flight details” to bring up a whole slew of information, such as aircraft type, cabin layout, onboard services and amenities, flight numbers, business class seat information, and more. 

C:\Users\K&K\Documents\Award Booking MileValue\Freelance Writing\Air France Mar 2020\layover time and how many seats left.JPG
User friendly display

Top Tip: Flying Air France business class? Choose business class on the Boeing 777 over the Airbus A380 for a top notch seat and hard product. 

Final Approach

Flying Blue is a great program to use, given the flexibility to transfer from all major credit card programs, on point customer service, and the ability to put an award on hold among other details. Accrued miles are valid for two years as well. Lastly, even with dynamic pricing, there are good prices to be found. On a recent search, we uncovered the usual 30,000 miles for economy class from the US to Budapest via American Airlines, but Flying Blue had it for just 21,500 miles. In business class, United wanted the standard 70,000 miles and AA 57,500 while Flying Blue had it for 53,000 miles. Have you used the Flying Blue program? Let us know in the comments below.

Budapest