10 Secrets to Getting the Most From Air France KLM Flying Awards During Capital One’s Transfer Bonus

I receive compensation for content and many links on this blog. American Express, Citibank, Chase, Capital One and other banks are advertising partners of this site. Any opinions expressed in this post are my own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by my advertising partners. I do not write about all credit cards that are available -- instead focusing on miles, points, and cash back (and currencies that can be converted into the same). Terms apply to the offers and benefits listed on this page.


This month Capital One announced its third miles transfer bonus in a very short time in partnership with Air France KLM Flying Blue. During the month of June (through June 30th at 11:59 p.m. EST) Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card accountholders receive a 20% bonus on all miles transferred to the Air France KLM Flying Blue program. (The transfer rate to Flying Blue will be 2:1.8 during this limited-time offer.)

Since first launching miles transfer, Capital One has added a new transfer partner (JetBlue) and now run three transfer promotions, all in about half a year. They’ve been aggressively adding value to the card, and have turned it into a double threat.

  • You can still use miles to pay for travel, just like before.

  • Or you can transfer Capital One Venture miles to your choice of several airline frequent flyer programs, which can be ideal for big international trips especially in business or first class.

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

Capital One Venture’s Value Proposition Has Gotten Stronger

Since the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card earns 2 miles per dollar spent, that’s like earning 2% back towards paid travel, up to 1.5 airline frequent flyer miles per dollar spent on everyday purchases, or up to 7.5 airline frequent flyer miles per dollar spent on bookings made at hotels.com/venture (through January 2020). And miles transfer bonuses make it even better.

That’s why in my opinion Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card is now the best personal card for everyday spending.

Currently new accountholders can enjoy a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening a new Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card.

In addition the card lets you earn 10X miles on hotels booked at hotels.com/venture (through January 2020) and you will receive up to a $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®. The card as a $0 intro annual fee for first year; $95 after that.

Capital One Airline Transfer Partners

Capital One miles transfer to most airline loyalty programs at a 2-to-1.5 ratio. These rates are current as of June 11, 2019 and may change, so if you’re consulting this article in the future check for current transfer rates.

Airline Frequent Flyer Program Transfer Ratio
Aeromexico Club Premier 2-to-1.5
Air Canada Aeroplan 2-to-1.5
Air France KLM Flying Blue 2-to-1.5* (2:1.8 during June promo)
Alitalia MilleMiglia Program 2-to-1.5
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles 2-to-1.5
Avianca LifeMiles 2-to-1.5
Emirates Skywards 2-to-1.0
Etihad Airways Etihad Guest 2-to-1.5
EVA Air Infinity MileageLands 2-to-1.5
Finnair Plus 2-to-1.5
Hainan Airlines Fortune Wings Club 2-to-1.5
JetBlue TrueBlue 2-to-1.0
Qantas Frequent Flyer 2-to-1.5
Qatar Airways Privilege Club 2-to-1.5
Singapore Airlines Krisflyer 2-to-1.0

Ten Tricks For Taking Advantage of the Flying Blue Transfer Bonus

Capital One transfer bonuses may be the most useful in the industry, because you aren’t limited to transferring points you’ve already earned. Rather than waiting until your statement closes to award you miles for your spending, they give you the miles almost right away (miles typically post to Rewards account between 1-3 business days after pending transactions charge to your statement). You can keep earning miles and still benefit from their transfer bonuses.

Here are 10 things you should know as you think about making the most of Capital One’s transfer bonus to Air France KLM Flying Blue:

  1. Air France offers better award availability when you’re using Flying Blue miles than when you’re using partner miles. I often transfer points to Flying Blue because I find they have business class award seats to Europe when other airlines don’t.

    In my experience the very best business class award availability is out of Houston, Dallas, and Washington Dulles however I’ve even used them for West Coast – Europe when no one else has availability too.


    Washington Dulles – Amsterdam award calendar, searched June 1, 2019

  2. Flying Blue prices awards using a calculator rather than an award chart If you want to know the starting price for award tickets (saver price) you can search the route you’re interested in booking.

    57,500 miles between New York and Paris in business class, or 115,000 miles roundtrip, is relatively good pricing, especially considering I find Air France availability to be better than what’s offered across the Pond by many competitors.

    The calculator does show the price of international first class — most seats are available at that price, as there’s no first class ‘saver award’ on Air France — however only Flying Blue elite frequent flyers are permitted to redeem for first class. Business class is the sweet spot here, in my opinion.

  3. Adding flights and flying further can save you miles. If you want to connect beyond Paris (Air France) or Amsterdam (KLM) to a destination farther away in Europe that may actually save you miles compared to just booking the transatlantic leg of the journey.

    Here, for instance, New York – Budapest (which will necessarily involve a transatlantic flight and connection) costs just 53,000 miles each way in business class. It’s cheaper to add a flight beyond Paris than to just fly to Paris.

  4. Every month there are discounted promo awards Each month Air France and KLM discount awards between specific cities and Europe (as well as specific cities within Europe), for travel in a two-month period. You may be able to book awards for 25% or even 50% off of their normal price.

    If Chicago is on sale, you can fly from Chicago to anywhere in Europe at a discounted price and Europe is defined broadly — for instance you can travel as far as Tel Aviv. This can be a good enough deal that it isn’t just useful for customers living in the city that’s on sale. When I see Vancouver – Europe, for instance, it can be worth it for customers in the Pacific Northwest to fly to and from Vancouver to take advantage of the sale.

    Currently you can book promo awards from the U.S. in June for August and September travel:

    • 50% discount on economy redemptions between Atlanta and Houston and Europe
    • 25% discount on business class redemptions between Chicago, Montreal, Calgary and Edmonton and Europe.

    These awards are bookable roundtrip or one way. You have to fly the same airline the whole way, you cannot mix partners. And the discounted award has to be booked online.

    These discounts are a great opportunity to stack with the current Capital One transfer bonus for even bigger savings off of the number of Capital One miles an award would normally cost you.

  5. Great everyday deals like Tahiti for 51,000 miles roundtrip in economy (128,000 miles in business) or Hawaii from 35,000 miles roundtrip in economy.

  6. Unique airline partnerships create great opportunities Air France KLM isn’t just a member of SkyTeam, they have several partnerships outside the alliance that can help you use your points to maximum effect.

    For instance awards on Aircalin range from 13,500 to 17,500 miles each way (from Sydney to the Pacific Islands is 17,500).

    Here’s an example where you can actually fly Qantas using Flying Blue miles, since it’s an Aircalin codeshare:

    That’s a good deal on its own. It also lets you get other great deals.

    Los Angeles to Shanghai has a published price of 34,500 miles in coach. You can fly that — and continue on to Noumea without raising the number of miles required.

    You can search the Flying Blue website and redeem miles for travel on oneworld carriers Japan Airlines and Malaysia Airlines, former SkyTeam member China Southern, as well as Brazil’s Gol. You can also use your miles on Air Mauritius, Bangkok Airways, and WestJet which aren’t members of SkyTeam either.

  7. Transfers to Air France KLM Flying Blue are Near-Instantaneous. I like to put awards on hold before you transfer points, which is something I’ve had good luck doing when making reservations over the phone. Some agents have told me it isn’t possible, but then I hang up and call back and I’ll generally be successful in securing holds of 24 or 48 hours.

    Nonetheless it isn’t really necessary to hold an award in order to secure space while waiting for points to transfer over from Capital One, since transfers are near-instantaneous, though can take longer. When you go online to the Capital One website and move your points, you’ll generally see them in your Air France KLM Flying Blue account by the time you log in there. (If you are already logged into the Flying Blue website, log out and log back in and the points should be available to spend.)

  8. Mixed cabin awards aren’t available. If you fly business class to Europe and want to connect onward, you’re going to need business class availability for the next flight to use it as part of your award. Flying Blue doesn’t offer awards where you’re in business for one segment and coach for the other. It used to be that these just wouldn’t show up on the website, but you could piece it together if you called in (in the past I had even been asked to fax a letter acknowledging I wasn’t getting business class the whole way). Now though agents usually aren’t able to book awards that do not show on the website, and that includes mixed cabin awards.

  9. For best experience, fly their Boeing 777s for long haul flights Air France offers the best current business class across the Atlantic of any European airline on their Boeing 777 fleet. They have lie flat seats with direct aisle access in a reverse herringbone configuration. These seats are similar to what Cathay Pacific uses. Add in strong catering and it’s a really nice business class product.

    Normally customers love the Airbus A380 aircraft, however Air France still has angled business class seats on their A380s. So if you have flexibility and are redeeming for business class travel, choose to fly Air France’s Boeing 777 over Airbus A380.


    Air France A380 Business Class

    Of course, I might just prefer to book KLM business class altogether, just because they give transatlantic business class passengers a gift of a tiny Dutch house filled with alcohol, a practice they’ve engaged in since 1952.

    Prior to US airline deregulation the Civil Aeronautics Board regulated what airlines could charge and sought to limit price competition. With prices higher than they otherwise would be, unable to compete on price, airlines offered more and greater amenities. The CAB sought to limit these too. As former Civil Aeronautics Board Chairman Alfred Kahn explained the regulator was forced to even consider the thickness of sandwiches that could be served on board.

    Gifts to passengers were limited to 75 cents in value so the airline’s practice of gifting houses was challenged. KLM prevailed, arguing that they are permitted to serve their passengers alcohol, and there was no requirement for them to do so in a glass. These houses are even frequently sold on eBay.

  10. Call to book your award While the Flying Blue website offers availability not just on Air France and KLM, but also on most of their partners, I’ll occasionally run into errors where flights that show online as available aren’t actually bookable.

    Since the flexibility of moving your miles where you want, when you want to, is one of the really valuable benefits Capital One offers I don’t want to move miles to a frequent flyer program and not use them. I’d prefer an unused points balance in a Capital One account.

    So call the airline to make the booking. Have the agent set up the award for you while you’re on the phone. And since transfers in many cases are immediate, you can go online to your Capital One Venture account and make the transfer with the agent on the phone — and then they’ll issue your award.

    I’ve also experienced where Flying Blue may audit accounts that are brand new, and points are transferred in and then redeemed right away. This has happened with online redemptions, but it hasn’t been my experience with telephone redemptions. Another anti-fraud measure that I’ve noticed with online bookings is requiring members with new accounts to go to an airport to complete the ticketing process. Calling to make award reservations seems to prevent that as well.

Should You Transfer Points Speculatively?

A 20% transfer bonus to Flying Blue is a nice deal, and it’s only available through June 30, 2019 at 11:59 p.m. EST.

If you have a plan for how you’ll use Air France KLM Flying Blue miles, consider making a transfer. However I love the flexibility miles have in a Capital One account to transfer to a variety of places.

That’s in part because of all of the options Capital One gives you, and in part because Air France KLM miles expire unless you credit a qualifying flight to your account every 2 years.

Overall I’m excited to continue to see that Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card is running another bonus to transfer their miles to an airline at a better than standard rate. Transfer bonuses continue to be on their radar, so I can’t wait to see what comes next.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

More articles by Gary Leff »

Editorial note: any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer. Comments made in response to this post are not provided or commissioned nor have they been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any bank. It is not the responsibility of any advertiser to ensure that questions are answered, either. Terms and limitations apply to all offers.

Comments

  1. Gary,

    I have this card, but I do wonder – is it worth holding this card long term and paying a $95 fee for the 2x return on onbonused spend, assuming
    1) You are using other cards for dining, travel and other expenses
    2) You also have a card like the no fee Freedom Unlimited, which earns 1.5x on all spend and can transfer airlines as long as you have a Reserve or Preferred

    I have used this card to redeem for Amtrak tickets, pay for award ticket fees and transfer to Air France, so the versatility is there, but the card is often dominated by others when I decide to spend

  2. Air France has abruptly become my go to airline for travel to Italy. We had booked award seats from FCO-LAX a year back and flew them in the past few days. I was impressed with comfort, food and service in long haul Air France business class. I’ve been searching for award seats to FCO in spring 2020. UA and AA are charging 150K to 240K one way for one person in business class. That’s crazy pricing. Imagine my delight to find Air France with seats at 53K one way per person. I don’t have Capital One points, but I do have AMEX and Ultimate Rewards. Both transfer instantly and I was able to secure my seat. Check FCO-LAX in May 2020 and you’ll find award seats for 53K for at least 2/3 of the dates.

  3. Hi Gary;

    Thanks to your post I’m contemplating some well priced awards. However I’m concerned about the expiration policy. I heard that points transfers don’t extend the miles.

    Suppose I don’t have any qualifying actives ( which for US residents is I think just an Air France flight) in the last 23 months. Then I transfer in a 100k Miles .
    1) will those transferred miles expire once the clock hits 24 months?
    2) if the clock is already at 24 months, how soon after transferring from Amex will they expire?
    3) if I book the flights prior to the 24 month mark but cancel the flight after the 24 month mark, do I lose the points?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *