Air France Eliminates Award Charts, Introduces New Award Pricing Effective June 1

At the end of 2015 Air France KLM’s Flying Blue program said they were working on changes that would make them more like Delta SkyMiles in order to preserve “the program’s economic balance.” That’s never what customers want to hear.

Flying Blue matters to you because they’re a transfer partner of Chase, American Express, and Citibank. And because Air France availability is much better using Flying Blue miles than with points from partners.

This past November they laid out a new revenue-based points-earning system and said that mileage redemption would change June 1 but would not say what new prices would be.

They’ve now laid out how earning changes. Sort of.

  • Flying Blue is eliminating award charts, like Delta, at least for flights on their own carriers Air France, KLM, and Hop, Joon, and Tansavia

  • Each route will have a base miles price which will vary ‘based on several factors’.

  • They’ve announced ‘starting rates’ for award tickets

  • They they don’t promise that those will be what you’ll pay or that they won’t change, and without award charts it’s tough to know when they devalue (like Delta, perhaps frequently)

Minimum prices for awards aren’t changing substantially, some go up and some go down and sometimes coach gets cheaper, business more expensive, sometimes it’s the opposite.

Assuming saver award availability remains the same and minimum pricing corresponds with saver space this isn’t bad for now. However dynamic pricing and hidden award charts will almost certainly mean higher prices going forward.

Here’s the calculator.

Currently US-Europe in economy runs 25,000 miles each way in economy and 62,500 miles each way in business class (plus fuel surcharges, and by saying “Airport taxes, carrier-imposed surcharges and security surcharges need to be paid separately” on the calculator page rather than the amount of fuel surcharges to expect they likely run afoul of US Department of Transportation rules).

Here’s New York JFK – Paris one way:

Here’s Los Angeles – Paris one way:

Here’s Los Angeles – Tel Aviv one way:

Tel Aviv has been considered a part of Europe, and therefore the same price as just flying to Paris. That’s clearly no longer true now that pricing is based on city pair. Some connecting city pairs are more expensive — but LA – Israel is cheaper than New York – Paris. Go figure.

Hat tip for these changes to The Flying Dutchboy at Inside Flyer who put together a chart of some of the new pricing:

Note as well that these charts only show the ‘minimum’ or presumably saver pricing and don’t tell us what extra availability will cost. There will be revenue-based pricing up to last seat availability. And Flying Blue is also going to present a cash and points choice to pay up to 25% of an award in cash, but the price of buying down the miles cost of an award isn’t yet disclosed.

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, 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 »

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  1. Well, if it leads to more availability, that would be great.

    LAX-CDG used to be regulary available two – three years ago. Loved that flight, even on the lesser A380 seats.

  2. How does this affect those who hold DL miles? Will it be better or harder to use DL miles for premium seat redemptions on AF?

    That business class fare from LAX->TLV is a steal assuming it is not illusory (like most of the Delta “chart”) – just paid 80k miles to fly Mrs. B to TLV in *A business class.

  3. Any word on whether Flying Blue will follow Delta’s lead in eliminating the two-year miles expiration rule?

  4. Definitely not good news. I suppose that one benefit of the next major economic downturn will be that some of these anti customer policies should be reversed.

  5. its a mixed bag for sure until we see it in action. My MSP to CDG went up and MSP to AMS or ATH went down. I’m guessing a lot more on demand award increases are in the future for this program. I may have to look more at United redemption for my transatlantic flights.

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