Air France KLM Flying Blue — a surprisingly valuable, strategic frequent flyer program — is a transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards, and Citi ThankYou Rewards.
The three major drawbacks of the program, in my view, are:
- Fuel surcharges, although they’re fairly modest on economy awards and awards to North Asia and South America have almost non-existent surcharges generally plus if you fly Delta originating in the US there aren’t any surcharges.
- Propensity to shut down new accounts, if you open a new account, transfer points in, and redeem right away there’s a non-zero chance that the airline cancels your award and audits the account for fraud or requests that you go to an airport ticket counter to finalize your booking (inconvenient as can be if you don’t live in a city Air France serves). This had seemingly stopped for awhile but I’ve had several recent reader reports that it’s picked back up.
- Strict mileage expiration rules, points expire after 20 months of inactivity and only crediting a flight to your Air France KLM Flying Blue account averts expiration.
Flying Blue has gotten a bit more generous on the expiration front, now allowing 24 months — instead of 20 months — before points expire. Crediting a flight remains the only way to extend points.
Previously, your Award Miles would expire after 20 months of inactivity, but from 15 March 2017 they’ll be valid for 2 years. This means you’ll now have more time to extend the validity of your Award Miles!
Here’s how your Award Miles will never expire:
Take a qualifying flight with AIR FRANCE, KLM, Aircalin, HOP!, Kenya Airways, TAROM, Transavia, Air Corsica or one of our SkyTeam partners at least every 2 years, or Make a payment with your Flying Blue branded credit card* at least every 2 years.
I still wish they’d allow you to extend points with any account activity. Still this appears to be a customer-friendly improvement without a simultaneously cutback. Any win is worth celebrating.
In the meantime if you want to avoid trouble opening a new account and having it audited, I recommend.
- Open an account now, even if you don’t think you need it. That way it isn’t brand new when you go to immediately redeem the points you transfer in.
- Consider calling to redeem by phone, rather than online, after you’ve transferred your points. Online bookings seem to have a greater likelihood of running into problems where they want you to ticket your award in person.
Flying Blue offers much better award availability on Air France than you can access with Delta or Alaska miles, so can be a useful tool especially for business class awards between the West Coast and Europe.