Air France KLM’s Flying Blue program should be interesting to U.S. frequent flyers for several reasons.
- They offer one-way awards, which Delta won’t have until next year.
- They are an American Express Membership Rewards and a Citi Thank You points transfer partner.
- They have access to award space that Delta won’t let you have.
- They have most of their partners available for online booking
Unfortunately their call centers are frustrating, their website can be too (and has been known to show ‘phantom’ award availability, seats that look available but aren’t really here to book).
And they add fuel surcharges onto award tickets.
One of the great values, historically, has been their ‘promo awards’.
Award tickets at half the cost of their regular award chart can be a great value, for a relatively short booking window and for travel between specific cities and Europe. (For instance, travel from a featured U.S. city through Paris on Air France or Amsterdam on KLM to anywhere in Europe half the usual miles.)
A few things have made these awards less valuable than they used to be, though.
- The award chart got more expensive. So half off is still more miles than before.
- Promo awards aren’t even always half off anymore, they’re frequently now 25% off. Raise prices, then discount them a little bit, and you’re really looking at ‘regular price’ (at least what regular price was 15 months ago).
- Promo awards tend to be available for fewer destinations, at least for business class.
Indeed, the new promo awards list is out for September bookings and travel in November and December, and these become bookable Monday. Here are the North America-Europe options.
- 50% off Detroit – Europe in economy, so 12,500 miles each way.
- 25% off Mexico City – Europe in economy, so 18,750 miles each way.
- 25% off New York JFK – Europe in economy, so 18,750 miles each way.
- 50% off Washington Dulles – Europe in premium economy, so 25,000 miles each way.
These are all economy and premium economy only, nothing in business class. And they’re all on Air France, nothing on KLM this go. A disappointing list, but one that will be strategically useful to some flyers.