How To Keep Air France KLM Miles From Expiring (What The Program Rules Don’t Tell You)

I recently wrote about my reasons for not transferring points speculative into Air France KLM’s Flying Blue program – even when there’s a great bonus to do so – I explained that it’s because of their expiration policy.

Officially points expire after 24 months unless either,

  1. You credit a mileage-earning flight to your account (e.g. on Air France, Delta, etc.)

  2. You earn miles with a Flying Blue credit card.

In January 2020 I transferred points into my account from Chase for two business class award tickets. The trip had to be cancelled because of the pandemic. The miles were refunded to my account, and taxes to my credit card. But I had points to keep from expiring.

Flying Blue extended expiration of all of their miles until December 31, 2021. That’s much more generous than European competitor Lufthansa who told members to pound sand. However it meant that I was planning on picking up a Delta flight segment at some point this year to credit to the account.

Now, in practice expiration doesn’t always work the way that Flying Blue says it does. In the comments of my post sandbagger2 writes,

I believe the requirement to take a flight in order to extend the life of points only applies to points earned from flying and not transferred points.

I have points sitting in my account (from cc transfers) that were expiring this year and I just extended their expiration date for 2 years (July 2023) by transferring 1k miles into my Air France/Flying Blue account.

Be wary of this: there are data points that support it and also data points that do not. You might consider transferring 1000 points into your account from a card partner and seeing if that works, but I’m not 100% certain that it will in each case.

For myself though I got lucky and I don’t need to take that Delta flight. Earlier in the month I made an online purchase through their shopping portal.

And that reset the expiration of miles in my account. They now all show as expiring at the end of July, 2023.

Air France KLM is a transfer partner of the major bank programs in the U.S. Their expiration policy is one of the major reasons to avoid speculative transfers. However at least in some cases the reality of how the policy is handled may not match the published terms of the program.

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. The published terms of the program *do* somewhat confusingly say that you can extend miles earned via “partners” (i.e. credit card transfers) with additional activity with “partners” through “partial extending activity.” However you can’t extend miles earned with flight activity this way. In my case, any transfer activity from any partner (I have transferred from Chase, Amex, Citi, even Capital One) has always extended my entire Flying Blue points balance by two years. It is one of my favorate transfer parters because of its.

    “You can also extend the validity of Miles earned with all other partners (car rental partners, hotel partners, and experience partners) for 2 years by earning Miles with any of these other partners. These “Partial extending activities” with other partners will extend the validity of Miles earned with any of these other partners by 2 years from the date of the activity. Please note, “Partial extending activities” do not extend the validity of Miles earned from “Overall extending activities”.

  2. It’s interesting the French seem to be more “understanding” than their competitors as you emphasized: “that’s much more generous than European competitor Lufthansa who told members to pound sand.” I purchased a nonrefundable ticket on AF last week and had to cancel. AF refunded in full. No questions asked.

  3. A great policy if the airline’s goal is to incent customers to earn miles through partners but not via paid travel on their airline.

  4. If you shop thru their portal go you have to use their branded cC for points/miles to be credited to AF account?

  5. I transferred Citi points to Flying Blue, all points got renewed for another 24 months…

  6. I have the same thing – lot of FB miles stranded from the cancellation of a summer 2020 trip, and no real opportunity to use them until maybe next spring. The thing about the shopping portal is that it is a large mailing charge of about 50 euros or more if you are having shipped to the US (unless you order some pretty high priced items with free shipping). I think I can probably fly with DL before the end of the year, so will hope to renew that way.

  7. I transferred 1K miles from my Amex just to see what happened. It split my miles in two, the original ones still expiring at the end of the year, and the 1K with a two year expiration. Sorry it didn’t work, but good to know.

  8. The written rules are somewhat confusing. Miles not earned through flying can be extended by any activity. Miles earned through flying (or credit card spend) can only be extended through flying (or credit card spend).
    Credit a flight to FlyingBlue and it extends all the miles 2 years, but all miles get reclassified as miles earned through flying and so can only be extended by flying.

  9. Everything is very rare! The rules says
    you make a purchase with an eligible co-branded credit card at least once every 2 years. These “Overall extending activities” extend the validity of all Miles 2 years from the date of the activity.

    It is the same in the Japanese version, but Air France say they extend “partially”, only extend the point earned by the credit card. I obtained Flyingblue credit card in order to extend the validity, so it was totally false.
    So they say my 200.000 miles accumulated will expire at the end of this year, although my last purchase with the credit card was held on October 2020.
    I don’t understand. Is this only in Japan??

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