The Weakest Air France KLM Promo Awards I Can Ever Recall Seeing

Air France KLM’s Flying Blue program is interesting to U.S. frequent flyers for several reasons.

  1. They offer one-way awards
  2. They are an American Express Membership Rewards, Citi Thank You points, Capital One and a Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partner.
  3. They have far more award space on their own flights than Delta has access to.
  4. 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’ — a rotating set of cities for discounted travel. You can fly from any featured city through Paris (if Air France) or Amsterdam (if KLM) to anywhere in Europe for fewer miles.

The new promo awards list is out for March bookings and travel in May and June.

Here are routes between North America and Europe:

  • Washington Dulles – Economy – Air France & KLM – 25% off
  • Mexico City – Economy – Air France – 25% off
  • Seattle – Premium Economy – Air France – 25% off

I like business class awards at a discount, and 50% off premium economy can be useful. However 25% off premium economy from Seattle is only moderately useful and really only if you’re based in Seattle. 25% off economy redemptions aren’t great since you do pay some carrier-imposed surcharges. I need to see at least 50% off economy to suggest the awards as worth pursuing.

In the new Flying Blue program flights connecting beyond Paris or Amsterdam into Europe are generally less expensive than just flying to Paris or Amsterdam so you’ll get better deals then you connect onward.

And bear in mind as I say that Air France KLM Flying Blue offers much better availability to its own members than to partners.

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 »

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Comments

  1. I would avoid booking through Air France if possible. The entire site is filled with phantom award availability and the phone agents weren’t helpful—I just lots thousands of points by transferring to Air France (to book SVO-LAX) and then discovering that none of the flights that were listed were real. I tried 5 times (on 5 different days that were showing availability on their site), but each time I selected the flight and put in the passenger info, I got an error message right before the final confirmatory page and that selected flight then disappeared from the calendar. Ended up wasting points to book another flight that was much more expensive bc that’s all that was actually available. If you’re going to use Air France, I’d recommend you call them and have them find the flight and put it on hold (for up to 3 days) before you transfer points and book it.

  2. No changes at all or refunds so don’t book unless certain on the date or you don’t mind losing the points.

  3. 50% off Air France’s sky-high burn rates and colossal surcharges and not even any biz flights to the USA this time – does anyone still credit to AF?

  4. When I go to the AF website, it keeps asking me to log in when I attempt to make a booking with points. I’m not sure how many, if any, points are in my account but I certainly do not want to transfer points in until I know for certain that any flight I want is available.

    How do you display a points calendar showing points & fees? I can do so on paid flights only.

    Thanks

  5. So no business class at 50% off from anywhere in the US again? What a shocker. Toss in no changes or refunds and some fuel surcharges just for fun and you have a great deal that’s not so great.

  6. Sorry about the trouble that others have had, but I have booked award tickets successfully at the website. Air France’s refund policy on award tickets is far more reasonable than Delta’s. Also, you can buy down 25% of the award cost at 1 euro-cent per mile, which is (in my opinion) extremely favorable. There have been occasional transfer bonuses from the banks. I regard Air France’s program as a much better program than Delta’s at this point (which is just barely above worthless).

  7. I’ve never had trouble booking awards with AF and at decent rates. I do hold status with them but I don’t think that is the reason I never have major issues. Now in the defense of those commenting with issues I usually don’t book with destination or departure city as CDG which has high taxes and fees in addition to the surcharges.

  8. @Ferdinand
    Their normal awards may have good cancellation policies, but the Promo awards are no cancellation, no changes.
    As unsettled as things are, I’d avoid them.

  9. @Ferdinand Magellan – I’m reading your biography between bouts of blog surfing. You sure had an interesting life.

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