Air France KLM’s Flying Blue shut down the account of someone who simply transferred points in from American Express Membership Rewards and redeemed those points for a ticket. The American Express account, Flying Blue account, and tickets were all for the same person. (American Express no longer even lets you transfer points to other people any more.)
I learned about readers who had had similar experiences and I also heard from a fraud unit employee who actually claimed they wouldn’t permit transferring in points just to book awards.
[T]he use of our frequent flyer accounts as boxes opened to transfer miles with our non air partners won’t be allowed anymore.
I couldn’t believe this was the case. It sounded like a rogue employee gone overboard who was shutting down accounts improperly. But what to do about it?
Several readers have asked for an update.
- My own award booking client, whose experience initially made me aware of the challenge, was taken care of pretty easily. American Expess is great at making things right for their members. They were able to recoup points and transfer elsewhere.
- American Express helped me to get Air France’s attention. And I did speak with them.
I was told in no uncertain terms — Air France KLM Flying Blue values its partners American Express and Citibank, and does allow transfers into Flying Blue accounts to redeem awards.
They said they want US members to feel comfortable with the program, they have big plans in the US and are planning a big campaign to raise their profile here that should include bonuses (no indication if these will be transfer bonuses or bonuses for crediting flights to Flying Blue).
My concern though, was what does a member do when they’ve followed the rules but find themselves in a troubling situation? Their suggestion to ‘call the Flying Blue helpline’ was not useful.
They’ve promised to follow up with me on how to handle situations gone awry.
In the meantime, though, there have been more frustrations. For instance, a supervisor on the helpline has said that they’re randomly flagging new accounts that have points transfer into them and won’t allow tickets to be paid for online — requiring a trip in-person to an Air France airport ticket counter. (Good luck with someone at the airport knowing how to help, even if you have an Air France ticket office near you.)
I’ve found one gets into a customer service loop with Flying Blue like this one is more common than with most other programs.
I’m promised follow up on the supposed procedure for randomly flagging new accounts like this as well.