Air France / KLM Flying Blue sweet spots for award travel

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Flying Blue sweet spots have been more difficult to define than those in other programs ever since Air France and KLM ditched the Flying Blue award chart in favor of variable award pricing. However, given that they still offer reasonable prices on many routes, they are transfer partners will all of the major transferable currencies, and we frequently see transfer bonuses offered to Air France / KLM, Flying Blue sweet spots are still very much worthy of consideration. This post highlights those sweet spots that are likely to be of the most use for North America-based flyers.

In light of the 100% transfer bonus from Bilt Rewards to Flying Blue that is valid 5/1/23 only, we are republishing this guide to program sweet spots. Given the 100% transfer bonus, it may be possible to book things like business class to Tahiti for ~30K Bilt Rewards points or to South America from around 35K points in business class (or from around 10K in economy class). It’s not just the monthly Flying Blue Promo Rewards that would make for a good use of that transfer bonus. Also keep in mind partnerships that Air France has beyond SkyTeam like Copa Airlines, Air Mauritius, and GOL to name a few. See their full list of partners here.

a large white airplane on a runway

Collecting Miles

Air France KLM Flying Blue is transfer partners with the following currencies and conversion rates:

Rewards ProgramAmex Transfer RatioChase Transfer RatioCiti Transfer RatioMarriott Transfer RatioCapital One Transfer RatioBrex Transfer Ratio
Air France KLM Flying Blue1 to 11 to 11 to 160K to 25K1 to 11,670 to 1K

As you can see above, it is incredibly easy to put together the miles for a Flying Blue redemption. Note that we also periodically see transfer bonuses to Flying Blue.

If you can time it out to take advantage of a good transfer bonus, the sweet spots below get even sweeter.  Current transfer bonuses to Flying Blue, if any, are displayed here:

Transfer FromTransfer Bonus DetailsEnd Date

Air France KLM Flying Blue Award Chart

Flying Blue got rid of its award chart a few years ago and pricing is now variable, particularly so on routes from the US. Travel is Free made an award chart a few years ago that is a good reference point if you’re looking to get an idea as to award costs (particularly between regions outside of North America).

Air France offers an “estimator” tool that is meant to give you an idea as to costs and you can find that tool here, but note that it isn’t always an entirely accurate reflection of prices you are likely to find on any given route. It theoretically gives you the low end starting point for tickets in each cabin, but there are exceptions that price above or below the rates shown via the tool.

A long-time “award chart sweet spot” for Flying Blue has been that they have considered Israel to be part of Europe. This has meant that Air France offered an excellent deal for business class flights to Tel Aviv and it has also meant that monthly “Promo Rewards” flights to/from Europe have included Israel. For a brief time, Flying Blue seemed to have ended that sweet spot, but then Israel was added back to Europe at some point.

Flying Blue Promo Rewards

Flying Blue offers monthly “Promo Rewards” that offer discounts on routes from select cities. New sales come out on the 1st of every month and are typically valid for booking during that calendar month and travel over the following 3 months, though we have seen booking windows expand further during the pandemic years. We sometimes see routes from North America to/from Europe available for 25-50% off. The nice thing is that the discounts are typically valid from the selected North American cities to any destination in Europe served by Air France or KLM, so if your North American city is included it can mean a sale to almost anywhere in Europe. Note that Promo Rewards can not be cancelled or refunded but can be changed free of charge until further notice in light of the pandemic.

Here is a link to current Flying Blue Promo Rewards.

Flying Blue award change and cancellation fees

Flying Blue has maintained a very flexible booking policy throughout the pandemic, allowing free changes and cancellations on most award flights provided you make your request to change or cancel before the departure of your first flight. Note that Promo Rewards can not be cancelled / redeposited but can be changed for free.

  • Deadline: Latest check-in time
  • Change fee: €45
  • Cancellation fee: €45
  • Notes: Promo Rewards ordinarily can not be cancelled or refunded. Changes have been temporarily allowed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Surcharges on Flying Blue award tickets

Flying Blue does levy “fuel surcharges” on award tickets on its own metal, though they are moderate (in the $150-$250 range each way on most flights). Note that surcharges on other airlines can vary. For instance, Flying Blue does add surcharges on Virgin Atlantic flights, but in most cases the surcharges are lower than those charged by Virgin Atlantic.

Child award tickets: save 25% for kids 11 and under

FlyingBlue offers discounted pricing for child award tickets. Not to be confused with an infant award ticket, a child award ticket is for a child between 2 and 11 years old.

AirFrance Flying Blue offers child award ticket discounts as high as 33% off adult pricing on short-haul flights or 25% off on long-haul flights. In other words, if an adult award ticket costs 60,000 miles for a long-haul flight, a child award ticket on the same flight likely costs 45,000 miles.

Note that this discounted child award pricing only applies to Air France or KLM-operated flights and only when booking your award ticket through Air France / KLM Flying Blue.

For instance, take this example flight with space in business class from Europe to the United States for 55K miles one-way:

a close-up of a computer screen

The same flight would cost 110K for two adult passengers. But if you have one adult and one child between the ages of 2-11, the total comes to 96,750 miles for both passengers:

a screenshot of a computer

That’s a savings of exactly 25% on the child ticket (which costs 41,250 miles rather than 55,000 miles). While that may not feel huge, it beats the zero discount offered by most airlines on child award tickets (and at a savings of 27,500 miles on a round trip itinerary, it certainly doesn’t seem insignificant). Most airline programs charge the same adult fare for any passenger occupying a seat, so this is a pretty cool program feature. I hadn’t previously been aware of this, though I later noticed that Toni Perkins-Southam and Dia Adams had included information about this in their Flying Blue Ultimate Guide at Forbes.

For my family of four, this would work out to a savings of 55,000 miles round trip with two child tickets. That’s a nice savings.

Flying Blue Sweet Spots (Economy Class)

Africa

  • The short story: Monthly Flying Blue Promo Awards can sometimes offer excellent value between the US and Europe and Flying Blue considers several countries located in North Africa to be part of its "Europe" pricing model (including Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Libya, and the Canary Islands). Once in Africa, keep Flying Blue in mind for intra-Africa awards on Kenya Airways.
  • Miles required: Varies. Economy class awards to Europe (including those North African countries listed above) are often available from as low as 10K-15K one way during Promo Rewards sales from select airports.
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at AirFrance.us (you’ll need to create a free Flying Blue frequent flyer account to search)
  • How to book awards: Book online at AirFrance.com. Can also book via phone.
  • Key warnings: Flying Blue does add fuel surcharges, though they are often reasonable.
  • Transfer from: Amex, Bilt, Capital One, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi Thank You Marriott Bonvoy, Wells Fargo.

Europe

Fly Air France / KLM
  • The short story: Monthly Flying Blue Promo Awards can sometimes offer excellent value between the US and Europe.
  • Miles required: Varies. Economy class awards are often available from as low as 10K-15K one way during Promo Rewards sales from select airports.
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at AirFrance.us (you’ll need to create a free Flying Blue frequent flyer account to search)
  • How to book awards: Book online at AirFrance.com. Can also book via phone.
  • Key warnings: Flying Blue does add fuel surcharges, though they are often reasonable.
  • Transfer from: Amex, Bilt, Capital One, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi Thank You Marriott Bonvoy, Wells Fargo.

Hawaii

  • The short story: Air France charges far fewer miles than Delta for Delta flights to Hawaii, but finding award availability can be a huge challenge.
  • Miles required: 17.5K one-way in economy, or 30K one-way in business class for Delta flights from the US mainland to Hawaii.
  • How to find awards: Use the Virgin Atlantic 5 week award search to find availability (see this post for details). Next, confirm your findings at AirFrance.us (you’ll need to create a free Flying Blue frequent flyer account to search)
  • How to book awards: Book online at AirFrance.com. Can also book via phone when the website returns errors.
  • Key warnings: Air France's website is buggy and will often return errors when trying to complete a booking. If that happens, try calling.
  • Transfer from: Amex, Bilt, Capital One, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi Thank You Marriott Bonvoy, Wells Fargo.

North America

  • The short story: Air France sometimes charges far fewer miles for Delta flights than Delta charges its own members.
  • Miles required: Variable, but starting around 10.5K one-way in economy, or 28K one-way in business class.
  • How to find awards: Use the Virgin Atlantic 5 week award search to find availability (see this post for details). Next, confirm your findings at AirFrance.us (you’ll need to create a free Flying Blue frequent flyer account to search)
  • How to book awards: Book online at AirFrance.com. Can also book via phone when the website returns errors.
  • Change and cancellation fees: None if your flight is cancelled by the airline or your request for change or cancellation is made before departure of your first flight.
  • Key warnings: Air France's website is buggy and will often return errors when trying to complete a booking. If that happens, try calling. Note also that for very short-distance flights, you may be able to save some miles by booking via Virgin Atlantic.
  • Transfer from: Amex, Bilt, Capital One, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi Thank You Marriott Bonvoy, Wells Fargo.

South America

  • The short story: Air France has variable pricing that isn't great but could be attractive if you hit a transfer bonus and/or need to combine points from different programs to book an award.
  • Miles required: Varies, but starts below 20K one way and prices become more attractive when a transferable currency offers a 25% transfer bonus. Keep in mind that in addition to Delta, Air France partners with Copa.
  • How to find awards: For Delta flights, use the Virgin Atlantic 5 week award search to find availability (see this post for details). Next, confirm your findings at AirFrance.us (you’ll need to create a free Flying Blue frequent flyer account to search).
  • How to book awards: Book online at AirFrance.com. Can also book via phone when the website returns errors.
  • Key warnings: Air France's website is buggy and will often return errors when trying to complete a booking. If that happens, try calling.
  • Transfer from: Amex, Bilt, Capital One, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi Thank You Marriott Bonvoy, Wells Fargo.

Flying Blue Sweet Spots (Business Class)

Europe

Fly Air Europa
  • The short story: Air Europa flies between New York or Miami and Madrid and Flying Blue does not add the same hefty surcharges to these flights that they do on Air France and KLM. Expect to pay around $10 per passenger departing the US or around $65-$90 departing Europe, either of which is about $200 less than you'd be charged on an Air France or KLM flight.
  • Miles required: Varies. Air France no longer has an award chart, but business class awards to/from Europe seem to start at 66K one way in business class on Air Europa.
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at AirFrance.us (you’ll need to create a free Flying Blue frequent flyer account to search)
  • How to book awards: Book online at AirFrance.com. Can also book via phone.
  • Key warnings: Air France / KLM do add fuel surcharges on their own flights, but not on Air Europa flights. Do not trust the award calendar -- when Air Europa flights are available, the pricing is not reflected in the daily "low" rates shown in the weekly calendar. You have to click on each individual day to check for availability. Note also that these flights do not show up via many popular award search tools.
  • Transfer from: Amex, Bilt, Capital One, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi Thank You Marriott Bonvoy, Wells Fargo.

Fly Air France / KLM
  • The short story: Monthly Flying Blue Promo Awards can sometimes offer excellent value between the US and Europe
  • Miles required: Varies. Air France no longer has an award chart, but business class awards between North America and Europe start at 50K one way. Promo awards often offer better value, with business class awards often available in the 40K’s. On rare occasion, we have seen some destinations price in the 20K's one-way in business class.
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at AirFrance.us (you’ll need to create a free Flying Blue frequent flyer account to search)
  • How to book awards: Book online at AirFrance.com. Can also book via phone.
  • Key warnings: Air France / KLM do add fuel surcharges, though they are often reasonable (about $150-$250 in taxes and fees each way)
  • Transfer from: Amex, Bilt, Capital One, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi Thank You Marriott Bonvoy, Wells Fargo.

Fly Virgin Atlantic
  • The short story: Air France KLM Flying Blue charges a reasonable number of miles for Virgin Atlantic business class and far less in fees than what Virgin charges on the same flights.
  • Miles required: Varies, but generally around 74K miles one-way. Taxes and fees are about $200 departing the US or $500-$600 departing the UK.
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at AirFrance.us (you’ll need to create a free Flying Blue frequent flyer account to search)
  • How to book awards: Book online at AirFrance.com. Can also book via phone.
  • Key warnings: Note the higher taxes when departing London (Heathrow)
  • Transfer from: Amex, Bilt, Capital One, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi Thank You Marriott Bonvoy, Wells Fargo.

Hawaii

  • The short story: Air France charges far fewer miles than Delta for Delta flights to Hawaii, but finding award availability can be a huge challenge.
  • Miles required: 17.5K one-way in economy, or 30K one-way in business class for Delta flights from the US mainland to Hawaii.
  • How to find awards: Use the Virgin Atlantic 5 week award search to find availability (see this post for details). Next, confirm your findings at AirFrance.us (you’ll need to create a free Flying Blue frequent flyer account to search)
  • How to book awards: Book online at AirFrance.com. Can also book via phone when the website returns errors.
  • Key warnings: Air France's website is buggy and will often return errors when trying to complete a booking. If that happens, try calling.
  • Transfer from: Amex, Bilt, Capital One, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi Thank You Marriott Bonvoy, Wells Fargo.

South America

  • The short story: Air France has variable pricing that isn't great but could be attractive if you hit a transfer bonus and/or need to combine points from different programs to book an award.
  • Miles required: Varies, but starts in the 40K's one-way to Northern South America in business class or the 70K's to Southern South America in business class. These prices become more attractive when a transferable currency offers a 25% transfer bonus. Keep in mind that in addition to Delta, Air France partners with Copa.
  • How to find awards: Use the Virgin Atlantic 5 week award search to find availability on Delta (see this post for details). Next, confirm your findings at AirFrance.us (you’ll need to create a free Flying Blue frequent flyer account to search). For flights on Copa, check United.com.
  • How to book awards: Book online at AirFrance.com. Can also book via phone when the website returns errors.
  • Key warnings: Air France's website is buggy and will often return errors when trying to complete a booking. If that happens, try calling.
  • Transfer from: Amex, Bilt, Capital One, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi Thank You Marriott Bonvoy, Wells Fargo.

Tahiti

  • The short story: Air France has one of the few ways to get to Tahiti nonstop from the US with its nonstop flight from Los Angeles to Papeete, Tahiti. Variable pricing means that it isn't always a great deal, but if you hit a transfer bonus and/or need to combine points from different programs to book an award (or just find it offered at a good price), this can be a great option.
  • Miles required: Varies, but starts in the 60Ks one way in business class. Keep in mind that connecting on Delta to get to/from Los Angeles can increase the price substantially, so you may be better off booking a separate positioning flight to Los Angeles.
  • How to find awards: Use AirFrance.us to search and book (you’ll need to create a free Flying Blue frequent flyer account to search).
  • How to book awards: Book online at AirFrance.com. Can also book via phone when the website returns errors.
  • Key warnings: Air France's website is buggy and will often return errors when trying to complete a booking. If that happens, try calling. Note that Air France does pass along surcharges which come to a couple hundred bucks each way on this route.
  • Transfer from: Amex, Bilt, Capital One, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi Thank You Marriott Bonvoy, Wells Fargo.

Bottom line

On the surface, it seems difficult to put much stock in Flying Blue Sweet Spots since award pricing is variable and therefore difficult to predict. However, the nice thing is that since Air France and KLM partner with all of the major award currencies, you can hold off on transferring points until the stars align for a good redemption. In many cases, Flying Blue still offers competitive award pricing that gets significantly better on select routes and when you can stack with a transfer bonus or monthly Promo Reward sale. You’ll be on the hook for moderate surcharges, but in many situations you can still score a solid deal.

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33 Comments
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kevin

is it me, or is there ZERO availability from US-Europe, even a year out??

Jo seesa

Sorry I meant to say on the AF or KLM websites. Using Virgin miles. Thanks

Jo seesa

Can I use Virgin miles to book flights on AF or KLM?.I found a flight NAP – IAD on AF website that’s 2 legs AF (NAP-CDG, CDG) , and then Virgin metal LHR-IAD. Thanks

Della

AF charged me $22 per ticket to book by phone. Is this usual? Then I had to rebook and pay another $22 per ticket (was unaware of this charge until I looked at my credit card refund and found it was short and called them). Then I paid $56 per ticket change fee to rebook my trip. Along with the fuel surcharges not sure if this was worth it or if this is just a rookie mistake for not knowing the rules. The agent did book my seats for no charge but if I want to move them online there is a charge.

Last edited 11 months ago by Della
Rocio

what happens if you booked with miles and the price of that goes down? Can you asked them for a miles refund?

Greg The Frequent Miler

I don’t know. You might have to pay a fee (~$50), but it’s worth calling to ask.

James

Might want to add the new fee for advanced seat selection to the list.

Peter

Last year Flying Blue announced stop overs on award flights. Last I recall, this could only be done over the phone. Is it actually possible to book a stopover in Paris or Amsterdam on the monthly award deals?

Jim Lovejoy

Another semi sweet spot is between west coast us and Indian Ocean. To Reunion or Mauritius is around 65k each way premium economy or 100+k each way business.
Sometimes there are months at a time with no reasonable redemptions. But when there are it’s worth it to jump on them.

Jim Lovejoy

The KLM website is less buggy than the Air France site.
More than once I couldn’t get to the last step booking via AF but booked via KLM with no trouble. Once that was even on an AF booking,

tallybuilder

Jim, huge thanks for that tip. I was banging the keyboard last night at the AF website. This morning completed the same booking with no problem on KLM. Luckily the availability was still there.

kayexelate

I just found out AF/Flying Blue allows award tickets to be booked on COPA. I can see award availability on United for SFO-PTY (direct, on COPA) and the return. however, when I check AF/Flying Blue for an award, I see nothing on any dates. Am I doing something wrong?

Jason

I would think that AeroMexico would be a decent option (should max 14.5k to MEX in economy), but the Air France and KLM websites aren’t showing any availability, despite other partners seeing it. Do you know if these can still be booked by phone?

Also, WestJet is a decent option for economy to Canada – also max 14.5k for a one way.

Ben

All the Delta biz redemptions I searched are now in the mid to high six digits OW which is ludicrous. I don’t see this anymore as a viable option to book DL(same for VS just they show no availability whatsoever).

Are there any other programs I’m missing for DL?

Last edited 2 years ago by Ben
Greg The Frequent Miler

The problem is that Delta has become even more stingy with releasing award space to partners than before. Virgin and Air France remain the best ways to book Delta when award space is available.

John Ryan

One thing that’s important to do for all AF/KL award searches is to check both airlines for availability. I’ve seen different routings and also different costs for the flights depending on the route.

carl

I’m seeing most FB biz awards US to EU pricing at 55K one way.

Reno Joe

Nick, when searching for JFK to LAX award space . . .

On Virgin, I get “no flights available”
On KLM, I get “no flights available”
On AF, I get: The departure or arrival city you have selected is not permitted. Please try another search.

I’ve also tried your “leave the dates blank” trick.

Any thoughts?

Thanks.

khatl

Delta have become cut back enormously on releasing award tickets to partners and, on some routes (appears to particularly affect those flights with Delta One cabins), rarely offer them.