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.

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 25K1000 to 7501 to 1

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.

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.

Finally, note that a long-time “award chart sweet spot” for Flying Blue was that they considered Israel to be part of Europe. This meant that Air France offered an excellent deal for business class flights to Tel Aviv and it also meant that monthly “Promo Rewards” flights to/from Europe included Israel. Unfortunately, Flying Blue seems to have ended that sweet spot.

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. 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

  • Deadline: Latest check-in time
  • Change fee: €45
  • Cancellation fee: €45
  • Notes: Promo Rewards can not be cancelled or refunded. They typically can not be changed but 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).

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. Air France no longer has an award chart, but promo awards often offer good value, with economy class awards often available from as low as 10K-15K one way during some sales from select airports. They sometimes present good value for travel on other SkyTeam partners like Delta or Alitalia, but YMMV.
  • 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.
  • Transfer from: Amex, Brex, Chase, Citi, Capital One, Marriott

Europe

  • 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 promo awards often offer good value, with economy class awards often available from as low as 10K-15K one way during some sales from select airports. They sometimes present good value for travel on other SkyTeam partners like Delta or Alitalia, but YMMV.
  • 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.
  • Transfer from: Amex Membership Rewards, Brex Cash, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi Thank You, Capital One, Marriott

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 fromAmex Membership RewardsBrex CashChase Ultimate RewardsCiti Thank YouCapital OneMarriott

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 11.5K 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.
  • 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 fromAmex Membership RewardsBrex CashChase Ultimate RewardsCiti Thank YouCapital OneMarriott

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 fromAmex Membership RewardsBrex CashChase Ultimate RewardsCiti Thank YouCapital OneMarriott

Flying Blue Sweet Spots (Business Class)

Europe

  • 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 the "normal" price to Europe is around 60K one way in business class. Promo awards often offer better value, with business class awards often available in the 40K’s and sometimes as low as the 20K’s depending on destination.
  • 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 Membership Rewards, Brex Cash, Capital One, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi Thank You Marriott Bonvoy

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 fromAmex Membership RewardsBrex CashChase Ultimate RewardsCiti Thank YouCapital OneMarriott

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 (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 fromAmex Membership RewardsBrex CashChase Ultimate RewardsCiti Thank YouCapital OneMarriott

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 fromAmex Membership RewardsBrex CashChase Ultimate RewardsCiti Thank YouCapital OneMarriott

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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