Air France KLM Flying Blue offers ‘promo awards’ at 50% off with the specific cities varying throughout the year.
Several programs transfer to Flying Blue including American Express Membership Rewards, where points transfer instantly. (Back in February they even had a transfer bonus.)
They add fuel surcharges to awards. I almost always find premium cabin awards to be a better value than coach, but airlines (like most non-U.S. frequent flyer programs) that add fuel surcharges to awards are almost never worth redeeming coach award tickets with. That’s because you wind up spending a good chunk of the cost of a paid ticket even when spending miles.
Even with 50% off promo awards, coach redemptions aren’t a great value, but at least they’re somewhat more palatable. Business class awards become especially worthwhile, despite having to come out of pocket for fuel costs. And Flying Blue members can redeem for premium economy, I like business class better but premium economy is a better deal than coach generally and availability is often really good. Further, in general routes that promo awards are offered on tend to be routes that see really light bookings, meaning it’s quite doable to get awards seats.
Awards are going to be offered on a single airline, such as KLM only or Air France only. Here are the current offers that allow you to fly between North America and Europe:
These May-June awards can be booked through June 28, 2012 for travel through June 30, 2012.
Here’s where it gets interesting. These awards are offered between North America and “Europe 1/2/3”. That’s a pretty broad set of European destinations, and includes several you wouldn’t even think of as Europe.
- Europe 1: Blegium, France, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Switzerland, United Kingdom
Europe 2: Austria, Denmark, Finland, Italy, Malta, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden
Europe 3: Albania, Algeria, Belarus, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Canary Islands, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Israel, Latvia, Libya, Lithuania, Macedonia, Moldova, Morocco, Poland, Romania, Western Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Turkey, Tunisia, Ukraine.
So you can do 50,000 miles in business class from Dallas to Tel Aviv roundtrip on KLM. Plus taxes and fuel charges of ~ $685 of course, but still pretty awesome. Heading to many destinations in Europe 3 is often pricey, so even cabins below business can represent a value.
Obviously only certain North American cities are eligible, and you can’t include connecting flights on partners, so folks living in other cities have to evaluate whether buying connecting flights to start and end the trip are worthwhile (given the cost, and risk of misconnect).
Promo awards are only available online. Intra-Europe awards are non-stop only. Promo awards can’t be changed, cancelled, or refunded. Definitely one for the arsenal, and I’m often surprised how many folks aren’t aware that various cities are offered year-round under this promotion.
(HT: Loyalty Lobby)