The Decline of – and Remaining Value in – Promo Awards

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

  1. They offer one-way awards, which Delta won’t have until next year.
  2. They are an American Express Membership Rewards transfer partner (points transfer instantly).
  3. They have access to award space that Delta won’t let you have.
  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’.

Award tickets at half the cost of their regular award chart can be a great value, for a relatively short booking window and for travel between specific cities and Europe. (For instance, travel from Houston to anywhere in Europe through Paris on Air France or perhaps through Amsterdam on KLM for half the usual miles.)

A few things have made these awards less valuable than they used to be, though.

  1. The award chart got more expensive. So half off is still more miles than before.
  2. Promo awards aren’t even always half off anymore, they’re frequently now 25% off. Raise prices, then discount them a little bit, and you’re really looking at ‘regular price’ (at least what regular price was 15 months ago).
  3. Promo awards tend to be available for fewer destinations, at least for business class.

Indeed, the new promo awards list is out for July bookings and travel in September and October (note that as of today, June booking for August and September travel shows up on the site as well).

From the US the only business class option is between Montreal and Europe at 31,250 in business class on KLM. Europe – Dallas will be available for 12,500 miles each way in coach (plus fuel surcharges of course).


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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