I finally have an update on the byzantine situation with Air France KLM’s Flying Blue, where members were transferring points in from American Express and redeeming points for awards, only to either:
- Have their accounts shut down by the auditing department for suspected fraud, or
- Be told they had to go to an Air France ticket counter to complete their redemption
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 saw the response of 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.
Air France is adamant that such a policy does not exist.
What certainly is a problem was relayed by a Flying Blue supervisor last month:
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.
I asked Flying Blue to clarify. Here’s what they said:
Our Flying Blue program has enacted a new automatic security process that will alert us to certain transactions to prevent fraud. If this happens, our agent cannot issue the ticket and the customer must go to an Air France agency to process the payment. We understand and apologize that this process may generate frustration for the members.
Here’s the thing:
- Many Americans live nowhere near an Air France ticket counter. That’s precisely why Air France has partners like Delta and Alaska, to bring those customers to Air France flights.
- Airport agents seem to have generally no idea that members are being directed there to issue award tickets and most do not know how to proceed.
Air France Ticket Counter, Washington Dulles
I’ve been working to bring this situation to the attention of Flying Blue, and get them to address what’s been a very frustrating situation for members. While I haven’t investigated these situations myself in most cases (I am always skeptical of members complaining about airline fraud departments, who really are usually right as they tend to be quite conservative) I’ve seen a consistency to the stories and well over a dozen stories reported.
The spokesman who told me that the ticket counter issuance requirement for new accounts transferring points was new, and there was nothing that could be done, is no longer with the airline.
I spoke to several representatives in the U.S. today who are very much concerned. They’re naturally told that if the auditing department closes an account it’s only for a good reason, so they’d like counterexamples. And they certainly feel that an airport ticketing requirement is not appropriate for the US market as so many people live so far from Air France ticket counters. Whatever need the airline has has to be able to be met in some other way.
And they’d like your help. If you have a story of an Air France KLM Flying Blue account either being shut down improperly after transferring your Amex or Citibank points, or if you were told you could only issue an award in person then they’d like to hear your story. This will help them sort through the details of what’s going and work with Paris and with Amsterdam towards a resolution.
Please e-mail me and I will put you in touch with someone that you can provide the full details to.
Please only get in touch if you’re 100% in the right. I don’t want to send them folks with accounts that have engaged in anything questionable, that will just serve as an excuse for Flying Blue to dismiss the issue. So folks that have 100% followed program rules only, please.