Air France KLM’s Flying Blue program should be interesting to U.S. frequent flyers for several reasons.
- They offer one-way awards
- They are an American Express Membership Rewards, Citi Thank You points, and a Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partner.
- They have far more award space on their own flights than Delta has access to.
- 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’ — a rotating set of cities for discounted travel. You can fly from any featured city through Paris (if Air France) or Amsterdam (if KLM) to anywhere in Europe for fewer miles.
A few things have made these awards less valuable than they used to be, though.
- The award chart got more expensive.
- Promo awards used to be uniformly half off, they’re frequently now 25% off. Raise prices, then discount them a little bit, and you’re really looking at ‘regular price’
- Promo awards tend to be available for fewer destinations, at least for business class.
The new promo awards list is out for September bookings and travel in November and December.
They advertise up to 50% off, but routes between North America and Europe are usually only 25% off.
I like best here New York to Europe via Paris Orly in business class and Vancouver to Europe on KLM in November or Air France in November and December.
Vancouver availability is great, and in my opinion a good enough value to make the trip from the Pacific Northwest worthwhile.
Vancouver – Paris, 2 passengers business class
And note that ‘Europe’ is really broad, even including Israel! Less than 50,000 in business between the US and Israel is a steal.
Of course there are awards between Europe and other cities and regions. Intra-Europe flights are on offer as low as 6800 miles each way in economy. And that’s including specific cities to and from Tel Aviv.