Air France KLM’s Flying Blue has increased the cost of its ‘flex awards’ in business and first class by 25% without advance notice.
The changes to the cost of extra availability awards were effective July 1, the same date those changes were published online, and only apply to premium cabin awards. The price of economy awards and the price of premium cabin saver awards stay the same at this time.
Here’s a sample of changes:
Note that ‘La Premiere’ or first class redemptions are only available to Flying Blue’s own elite members.
These changes are only to the already exorbitantly-priced premium cabin ‘Flex’ awards where you spend additional points for access to better inventory than saver awards provide. These are awards you should try to avoid using in the first place.
While this guy doesn’t seem as happy as most people on airline websites, you’d think he’d be angrier.
While the prices themselves are bad enough, what’s truly offensive here is making the changes without notice. Not noted anywhere on the Flying Blue website, Points to Be Made reports that if you wish to book such an award at the pre-devaluation price, you may do so by specifically asking for this over the phone with an agent.
[I]f you wish to book at the old rates then you have until 31st August 2015 to lock in the prices. You will need to specifically request this over the phone and it cannot be done online. There is no mention of this anywhere publicly, and don’t expect them to honour this if they get inundated with requests!
Of course, anyone with experience dealing with Flying Blue’s phone agents can imagine what sort of experience trying to get them to do this is likely to be!
I’ve long said that devaluations without notice are the worst thing any program can do. Prior to American’s devaluation without notice last April I had no reason real reason to distrust them. I took a lot of heat here saying that any further actions of the sort would lead me to believe they were untrustworthy (as opposed to writing them off after the one set of changes, aka the ‘April 8 massAAcre). Fortunately – so far – they’ve made strong efforts to share even small changes to the program in advance.
In the case of Flying Blue I’ve seen them shutting down new accounts for the sin of merely transferring in points from their partners. I’ve already seen this year that I can’t in good conscience recommend using American Express Membership Rewards or Citi ThankYou Rewards with Flying Blue.
Seeing them make these changes without notice underscores that for existing program members, who fly them regularly and use the program, it shouldn’t be seen as a store of value because they will do with the value of their currency as they wish and disrespect their members at will.