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 and a Citi Thank You points 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.
Indeed, the new promo awards list is out for May bookings and travel in July and August, and these become bookable on Sunday. North America options are limited, but you can book discounted awards between Boston and anywhere Air France flies in Europe for 46,875 miles each way.
There are other awards between Europe and the rest of the world that are discounted, such as premium economy awards between Europe and the Caribbean and strong discounts to Asia.
Even with fuel surcharges, 25% off business class to Europe and back from Atlanta will be useful to some. Some will buy separate tickets to and from Boston to take advantage as well. Note though that bookings must be made online, and cannot be changed or cancelled.