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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
You can use points from your Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, or the Citi Prestige Card. And in my experience transfers from these programs are near-instant.
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 July bookings and travel in September and October.
They advertise up to 50% off, but routes between North America and Europe are only 25% off.
There are very North American few cities on sale in June for summer travel. Still I love the business class discounts to and from Toronto and Calgary. It can make sense to separately book a ticket to one of these cities to piece together an award.
And 46,875 miles each way between Toronto (or Calgary) and Tel Aviv is great value for business class.
Even with fuel surcharges which are often lower than many will expect (eg US-Europe about $200 one way), 25% off business class to Europe and back will be useful to some. Note though that bookings must be made online, and cannot be changed or cancelled.
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.