Air France/KLM Flying Blue Rewards Sweet Spots

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Flying Blue is one of the only frequent-flyer programs that is a transfer partner for all five major flexible rewards programs: American Express Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Capital One Rewards, and Marriott Bonvoy.

Given these partnerships, Flying Blue has considerable value since points earned on cards such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, the Citi Premier Card, and The Platinum Card® from American Express, among many others, can be transferred into Flying Blue at a 1:1 ratio. Additionally, Marriott Bonvoy point transfers from cards like the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card convert at a 3:1 ratio, with a 5,000-mile bonus for every 60,000 points transferred.

FlyingBlue Logo

In this post, we'll review some of Flying Blue's most attractive award sweet spots. But first, a few things to keep in mind:

  1. Flying Blue passes on fuel surcharges imposed by the operating airline for award redemptions, including on their own flights.
  2. Flying Blue does not publish an award chart. You can see the minimum amount of miles required for any award itinerary by using their award calculator.
  3. Flying Blue allows one-way awards.

Flying Blue Promo Rewards

Each month, FlyingBlue.com announces Promo Rewards, which consists of routes at discounted award rates. The most recent Flying Blue Promo Rewards were released in March and included a few exciting destinations—before the program was suspended due to COVID-19.

The booking window for these awards is typically up to three months ahead of the eligible travel period. Typical savings on Promo Rewards range from 25% to 50%, which can result in excellent deals during the promotional period. However, only Air France and KLM flights are eligible for Promo Rewards, meaning fuel surcharges are almost always a concern.

Partner Awards between the contiguous U.S. and Hawaii

Flying Blue only requires 17,500 miles each way for an economy class award ticket to Hawaii on Delta. Best of all, there are no fuel surcharges on this route. You can book some of the same flights using Delta SkyMiles, but the price in miles is often higher. Hawaii has sweet spots across many programs, so Flying Blue isn't your only source of great value.

Partner Awards between the contiguous U.S. and Mexico

Flying Blue puts Mexico in the same award region as the contiguous U.S., which means you'll only pay 14,500 miles for a ticket. Redeeming Flying Blue miles provides a good opportunity to leverage SkyTeam partners Delta and Aeromexico.

Comparatively, United charges a minimum of 17,500 miles, while American Airlines typically charges 15,000 miles (12,500 off-peak) for the same ticket. So if you have Flying Blue points, using them for a trip to Mexico may be a good bet.

Economy Class Awards between Australia/New Zealand and New Caledonia

750 miles east of Australia sits New Caledonia, a French territory that is every bit as beautiful as Fiji and French Polynesia, albeit lesser-known. The challenge with New Caledonia is that it is difficult to visit due to expensive fares ($1,000+ typically) from Australia and New Zealand.

New Caledonia's main airline, Aircalin, happens to be an AirFrance/KLM partner and even shares Flying Blue as a rewards program. With Aircalin, economy class awards to New Caledonia from Auckland, Brisbane, Sydney, or Melbourne require only 17,500 miles each way. Fuel surcharges on these routes are averaging $110 at the moment.

New Caledonia

Flying Blue Awards between the contiguous U.S. and Israel

Unlike most major rewards programs, Flying Blue considers Israel part of Europe when it comes to award rates. It's hard to say where that geography comes from, but as a sweet spot, it is a win. Redemption rates with Flying Blue from the U.S. to Israel price at 25,000 and 53,000 miles each way in economy class and business class, respectively.

The only drawback is the fuel surcharges imposed on this route. In the case of economy-class awards, fuel surcharges are around $100. In business class, fuel surcharges are roughly $250. Although fuel surcharges can be discouraging, it's always worth comparing the award to the price of a plane ticket in dollars to determine if the redemption provides a good value.

Awards between the contiguous U.S. and Northern Africa

Similar to Israel, Flying Blue considers Northern Africa a part of Europe when it comes to award pricing. With a slightly dynamic award calculation for the Northern Africa region, for a one-way ticket, you will pay between 22,000 and 29,000 for an economy award and 53,000 for a business class award. Destinations include Algeria, Libya, Morocco, and Tunisia.

Economy Class Awards between the contiguous U.S. and the Middle East

The Middle East presents another sweet spot destination for flights originating in the U.S. Flying Blue awards start at only 34,000 miles for a one-way ticket to destinations like Egypt, India, and the United Arab Emirates. Fuel surcharges average about $130, which isn't terrible. Compared to other carriers, Flying Blue has the lowest redemption required for this region. However, award availability can be hit or miss at 34,000 miles, so this is one route you would want to start searching for award availability in advance.

Economy Class Awards between the contiguous U.S. and Colombia

Flying Blue awards start at 18,500 miles for a one-way economy ticket to Colombia. Using Flying Blue miles for this route is a good bet considering the distance flown. If you want to travel around South America, you can start in Colombia and make your way down the continent. A quick scan shows a lot of award availability. Fuel surcharges for this route are pretty reasonable, at about $45.

Flying Blue Business Class Awards from the U.S. to Europe

Flying Blue recently announced a new trans-Atlantic partnership with Delta and Virgin Atlantic. While this has produced a host of new redemption opportunities, for Flying Blue, it has specifically created a sweet spot for Virgin Atlantic Upper Class (business).

Depending on where you're flying from in the U.S., Flying Blue will charge between 56,500-72,000 miles and ~$200 in taxes and fuel surcharges to fly one-way to Europe. Compared to the $700+ in taxes/fuel surcharges that Virgin Atlantic regularly charges for the same redemption using their own miles, that's a big win.

Top Ways to Accumulate FlyingBlue Miles

It's pretty easy to get Flying Blue miles considering that it is a transfer partner of five reward programs. Flying Blue partners with all five major flexible travel rewards currencies:

The abundance of transfer options means you don't need to worry about building up a balance with Flying Blue. Instead, focus on a strategy to accumulate the flexible points and then transfer to Air France or KLM when needed.

Final Thoughts

Given the relative ease of earning Flying Blue miles, monthly Promo Rewards, and the presence of sweet spots makes this reward program quite valuable. Yes, in some circumstances, you'll pay hefty taxes/fees. But if you're saving a significant amount of miles, the cost you'll pay could be well worth it. Focus on these sweet spots as additional tools to help you get the most out of each mile.

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Comments

  • Avatar
    Juan Ignacio says:

    Flyingblue promo awards are (maybe) by far the best option to redeem miles. I’ve found nice deals from Australia (Sydney and Melbourne) yo New Caledonia with Air Calin or Qantas and Montevideo to New York for 65 miles with Air Europa, yes making a stop in Madrid for 12 hours, each way.

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    Can’t wait to try out TLV-LAX/NYC, such a good deal, mile-wise. In December 2019 we flew Air France for 53k +/- in business from CDG-LAX on the 777 with approx $200 in taxes/fees like they say, highly recommended. I don’t know why AF gets a bad rap in the mileage game, so easy to transfer in points from everywhere.

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    I used a flying blue promo award to fly from Washington DC to southern France during peak summer season for 10,590 miles. But at the same time, AMEX had a transfer bonus to flying blue so it was even lower.

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    35000 miles for a round trip between Hawaii and the mainland USA? That was like what “Delta Frequent Flyer Program” charged for the same award 30 years ago!

    • Avatar

      Please don’t quantify the point devaluation in print. It’s too painful to be reminded of the old numbers and my old age. It’s like Fight Club or Voldemort. Oops.

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    Hopefully the monthly promo awards will return soon.
    Really miss those.

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    They should get rid of the insanely high fees.

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    The fuel surcharges can be painful for sure!

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    There can’t still be fuel surcharges by the airlines with these record breaking cheap oil prices.

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      Some airlines though have just renamed the fuel surcharge and instead call it something like a “carrier imposed charge”. The end result though is the same enemy of the airline miles collector. It does seem to apply more to European airlines mileage schemes than US schemes.

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    To be honest I have always dismissed Flying Blue as I thought taxes and charges were always high. It is nice to discover there are some sweet spots where that is not the case. Hawaii is particularly interesting.

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    I hope these sweet spots are still around when flying returns to normal. I’ve got a decent stash of Flying Blue miles. 😀

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    Florencia says:

    Very interesting, I had not seen any program that offered good swaps for Israel. Without a doubt, Flying Blue is an option to consider.

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    Steven William Van Meter says:

    I’ve taken the time to look this over, and it seems to pencil out well.I’m looking forward to travelling when this absurd over reaction of covid panic is over. Good timing for a good deal.

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    Maybe it is time to strat earning in FlyingBlue?

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    The option to redeem for flights to Mexico is a good value for quick trips.

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    Earning Flying blue miles when booking a hotel with booking.com is also possible by approaching booking.com via the website of flying blue.

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    Air France/KLM has a good network and the quality is good, even in economy/coach class. The only thing is that the Boeing 777 is configured 10 seats across, although many major carriers are these days.

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    It’s good to know this is an option for North Africa with reasonable rates.

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    New Caledonia isn’t somewhere I’ve thought of going before but from this article it’s now on my list.

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    Promo awards are great, but availability…(at list in my region)

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    i’m hoping to leverage one of the promo awards for the toronto to europe offers and this is particularly attractive with the citi 25% transfer bonus offer.

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    I agree with the previous poster that New Caledonia seems to be a great redemption. I have heard great things about the island. I will need to keep this in mind for the future. Thanks

    • Avatar

      Now I have the curiosity to check where is located geographically New Caledonia.
      It could one of my future destinations!

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    The Arts Traveler says:

    In November, I am flying BOS-CDG on Delta using Flying Blue miles. It was a great deal and only $10.10 in fees. But site has phantom space. Still a big fan.

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    I like the idea of using 35,000 Flying Blue miles to get to Hawaii on Delta Airlines.

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    Claire Wrigley says:

    I just wish that there was some way to extend your Flying Blue miles without having to fly. The two year expiration is about to catch up with me!

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      The_Bouncer says:

      This is the big drawback with Flying Blue and the reason I tend to burn miles quickly.

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      Yes, this is yet another important consideration when you evaluate loyalty programs and where to invest your travel dollars. If only every program was as easy as completely a quick survey for a few miles/points to extend an expiration.

    • Avatar

      If you have 4000 Accor points, you can transfer them to the Flying Blue program. That’s why it is a good idea to transfer points to the FB program when only you need the FB awards.

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    looks like a cheap way to get to the middle east

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    Thanks for this. I’ve been contemplating whether to use Air France as my primary Oneworld partner.

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    The Flying Blue Promo Awards (when useful) are one of the the sweetest sweet-spots in award travel..

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    Nice reminder about ways to make Hawaii work

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    Yes, there are still some nice spots with Flying Blue.
    As they implemented the flexible rewards we will see in the future as this may evolve.

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    Clearly have not paid really close attention to the information that Air France passed on surcharges. Good to know. Thank you! Now New Caledonia does sound interesting but thinking I’d have to have a couple of weeks off to visit. I bet it would be a good add on to a Australia trip.

    Is there an article on what intra Europe first class is like? I have heard it’s mainly the airlines putting a tray in the middle seat and ppl sitting in the window and aisle.

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      Just be aware that New Caledonia is very expensive to stay and eat in.

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      Intra-European “business” class nowadays even do away the economy class middle seat back trays. The middle seat is simply left empty so it is “reserved for your comfort.”

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      You would need… like a full month, to properly cover a decent area of eastern Australia and New Caledonia.

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    I’m new to Air France and only recently open account after Accor announced their partnership and cross rewards with Air France / KLM (I’m staying a lot in Europe in Accor hotels). But I already found in this article some very useful tips for me. New Caledonia redemption is best in my opinion