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There are only three airline rewards programs (Air France/KLM Flying Blue, JetBlue TrueBlue and Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer) that are transfer partners for all five major flexible rewards programs (American Express Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Capital One Rewards and Marriott Rewards).
Given these partnerships, KLM Flying Blue has considerable value because 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, while Marriott Rewards points transfers from cards like the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card convert at a 3:1 ratio, with a 5,000 mile bonus if you transfer 60,000 points.
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:
- Flying Blue passes on any fuel surcharges imposed by operating airline on awards, including its own flights.
- Flying Blue does not publish an award chart (you can check how many miles are required for each award through their award calculator).
- Flying Blue allows one-way awards.
Each month, Flying Blue announces Promo Awards, which consists of routes at discounted award rates. The most recent Flying Blue Promo Awards were released in July and include a few interesting destinations. The booking window for these awards is typically up to three months ahead of the eligible travel period. Typical savings on Promo Awards range from 25% to 50%, which can result in exceptionally good deals during the promotional period. However, only Air France and KLM flights are eligible for Promo Awards, meaning fuel surcharges are almost always imposed on Promo Awards.
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, fuel surcharges are not imposed 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 17,500 miles while American Airlines 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.
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 that fuel surcharges are imposed on this route. In the case of economy-class awards, fuel surcharges are slightly above $100 at the moment. 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 21,500 and 22,500 for economy award and 53,000 for a business class award. Destinations include Algeria, Canary Islands, 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 U.A.E. Fuel surcharges average about $135, which isn't terrible. Compared to other carriers, Flying Blue has the lowest redemption required for this region as American Airlines and United charge 40,000 and 42,500, respectively. However, a scan of the calendar in August and September shows very limited award availability at 34,000 miles. So, this is one route you would want to plan 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 of the calendar in August and September shows a lot of award availability. Fuel surcharges for this route are reasonable at about $45. United and American Airlines are two other carriers that heavily service this region. However, their prices are slightly higher with American and United both charging 20,000 miles for a one-way award ticket.
Top Ways to Accumulate Miles with Flying Blue
It's pretty easy to get Flying Blue miles considering that it is a transfer partner of five reward prorams. Flying Blue partners with all five major flexible travel rewards currencies:
- American Express Membership Rewards
- Chase Ultimate Rewards
- Citi ThankYou Rewards
- Capital One Rewards
- Marriott Rewards
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 when needed.
Given the relative ease of earning Flying Blue miles, monthly Promo Awards 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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