Air France and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines generally operate everything similarly since the two airlines share a close partnership and also a frequent flyer program – Flying Blue. The program also belongs to Aircalin, Kenya Airways, TAROM, and Transavia.
Flying Blue is mostly a revenue-based program without an award chart, which means that the cost of a ticket in miles is closely tied to the cost of a ticket in cash. Flying Blue might sell you the very last seat on a flight using miles, but at a super expensive price. Since there’s no award charts, some itineraries price out for over 1,000,000 miles – especially in Business Class. No one should ever pay that price and there are ways to find good award tickets deals with Flying Blue.
Flying Blue Transfer Partners
Air France/KLM Flying Blue miles are generally very easy to earn as you can transfer in transferable bank points into Flying Blue from:
- American Express Membership Rewards (1:1 ratio, instant transfer)
- Capital One Rewards (1:1 ratio, instant transfer)
- Chase Ultimate Rewards (1:1 ratio, instant transfer)
- Citi ThankYou Points (1:1 ratio, instant transfer)
- Marriott Bonvoy (3:1 ratio, average transfer time is 2 days)
Flying Blue Fees
The change and cancelation fee for an award ticket is EUR50.
Flying Blue Overview
As Air France/KLM are members of the SkyTeam Alliance, you’re able to redeem your miles for travel on any SkyTeam airline – however it is important to note that not all airlines show up online. For example, Vietnam Airlines award space can be searched using Delta SkyMiles and later you’d have to call Flying Blue to book it as it isn’t bookable online.
Air France/KLM also have a few other partnerships outside of SkyTeam – for example, you can also redeem miles for flights on airlines like Air Mauritius, Bangkok Airways, Japan Airlines, and a few others. Checking for award space can be done on Flying Blue or by other means.
Flying Blue is a SkyTeam frequent flyer program which means it isn’t as good as programs of Star Alliance or oneworld airlines. Air France/KLM and Delta share a close partnership so it’s no surprise that Flying Blue is largely revenue-based. However, you can definitely find great redemption tickets on Air France/KLM and other airline’s flights.
If there is award availability at the saver/partner-level (on AF/KL flights: Economy “X” class, Business “O” class), expect to pay a decent amount of miles, mostly inline with what other programs charge. For example, a one-way Business Class ticket from the US to Europe could price out between 55,000 – 85,000 miles, depending on your origin and destination.
Flying Blue does make you pay fuel surcharges on award tickets. However, these are generally very reasonable. For example, the total taxes, fees, and fuel surcharges on a one-way Business Class ticket between the US and Europe are around $200 – $300 USD.
Finding Good Flying Blue Redemptions
Even if there is no saver/partner award availability on Air France/KLM flights, you can still generally find good deals using Flying Blue miles – it all depends on your origin and destination. Since the cost of a revenue/cash ticket is different based on origin and destination, Flying Blue has done the same on mileage tickets. For example, tickets from the US East Coast to Europe in Business Class generally price out at 55k – 70k miles one- way, while the US West Coast to Europe usually starts at 65k – 85k miles. Now, since this is a revenue-based frequent flyer program, the cost of a mileage ticket frequently changes based on the demand of a particular flight.
The origin and destination really matters on Flying Blue tickets. For example, I recently booked several clients out of Las Vegas on KLM’s flight for around 70k miles one-way in Business Class to several European cities as the price out of Los Angeles or San Francisco was over 120k miles. We then booked them a cheap cash or mileage positioning ticket, which was well worth it.
Usually if you’re departing the US, you’ll find better deals out of Seattle, Las Vegas, Denver, Minneapolis, Chicago, Austin, Houston, Boston, and a few others to Europe on Air France/KLM. These airlines also operate flights to a number of other cities, but those like Miami, Dallas, Salt Lake City, Los Angeles, and San Francisco tend to be more expensive in miles – so looking out of “secondary” cities makes sense.
However, it isn’t that simple as the price also depends on where you’re flying to. A flight from Las Vegas to Amsterdam to Milan might cost 2-4x more than a flight from Las Vegas to Amsterdam to London – it all depends on the origin and destination. There’s no way to predict or guess how much a flight might cost in Flying Blue miles, other than by checking the website regularly. The frequent flyer program also has discounted mileage ticket deals which are often published and apply to select flights only.
Unlike with Delta SkyMiles on Delta’s own flights, you can still generally find and book award tickets through Flying Blue on Air France/KLM flights at good levels. There doesn’t have to be saver-level award space, but rather a lower demand for your desired flights and you’ll usually find a good deal. Prices change often, so be sure to check back frequently if the award you want is expensive. You generally shouldn’t pay more than 100k miles for a one-way Business Class ticket to Europe, so if Flying Blue is charging more than that, search other cities or dates – or just wait a bit.
All in All
I’ve redeemed many Flying Blue miles over the years for myself, my family, and my BoundlessMiles clients, and this is the one “good” frequent flyer program in the SkyTeam alliance that’s left – as the others don’t usually offer good value. Redeeming these miles on Air France/KLM flights can be a great deal – but it might take some time to find a good deal. The number-one tip is to check different origins and destinations for better deals.
For example, if you’re wanting to fly from Washington D.C. to Paris to Rome and the price is ridiculous in miles, maybe check New York to Amsterdam to Milan, and that price might be much better – then you can book positioning flights and get a better deal (or you could take ground transportation, like a train).
Flying Blue miles are easy to collect and generally easy to redeem – you just have to be a little bit flexible and check back often if you can’t find a good deal. While this is a revenue-based program, you can still find good value in it, and the change/cancel fees are low. Air France and KLM’s program might be the one you’ll use on your next trip – especially if flying these airlines.