Flying Blue–the loyalty program of Air France/KLM, Air Europa, Kenya Airways, and TAROM–has released its newest Promo Awards that let you fly in Business Class this summer from Washington DC to anywhere in Europe for as little as 31,250 miles each way plus fuel surcharges.
There are also discounted Promo awards from other North American cities to Europe in other cabins.
Flying Blue is a 1:1 transfer partner of Membership Rewards and Starpoints.
- What cities are these Promo Awards good for?
- How do you book a Promo Award?
- How do these awards compare to awards with lower fuel surcharges?
- How can you eliminate the out of pocket cost of the award?
Flying Blue Promo Awards Explained
Every few months, Flying Blue releases a new list of Promo Awards, which allow travel from specified American cities to anywhere in Europe for 25% or 50% off the normal miles price.
The current list of promo awards are available for booking through May 31, 2014 for flights in July and August 2014.
There are three North American cities with 25% discounts on awards:
- Chicago (business) 46,875 miles each way
- Toronto (business) 46,875 miles each way
- Minneapolis (Premium Economy) 42,187 miles each way
There is one city with a 50% discount on awards:
- Washington DC (business) 31,250 miles each way
Promo awards have the same out-of-pocket taxes and fuel surcharges as normal Flying Blue awards. The taxes are the same as you would pay on any award ticket. The fuel surcharges are listed on this table:
For the US to Europe, the fuel surcharge each way is 50 euros in economy, 110 euros in premium economy, and 180 euros in business or first. That means in addition to government taxes and miles, you will need to pay:
- a modest $138 in surcharges on roundtrip awards to Europe in economy
- a robust $305 in surcharges on roundtrip awards to Europe in Premium Economy
- a punitive $500 in surcharges on roundtrip awards to Europe in Business Class
To book a Flying Blue Promo Award, go to the Flying Blue Award Search and sign in or create an account. You can search with zero miles in your account, but you need to be signed into an account.
Everything on the form is standard except selecting the number of passengers. You have to manually add each additional passenger by age in the “Who’s going?” section.
In “Where to?”, you can select one-way or return. The promo awards are valid one way or roundtrip.
In “When?”, leave “My dates are flexible” checked to get a helpful calendar.
In “Which class?”, select your cabin and leave “Show Flex options only” unchecked.
In your search results, the discounted promo award prices are already coded into the price displayed on the calendars, which will display the one way price.
Business Class Promo Awards
Here was a one way business class search from Washington DC to Amsterdam. The green dates are days with Promo Award space available for 31,250 miles one way, which is every day starting July 1, 2014.
As you can see, the Promo Award space is excellent, though the out-of-pocket cost of $296 one way is not.
The return shows award space that isn’t quite as good and a higher out of pocket cost of $369.
The roundtrip cost would be 62,500 Flying Blue miles + $666 from Washington DC to Amsterdam in business class, using Promo Awards.
Most of that is fuel surcharges.
That $666 includes $499 in fuel surcharges and about $170 in taxes!
To limit the out-of-pocket cost of a Promo award, choose low aviation tax countries to depart (avoid United Kingdom, France, and Germany), and chose economy or Premium Economy awards, which have lower fuel surcharges.
Other Options for Promo Awards This Summer
Promo Awards from the Caribbean to Europe caught my eye. Since Promo Awards can be booked one way, you could do something like:
- United States to Caribbean with cash or Avios
- Caribbean to Europe with a Promo award
- Europe to United States with United miles
Here are the Promo Awards from the Caribbean to Europe. All of them are 50% off the normal miles price.
Award space in Premium Economy (think domestic first class style seat) between Punta Cana and Paris is wide open this summer.
You can book a cheap economy award to Punta Cana, spend some time there, fly a comfortable Promo Award to Paris, spend some time there ,and then come home.
These types of “complicated routings” aren’t for everyone, but if you have the time, they are a way to take a trip that would be tons of fun but prohibitively expensive without miles.
How Good of a Deal are Promo Awards?
Promo awards are a very good, but not Earth-shattering, deal. Let’s compare Washington DC to Amsterdam roundtrip in Business Class for 62,500 Flying Blue miles + $666 to other options.
- You could also book the award for 125k Delta miles + $170.
- You could book a similar award with United miles for 140k miles + $170.
- You could book a similar award with US Airways miles for 100k miles + $220.
Of the three, the Flying Blue Promo Award is the best deal despite having the highest out of pocket cost.
Getting the Miles
Flying Blue is a 1:1 transfer partner of Membership Rewards and Starpoints. And as usual, increments of 20k Starpoints transfer to 25k Flying Blue miles.
You can get the Starpoints from the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express with 25,000 bonus Starpoints after spending $5k in six months.
You can get Membership Rewards from several cards. My two favorite personal cards are the Platinum Card from American Express Exclusively for Mercedes-Benz with 50k bonus Membership Rewards after spending $3k in three months. The card has a $475 annual fee that is totally worth paying. I also love the American Express® Premier Rewards Gold Card with its 25k bonus Membership Rewards after spending $2k in three months, 3x points for flights booked with airlines, and 2x points at gas stations and supermarkets.
The drawback for the Promo Awards is the out-of-pocket cash needed to book them. You can eliminate the out-of-pocket cash needed by paying for the Promo Award with your Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®.
The Arrival card comes with 40,000 bonus miles after spending $3k in three months, and the Arrival miles can be used for 1.14 cents off of any flight, hotel, car rental, cruise, or other travel expense.
Remember the $231 out of pocket for the Premium Economy award from the Caribbean to Europe? That could turn into zero out of pocket by redeeming about 23,100 Arrival miles.
- Earn 40,000 bonus miles if you make $3,000 or more in purchases in the first 90 days from account opening. 40,000 bonus miles equates to $400 off your next trip!
- Earn 2X miles on all purchases
- No mileage caps or foreign transaction fees
- Get 10% miles back when you redeem for travel (i.e. redeem 25,000 miles for travel and get 2,500 miles back)
- Use miles for a statement credit toward any airline purchase to any destination with no seat restrictions and no blackout dates
- Easily redeem your miles for statement credits toward flights, cruises, car rentals, hotels and more
- Complimentary subscription to TripIt Pro mobile travel organizer – a $49 annual value!
- Complimentary FICO® Scores as a benefit to active cardmembers. Opt-in to have instant and convenient access to FICO® Scores from your Barclaycard online account.
Application Link: Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®