Maximizing Ultimate Rewards: Flying Blue

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This post is part eight of a series about how to maximize value when transferring your Chase Ultimate Rewards to loyalty program partners. 

Maximizing Your Ultimate Rewards Series Index

Flying Blue is the loyalty program for Air France and KLM, as well as a handful of other airlines:

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Aircalin is based in New Caledonia, a French territory in the South Pacific. HOP! is the French regional subsidiary, and Transavia is the Dutch regional subsidiary of AirFrance/KLM. Tarom is based in Romania.

Flying Blue is a member of the SkyTeam alliance and also partnered with these these non-allied airlines:

Flying Blue offers three different award levels: Flex, Classic and Promo. Below is a chart from flyingblue.com that explains each.

Flex Awards are not worth considering as they cost two to three times what a Classic Award would cost. Round-the-World Awards also tend to be too expensive. The best values are found with Classic Awards and the Promo Awards. Classic Awards are what Flying Blue calls its Saver awards, and Promo Awards are further discounted Classic Awards with heavy time and destination restrictions.

Classic Award Charts

The only award pricing chart Flying Blue publishes on their website is for awards originating in Europe.

For awards other than those in that chart, they expect you to quote award prices via their Flying Blue miles calculator tool. But you guys are in luck! I compiled the a chart for Flying Blue awards that originate in the United States.

Here is the award chart in thousands of Flying Blue miles one way from the United States to the listed region, flying on Classic Awards.

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Travel is Free also published another self-made Flying Blue Classic Award chart complete with all the regions (in thousands miles, roundtrip, Economy on top and Business on bottom).

Flying Blue Promo Awards

Every month, Flying Blue releases a new list of Promo Awards, which allow travel from specified cities in the USA to anywhere in Europe, Israel, Morocco, Tunisia, or Algeria from 25% to 50% off the normal miles price.

Usually you have one month to book awards that must be flown 1-4 months in the future.

So what does 25% and 50% off an award to between the United States and Europe look like?

  • 25% off an Economy roundtrip ticket: 37,500 miles + taxes + $112 in surcharges
  • 50% off an Economy roundtrip ticket: 25,000 miles + taxes + $112 in surcharges

Business Class Promo Awards can be reduced to reasonably competitive mile prices, but the excessive fuel surcharges lower their value. But as you can see, the Economy prices are absolute steals.

An important point to keep in mind with Promo Awards is that they cannot be changed, cancelled, or refunded, so speculative bookings are not an option.

Here are the current Promo Awards.

Routing Rules

One Way Pricing and Open Jaws

Promo Awards and Classic Awards can both be booked one way for half the price of a roundtrip. Since you can book one way awards, a roundtrip can have two open jaws.

Stopovers, etc.

Stopovers are not allowed on one way Classic Awards. It is not clear how may stopovers you can have on a roundtrip, but definitely at least one. Travel is Free also reported that you have to call Flying Blue (1 800 375 8723) if you’d like to include stopovers as a part of your roundtrip award.

I’m not sure about the policy on stopovers for Promo Awards, but you can call Flying Blue to try to add one to your next Promo award.

It also says on their website that it is “possible to combine several flights and airline partners on the same ticket” on Classic Awards. As for Promo Awards, you are limited to the city in which the promo is defined to depart, and the airlines that are listed as being on sale from that city.

Fuel Surcharges

Fuel surcharges are omnipresent on Flying Blue awards no matter which level it is. When redeeming Flying Blue miles on Flying Blue’s own airlines, the surcharges are as follows:

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From 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.

At current exchange rates, that works out to:

  • a modest $106 + taxes out of pocket on roundtrip awards to Europe in economy
  • an annoying $234 + taxes out of pocket on roundtrip awards to Europe in Premium Economy
  • a punitive $383 + taxes out of pocket on roundtrip Business Class awards to Europe.

As for redemptions on partner airlines, fuel surcharges vary. SkyTeam partner Delta doesn’t have fuel surcharges on its tickets within the Americas, so that’s a great option to avoid paying cash out of pocket.

Awards originating in Brazil, where fuel surcharges are outlawed, are another way to save money out of pocket. Read more here about how to book a Flying Blue Promo Award with no fuel surcharges.

Sweetspots for Redemptions

  • 30,000 Flying Blue miles + $5.60 in taxes/fees- Mainland US to Hawaii roundtrip in Delta Economy
  • 25,000 Flying Blue miles + $122.81 in taxes/fees- US to Mexico roundtrip in Delta Economy
  • 50,000 Flying Blue miles – US to Israel roundtrip in Economy, with taxes/fees as low as $122.13 depending on what carrier you fly
  • 50,000 Flying Blue miles – US to North Africa roundtrip in Economy, with taxes/fees as low as $123.48 depending on what carrier you fly

Searching Award Space and Booking

You can search for Flying Blue award space at airfrance.com once you have started an account.

Sign in to your Flying Blue account and select “Use My Miles”. The search engine is pretty intuitive; just make sure you don’t check “Flights allowing changes only” because Promo Awards don’t allow changes.

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.

Classic Awards can booked either online via the same process described above or by calling Flying Blue at (1 800 375 8723). And remember that you have to call in if you’d like to include stopovers on a roundtrip Classic Award.

Bottom Line

Flying Blue awards in Business class are generally a terrible value because of the crippling fuel surcharges, but there are deals to be found flying Economy between the US and Mexico, Hawaii, Israel or Northern Africa as well as utilizing their Promo Awards between American cities and Europe that rotate every few months.


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5 COMMENTS

  1. If you see an award on Air France or KLM site does it need to be a certain award level in order to buy that flight with Miles from a SkyTeam partner? I saw award availability on their site but when I went to Korean Airlines award site the same flights weren’t even an option

    When is it better to use more miles with a partner rather than the extra fuel charges?

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