Flying Blue Makes Negative Changes To Promo Awards

Filed Under: Air France/KLM, Awards

Yesterday some major changes were made to the Air France-KLM Flying Blue program. As of yesterday Flying Blue is a revenue based frequent flyer program, meaning that you’re awarded miles based on how much your ticket costs, rather than based on the distance you fly.

Furthermore, Flying Blue is introducing variable award pricing. Previously Flying Blue redemption rates were zone based, while now the pricing works differently. In other words, a New York to Paris redemption now costs fewer points than a New York to Paris to Frankfurt redemption, even though they previously priced the same.

I’ve been curious to see the impact this has on Flying Blue’s popular Promo Awards. For those of you not familiar with Promo Awards, this is a monthly special that Flying Blue publishes where you can receive 20-50% off select award redemptions on Air France and KLM metal.

These were valid in economy, premium economy, and business class, so opened up lots of opportunities for members. Yesterday was June 1, meaning the new Flying Blue program kicked in, and I was curious the impact this would have on Promo Awards. In looking at the Promo Awards for June, it looks like they have two for North America:

  • 25% off Air France economy awards between San Francisco and Europe for travel August 1 through September 30, 2018
  • 50% off Air France economy awards between Chicago and Europe for travel August 1 through September 30, 2018

One of the awesome things about Promo Awards is that historically they’ve been valid for travel between North America and anywhere in Europe. This means you could fly from the US to Israel for the same number of miles as flying from the US to Paris. However, with the introduction of the new Flying Blue program that has changed.

For example, take Chicago to Paris in Air France economy, which is an excellent deal at 11,000 miles one-way.

Want to fly from Chicago to Frankfurt using that same flight? That award prices out at 48,000 miles.

The crazy thing is that this is actually worse than the additive pricing — at worst you should have to pay 11,000 miles for Chicago to Paris and 15,000 miles for Paris to Frankfurt (for a total of 26,000 miles), but instead they’re charging 48,000 miles.

So this is a pretty negative development for Promo Awards, as they’re now most useful for travel to/from Paris and Amsterdam. Not only are they no longer valid in conjunction with connections, but on a single ticket you can’t even get additive pricing for Promo Awards and another segment.

  1. Never found the food and service worth it with this airline. Unattractivene and aged flight attendants. Akbar Al Baker would make some funny comments if he saw how old the cabin crew are

  2. Flying Blue “reinvented” from award to reward bookings. From 62.500 one way in Business between LAX and AMS to a whopping 156.000 one way. Greattttttttttt

  3. Hey Lucky – I’ve been following this whole Flying Blue thing pretty closely. Until now, I considered them the single most useful program in Skyteam. However, with this devaluation, I’m really skeptical going forward. In your opinion, do these changes effectively make Korean Air Skypass the best (and perhaps only useful) currency in Skyteam? Any others that might make sense? Curious to hear your thoughts!

    PS – Love the blog 🙂

  4. @Bobby J
    Aeroflot Bonus works well for me.
    It’s a great program for elite recognition if you fly SU often, as PLT I get upgrades to J often and it’s very cheap to upgrade with miles as well (from W to J at least).
    Using your miles for flight awards with this program isn’t great.
    The real benefit with this program is how well they treat their top tier elites on board and in transit. you get special recognition all the time.

  5. @ Brodie kaas. Sexist ageist

    As an elite member I can attest that the service is consistently good on klm and more personal than on any of the me3. Betrouwbaar.

    Even Air France has its moments

    Are you Peter Pan and have a soylent green mentality ?? It is relative too. A 10 yr old may think of a 25 year old as being ancient
    I’m sick of people assuming airlines sd only employ bimbos who lack any experience
    With age comes knowledge

  6. @Lucky – true, however the cost for Business Class is the complete opposite!

    ORD-FRA in J is 105K miles, whilst ORD-CDG is 135.5K and CDG-FRA is 25.5K (with the sum of the cash components being higher for the two ticket itinerary).

    Fun with variable pricing for all!

  7. Just start calling the carrier EuroDelta. Frankly it’s hard to tell them apart anymore.

  8. Are you sure it’s their new general approach?
    I’ve looked up CDG-HAV in Promo Awards, and it costs exactly the same as MAD-CDG-HAV or SVO-CDG-HAV.

  9. @Gregg they’re worse than Delta. HKG to CGK is now cheaper using Skymiles on the dates I checked.

  10. The pricing looks to be all kind of screwy. I just searched for SFO->OSL this fall, and Business comes up for a whopping 312,500 Miles, while La Premiere is 200K.

  11. Air France is completely shambolic. They had managed to transition to the new FB reasonably well up until now: the material and information was clear and definite ( not at all Marriott-like ).
    Now they’ve dropped the ball, big-time. Hopeless chaos and confusion regarding the Promo Awards. They like to sneer at Alitalia but it looks like they’re going down the same path, rapidly.

  12. As carivega said, are you sure this is a broad new change? In the past, Flying Blue limited a few of their promos to/from CDG only. However, that was always made clear on the promo webpage in the past…

  13. Flying Blue pricing is up across the board 33%-500% in the checks I have done. Also, they took away calendar search and Chase points no longer instantly transfer.

    This program has gone from being one of the most valuable and useful programs in SkyTeam to being a writeoff.

  14. Why do you say Flying Blue became a revenue based system with Miles awarded based on ticket price only and not distance that started yesterday? Flying Blue changed on the 1st April so this has been going for a few months now.

  15. Theres definitely some married logic stuff going on here as well. ATH – CDG – SFO = 53K while just CDG – SFO on that same day comes up as 100,500

  16. Theres definitely some married logic stuff going on here as well. ATH – CDG – SFO = 53K while just CDG – SFO on that same day comes up as 100,500 p/p

  17. Theres definitely some married logic stuff going on here as well. ATH – CDG – SFO = 53K while just CDG – SFO on that same day comes up as 100,500 p/p .

  18. @lucky, There is also a problem transferring Chase UR to Flying Blue. Definitely not instantaneous anymore. I transferred 16,000 UR to FB on Friday at noon and nothing has shown up.

    Neither Chase nor FB seem interested in helping resolve the issue.

    I did read one post on Flyertalk where a member transferred from UR to FB on May 24 and as of yesterday he still did not have the points in his FB account.

    Anyone else have issues recently?

  19. Like most Airlines, KLM have been swamped with Frequent Flyer members collecting through Amex cards and shopping offers, not through flying.

    The programme had to evolve to reduce the value of the points acquired by none flying members. This has now been done, all wrapped up in a gloss of ‘improvements’ and marketing materials.

    I achieved ‘Platinum For Life’ with KLM 10 years ago, and I can no longer bring my-self to fly KLM because of the now appalling, unrewarding Flying Blue Programme. I have 1000’s of miles in my account that are now for all intents and purposes, valueless.

    I do not know how much KLM make from their association with AMEX and Retailers, but it must be more than the value of the loyalty of their actual frequent flyers.

    KLM Air France are not doing well, they need the loyalty of their Frequent Flyers – they have lost mine.

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