Flying Blue is the frequent flyer program of Air France and KLM. It’s one of Europe’s largest loyalty programs. The program also serves as the frequent flyer program for Kenya Airways and TAROM, and the small regional airline Aircalin in New Caledonia.
Amex, Capital One, Chase, and Citi points all transfer to Flying Blue. It’s an easy program to rack up miles through credit card spending and sign-up bonuses.
This guide covers how to earn Flying Blue miles, how to earn elite status and the different levels of status, and how to redeem miles.
About Flying Blue: Air France/KLM’s Loyalty Program
Flying Blue is a nifty program, especially for those looking to travel to Europe in business class. Award rates across the Atlantic start at just 53,000 miles in business class per direction.
The program is not without its quirks, though. You can’t build itineraries manually like you can with other programs. The website has limited functionality. You can’t redeem miles for first class tickets unless you’re a Gold or Platinum elite member.
Flying Blue partners and alliance
Flying Blue is unique in that it serves as the loyalty program for many airlines. It’s the frequent flyer program of: Air France, KLM, Kenya Airways, TAROM, Aircalin, Air Corsica, Chalair Aviation, and TwinJet.
The founding members of Flying Blue, Air France and KLM, are part of the SkyTeam alliance. As such, Flying Blue is essentially a SkyTeam loyalty program. If you earn elite status with the program, you’ll have SkyTeam Elite or Elite Plus status. You can also earn and redeem miles for travel across SkyTeam carriers.
Here is the full list of Flying Blue’s SkyTeam partners:
Middle East Airlines (MEA)
Delta Air Lines
Flying Blue has a number of other partner airlines outside of the alliance. Here’s the full list of non-alliance partners:
It’s unique to be able to earn miles flying Delta and redeem them for award travel on Japan Airlines!
Flying Blue benefits
There are lots of benefits to earning and redeeming Flying Blue miles. Flying Blue partners with every major transferable points currency in the US, so racking up miles is easy. You can also find reasonable redemption rates for travel on Air France and KLM and monthly award sales.
Before the COVID pandemic, Flying Blue had monthly Promo Awards. These awards had discounts of up to 50% off the award costs of economy, premium economy, or business class award tickets. The tickets were limited to certain markets and couldn’t be changed or canceled but represented an excellent value.
I’m optimistic that Flying Blue will bring these awards back once travel normalizes a bit.
Flying Blue releases a lot of saver space on Air France and KLM flights. With a bit of flexibility, you can score business class awards from the US to Europe for as low as 53,000 miles (even outside of the Promo Awards).
Awards can price higher than that, as Flying Blue has a dynamic pricing structure. Seats at the cheapest prices are limited, though you can always find award space if there’s a seat for sale. Air France and KLM both have last seat award availability. That means if there’s a seat for sale, you can use miles to book it.
Flying Blue opens up their schedules 360 days in advance. That’s great for those that plan trips in advance, as you can make reservations almost a year out. When Air France and KLM load their schedules, they usually make a good number of award seats available at low rates as well.
Miles transfer from every US transferable points currency to Flying Blue, which makes racking up Flying Blue miles easy. Points from most Amex, Capital One, Citi, and Chase credit cards can be transferred to Flying Blue.
Flying Blue miles expire if your account doesn’t have any activity for 18 months. Just a small transfer or purchase of 1,000 points is enough to prevent all of your miles from expiring, so it’s easy to keep them active.
The Flying Blue call center has very friendly agents, and calling them can be quite pleasant compared to some other call centers. They have service centers worldwide, but their European agents are generally the best trained and most willing to help with complicated requests.
Flying Blue does allow you to hold awards, though, before transferring miles. You can put Air France, KLM, and partner flights on hold for up to 72 hours before transferring points. That lets you secure the pricing, so availability doesn’t disappear before you make a transfer. There is a $15 fee per passenger to do this, which I consider to be quite reasonable.
Flying Blue also has much lower surcharges than other European carriers like British Airways, Austrian, and Lufthansa. They’ve found some middle ground. Awards from the US to Europe on Air France or KLM will usually have about $215 to $250 in surcharges. Awards originating in Europe will be more expensive.
If you need to make any changes to a Flying Blue award, the change fees are also quite reasonable. It’s just $55 or €50 to make a change to an award or cancel an award and redeposit. You can also cancel your award up to two hours before check-in, which gives travelers a lot of flexibility.
Flying Blue also has some very generous routing rules. You can fly from South America to North America via Europe, from the US to Asia via Australia, or from the US to Africa via Europe (assuming you can find award space). The routings will have to show up on the Flying Blue website to be able to book them. Unfortunately, Flying Blue doesn’t allow stopovers on award tickets.
Flying Blue also has partnerships with Qantas and Japan Airlines. You can redeem miles for travel on those carriers. That gives you additional choices for award travel to Asia and Australia.
Flying Blue used to have a program for those that work in the energy industry called Flying Blue Petroleum. The program was popular but has unfortunately closed down. It stopped accepting new members in 2019 and will shut down completely by March 31, 2021.
Flying Blue program limitations
Flying Blue does have a few limitations to be aware of.
You cannot build itineraries manually like you can with some other programs. An itinerary has to be available from origin to destination, which means you can’t change a single segment in an itinerary or add another segment later on.
Here’s an example of how this works. If you have a ticket booked for travel from New York to Paris to Barcelona, you can’t change the last segment without repricing the entire award. If you want to change from New York to Paris to Rome, the entire award would have to be repriced.
If you have a reservation on a partner carrier like Delta, this can get even more problematic. Let’s say you’ve booked something like Austin to Atlanta to Amsterdam for travel on Delta. If you want to change the origin from Austin to Dallas, award space has to be available on the Atlanta to Amsterdam leg as well. Otherwise, you’ll have to start from scratch.
This also means you can’t mix cabins on some Flying Blue itineraries. If business class award space isn’t available on a particular flight, you generally can’t mix economy and business class segments on the same ticket. Sometimes Flying Blue will show shorter connections in economy class within Europe, but outside of that, you generally can’t mix cabins.
How to Earn Flying Blue Miles
Flying Blue miles are some of the easiest to earn. Amex, Capital One, Citi, and Chase points can all be transferred to the program.
You can also earn Flying Blue miles by flying with Air France, KLM, and their partners. There is also a shopping portal where you can earn Flying Blue miles for everyday online purchases.
Flying Blue also partners with RocketMiles. That lets you earn miles on hotel stays around the world.
Flying with Air France and KLM
Flying Blue awards redeemable miles based on how much you spend rather than how much you fly. You’ll earn miles based on spend for travel on Air France, KLM, HOP, and JOON. You’ll earn miles not just based on airfare (minus government-imposed taxes and fees), but also for ancillary fees, like paying for premium seats, baggage, etc.
Under the Flying Blue program, you’ll earn miles at the following rates:
Flying Blue Elite Level:
Explorer (General Member)
4 miles per €1 EUR spent
6 miles per €1 EUR spent
7 miles per €1 EUR spent
8 miles per €1 EUR spent
Earning rates for flying Air France and KLM aren’t great, but if you’re based in Europe and fly them frequently, it’s worth crediting flights to the program.
Flying with partners
You can earn Flying Blue miles whenever you fly with SkyTeam carriers or any of Air France and KLM’s partners outside of the alliance.
If you’re flying a partner airline, you’ll earn miles based on your cabin class and flight distance. In this case Flying Blue miles truly are miles. Flying in first and business class will yield more miles than flying discounted economy tickets.
Flying Blue’s most useful partner in the US is Delta. On Delta flights, you can earn as many as 300% of miles flown as award miles for full fare first class tickets, or as few as 25% of miles flown for the cheapest basic economy tickets.
You can find a full list of Flying Blue’s partners and earnings rates here on the Flying Blue website.
Transferring credit card points
Amex, Capital One, Citi, and Chase points all transfer to Flying Blue. Being able to mix and match a variety of transferable points makes earning Flying Blue miles easy. There are very few programs that all transferable points currencies partner with.
Points all transfer at a ratio of 1:1, with the exception of Capital One points which transfer at a 2:1.5 ratio. There are occasional bonuses on transfer from Amex, Capital One, and Citi, though Chase rarely offers transfer bonuses.
Buying Flying Blue miles
Flying Blue frequently has sales on mileage purchases and bonuses for transfers between members. Given the number of transferable points that can be converted to Flying Blue miles, I don’t usually recommend purchasing them.
However, if you’re outside of the US or don’t have access to credit card points, purchasing the miles can represent a great value during sales.
The bonus on purchased miles usually tops out at around 75%. Being able to buy miles with the bonus and use those for Flying Blue Promo Awards or cheap business class awards can represent a fantastic value.
It’s worth keeping your eye on Flying Blue mileage promotions if you think buying miles might be right for you.
Flying Blue has an online shopping portal with partnering retailers that lets you earn miles for online purchases.
You can also earn miles for booking hotel stays through RocketMiles. RocketMiles is an online travel agency that awards your miles for your hotel stays in your choice of over three dozen airline mileage programs.
Spending Flying Blue Miles
You can redeem Flying Blue miles for most of their partners on the website.
You’ll be able to redeem Flying Blue miles for any seat on an Air France, KLM, HOP, JOON, or Transavia flight. The number of miles required will be calculated based on the origin, destination, and date of your flight. In other words, you can expect the number of miles required to be closely correlated to the cost of a ticket.
Here are some of the best ways to redeem Flying Blue miles:
Redeeming for Flying Blue promo awards
One of the best uses of Air France-KLM Flying Blue miles is booking their Promo Awards. Flying Blue publishes these every month, and they offer 20-50% off select award tickets on Air France and KLM metal.
You can score discounts of up to 50% on economy, premium economy, and business class awards. The booking window is typically a month, while the travel window is two months.
There’s one important thing to be aware of with Promo Awards — absolutely no changes or cancelations are allowed on these tickets, even with a fee. You’ll want to make sure you only book trips you’re sure you can take.
Redeeming for travel on Air France and KLM
Outside of Promo Awards, redeeming Flying Blue miles for ordinary tickets on Air France and KLM can be a fantastic value. Business class awards can be as low as 53,000 miles from the US to Europe, plus taxes, fees, and surcharges starting at about $215.
Air France and KLM make a lot more award space available to Flying Blue members. This isn’t always available at the saver level. Flying Blue pricing for Air France and KLM flights is variable. Having a wider selection of dates and flight times to choose from, even if it may cost a bit more in miles, is certainly valuable.
Redeeming for travel on partners like China Airlines and Japan Airlines
While Flying Blue doesn’t publish a traditional award chart, they do follow one for partner awards. Delta and Virgin Atlantic awards from the US to Europe are 72,000 Flying Blue miles, for example. Awards with Delta, China Eastern, Japan Airlines, or Korean Air to Asia generally start at about 115,000 miles in business class.
The one limitation of partner awards is that you can only book options that show up on the Flying Blue website. You can’t search for partner space manually and mix and match itineraries by phone like you can with other loyalty programs.
If you’re transferring points from a credit card program to Flying Blue, it’s best to check other programs first, as they typically have better redemption rates.
Redeeming for domestic travel on Delta
If you’re looking to redeem miles for domestic flights in the US, it’s always worth checking Flying Blue rates and availability. Delta releases a decent amount of saver award space to partners. Flying Blue award prices for travel within the US can be very good.
Delta flights can often be booked for much lower rates via Flying Blue than they can with Delta SkyMiles. Flights to Hawaii, for example, start at 35,000 miles round trip in economy class from the US. It’s not uncommon to see the same itinerary start at 75,000 SkyMiles.
This usually does require a bit of flexibility (and navigating Flying Blue’s clunky website). The savings can be substantial and well worth the effort.
Miles for magazines, donating miles, or experiences
Flying Blue lets you redeem miles for magazines, like many other loyalty programs. This isn’t a great value, but it can be a good use of stranded miles.
You can also donate miles to charity, but the charitable foundation won’t actually receive anywhere near the true value of the miles. If you’re looking to make a charitable donation, money is always better. I’d only donate miles if you’re truly not going to use them.
Flying Blue does let you redeem miles for travel experiences in Amsterdam and Paris. These are unique offerings, but nothing that can’t otherwise be paid for. The redemption rate isn’t amazing. Again if you’ve got some miles you’re not otherwise able to use, this could be useful.
How to Maximize Flying Blue Miles
Given how easy it is to earn Flying Blue miles, knowing a few tricks when it comes to redeeming them will help you maximize your miles.
Flying Blue has a hidden award chart for partner flights. Award flights on Air France and KLM can vary wildly. If you have some date flexibility, you can usually find great deals on Air France and KLM flights.
Flying Blue publishes “Promo Awards” every month. These awards between specific Air France and KLM markets have up to 50% discounts off the price of a mileage ticket. Unfortunately, Flying Blue has discontinued Promo Awards for the time being, given the COVID outbreak. However, it does seem like the program intends to bring them back once travel picks up again.
If you can take advantage of a Promo Award, you’ll get great value for your miles.
There are a few other tips and tricks for maximizing Flying Blue awards. If you’re originating in the US and flying to Europe, it’s always worth looking for saver space with Delta Airlines. The surcharges for travel on Delta is much lower than it is for travel on Air France, KLM, and Virgin Atlantic.
A Delta award from Los Angeles to Paris would be 72,000 miles + $12 in taxes, for example. An award on Air France or KLM may require less miles, but the taxes, fees, and surcharges would be $215+.
However, for those same flights, it’s also worth looking at a program like Virgin Atlantic Flying Club if you’re going to be transferring miles from a credit card. Flying Club generally has cheaper awards than Flying Blue does.
Flying Blue Elite Status
Flying Blue has an elite qualifying system similar to what you’ll find at British Airways, Cathay Pacific, etc., which requires you to earn a certain number of status credits or tier points to earn status.
Flying Blue status will be based on how many Experience Points (“XP” for short) you earn. You earn anywhere from two to 60 XPs per flight (including on SkyTeam partner airlines), depending on the length of the flight and the cabin you’re traveling in, as follows:
Then earning status will require anywhere between 100 and 580 XPs, depending on the level you’re going for, as follows:
You’ll need 100 XPs to qualify for Silver, 180 XPs to qualify for Gold, and 300 XPs to qualify for Platinum. Those are incremental requirements, though. That means if you presently have no status, you’d need to earn 100 plus 180 plus 300 XPs to earn Platinum. Meanwhile, if you’re already Platinum and just looking to requalify, you’d just need to earn a total of 300 XPs.
Members registered in France and Monaco are no longer at a disadvantage, and you can qualify based on a rolling 12 month membership year rather than just the calendar year. Qualification requirements are higher for those living in France and Monaco, and up until now, qualification has been based on the traditional calendar year.
One benefit of having Flying Blue elite status is being able to book Air France La Premiere first class awards using Flying Blue miles. La Premiere is one of the most luxurious and well-rounded first class products. Booking those flights using miles is off-limits to those without Flying Blue elite status.
Flying Blue FAQs
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about the Flying Blue program.
What are Flying Blue XP?
XP stands for Experience Points. You are awarded a certain number of XP based on the distance and cabin of any particular flight. XP are used for earning elite status.
What is Flying Blue for elite members during the COVID-19 pandemic?
All miles are prevented from expiring during the pandemic. Flying Blue has not announced an end date for this measure. Additionally all elite statuses are being maintained, as they realize most members are not flying right now, especially those based in Europe where lockdown restrictions remain very strict. Surplus XP points are also being carried forward. The program is also making it much easier to change and cancel award tickets.
Which Flying Blue elite tiers are SkyTeam Elite and Elite Plus?
Flying Blue Silver members have SkyTeam Elite status. Flying Blue Gold and Platinum members have SkyTeam Elite Plus status.
When doing Flying Blue miles expire?
In ordinary times miles are valid for two years after your most recent flight with Air France, KLM, Aircalin, Kenya Airways, or TAROM. Taking a flight extends all miles’ validity by an additional two years. Miles earned from car rentals, hotel stays, and experience partners extend the validity of miles by two years as well.
During the pandemic no Flying Blue miles will expire.
Can I buy or transfer Flying Blue miles?
Yes, you can. Flying Blue miles often has promos on purchasing and transferring miles. Consult the Flying Blue website for the latest offers.
How many Flying Blue miles will I earn for my flight?
You earn Flying Blue miles based on the cost of the ticket. Earnings rates vary from 4 to 8 miles per Euro spent, and they depend on your elite status. If your ticket was purchased in a currency other than Euros, Flying Blue would convert the cost of the ticket to Euros and award miles at the applicable rate.
What is the Flying Blue phone number?
The US number is +1 800 375 8723. You can call the European call center through their French number, which is +33 9 69 39 36 54. The European call centers generally have shorter hold times and friendly, competent agents.