Last November, Air France-KLM announced some major changes to their FlyingBlue loyalty program. They’re describing this as FlyingBlue being “reinvented,” and most of the changes kick in as of April 1, 2018. I’ve already covered most of the changes in detail, though they include things like FlyingBlue awarding miles based on how much you spend rather than how many miles you fly, and adjusting how elite status qualification works.
FlyingBlue also announced that they’d make changes to mileage redemptions. Currently FlyingBlue has a traditional award chart, with fixed mileage requirements based on whether or not there’s saver level award availability. When the new FlyingBlue program was announced, they revealed that you’ll be able to redeem miles for any seats on Air France, KLM, HOP, JOON, or Transavia, as of June 2018. Miles required will be based on origin, destination, and the date of your flight.
In other words, we’ve known that FlyingBlue would become more like a revenue based program, with the number of miles required more closely correlated to how much a paid ticket would cost. What annoyed me is that when they announced the new program, they didn’t reveal what the new award prices would look like. If you’re going to reveal a new program, the mileage redemption opportunities are half of the equation, so they really kept us hanging.
Well, FlyingBlue has now revealed their new award pricing for bookings made as of June 1, 2018 (this is based on when you book and not when you travel, so you can book travel prior to June 1 for travel after June 1 at the old rates). Perhaps more accurately, they’ve revealed a calculator with the minimum number of miles that will be required for travel between a city pair.
You can play around with the calculator to look up routes that are most useful to you, though below I’ll share some that I find useful/interesting:
- Currently a one-way Paris to New York ticket costs 25,000 miles in economy or 62,500 miles in business, while under the new system it costs 22,000 miles in economy or 57,500 miles in business
- Currently a one-way Amsterdam to Los Angeles ticket costs 25,000 miles in economy or 62,500 miles in business, while under the new system it costs 27,000 miles in economy or 67,500 miles in business
- Currently a one-way Frankfurt to Los Angeles ticket (which requires a connection in Amsterdam or Paris) costs 25,000 miles in economy or 62,500 miles in business, while under the new system it costs 22,500 miles in economy or 72,000 miles in business
- Currently a one-way Delhi to New York ticket (which requires a connection in Amsterdam or Paris) costs 40,000 miles in economy or 100,000 miles in business, while under the new system it costs 34,000 miles in economy or 85,000 miles in business
- Currently a one-way Paris to Beijing ticket costs 40,000 miles in economy or 100,000 miles in business, while under the new system it costs 36,000 miles in economy or 90,000 miles in business
These prices don’t look too bad. As expected, pricing is based more on the specific cities and the distance of the routes, rather than the zones they used before. It’s interesting to me how in some markets the cost of economy goes down while the cost of business goes up, and vice versa.
There are a couple of things to be concerned about with the introduction of this pricing:
- While the prices right now might not be bad, keep in mind that FlyingBlue is introducing dynamic pricing and will no longer publish award charts, so in the future it will be really easy for them to raise prices with no notice
- The above prices are the minimum number of miles needed for an award ticket, and my hope is that these will continue to be the requirements for tickets available at the saver level; however, there’s no guarantee that will be the case, and I can only imagine how high pricing will get for last seat availability
In terms of other things to be aware of:
- FlyingBlue will continue to offer Promo Awards after June, though we don’t yet know exactly how they’ll work
- FlyingBlue will also be eliminating “Flex Awards,” which are the higher priced awards with more availability; instead any non-saver award will be subject to dynamic pricing, so the cost of many of these awards will likely increase significantly
- As of June 1, 2018, FlyingBlue will introduce Miles&Cash, where you’ll be able to pay cash in lieu of 25% of the mileage required, though we don’t know exactly what this pricing will look like yet
My initial impression is that these award changes aren’t as bad as they could have been. Assuming they’ll continue to offer saver level award availability then these price changes are largely a wash. The bigger implication here long term is that this new system makes it really easy for FlyingBlue to adjust award pricing without any notice or communication.
What are your thoughts on FlyingBlue’s new award pricing, now that we have an online calculator?
(Tip of the hat to The Flying Dutchboy)