FlyingBlue Reveals New Award Pricing Calculator

Filed Under: Awards, Flying Blue

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

Bottom line

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)

  1. “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”
    I think this is the notice or communication FB is sending to its members that they plan to have dynamic award pricing and to be aware prices will change. If Flying Blue hired the same IT guys from Delta, then I wouldn’t be surprised if the actual numbers will be higher (especially during peak season or peak travel days.)
    I looked at La Premiere prices and LAX-CDG is at least 200k which is the same as the current price.

  2. Award pricing will now be just as volatile as revenue pricing, it all depends on supply and demand. The minimum miles award is most likely based and bookingclasses Z and V and goes up as bookingclasses sell out towards flight date, just as revenue prices… The big complaint with Flying Blue always was the non-availability of award seats unless you booked 11 months in advance; now you should be able to get a seat up to the last minute, at a price though… Tools like expertflyer come in handy, where you can set up alerts for certain bookingclass opening up, so as to minimize miles expenses.

  3. Honestly, it’s impossible to say whether these prices are good or not. I mean, the AAdvantage award chart isn’t that bad — unless you try to actually find a ticket at the “saver” prices. It’s like those $1 seats on Megabus; a great gimmick that is fabulous for the lucky person who books the first seat as soon as the schedule opens.

  4. With still some uncertainty about the cost of redemptions ( ‘dynamic pricing’ and all), the problem I have with Flying Blue is the high cost of earning. AF and KLM rarely have good fares in premium cabins and the decent earn rate for anything in economy or short haul has been ditched under the new earning structure.
    Moreover, I’m still a bit confused over the earning rate on partner airlines ( in some communication FB said it would be under the old system because they had no way to determine the fare paid; but now I see a chart with a list of EPs ( “experience points”) for all FB member airlines, based on miles/class of travel . It’s very unclear.

  5. Appears to be some weird “sweet spots”: AMS-LAX is 67,500 in biz (as Lucky notes), but CPH-LAX is only 53,000 in biz. Intuitively, they should be about the same price.

    Norwegian has a direct from CPH-LAX. I wonder if the low cash price of that ticket somehow trickles into Flying Blue’s award chart calculations.

  6. It’ll be interesting to see how this works in reality when I try to book an award. Based on the calculator MSP-CDGhas gone from 62500 in business to 72000. Yet MSP-ATH has gone down from 62500 to 53000. Athens here i come!

  7. Similar to Ben and Kory above, I noticed a weird price discrepancy: AMS->SFO is 63k in business but VCE->SFO which I’m guessing would go through AMS (or maybe CDG) is only 57k.

    I just booked AMS-SFO award flight a couple weeks ago for later in the year. I haven’t booked VCE->AMS yet (planning to just fly the evening before on a low cost airline), but if they’ll let me rebook the whole itinerary from VCE->SFO for 57k instead (+ a ~$50 change fee I’m guessing, so in net I’d pay ~$50 and get 5.5k miles back and the VCE-AMS flight out of it), that may actually be worth doing instead. Hmmm, wish we had more clarity on this. I was planning to book the other VCE-AMS flight soon.

  8. As of today I am trying to check flights between multiple CONUS and CONUS to Overseas mostly not coming up in the calculator, and instead getting a ‘we are working on it and come back after June 1st, 2018’. Good luck finding fares with it if it’s not even going to let you search for many city pairs until June 1st.

  9. I’m happy with these changes. I will be flying a lot with Delta between Europe and Brazil. In the old system the cheapest economy ticket would earn me around 4000 status miles per round trip and 8000 award miles. As I understand the award miles (using Delta) will remain the same. However regarding status I will now earn at least 40 XP. To earn platinum status the old rules required 70000 status miles thus the 4000 for one economy round trip represented around 6% of the necessary status miles. Under the new system 40XP represents 13% of the 300XP required. Thus in Economy the new rules make earning platinum status more than more than 2 times easier. In Business the news is also good, one round trip represents at least 40% of the required XP (actually the new system makes taking a short domestic first class flight in the US very rewarding) whereas the old system one round trip would only net 30% of the status miles required. They are also maintaining the opportunity to earn platinum for life which I think is very attractive as the platinum service line and the benefits that come with Platinum work well for me.

  10. From the FlyingBlue website:

    “****The marketing carrier

    Look for the two-digit code that precedes your flight number. This prefix tells you the marketing carrier of your flight, which indicates the earning scheme for your flight. If the prefix indicates Air France (for example, AF 006) or KLM (KL 0641) or HOP! (A5), you will earn Miles based on the ticket price, not on the distance. If the prefix indicates a Flying Blue airline partner, you will earn Miles according to that airline partner’s earning scheme. For example, KQ 0123 indicates your marketing carrier is Kenya Airways. You would need to check Kenya Airways’ earning scheme to find out how many Miles you would earn, even if your flight is operated by another airline such as Air France or KLM.”

    Great news for me, because I’m doing a big business trip with Delta. Under the revenue scheme I was set to earn around 14,000 because I got a good deal (and taxes are high) but now I have read this it will be the traditional mileage redemption chart… about 12k miles flown + 150% booking class + 100% status. Much more than 14k…

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