The Intriguing World Of Flying Blue Mileage Runs

The Intriguing World Of Flying Blue Mileage Runs

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I recently wrote about how I’m thinking of going for elite status with Air France-KLM Flying Blue. I’m not sure my logic is 100% sound, as the incremental perks to me would be fairly limited. Really what I’m trying to get access to is Air France first class awards, which are reserved for Flying Blue Gold members and above.

While I used to constantly go on mileage runs back in the day, it’s not something I really do anymore. Yet somehow I’m oddly finding myself intrigued at the concept of mileage running and going for elite status with Flying Blue? Let me explain…

How to earn Flying Blue elite status

First for some background, let me share a reminder of how you earn Flying Blue elite status. No, earning status isn’t based on how much you spend, but rather it’s based on how many “XPs” you earn (that stands for “experience points”). The system of qualifying for status works a bit differently than with other programs:

  • 100 XPs gets you Flying Blue Silver status
  • You then need 180 additional XPs to earn Flying Blue Gold status
  • You then need 300 additional XPs to earn Flying Blue Platinum status

However, there’s a bit more nuance to this, which also makes it easier to earn status. For example, you don’t need 580 XPs in a year to earn Platinum status:

  • Once you earn 100 XPs in a year, you’ll earn Silver status
  • Your status will then be reset, and you’ll need to earn 180 XPs over the next 12 months to earn Gold status
  • Your status will then be reset, and you’ll need to earn 300 XPs over the next 12 months to earn Platinum status
  • Maintaining status on an ongoing basis simply requires 100 XPs for Silver, 180 XPs for Gold, and 300 XPs for Platinum

Flying Blue also offers true rollover status, so any XPs earned beyond what’s needed for status rolls over to the following year.

As far as earning XPs goes, below is the chart showing how many XPs you earn per segment.

The rate at which you earn XPs with Flying Blue

From the perspective of a member in the United States, there’s a big incentive to travel internationally rather than domestically. For example, even though an Atlanta to Honolulu flight is much further than an Atlanta to Nassau flight, the latter would be more rewarding for XPs.

Plotting Flying Blue mileage runs is kind of fun

I love any loyalty program that has an element of gamification to earning elite status, because it makes it fun for us nerds to plan travel. So I can’t help but play around with all kinds of different pathways for earning Flying Blue elite status.

If I were to go for Flying Blue elite status, I’d want to make it fun for OMAAT readers — it wouldn’t just be about qualifying for elite status as inexpensively as possible, but it would be about racking up XPs while reviewing as many new and interesting products as possible, without breaking the bank.

In terms of racking up lots of XPs at a low cost, you can’t beat paid business class fares within Europe that allow connections in both Amsterdam and Paris. For example, you could fly roundtrip business class from Krakow to Düsseldorf for just over $500, and would earn 90 XPs — wow! If you were an existing Platinum member, you’d more than requalify for status with four of these roundtrips.

Air France & KLM business class fare

I’ve been wanting to review Aeromexico’s Boeing 737 MAX 8 and Boeing 787-9, and there are pretty decent one-way business class fares from New York to Sao Paulo, of under $1,100 one-way. That one-way would rack up 54 XPs.

Aeromexico business class fare

I’ve been wanting to review Aircalin, the airline of New Caledonia, and the airline has decent business class fares from Japan to Australia and New Zealand. A one-way ticket from Tokyo to Brisbane via Noumea would rack up 40 XPs.

Aircalin business class fare

Back in the day I would have probably just moved to Krakow and would have flown around Europe for a couple of months to earn Flying Blue Platinum Ultimate status (which is Flying Blue’s uber-top-tier status, requiring 1,800 XPs in two years, just on Air France and KLM metal). Something tells me that would get me a status downgrade with my family, though, and that’s probably not a great tradeoff. 😉

Bottom line

I’m seriously thinking of going for Flying Blue elite status, and have to say that I quite like the XP system for earning status. I love the fun gamification of it, and it incentivizes planning routings strategically. It’s a little more exciting than American’s Loyalty Points system, for example, which almost oversimplifies earning status.

I’m not at a point in my life where I’m going to do pure mileage runs purely to earn status, but it could be fun to see how many new airline reviews I could crank out while qualifying for Flying Blue elite status with reasonably priced premium tickets.

What do you think — should I go for Flying Blue elite status? Any other particularly good mileage run opportunities I’m missing?

Conversations (30)
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  1. Maribelle Guest

    Is getting the airfrance credit card worth it?

  2. Lee Guest

    To frame the task, your objective is to be able to redeem Air France first class and nothing more. Gold is all that is necessary to do that; Platinum is not necessary. Step 1: To get you on your way, you get the Flying Blue credit card and obtain the XPs via it. Step 2: XP run.

    The question now becomes whether your desire to redeem Air France is a bucket-list one-and-done sort of thing...

    To frame the task, your objective is to be able to redeem Air France first class and nothing more. Gold is all that is necessary to do that; Platinum is not necessary. Step 1: To get you on your way, you get the Flying Blue credit card and obtain the XPs via it. Step 2: XP run.

    The question now becomes whether your desire to redeem Air France is a bucket-list one-and-done sort of thing or an ongoing capability. If it is one-and-done, you only need the 180 XPs and that's it.

    If you want an ongoing capability, you shoot for the 180 XPs (to reach Gold) and then 290 XPs (but not 300 XPs to reach Platinum). The 290 XPs will roll into the next year. 180 XPs will be deducted for re-qualification the next year and 110 XPs will roll into the following year. In that following year, you would only need 70 XPs to re-qualify. Alternatively, if after earning the 290 XPs, you have the following year's reset and you earn (say) 120 XPs per year going forward, you could extend your Gold status to about seven years total.

    So, ask yourself whether you intend to redeem Air France first class on an ongoing basis. Is the juice worth the squeeze? There's one point currency that you will be burning to get this capability and you can't earn or buy any more of that point currency: hours of your life.

  3. Andrew Diamond

    After being booted from the Bradley TBIT OW lounge on a domestic segment (they finally figured out that not all Emerald statuses are equal), I briefly looked into crediting my flights to Quantas. I fly domestic paid first a lot, and so getting their Emerald status using their tier point structure (somewhat similar to this) would have been fairly simple.

    Except that one requirement that you have to be on their metal 4x year. I...

    After being booted from the Bradley TBIT OW lounge on a domestic segment (they finally figured out that not all Emerald statuses are equal), I briefly looked into crediting my flights to Quantas. I fly domestic paid first a lot, and so getting their Emerald status using their tier point structure (somewhat similar to this) would have been fairly simple.

    Except that one requirement that you have to be on their metal 4x year. I just can't justify that many trips to Australia. :\ Lame!

  4. Tom Guest

    @Ben: When does the first year start? Is it January 1, or the anniversary of when I joined Flying Blue, or something else? If something other than the calendar year, how do I find out when it begins (ie: I don't know when I first joined FB)

    Thanks!

    1. Ana Guest

      You can find out your renewal date on your Flying Blue profile page. It used to be year to year but changed to match when you achieve a new status (end of that month, plus 1 year will be your new renewal 'deadline') but this changed when they moved over to the XP system.

  5. Explore Guest

    Sounds fun! But how long before FB goes to revenue qualification, like M&M, BA and IB?

    1. Ziggy New Member

      BA & IB do not link elite status qualification with revenue (yet). Both will soon base Avios earnings on the fare paid but for now, the way elite status is earned remains unchanged.

  6. Bertrand Guest

    Krakow to Düsseldorf earns 30XP round trip, not 90.

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Bertrand -- It's a business class fare, not an economy class fare. Three segments in each direction, and 15 XPs per segment.

  7. Beachfan Guest

    When one is younger spending time on fancy planes is fun. When one is older, spending time with family is much more important. Where are you in your life?

    To me, an two connection Intra Europe flight sounds horrible. Easy for something to go sideways and take all day. But if it’s your job that’s one thing , we all need more priority lounge reviews I guess. If it’s for fun I don’t see it.

    It’s not like the different AF short hood are all that different.

  8. Arie Guest

    Westjet often has dirt cheap j seats between yyc and cdg. Just flew that route for $1200CAD one way

  9. Edp Guest

    If your are going for it go all the way and get ultimate status so you can tell us what it's like....

  10. Michael Guest

    Dear Ben,

    quite interesting thoughts about earning the status.
    But what would be the outcome from the award-perspective? How many miles would you earn by flying, and, what other possibilities are there for gathering miles? Or is it just the point to buy them then if promos are offered and then having Gold status to use them for F-awards?
    best wishes Michael

  11. Fred Guest

    ATH-JED-XYZ (eg. MNL, SIN, BKK) on SV can sometimes be booked for ~€750 in C RT. Should give you plenty of FlyingBlue XP.

  12. DaninMCI Guest

    No mention of the AF credit card from BofA that earns XP for sign-up and annual XP's. These aren't a ton but will give you a head start for nearly no cost. I find short-haul Delta flights make it pretty easy to earn and maintain FlyingBlue status.

  13. InceptionCat New Member

    Look for flights from Budapest are very cheap (currently Nairobi for about €1300 rtn) and will bring you lots of miles. BUD is seemingly the fight zone for AF/KLM and LH trying to outdo each other.

    1. Wolfgang Guest

      Also from Budapest with Lufthansa + Vietnam Airlines for Euro 2.400 in J long-haul to Melbourne or Sydney

      https://youhavebeenupgraded.boardingarea.com/2022/10/deal-vietnam-airlines-business-budapest-australien-return-2-400-euro/

  14. Nikojas Guest

    I don’t see much additional benefit for being Platinum over Gold? Is it worth earning another 300XP for?

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Nikojas -- Probably not for my purposes. Maybe I'm just thinking I might as well go all the way if I try to begin with, to see if I do notice any incremental perks. But Gold would be more than sufficient.

    2. Bubba Guest

      If you're not planning on flying AF/KL regularly, Gold is good enough for the perks. The main platinum perk is the platinum service line, which helps enormously when things don't go according to plan. Other bits are in economy: You get a free seat up front. AF tends to give plats a shadow, that is, an empty middle seat, the rare op up when things are busy (once a year kind of thing), KL FAs...

      If you're not planning on flying AF/KL regularly, Gold is good enough for the perks. The main platinum perk is the platinum service line, which helps enormously when things don't go according to plan. Other bits are in economy: You get a free seat up front. AF tends to give plats a shadow, that is, an empty middle seat, the rare op up when things are busy (once a year kind of thing), KL FAs will occasionally offer you something, and AF FAs occasionally offer a glass of wine from business on the long hair. In business, you might get a postcard or a thank you from the purser.

      Finally, when they allow golds to pick a free seat only 72 hours in advance, plats will be the only ones with free seats at purchase.

  15. Antonio Guest

    DUS - KRK J rt -> 15*4 = 60 . I dont see the 90 xp.... platinum would be reached on the 10th trip...

    1. Mike C Diamond

      The itinerary Ben cited was KRK-AMS-CDG-DUS return, so three sectors each way. That's 15x6 R/T.

  16. Alvin | YTHK Diamond

    Is it finally time to position to Tokyo for $800 on ZIPAIR?

    1. Klaus Guest

      Yes. And to Position to KRK i recommend a combination of Wizz and Ryanair and Easyjet :)

  17. TrvlGuru Guest

    You can also earn an extra 12 XP per European sector for EUR113 each sector. Your 6 sectors would earn you 162XP (90XP + 72XP) "Sustainable Aviation Fuel: pay €113 – you will gain 12 XP" And you can get an extra 46 XP on a transatlantic sector for EUR 469. "Sustainable Aviation Fuel: pay €469 – you will gain 47 XP"

    According to Flying Blue: https://www.flyingblue.com/en/programme/xp
    "You can also contribute with cash to...

    You can also earn an extra 12 XP per European sector for EUR113 each sector. Your 6 sectors would earn you 162XP (90XP + 72XP) "Sustainable Aviation Fuel: pay €113 – you will gain 12 XP" And you can get an extra 46 XP on a transatlantic sector for EUR 469. "Sustainable Aviation Fuel: pay €469 – you will gain 47 XP"

    According to Flying Blue: https://www.flyingblue.com/en/programme/xp
    "You can also contribute with cash to reforestation projects or the purchase of SAF and be rewarded with XP. Participation in reforestation and the purchase of SAF are available as an option in ‘My Reservation’/My Trip section of airfrance.com and klm.com and during check-in for commercial and reward tickets."

    Paying the extra money allegedly helps the environment in two ways, one in offsetting the flights you are on and you don't have to take the second mileage run to get almost the same amount of XP. Plus you earn points on the cost of the cash purchase.

    I only have silver now and am thinking about doing this. Funny, I used my Silver status a few years ago, when you could still get an F class award as Silver, and was all booked in F on AF. AF cancelled the flight and put me on Swiss in F and while I missed getting my F flight on AF, I qualified for Senator status with that Swiss flight. Still waiting to experience AF First Class.

    1. TravelinWilly Diamond

      Reminder that the SAF purchase can only be done via KLM now, but that includes tix purchased on/via AF.

  18. Klaus Guest

    While we all know how intra-Europe business class looks like, it would be interesting if you could review special meals.
    For example, KSML always is a gamble: sometimes they serve fantastic meals even on the shortest flights - but sometimes you get a box of food with a shelf life of a couple years. (Actually I like the box because if you’re not hungry you can eat it later).

    Besides, there are hardly any...

    While we all know how intra-Europe business class looks like, it would be interesting if you could review special meals.
    For example, KSML always is a gamble: sometimes they serve fantastic meals even on the shortest flights - but sometimes you get a box of food with a shelf life of a couple years. (Actually I like the box because if you’re not hungry you can eat it later).

    Besides, there are hardly any (English) reviews out there about religious meals. So that might be beneficial.

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

TravelinWilly Diamond

Reminder that the SAF purchase can only be done via KLM now, but that includes tix purchased on/via AF.

2
InceptionCat New Member

Look for flights from Budapest are very cheap (currently Nairobi for about €1300 rtn) and will bring you lots of miles. BUD is seemingly the fight zone for AF/KLM and LH trying to outdo each other.

2
Mike C Diamond

The itinerary Ben cited was KRK-AMS-CDG-DUS return, so three sectors each way. That's 15x6 R/T.

2
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