Editor’s note: Flying Blue has suspended its monthly Promo Rewards due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. This post makes reference to previous rewards that have now expired to explain how the program works.
Flying Blue, the joint loyalty program of Air France-KLM, was one of the first international frequent flyer programs to switch to dynamic award pricing. Eliminating a fixed award chart usually means the elimination of reliable sweet spots as well, and so many airlines that switched to dynamic pricing have compensated by running frequent award sales. U.S.-based travelers may be familiar with Delta’s flash sales, but Flying Blue takes a more consistent approach.
Every month, the program releases “Promo Rewards”, offering discounted awards on select routes. While the monthly Promo Rewards are currently suspended due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, today we’re going to take a look at everything you need to know to take advantage of them once they resume.
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How to earn Flying Blue miles
Flying Blue miles are among the easiest to earn because Flying Blue is one of just three frequent flyer programs (along with Singapore KrisFlyer and Emirates Skywards) that partners with all five major transferable points/miles currencies. You can transfer points to Flying Blue at the following rates:
- Chase Ultimate Rewards – 1:1
- Amex Membership Rewards – 1:1
- Citi ThankYou Points – 1:1
- Capital One Miles – 2:1.5
- Marriott Bonvoy – 3:1, with a 5,000-mile bonus for every 60,000 Marriott points transferred
This means that if you have some of the most popular travel rewards cards, including the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, The Platinum Card® from American Express, or the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card, you can transfer your points/miles over to Flying Blue.
The information for the Capital One Venture card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
If you’re looking to earn Flying Blue miles from actual flights, Air France and KLM are also two of the most prominent members of the SkyTeam alliance. You can credit flights on Air France or KLM metal to Flying Blue, as well as flights on partner airlines like Delta, Korean Air, China Eastern, Alitalia and more.
How promo rewards work
Each month, Flying Blue publishes a list of discounted award tickets across various destinations and cabin classes. Each destination on the list will receive a fixed percentage discount on flights to or from any destination in Europe, not just Air France and KLM’s respective hubs in Paris (CDG) and Amsterdam (AMS). Discounts range from 10%-50%.
Flying Blue used to offer a fixed mileage discount for its monthly Promo Rewards. When the program switched to dynamic award pricing, the discounts switched to a fixed percentage as well. Because of dynamic pricing, you may end up paying more than the amount listed. If you’re flexible with your destination and travel dates, you can even use the dynamic pricing engine to score the cheapest possible awards, but more on that later.
It’s important to note that each destination has specific cabins that are eligible for Promo Rewards. For example, January’s awards only discounted economy and premium economy awards from Houston (IAH) to Paris (CDG). Premium cabins were excluded on that route.
You can also see that there are two sets of dates listed for each destination (though they’re identical for all of them): booking dates and travel dates. When Flying Blue releases new Promo Rewards, they’re usually valid for booking until the end of that month. Eligible travel dates usually cover two or three months, but not much more than that. This means that Promo Rewards will be better for flexible travelers looking to make relatively last-minute plans, not those who like to lock down their itinerary a year in advance.
Current promo rewards
As mentioned above, Flying Blue Promo Rewards are currently suspended in light of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, though they’re expected to resume once travel begins to pick up again. All destinations are served by either Air France or KLM, meaning you won’t see smaller airports like Tampa (TPA), for example, making the list.
Over the years, the selections have certainly gotten a bit stingier, but you can still expect to see two or three U.S. cities available on each month’s Promo Rewards. Other North American destinations like Mexico City (MEX) also make frequent appearances and, depending on how good of a deal you can find, it might be worth booking a positioning flight to Mexico or Canada to take advantage of a Promo Reward.
How to book promo rewards
The good news is that Flying Blue makes its Promo Rewards so easy to book that you may stumble on them by accident. All you need to do is confirm the city, date, class of service, log into the Flying Blue website and search. There is no special website you have to go to, just search for award tickets within the promo period. You’ll see a bright red banner alerting you to the days with available Promo Rewards. As you can see, the savings can be quite substantial.
Further Reading: The best websites for searching SkyTeam award availability
Tips for maximizing promo rewards
Dynamic award pricing causes rates to go up when demand is high, so speed counts. The longer you wait to book after Promo Rewards are released, the more you could end up paying if others are booking the same award. There are also a limited number of award seats available on every flight, and when Flying Blue is offering business class awards to Europe for as little as 26,500 miles, they tend to go quickly.
One of the best things about Flying Blue Promo Rewards is that they can be used to fly anywhere in Europe, not just Amsterdam or Paris. One of the goals of dynamic pricing is to make award rates mirror revenue fares more closely, and you can use this to your advantage.
Let’s say you’re based in Chicago, and there’s a promo award to Europe. Paris is one of the more expensive destinations in Europe and award rates often reflect that. You can see below that one-way business class awards from O’Hare (ORD) to Paris start at 58,000 Flying Blue miles each way this summer:
It’s actually cheaper to fly business class from Chicago to Prague (PRG), with a connection in Paris than it is to get off the plane in Paris:
You can apply this logic to Promo Rewards, as you’ll usually get a better deal by flying to smaller European cities instead of major destinations like London or Paris. Given how cheap and easy it is to travel within Europe, it might even be worth flying to a smaller city like Prague and backtracking to Paris to save a few thousand miles.
The switch to dynamic pricing stripped much of the value out of the Flying Blue program, but the monthly Promo Rewards are a bright spot that offers consistent value – if you’re flexible enough to take advantage of them. While Flying Blue Promo Rewards are currently suspended, it’s worth learning about now so you’re prepared to book them when they resume.
Featured image by Alberto Riva / The Points Guy