The Flying Blue frequent flyer program was born when Air France merged their FreqencePlus program with KLM’s Flying Dutchman back in 2005. This is one of the most dominant loyalty reward programs in the industry as it has partnered with over 100 companies including airlines operating on international routes from all around the world. Some unpopular changes made to the program on April 1 2009 (fools day) that included the reduction of miles members had earned on discounted fares and increasing the miles needed to redeem some awards may have cost it its popularity and a significant number of members. Here is a review of the program.
Although it is one of the most popular frequent flyer programs in the world, Flying Blue has a very complicated earning system but the basics are easy to grasp. There are 4 major ways of earning miles on the Flying Blue program:
i) Flights: Air France, KLM, Air Europa, Kenya Airways, Aircalin and other member airlines award miles for flights purchased. Partners also include the SkyTeam program partners. The miles earned here also earn level miles. The number of miles a ticket earns depends on class and distance flown. Economy tickets earn 100% Flying Blue miles of actual miles flown while other classes earn you more miles depending on the airline. Typically, business class fares offer between 125% and 250%, while first class earns 300% on Air France.
ii) Paying using Flying Blue’s American Express Card: To accumulate miles faster, you can apply for the card and use it to make payments and earn more miles. The earning structure on the card varies with card type and amount spent on partners and for other purchases.
iii) Hotels, car rentals and other products: Flying Blue has retail partners from all over the world that members can earn miles from. To see the list of participating businesses, go to Air France or KLM Flying Blue webpages.
iv) Flying Blue members can also earn miles shopping online on a number of participating web stores including Air France’s La Boutique. The miles earned depend on amount spent and the partner.
Air France and KML made some major changes to the miles redemption structure of Flying Blue program starting June 2013 that saw economy class awards get a boost. Domestic flights within most European countries including Belgium, France and Germany cost 20,000 Flying Blue miles for an economy ticket while longer international flights cost between 50,000 and 115,000 miles (Europe to US) or 80,000 to 160,000 (Europe to Asia) depending on the seat class.
Flying Blue members can also upgrade their flights using their program miles from economy to business classes and offer one-way flight tickets for half the cost of a two-way ticket. Promo awards offer tickets at half the miles required but they are time limited. Members can also redeem their miles for extra baggage on KLM or Air France for 10,000 Flying Blue Miles or 40,000 for 2 additional bags.
Other ways to redeem Flying Blue miles include: accommodation at partner hotels, car rental and leisure awards that offer many travel packages. Philanthropic members can also donate their Flying blue miles to select charities if they have over 10,000 miles on their Flying Blue account.
Flying Blue distincts Award miles from Level miles. Level miles are elite-qualifying miles earned on KLM, Air France, SkyTeam, Air Europa, airlines or Kenya Airways and Tarom which also count as award miles. The program has 3 elite levels: A silver status requires 25,000 Level miles or 15 segment flights within a year, Gold status requires 40,000 points or 30 segments flown, Platinum level requires 70,000 level miles or 60 segments and Platinum is for members with 115,000 points or above. Each of these elite levels have many benefits that ordinary members do not enjoy.
• Many airlines are members of Flying Blue program giving account holders many ways to earn award miles.
• Award availability is decent compared to most programs
• Promo awards help members save big and accumulate many points.
• Elite membership has great rewards and bonuses.
• Discounted fares earn very few Flying Blue miles, passengers flying cheap constantly may not benefit much from the program.
• Elite members are not eligible for complimentary upgrades.