6 Unique Redemptions with Air France KLM Flying Blue

In the past few years, Air France KLM Flying Blue has become a more intriguing loyalty program for North Americans, as it’s accessible through transferrable points currencies and has been adding partners, features, and value at a time when other programs have been removing them.

As always, it’s best to consider all of the different options at your disposal when planning out a trip, and Flying Blue provides good coverage for SkyTeam airlines that are otherwise difficult to access on points.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at some unique redemption possibilities that the Flying Blue program brings to the table.

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Air France KLM Flying Blue: Key Things to Know

Prior to delving into some sweet spots, let’s go over a few key features about the Flying Blue program that will help guide our discussion.

First of all, Flying Blue uses a dynamic pricing model, which means that the price points for award flights fluctuate depending on demand.

On the plus side, that means that every last seat on flights operated by Air France or KLM can be booked with Flying Blue miles. On the downside, the dynamic pricing model allows the mileage rates to fluctuate in unpredictable ways. 

For example, on one day, you might find a flight from Montreal to Amsterdam in KLM business class for 50,000 Flying Blue miles…

And on another day, the cost might be double or triple the price, or even more…

Therefore, you should aim to redeem Flying Blue miles for flights at the lower end of the dynamic range whenever possible, rather that at the higher range.

In October 2023, Flying Blue harmonized the lowest cost for awards between North America and Europe. The lowest amount of miles you can expect to pay for transatlantic flights is as follows:

  • Economy: 20,000 miles
  • Premium economy: 35,000 miles
  • Business class: 50,000 miles

The Flying Blue program’s Miles Estimator may come in useful to set your goals for award pricing, as you can use it to find the “Starting from” prices on any city pairs.

The program recently added the ability to add a free stopover on award bookings. You can book a stopover of between 24 hours and a year, and there’s no additional cost in miles or cash to add a stopover, which is a great deal.

One downside to the program is that you’ll have to shell out some cash for taxes, fees, and surcharges, usually to the tune of around $300 (CAD) for a transatlantic flight in business class. 

On the earning front, you can earn miles directly in Canada with the Brim Air France KLM World Elite Mastercard, or by transferring American Express Membership Rewards at a 1:0.75 ratio.

In the US, Flying Blue is a 1:1 transfer partner with American Express US Membership Rewards, Capital One Miles, Chase Ultimate Rewards, and Citi ThankYou Rewards.

With the above in mind, we’ll now focus on sweet spots where Flying Blue represents the best way to book, and we’ll leave other redemptions for better-suited award programs. 

For example, even though Flying Blue can book WestJet flights within Canada, the award rates aren’t really optimal upon factoring in the transfer ratio – so we’ll gloss over such options in this article. 

1. Promo Rewards

The most well-known Flying Blue sweet spot is its monthly Promo Rewards feature, which offers 25–50% discounts on select Air France or KLM routes on a rotating basis.

These discounts span economy, premium economy, and business class, and historically we’ve seen fairly strong coverage for Air France and KLM’s Canadian routes on Promo Rewards.

In fact, we’ve seen recent Promo Rewards offer a 25% discount on business class flights from Canada to Europe, which priced out at just 37,500 miles.

Book Air France and KLM business class flights during the monthly Promo Rewards

Economy Promo Rewards are also frequently featured, and they can offer excellent prices of just 15,000 Flying Blue miles for a one-way flight from North America to Europe.

Promo Rewards are released at the beginning of every month, so it’s important to keep a close eye on them in case there are any deals you can snag. 

2. Edmonton to Amsterdam

When you’re planning out a trip to Europe, you’ll want to weigh out the pros and cons of booking with different programs. Air France KLM Flying Blue is unique in that it offers direct flights to Europe from some Canadian cities that don’t have any other direct options.

One example is if you live in Edmonton, where neither Air Canada nor WestJet currently offers direct flights to Europe, but KLM does.

You can book the direct flight to Amsterdam for 50,000 Flying Blue miles plus a few hundred dollars in taxes, fees, and surcharges.

The same holds true in Ottawa, as Air France is currently the only airline to offer direct flights to Europe.  

Even if you live in Calgary, Vancouver, Toronto, or Montreal, where options with other airlines may be bountiful, it’s useful to keep the Air France and KLM services in the back of your mind, as you may wind up with a direct flight at a great deal.

3. French Overseas Regions

There are some destinations around the world that are served only by SkyTeam airlines, and that’s where things get interesting in terms of new ways to redeem points to get to these places. 

Take, for example, some of the French overseas departments and regions. Air France is the only major mainline carrier to serve the island of Réunion in the Indian Ocean, so if you’re interested in travelling there on points, then redeeming Flying Blue miles on an Air France flight would be the best way to get there.

Similarly, consider the territory of French Guiana in South America, which borders Suriname and Brazil.

Flying Blue is once again the only meaningful way to book a flight to Cayenne, its capital – you could book a direct flight from Paris, or take an “island hopper” routing on Air France Flight 600 from Pointe-à-Pitre in Guadeloupe via Fort-de-France in Martinique.

A one-way flight in economy class on any of these legs starts at 40,000 Flying Blue miles and around $71 (CAD) in taxes and fees.

However, you can also find connecting flights with the same origin and destination for just 21,000 miles.

4. Air France Business Class to Bora Bora

While there are a handful of good ways to book business class to Bora Bora, redeeming Flying Blue miles for Air France’s flight from Los Angeles to Pape’ete is one to keep an eye on.

A one-way flight in business class will cost as few as 70,000 Flying Blue miles.

Surely, this isn’t cheap, but then again, the very ability to kickstart your dream trip to Bora Bora in business class is quite precious in the first place. 

Award availability at the lowest rate on this route can be hard to come by, so if you have your eyes set on a dream holiday in French Polynesia, be ready to book as soon as you can find it.

5. North Africa and Turkey

One of the unique features of Flying Blue is that it treats all of Europe, North Africa, and Turkey as the same zone as it pertains to award pricing.

So, even though flying from, say, Vancouver to Istanbul via Paris covers a very large distance, the lowest level of award pricing is the same as a direct shorter flight from, say, Quebec City to Paris.

The same holds true for flights to Morocco, which you can also book for as few as 20,000 miles in economy, 35,000 miles in premium economy, or 50,000 miles in business class from anywhere in Canada or the United States.

While you’ll have to take a connecting flight via Paris or Amsterdam to get to North Africa or Turkey, the subsequent savings in miles could make it very well worth the extra travel time.

6. Air France La Première

Business class is all well and good, but for the true aspirational traveller, First Class is the real prize. 

Recently, Air France KLM Flying Blue has opened up First Class awards with partner airlines, bucking the trend of SkyTeam members generally blocking off First Class award redemptions from partner airlines within the alliance.

As it stands, you can redeem Flying Blue miles for First Class flights with China Eastern Airlines, Garuda Indonesia, and Xiamen Air. It’s also possible to redeem Flying Blue miles for flights with Etihad Airways; however, Etihad Airways First Class flights aren’t yet bookable with miles.

However, that leaves us with the famous Air France La Première on the Boeing 777. Is it possible book one of the world’s best First Class experiences – complete with a private curtained suite in an intimate cabin of four, incredible onboard dining, and a world-class ground experience with a luxury car tarmac transfer – using Flying Blue miles?

Air France La Première

The answer is yes, but you’ll need to have status with Flying Blue in order to access it, or you’ll need to get lucky with a paid upgrade offer from business class, which isn’t guaranteed.

In order to book La Première directly with points, you’ll need to be a Flying Blue Platinum or Ultimate Elite member, and even then, the award cost is exorbitant.

To rack up Flying Blue Platinum status, you’ll need to earn a total of 580 “XP” by crediting paid flights on Air France and its partner airlines to the Flying Blue program (100 XP gets you to Silver, and then another 180 XP gets you to Gold, and then another ).

Just an easy 20 round-trip flights from Toronto to Paris in business class should do the trick.

Then, a one-way redemption in La Première will cost 220,000 Flying Blue miles between Paris and New York JFK.

For the shortest and cheapest La Première route between Paris and Dubai, it’ll be 175,000 Flying Blue miles.

That’s a lot of effort to go through for a single one-way flight, but if you want to experience one of the world’s most coveted First Class cabins for yourself, it’s the most sure-fire method to book outside of hunting for cheap fares or chancing it with an upgrade.

Conclusion

Air France KLM Flying Blue has many pockets of value for the savvy traveller. As the program keeps adding new features, it’s becoming more and more attractive, which is rare in a space that’s defined by devaluations. 

For most practical purposes, Flying Blue’s main value proposition revolves around its monthly rotating Promo Rewards, especially when they throw in discounted business class redemptions from North American gateway airports. 

However, the program also offers a number of unique redemptions across the world. As you’re planning out your adventures near and far, be sure to consider what’s possible with Air France KLM Flying Blue.

2 Comments
  1. Aaron

    HI there, regarding point 2 from YEG – AMS, I see that you found a flight for 65,000 roundtrip. So that is 32,500 each way – a far cry from the 15K listed in their rewards chart. Is it possible to find YEG-AMS for 15K per way or is that never possible? Thanks.

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