An exciting development has just taken place with Air France/KLM Flying Blue, as the loyalty program has made First Class award redemptions available with China Eastern Airlines.
This development could pave the way for more opportunities to redeem Flying Blue miles for First Class flights with other SkyTeam and partner airlines.
Air France/KLM Flying Blue Adds First Class Partner Redemptions
Historically, SkyTeam airline loyalty programs haven’t offered First Class partner award redemptions.
Indeed, this has been one of the weaknesses of SkyTeam loyalty programs; however, it appears that Air France/KLM Flying Blue is looking to change course, as the program has just rolled out First Class redemptions on China Eastern Airlines.
A one-way ticket between Shanghai and Paris costs 134,000 Flying Blue miles, and around $445 (CAD) in taxes and fees.
A one-flight First Class flight from Frankfurt to Shanghai costs 128,500 miles plus $516 (CAD) in taxes and fees.
It’s worth noting that First Class redemptions with China Eastern Airlines are only possible through the Air France website at the moment. When searching, you’ll have to select “La Première” as the desired cabin if you’re searching for First Class awards.
China Eastern Airlines offers First Class on a number of long-haul routes from its hub in Shanghai to destinations across the world, including Vancouver, Toronto, New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago.
As it stands, it appears that First Class redemptions aren’t available on all routes at this time. Availability has been found on routes to Europe and New Zealand, but not to North America.
It’s very possible that this may change in the future; however, it may be based on what China Eastern Airlines releases to Flying Blue, rather than blanket geographical restrictions.
We’ve reached out to Flying Blue for confirmation of the above.
Air France/KLM Flying Blue Continues to Add Value
Air France/KLM Flying Blue continues to invest in its program, at a time when many loyalty programs are stripping away value and removing features.
For example, Flying Blue recently added free stopovers as a feature, and soon, members will be able to earn and redeem miles on flights with Etihad Airways.
Its monthly Promo Rewards have the potential to offer exceptional value for transatlantic flights in economy, premium economy, and business class.
Flying Blue miles are also relatively easy to come by in Canada and the United States. In both countries, you can earn miles through spending with co-branded credit cards, including the Air France KLM World Elite Mastercard in Canada, and the Bank of America Air France KLM World Elite Mastercard in the United States.
It’s also possible to convert transferable points into Flying Blue miles from a variety of programs, at times with transfer bonuses. Eligible programs include American Express Membership Rewards in Canada, as well as American Express US Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou Rewards, and Capital One Miles in the United States.
However, the most interesting part of the story here is that the addition of First Class award seats on China Eastern Airlines First Class could be indicative of even more exciting opportunities to come.
For example, it may become possible to redeem Flying Blue miles for First Class redemptions with other SkyTeam airlines, such as Garuda Indonesia.
Or, it could be the case that First Class awards with some of Flying Blue’s other partner airlines, such as Etihad Airways, become available in the future.
If this happens, Flying Blue will become an even more interesting loyalty program to engage with, as it continues on its trajectory of offering value and more options to its members.
Air France/KLM Flying Blue has made First Class award redemptions available with China Eastern Airlines. This is particularly interesting, as historically, SkyTeam loyalty programs haven’t allowed partner First Class redemptions.
While China Eastern Airlines is currently the only partner airline available for First Class redemptions, hopefully, this paves the way for more opportunities in the future.
This could include First Class awards with other SkyTeam airlines, as well as First Class awards with other partner airlines, such as Etihad Airways.
It’s exciting to see what else Air France/KLM Flying Blue has in store, as it continues to add value to its program rather than taking it away.