The Essential Guide to

Air France/KLM Flying Blue

Last updated: December 28, 2022
Best ways to earn:
Transfer from Amex Canada MR at a 1:0.75 ratio
Transfer from Amex US MR at a 1:1 ratio
Transfer from Capital One at a 1:1 ratio
Transfer from Chase Ultimate Rewards at a 1:1 ratio
Transfer from Citi ThankYou points at a 1:1 ratio
Transfer from Marriott Bonvoy at a 60,000:25,000 ratio
Earn through spending on the Air France KLM Flying Blue World Elite Mastercard
Best ways to redeem:
Stack with Promo Rewards for cheap flights from North America to Europe
Business class flights with Air France and KLM to Europe
Economy class flights with partner airlines
Backdoor path to Air France La Première

The Flying Blue loyalty program is most commonly associated with Air France/KLM, the company that owns KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and Air France. However, Flying Blue is actually the frequent flyer loyalty program of a total of six airlines: Air France, KLM, Kenya Airways, Tarom, Transavia, and Aircalin.

Flying Blue has risen in popularity in recent years, especially amongst North American travellers. The program offers access to SkyTeam-member airlines and other affiliated airlines, such as Virgin Atlantic, through a number of transferrable points currencies.

Furthermore, Air France/KLM Flying Blue has intriguing monthly promotions called Promo Rewards, which can offer an outstanding deal on flights to Europe.

Earning Air France/KLM Flying Blue Miles

The easiest way to earn Flying Blue miles is to transfer points in from another loyalty program. Air France/KLM Flying Blue is a transfer partner with American Express in Canada and the United States, as well as a number of other US banks.

You can transfer points from a number of loyalty programs into Air France/KLM Flying Blue miles at the following ratios:

If you’re transferring from Amex Canada MR or Marriott Bonvoy, the stated transfer time is up to three days. Otherwise, points from all American bank partners will transfer instantly.

You can benefit from welcome bonuses and earning multipliers on your daily spending from other loyalty programs, and then convert the points to Air France/KLM Flying Blue miles when you’re ready to redeem.

This is even the case as Brim Financial launched the Air France KLM Flying Blue World Elite Mastercard in Canada in October 2022. The credit card comes without a welcome bonus of Flying Blue miles, so you’re likely better off earning miles with a different credit card.

However, if you decide to add it to your wallet, you’ll earn:

  • 5 Flying Blue miles per euro spent on Air France and KLM flights
  • 2 Flying Blue miles per Canadian dollar spent at restaurants and bars
  • 1 Flying Blue mile per Canadian dollar spent on other purchases

If you have access to US credit cards, the Bank of America Air France KLM World Elite Mastercard offers a welcome bonus of 50,000 Flying Blue miles after spending $2,000 in the first 90 days. The card has a low annual fee of just $89 (USD), and comes with no foreign transaction fees.

The US-issued card comes with a different earning structure:

  • 3 Flying Blue miles per US dollar spent on Air France and KLM flights
  • 1.5 Flying Blue miles per US dollar spent on other purchases

Furthermore, you’ll earn 5,000 Flying Blue miles every year on your account anniversary if you’ve spent at least $50 (USD) that year.

Air France/KLM also has frequent sales to buy Flying Blue miles directly. The base rate is 3.35 cents per mile (USD), but that rate can drop to as low as 1.39 cents per mile (USD) during one of the better promotions.

In general, buying miles outright should only be reserved for cases where you are short for your next redemption and need an immediate top-up, or for when you’re certain that buying miles is cheaper than paying cash for the same flight.

Of course, you can also earn Flying Blue miles by flying on a paid ticket with one of the many airline partners and crediting that flight to your Flying Blue account. How many miles you’ll earn depends on the airline, the mileage flown, the class of service, the booking class, and your Flying Blue elite status.

Earn Flying Blue miles on paid flights with SkyTeam airlines

Lastly, there are many other ways of earning Flying Blue miles, including with car rentals, shopping through the Flying Blue online shopping portal, and staying at almost any hotel. The complete list of all 65+ partners and ways to earn can be found here.

Once you’ve added some Flying Blue miles to your account, they’ll expire if there hasn’t been any activity for 18 months. As long as you have some sort of earning or redeeming every year and a half, your miles won’t expire.

Redeeming Air France/KLM Flying Blue Miles

Air France/KLM Flying Blue miles can be redeemed for a number of goods and services, including hotel stays and purchases through the online Flying Blue shopping portal.

However, as with most every frequent flyer program, the most valuable use is booking flights, especially in premium cabins.

Business class flights between Europe and North America

There are certainly many great flight redemption possibilities with Flying Blue, as Air France and KLM fly to many North American cities, including Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto, Montreal, Quebec City, and throughout the United States.

Flying Blue uses a dynamic pricing model, which means that there may be different price points for each route and date. While mileage rates fluctuate in unpredictable ways, the benefit to this model is that every seat can be booked with Flying Blue miles.

Flying Blue has a chart that shows the lowest possible fares based on the route and the class of service. It’s important to note that these prices should be used as a starting point or a goal, rather than pricing that is set in stone.

For example, suppose you’d like to fly from Vancouver to Prague in business class using Flying Blue miles. According to this chart, the lowest price you should expect to find is 55,000 Flying Blue miles.

After searching a full year’s worth of availability, the lowest price that comes up is 65,000 Flying Blue miles, plus a moderate amount of taxes and fees that falls somewhere in between what you’d likely pay with a similar Aeroplan or British Airways Avios redemption.

If we change the origin to Montreal, we’re able to find fares for much closer to the 55,000-mile target, which suggests that you can expect to pay extra if you’re departing from the western part of North America or travelling into the eastern part of Europe.

While you’ll be able to find pricing at the lower end of the dynamic spectrum, you’ll also find award prices that are substantially higher, depending on the date of travel.

Your best bet is to book far in advance and to have some flexibility in your dates. Air France/KLM Flying Blue’s schedule opens up 360 days prior to departure, so you can plan almost a year in advance and be able to book flights.

As we’ll go over later, pay attention to Promo Rewards that come out, as you may score a discount of up to 50% for your flights.

If you find a flight that you like, you can put the award flight on hold by calling the Flying Blue contact centre. That way, you’ll have up to 72 hours to transfer in enough miles and confirm the booking without having to worry about the seat disappearing.

Estimating the number of points required

Another way to find out how much a flight might cost you is by using Flying Blue’s miles price estimator. Again, this should just be used as a starting point, as it is not always reflective of dynamic pricing.

Simply put in your origin and destination, and you’ll be given an estimate of how much the flight might cost in each cabin of service.

If you’d like to see how far your miles can get you, head over to the Rewards Map section of the Flying Blue website and enter your mileage balance. The map will populate with cities, showing the lowest price you can expect to pay in your chosen class of service.

For example, let’s say that you have 100,000 Flying Blue miles and you live in Seattle. Once you enter in those details, as well as your class of service (let’s use business class here), the map will tell you all the places you can technically fly to within those parameters, assuming you can find flights at the lower end of the dynamic spectrum.

It’s interesting to see all the places you can go with Flying Blue. In this example, most destinations in Europe and North Africa price out at around 65,000 miles, and then heading further afield to Johannesburg, Entebbe, Colombo, or even Manila should cost around 95,000 miles one-way in business class.

Economy class flights

While flying in business class will help you squeeze the most value out of your miles, perhaps one of the best uses of Flying Blue miles is for economy class flights. This is especially the case from North America to Europe, but the same can be true when flying from North America to other continents.

For example, a one-way flight from Paris to Montreal in economy class can be found for as little as 15,000 miles plus $159 (CAD) in taxes and fees.

If you don’t mind flying over the Atlantic in economy, this is an incredible deal, as similar direct flights using, say, Aeroplan, might require over double the number of points.

Similarly, using Flying Blue miles to book an economy class seat from Toronto to Nairobi costs as few as 35,000 miles and $236 (CAD) in taxes and fees. If we were to once again compare the cost to using Aeroplan points, you’d need at least 20,000 more points for a similar itinerary.

Of course, depending on which points currency you’re using to transfer into Air France/KLM Flying Blue, you’ll need to consider the transfer ratio when you’re comparing programs.

Despite the dynamic pricing model, some of these outstanding deals can be found even if you are searching a couple of days out. If you tend to book travel at the last minute, be sure to consider Flying Blue as you may be able to score a deal.

Business class flights with partner airlines

Flying Blue miles can also be used to book partner airline flights. While there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of availability across all partner airlines, it may still be worth your time to check for your desired route.

For example, if you’d like to give Virgin Atlantic Upper Class a try, and maybe even check out the airline’s flagship Clubhouse Lounge in London, you can look for flights using Flying Blue.

Keep in mind that any flights departing from the UK are subject to the nasty Air Passenger Duty (APD), so your best bet would be to originate in another European city and connect through London if you plan on redeeming Flying Blue miles this way.

Other unique premium experiences you can book with Flying Blue miles include China Airlines business class out of Taipei or Aircalin business class out of New Caledonia.

There are also better ways to book with some partner airlines, so be sure to search around for the best sweet spot for each airline.

Flying Blue Sweet Spots

Flying Blue has a few great sweet spots to keep in mind if you’re planning a trip to Europe or even within North America.

Promo Rewards

The best way to use Flying Blue miles is to redeem them in conjunction with a Promo Reward. Promo Rewards are monthly specials that Air France/KLM Flying Blue offers to its members that reduce the cost for redemptions by up to 50%.

For example, the lowest cost for a flight from Montreal to Lisbon is 55,000 Flying Blue miles in business class, according to the reward chart. If there happens to be a Promo Reward that’s offering a 50% discount for flights between Europe and Montreal, you’ll only pay 27,250 miles for that same flight.

Keep in mind that Promo Rewards aren’t always valid for travel in business class, and the best deals are usually found in shoulder seasons. However, if you want to score a great deal on an economy class or business class flight to or from Europe, Promo Rewards are your best bet.

Flights with partner airlines

Flying Blue miles can also be useful for economy class flights with Delta, either within North America, to Europe, and to South America.

You may have noticed that Air France and KLM reward tickets come with moderate surcharges on award bookings. If you’re okay with flying in economy, then be sure to look out for Delta flights, which don’t come with the same burden of taxes and fees.

For example, let’s look at the difference between two direct flights from Boston to London Heathrow. The first flight is with Delta, and the second is with Virgin Atlantic. (The taxes and fees on flights with Virgin Atlantic and Air France/KLM flights are nearly identical.)

The flights cost nearly the same in Air France/KLM Flying Blue miles, but the Delta flight only has $13.70 (CAD) taxes and fees, while the Virgin Atlantic flight is a bit pricier at $86 (CAD).

The differences are even more stark when flying in business class, since Air France, KLM, and Virgin Atlantic flights all come with carrier-imposed surcharges, while flights with Delta don’t.

You can also get some good deals on flights within North America, although you’ll want to check the cost with other programs, such as Delta SkyMiles, to make sure it’s the best deal.

A one-way economy class flight from North America to South America should cost as few as 15,000 Flying Blue miles, at least according to the chart. In practice, it’s quite difficult to come across award space at this value.

Still, since you have access to Delta Air Lines, AeroMexico, and Copa Airlines, you can find great deals on flights that don’t have astronomical surcharges.

Upgrade using Flying Blue miles

Lastly, you can also use Flying Blue miles to upgrade an economy class seat to a business class seat on Aeromexico, China Airlines, Aircalin, Czech Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Kenya Airways, Korean Air, and TAROM.

There is no published chart for how much an upgrade costs, but you can upgrade before your flight by calling in, at the gate, or even after boarding on certain Air France and KLM flights by speaking with a flight attendant.

Air France/KLM Flying Blue Tips and Tricks

There are a few tips and tricks with Flying Blue that will help you reach your flying goals sooner, as well as potentially unlocking one of the most sought after First Class products in the game.

Free stopover in Paris or Amsterdam

If you’re booking a flight to Europe with Air France or KLM, you can add a stopover in either of the cities for free. This feature was released recently, and while other details are sparse, we know that it’s indeed possible.

You can only add a stopover on an Air France or KLM flight, which means that you’ll be limited to Paris or Amsterdam. Currently, this is only available by calling into the contact centre, but it will likely be added to the search engine going forward.

“Secret” calendar search

In the search results, you’ll usually see a week’s worth of availability at a time. The lowest price for each day is displayed on each date.

If you’re flexible with your dates and aren’t happy with the prices you see, you can bring up calendar that shows the lowest prices over the course of a whole month.

To do this, search for a round-trip flight on the same day. This tends to only work between destinations where it’s impossible to fly there and back in the same day, which should be easier flying eastbound than westbound.

After you click “Search flights”, the regular search results screen will pop up, but then it will change to a calendar. A quick glance for the month will show you the lowest prices for each day.

It doesn’t take long to look at a year’s worth of availability, which can be great if there are Promo Rewards that you’re trying to find.

Flying Blue Family

Flying Blue allows members to pool points between different accounts. Up to two adults and six children can form a family pool together.

In the pool, one adult will be designated as the “Flying Blue Family Leader”. This person will be responsible for maintaining the account, and is the only one who can transfer miles in between accounts.

Setting up a family pool can be especially useful if you don’t fly very often and otherwise wouldn’t earn enough Flying Blue miles for a redemption as individuals.

Setting up a Flying Blue Family account is easy – simply sign in to your Flying Blue account, go to your profile, and look for the “Flying Blue Family” tab on the side. You’ll just need to send out an invitation to each family member, and once they accept, you’ll be able to move Flying Blue miles from their accounts into yours.

Use cash and Flying Blue miles for La Première

Air France’s First Class product, La Première, is one of the most difficult to book using points. The airline only allows Platinum members to redeem Flying Blue miles for La Première, and even then, only one award seat is released on any given flight.

Despite not being a completely reliable method, you can use a combination of cash and miles to get yourself into La Première.

You’ll first need to book a business class award ticket on an Air France flight that has a La Première cabin. The most popular routes for this method are usually from Paris to Dubai or Mexico City.

You’ll then need to monitor the La Première cabin, perhaps by using a tool such as ExpertFlyer, to ensure that there are unsold La Première seats.

30 hours prior to your flight, you’ll be able to check in, and during the check-in process, you may see the option to pay for an upgrade to La Première on your flight.

Fly in Air France La Première by using a combination of cash and points

If you’re lucky enough to see this option, you can score a seat in La Première at a steep discount from the cash price. Some reports suggest that the upgrade costs around $1,000 (USD) to Dubai and around €1,000 to Mexico City.

If you’re going to go for the gold, keep in mind that the flying time to Mexico City is over 12 hours, while the flying time to Dubai is just under seven hours.

Air France/KLM Flying Blue Elite Status

Like many frequent flyer programs, Flying Blue has elite status tiers that can be earned by flying with Flying Blue partner airlines.

Qualifying for Flying Blue elite status

You can gain status by earning XP, which is mostly accomplished by flying on paid flights.

The number of XP you’ll earn for any given flight depends on the class of service you’re in and the distance of the flight you’re on, which is summarized in the following chart:

As you can see, you’ll earn more XP for higher classes of service and on longer flights. For example, if you flew Montreal to Paris in economy you would earn 8 XP, since the distance between the two cities is 3,442 miles and you flew in economy class.

You can also earn XP through a credit card. For example, the welcome bonus on the Air France KLM World Elite Mastercard offers 60 XP upon being approved, and 30 XP on each cardholder anniversary.

Additionally, you can earn 10 XP after you complete your first stay at an Accor Live Limitless hotel.

Tiers of Flying Blue elite status

There are four tiers that can be reached in the Flying Blue elite status program:

  • Explorer
  • Silver
  • Gold
  • Platinum

Explorer is the base tier all Flying Blue members enjoy as soon as they sign up for a free account. In order to reach higher tiers, you have to earn enough XP to reach a threshold, and you’ll then enjoy status for 12 months after earning it:

  • Silver requires 100 XP
  • Gold requires 180 XP
  • Platinum status requires 300 XP

It’s important to note that the requirements for each level are a bit misleading, as once you hit 100 XP and are upgraded to Silver status, you’ll immediately drop back down to 0 XP. This means it will actually require a total of 100 XP for Silver, 280 XP for Gold, and a staggering 580 XP for Platinum.

The base-level Explorer status gives members up to a €10 discount on baggage on Air France- or KLM-operated flights, a 10% discount on seat selection with most partner airlines, and 4 Flying Blue miles per €1 spent.

Silver status gives members the following benefits and privileges:

  • 1 extra piece of checked baggage item on flights operated by Air France, KLM, Aircalin, Air Corsica, Air Mauritius, China Southern Airlines, Qantas, and SkyTeam partners
  • SkyTeam Elite status
  • Priority check-in, baggage drop-off and boarding
  • 25% discount on seat selection with most partner airlines
  • Earn 6 Flying Blue miles per €1 spent

Gold status comes with the following benefits and privileges, on top of what Silver members enjoy:

  • Free lounge access for you and one guest when departing together on the same day on international flights operated by Air France, KLM, Air Mauritius, China Southern Airways, GOL, Qantas, Virgin Atlantic or a SkyTeam partner (including connections to/from an international SkyTeam partner flight)
  • SkyTeam Elite Plus status
  • 50% discount on seat selection with most partner airlines
  • Earn 7 Flying Blue miles per €1 spent

The top-tier Platinum status gives members the following benefits and privileges in addition to what the lower tiers enjoy:

  • 100% discount on seat selection with all partner airlines
  • Earn 7 Miles per €1 spent

Note that after 10 consecutive years at the Platinum level, you’ll enjoy Platinum status for life.

Is Flying Blue elite status worth pursuing?

As you can see, it would take a fair bit of work to reach even the lowest Silver status. However, once you reach a status level, Flying Blue makes it a bit easier to maintain status, as any additional unused XP can be carried over to the next year.

Let’s say you’ve reached Silver status after earning 100 XP, and you then earn another 150 XP, not quite reaching the 180 XP required for Gold status. At the end of the 12 months, 100 XP will be deducted in order for you to keep Silver status for another year, and you’ll be able to carry over the additional 50 XP to help towards the next year.

If you were to reach 180 XP after already earning Silver, you’ll get Gold status automatically for 12 months, rather than having to requalify for Silver by spending 100 XP.

Should you decide to pursue Flying Blue status, there really doesn’t seem to be a compelling reason to aim for Platinum status, as Gold essentially gives you the same benefits. In particular, you’ll have the most important benefits already, with lounge access and SkyTeam Elite Plus status as the best perks.

Conclusion

Air France/KLM Flying Blue is becoming more and more attractive to North American travellers due to having many transfer partners, good coverage throughout the continent, and attractive monthly Promo Rewards.

While one of the best uses for Flying Blue miles is business class flights to Europe, there is also great value to be found for flying in economy in some cases. If you’re okay with taking a bit of a gamble, you might even be able to score a seat in Air France La Première at a steep discount.

If you’re heading to Europe, or to anywhere else that Air France/KLM flies, be sure to consider Flying Blue as your program of choice for most SkyTeam airlines.

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