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In the last few days the Chase Ultimate Rewards program and cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Ink Plus added their seventh airline transfer partner, the Air France/KLM frequent flyer program, Flying Blue!
The transfer ratio is 1:1 just like with all of the other Ultimate Rewards airline and hotel partners, and it is already up and live on the Chase site and ready for transfers. As is usually the case, this airline program warrants attention even if you don’t plan to fly Air France of KLM because they also have airline partners like Delta and Alaska you may be interested in utilizing.
The Flying Blue program is also a transfer partner of Amex Membership Rewards, Starwood Preferred Guest, and the Citi ThankYou program. In other words, it will be pretty easy to rack up big numbers to transfer from the various credit cards and programs if you are so inclined.
You may have ignored the Flying Blue program in the past for various reasons such as “foreign programs are more complicated”, or they charge big fuel surcharges, or their online website doesn’t have an award chart and isn’t easy to use, or whatever. There is at least some truth in most of those statements, but they are also just excuses holding you back from learning how to stretch your miles further for your family because they do not at all paint the full picture.
I’m not going to make you a Flying Blue expert, but I can get you on your way of at least knowing some basics without investing too much time, so here are six things you need to know about the Flying Blue program.
Here are six things you need to know about the Flying Blue program:
There aren’t always big fuel surcharges (though there certainly can be). For example, if book through Flying Blue to fly Delta to/from Europe in economy you are looking at a cost of 50,000 miles + just $117 in taxes/fees, which isn’t bad at all. Even in business class you can avoid big fuel surcharges by flying partners like Delta and AeroMexico. Here is a Delta operated business class round trip from Houston – Paris for just 125,000 miles + $162 in taxes/fees. Of course availability on those partners won’t always be there, but when you can find it the price can be pretty decent.
The mileage prices are generally not bad – and there are some Flying Blue sweet spots.
These days 125k miles in business class round trip to Europe isn’t bad, 30k miles round trip to Hawaii in economy isn’t bad, 25k round trip to Mexico isn’t bad, and there are some other fun geographical groups that also make for fun pricing. For example, Alaska, Canada, 48 States, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Aruba, Bonaire, and more are all grouped together and all price at just 12,500 miles each way in economy.
Their online booking website is pretty good and many awards can be booked online.
You need to join Flying Blue to price out awards on the website, but you don’t need to have any miles in your account to price awards. I priced many mock awards this morning, and while not everything is bookable online, lots of awards are, including those with partners. You cannot book stopovers online, but the website was above average in terms of what it would display and allow you to book, which is super important to me as I hate wasting tons of time on the phone.
There is no online award chart, but there is an award calculator and others have created “Flying Blue Award Charts”. You can find the Flying Blue mileage calculator here and Mile Cards has a great example of a Flying Blue award chart and geographical zone descriptions you will likely find helpful.
Get up to 50% off Flying Blue Promo Awards on the first of each month.
On the 1st of each month you can check and see which routes are discounted by up to 50% of the normal number of miles – and this can include business class awards! Right now the picking are pretty slim from North America, but you can save 50% of the normal number of miles from Boston – Europe in Business Class at 93,750 miles round trip instead of the standard 125,000. This can sometimes drop the number of miles required for economy tickets to Europe to just 12,500 miles each way! The trade-off may be paying fuel surcharges, but it might be worth it if the price is low enough depending on your goals.
I recommend you read the linked posts above because they highlight some of the bizarre things that Flying Blue program has done when people transfer in points and book awards…you know, exactly what is supposed to happen when you partner with a credit card program. For many it will work without issue, but do be aware of some of the nutty happenings that have happened before deciding to transfer you Ultimate Reward or other points into the program.
Overall more options are always a good thing, so I’m excited to see Flying Blue join the Chase Ultimate Reward line-up. I don’t see myself likely to use many Ultimate Reward points in this manner as I like to transfer to Hyatt and United and use other points like Membership Rewards for foreign programs like Flying Blue.
Have you used Flying Blue in the past or do you think you will now that they are an Ultimate Reward transfer partner?
Editorial Note: The opinions expressed here are mine and not provided, reviewed, by any bank, card issuer, or other company unless otherwise stated.