The Ultimate Guide To Flying Blue

This is a guest post by Lou Haverty who writes about award travel and loyalty programs at The First Class Travel Guide.

Flying Blue is the loyalty program for Air France, KLM, and 5 smaller regional airlines which include Aircalin, HOP!, Kenya Airways, TAROM, and Transavia. Air France is an international French airline and flag carrier of France, while KLM is the flag carrier of the Netherlands. Both are members of the SkyTeam global airline alliance.

In 2004, Air France and KLM merged to form one of the world’s largest international airlines. Although Air France and KLM continue to operate as separate brands, both airlines belong to the Flying Blue loyalty program. In order to start earning rewards with these airlines, all you have to do is join the Flying Blue program here.

In addition to Air France, KLM and the 5 regional airlines that use Flying Blue, Flying Blue members can earn Flying Blue miles on the following partner airlines:

  • Aeroflot
  • Aerolineas Argentinas
  • Aeromexico
  • Air Corsica
  • Air Europa
  • Air Mauritius
  • Alaska Airlines
  • Alitalia
  • Bangkok Airways
  • Chalair Aviation
  • China Airlines
  • China Eastern
  • China Southern Airlines
  • Comair
  • Copa Airlines
  • Czech Airlines
  • Delta Airlines
  • Garuda Indonesia
  • GOL
  • Japan Airlines
  • Jet Airways
  • Korean Air
  • Malaysia Airlines
  • Middle East Airlines
  • Saudi Arabian Airlines
  • TAAG
  • Twin Jet
  • Ukraine International Airlines
  • Vietnam Airlines
  • Xiamen Airlines
  • Wijet

Flying Blue Miles and XP

Flying Blue members earn miles and XP (experience points).

Miles represent bonus flight miles earned from holding airline status, participating in promotions, or from non-flying activities such as credit card spending. Award miles do not count towards earning Flying Blue elite status. Award miles do not expire as long as Flying Blue members fly on at least one qualifying flight every two years.

XP (Experience Points) represent the equivalent of status qualifying miles earned when flying on qualifying flights. XP earned each 12 month period determines whether members earn elite status. Level miles reset to 0 each 12 month period for Explorer members. Silver, Gold, and Platinum members are able to carry over XP in excess of their current membership level towards earning elite status in the next 12 month period.

Earning Miles on Flights

To find out more about earning XP, please refer to the XP matrix here.

Miles are earned for every € you spend on Air France, KLM, Joon and HOP!-marketed flights, excluding government imposed taxes and fees. This includes € spent on extra options like an extra baggage allowance or "A la Carte" dining onboard.

Sometimes, a flight will be marketed and operated by the same airline. Other times, it will be marketed and operated by different airlines. To determine which airline is marketing your flight, look for the two-digit airline code that comes before your flight number (for example, the AF in AF 909 stands for Air France).

Air France/KLM Miles Earnings Chart

Miles earned on Air France, KLM, Joon, and HOP!-marketed flights is calculated as follows, depending on your Flying Blue status:

Flying Blue Explorer - 4 miles per € spent
Flying Blue Silver - 6 miles per € spent
Flying Blue Gold - 7 miles per € spent
Flying Blue Platinum - 8 miles per € spent

Flying Blue Partner Award Chart

Earning miles on other Flying Blue and SkyTeam partner-marketed flights is based on distance, booking class earning percentage, and the Elite bonus earning percentage, if applicable. Click here for more information on the formulas for the other partner airlines.

Purchasing, Transferring, and Gifting Flying Blue Miles

Miles earned through the Flying Blue loyalty program can be redeemed towards award tickets on Air France, KLM, the 5 regional airlines using the Flying Blue loyalty program, and Flying Blue partner airlines. Additional Flying Blue mile redemption options include, but are not limited to hotel stays, car rentals, and shopping.

In the event that you’re short a few miles towards your next award ticket, Flying Blue offers you the ability to purchase additional miles. Additional Miles can be purchased starting at a rate of €55 for 2,000 Miles (or 2.75 cents per mile). Explorer members may purchase up to 75,000 Miles per year. Members with Silver status or higher may purchase an unlimited number of miles per year.

Flying Blue members may transfer Flying Blue miles to others as long as the transferee is a Flying Blue member. Transfers are allowed in increments of 250 Miles with a €3 fee for each 250 mile increment transferred and are capped at 50,000 Miles.

Looking for gift ideas? You can gift Flying Blue miles to friends, family members, and anyone else, regardless of whether or not they are already a Flying Blue member. You just have to provide the Flying Blue member number or email address of the intended recipient. You may gift miles in increments of 2,000 miles at a cost of €55 (2.75 cents per mile), and gifted miles are limited to a maximum amount of 75,000 miles.

Hotel Booking

Flying Blue members can earn additional Flying Blue miles when booking hotels directly on the Flying Blue website. Through a partnership with Points Hound, members sign on to their Flying Blue account and search for hotels directly on the Flying Blue web site. Flying Blue offers over 150,000 hotels globally in this program.

Shopping

If you’d like to earn additional miles without flying, Flying Blue offers a dedicated online shopping portal. The portal includes a large number of popular online retailers that have partnered with Flying Blue. By clicking through to the online partner, members can see the current miles earnings rate for each online retailer and shop directly at the retailer. Some of the most popular online retailers include Apple, Groupon, and eBay.

Car Rentals

Additional mile earning opportunities include car rentals with many major car rental companies:

  • Avis
  • Hertz
  • Europcar
  • Enterprise
  • Sixt
  • Budget
  • Driving Blue
  • Thrifty

Earning Flying Blue Elite Status

Flying Blue rewards frequent flyers with extra benefits earned through elite status. Flying Blue offers 4 levels of elite status: Explorer, Silver, Gold, and Platinum. Explorer is the lowest status level. Everyone that signs up for the Flying Blue program starts out with Explorer status. Requirements to earn Silver, Gold, and Platinum are as follows:

Silver Status Requirements

  • 100 XP from Explorer status

Gold Status Requirements

  • 180 XP from Silver status

Platinum Status Requirements

  • 300 XP from Gold status

Flying Blue Elite Status Benefits

Earning elite status with Flying Blue offers some amazing additional benefits to make your flights more convenient and enjoyable. See the benefits associated with Explorer, Silver, Gold, and Platinum status.

Flying Blue Credit Cards

Unfortunately, Flying Blue credit cards are not offered for residents of the UK. US residents can earn flying blue miles with the Bank of America Air France KLM World Elite MasterCard. It offers the following benefits:

  • Sign up bonus of 25,000 miles after $1,000 in spend

  • 5,000 anniversary bonus miles when you spend at least $50 in your previous card members year

  • Earn 3x miles per $1 spent on Air France/KLM and other SkyTeam members

  • Earn 1.5x miles on all other purchases

  • Earn 60 XP upon approval

  • 20 XP on card anniversary and an additional 40 XP if you spend at least $15,000 in your previous card member year

In addition, they have the ability to transfer points into Flying Blue miles from many of the major credit card points transfer programs.

  • Chase Ultimate Rewards points transfer to Flying Blue at a rate of 1 to 1.
  • Citi Thank You points transfer to Flying Blue at a rate of 1 to 1.
  • American Express membership rewards transfer to Flying Blue at a rate of 1 to 1.
  • Starwood transfers to Flying Blue at a rate of 1 to 1 (Starwood provides a 5,000 mile bonus with each transfer of 20,000 Starwood points for a rate of 1 to 1.25).

It's also possible to transfer miles over from Barclays Arrival Premier and Diners Club.

American Express issues Flying Blue credit cards for residents of France and the Netherlands. For French residents, American Express offers 3 Flying Blue credit card options. The credit card benefits are listed below for each card option.

Flying Blue American Express Silver Card

  • 0.8 miles earned per €1 of spending
  • 1 mile earned per €1 of spend on Air France/KLM/HOP!/Joon/Hertz
  • Annual 15 XP bonus
  • €50 Air France/KLM voucher
  • €0 first year, €65 annual fee thereafter, waived on €8,000 spend
  • 2.3% forex fee

Flying Blue American Express Gold Card

  • 1 mile earned per €1 of spending
  • 1.5 miles earned per €1 of spend on Air France/KLM/HOP!/Joon/Hertz
  • Annual 30 XP bonus
  • €50 Air France/KLM voucher
  • €0 first year, €165 annual fee thereafter
  • 2.3% forex fee

Flying Blue American Express Platinum Card

  • 1.5 miles earned per €1 of spending
  • 2 miles earned per €1 of spend on Air France/KLM/HOP!/Joon/Hertz
  • Annual 60 XP bonus
  • Comprehensive travel insurance coverage
  • Concierge service, free entry to special events
  • €50 Air France/KLM voucher
  • €570 annual fee
  • 2.3% forex fee

Residents of the Netherlands have 4 Flying Blue credit card options from American Express:

Flying Blue American Express Entry Card

  • 0.5 miles earned per €1 of spending
  • €35 annual fee thereafter, waived on €8,000 spend
  • 2.3% forex fee

Flying Blue American Express Silver Card

  • 0.8 mile earned per €1 of spending
  • 1 mile earned per €1 of spend on Air France/KLM
  • Annual 15 XP bonus
  • €30 Hertz voucher
  • €0 first year, €75 annual fee thereafter
  • 2.3% forex fee

Flying Blue American Express Gold Card

  • 1 mile earned per €1 of spending
  • 1.5 miles earned per €1 of spend on Air France/KLM
  • Annual 30 XP bonus
  • €30 Hertz voucher
  • Comprehensive travel insurance coverage
  • €170 annual fee
  • 2.3% forex fee

Flying Blue American Express Platinum Card

  • 1.5 miles earned per €1 of spending
  • 2 miles earned per €1 of spend on Air France/KLM
  • Annual 60 XP bonus
  • €30 Hertz voucher
  • Comprehensive travel insurance coverage
  • Concierge service, free entry to special events
  • €600 annual fee
  • 2.3% forex fee

Redeeming Flying Blue Miles

One of the most popular uses of Flying Blue miles is towards a flight award. Flying Blue offers 4 main categories of flight awards:

  • Promo Award – Rotating selection of destinations offered for a reduced number of miles. Typical savings range from 20% to 50% off the typical award miles cost.
  • Flex Awards – Provides additional flexibility in travel dates and can be modified without charge. Allows for first class booking.
  • Classic Awards – Not available for first class tickets. Offers a lower cost in miles than Flex awards. Classic award tickets may be cancelled or modified for a fee of €45.
  • Round the World Awards – Allows you to plan an around the world itinerary based on all destinations offered by Air France, KLM, and other SkyTeam member airlines. Tickets can include a mix of SkyTeam airlines and allow up to 6 stopovers, with a max of 3 on the same continent.

Promo Awards

New promo awards are available each month here. Promo awards can be booked on flights with Air France, KLM, and participating airline partners. These awards have limited availability and can only be booked online.

Classic Awards

Classic awards can be used on Air France/KLM as well as partner airlines, and can be cancelled or modified for a fee, but the awards are not as readily available as Flex awards. First class tickets are not available as Classic Awards. In addition, stop-overs are not permitted on one-way tickets and one way tickets within France are only bookable online.

Flex Awards

Flex awards offer the most availability, allow changes for no charge, and allow first class award tickets. However, these awards are more expensive than Classic awards. First class award tickets are available, but require elite status with Flying Blue.

Round the World Award Tickets

These award tickets offer you the ability to take an around the world trip on flights utilizing any SkyTeam airline member. You can string together a trip with up to 6 stopovers, up to 3 of which may be on the same continent.

Keep in mind that open jaw flights are considered an extra stop-over. Round the world tickets must include one Trans-Atlantic and one Trans-Pacific flight and you must fly in the same direction. In order to book these tickets, you must contact the Flying Blue service center in writing with at least 14 days in advance to book.

Redeem Miles for Hotel Stays

By using the Flying Blue Points Hound hotel portal, members have the ability to use Flying Blue miles for hotel stays. Just log into your account and search by city on the hotel portal within the Flying Blue website to find eligible hotels and the cost in Flying Blue miles per night.

Redeem Miles for Shopping

The Flying Blue online store provides members with a wide range of additional options for spending miles. By utilizing the online store, members can redeem points towards car rentals, electronics, various household items, and clothing.

Air France Seat Upgrades

Air France seat upgrades can be booked up to 48 hours prior to flight departure. Seat Plus upgrades allow passengers to upgrade into the best seats in economy class which include enhanced legroom and priority boarding.

Air France Extra Seat Upgrades

Choose your ideal seat or use miles to reduce the flight cost when paying in cash.

KLM Seat Upgrades

When flying KLM, customers have the option to use points towards improved seat comfort. Seat upgrade options are available up to 48 hours prior to departure. KLM offers the following seat upgrade options:

  • Seat with extra legroom.
  • Seat just behind economy comfort zone.
  • Seat in a row of 2 seats.

The upgrade cost in miles varies by flight distance. To see the upgrade cost in miles, log into your Flying Blue account.

Air France and KLM Menu Upgrades

Does flying make you hungry? Use your miles towards free in-flight meals.

Lounge Access

For some extra comfort in between your flight, Flying Blue Silver members can use miles toward access to Air France and KLM lounges (Explorer members are not able to access lounges with miles; they must pay a fee). Gold and Platinum members have free lounge access when flying with an eligible SkyTeam carrier. Silver members can gain access for a fee or for free with miles:

  • Free access with miles ranges from 3,500 to 6,500 miles based on the region.
  • Cash fee for Explorer and Silver members varies by region.
  • €25 to €45 for Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and Africa lounges.
  • $35 to $50 USD for US and South America lounges.
  • $30 to $50 CAD for Canadian lounges.
  • Note: La Première and Terminal 2G lounges in the Paris Charles de Gaulle airport are only accessible to Gold and Silver members.

To find out more on which lounges you can access on a given trip, be sure to check out the free Loungebuddy App for iOS.

Conclusion

Flying Blue offers a compelling loyalty program. Members can earn miles across a wide range of global airline partners. As a member of SkyTeam, Flying Blue members can utilize miles across a vast, global selection of airlines.

Many of the large credit card transfer programs include Flying Blue as a direct transfer partner. Flying Blue also stands alone in offering access to Round the World award tickets to its members. These benefits make Flying Blue a compelling loyalty program worthy of careful consideration.

This is a guest post by Lou Haverty who writes about award travel and loyalty programs at The First Class Travel Guide.

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