The Best Sweet Spots Using Flying Blue Miles | Thrifty Traveler

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The Best Ways to Use Air France/KLM Flying Blue Miles

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Looking for a flight to Europe, North Africa, or maybe even … Madagascar? With a stash of Flying Blue miles, you can stamp your ticket – and earning those miles may be much easier than you think.

Air France and KLM share a frequent flyer program, and it's called Flying Blue. And you can go far by using Flying Blue miles, including seats in Air France business class or KLM business class. But these miles can also be some of the best ways to book flights on Delta, whether you're flying within the continental U.S., over to London, or down to Mexico.

Best of all, Flying Blue miles are some of the easiest miles to earn thanks to transfer partnerships with all the major banks. So if you're earning points on some of the top travel credit cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card, or the American Express® Gold Card, you're earning points that can be used to book these incredible sweet spots for redeeming Flying Blue miles.

While you'll get hit with some slightly higher cash fees on top of your miles when using Flying Blue miles, the ease of finding availability and the low rates you'll pay more than makes up for it – especially for business class flights across the pond.


Flying Blue Award Chart & Miles Calculator

The Flying Blue program recently implemented a new award chart … sort of.

It only applies to Air France or KLM flights and the values listed are simply a “starting from” point so it's not a very accurate way to work out exactly how many miles you'll need to book a flight using these miles.

Nonetheless, if you want to know the lowest possible price in miles you'll need to fly between different regions, you can consult these charts, which also give some point-to-point examples. Just keep in mind that the lowest possible rates will be higher depending on the specific route you're looking to fly.


Flying Blue Award chart


Fortunately, Flying Blue also has a handy miles price estimator to give you an idea of how many Flying Blue miles any given route will cost. The downside: It only works for Air France or KLM-operated flights.

The aptly named “estimator” tool will simply let you know the lowest level redemption that is possible on certain routes – not necessarily what is available at the moment. Since Flying Blue has dynamic pricing on award tickets, you may find much higher rates when you go to search for dates.

This tool should only be used as a guide for how low an award could be. And since it only works for routes where Air France or KLM actually fly, you'll get an error message if you try searching routes between the U.S. and Mexico, for example.


Flying Blue Miles Price Estimator


Taxes & Fees on Flying Blue Award Tickets

The upside to booking with Flying Blue miles is that its low rates are some of the best in the business and it's easier to find availability than some other programs. The downside: Flying Blue charges some carrier-imposed surcharges, which results in higher cash costs on award tickets than you'll find when booking with programs that don't pass along these surcharges, such as Delta SkyMiles.

But the fees are still fairly reasonable compared to some of the crazy high fees you'll find when booking British Airways flights with nearly any program or Virgin Atlantic flights with Virgin points, for instance.

The total fees will vary depending on your destination and the airline you're flying but expect to pay roughly $75 one-way or $200 roundtrip on economy awards and $200 one-way or $450 roundtrip on business class awards when flying Air France or KLM flights to Europe.


Specials: Promo Rewards & Child Discounts

Flying Blue Promo Rewards

The best way to book an Air France/KLM award with Flying Blue is to take advantage of its monthly Flying Blue Promo Rewards. Each month, Flying Blue puts select routes on sale for up to 50% off normal award rates. The discount is valid for booking throughout the month for a specific travel period.


Flying Blue promo rewards


If you scroll down the list, you'll find the long-haul flights at the bottom, which is where you'll find any routes from the U.S. or Canada.

If you see a KLM logo, that generally means that flights to/from or via Amsterdam (AMS) are on sale. If you see an Air France logo, flights to/from or via Paris-Charles de Gaulle (CDG) are on sale. Economy flights can sometimes drop as low as 11,000 miles one-way during these promo rewards sales.


Flying Blue promo rewards long haul


Business class awards to and from the U.S. aren't always discounted with these Flying Blue promo rewards sales, but we occasionally come across deals like this one that popped up last fall.

Thrifty Traveler Premium+ members received an award alert when business class seats to Europe were bookable as low as 42,375 Flying Blue miles thanks to a 25% off Flying Blue promo reward sale.


chicago to amsterdam flying blue promo rewards


Better yet, travelers with American Express Membership Rewards could stack this deal with a 25% transfer bonus to Flying Blue – making it possible to book these seats with just 34,000 points one-way.


thrifty traveler premium deal flying blue promo rewards


Get the next great Flying Blue Promo Rewards sale (plus other award alerts and cheap cash fares) with Thrifty Traveler Premium+!


25% Discount for Children

Another neat perk when redeeming Flying Blue miles is that you can book kids ages 2 to 11 at a 25% discount when they are traveling with an adult. This means if an award from New York (JFK) to Paris (CDG) costs 55,000 miles one-way in business class …


flying blue miles new york to paris for one adult


You'll be able to book yourself and a child in business class for just 96,250 miles one-way total: 55,000 miles for the adult and 41,250 miles for the child.


flying blue miles child discountflying blue miles child discount price breakdown


Flying Blue Miles Sweet Spots

Business Class to Europe from 55K Miles One-Way

Even when there aren't any promo rewards, using Flying Blue miles to fly Air France business class or KLM business class to Europe can be one heck of a deal.

Prices vary by route, but rates start as low as 55,000 miles one-way when traveling from certain cities along the East Coast, such as nonstop flights from New York to Paris.


flying blue miles new york to paris for one adult


Each city pair will have its own “starting from” rate but you'll generally pay more the further west you're departing from in North America. And you can get these great rates whether you're flying nonstop to Paris or Amsterdam or connecting onward almost anywhere in Europe – if not even lower.

Take this flight from Washington D.C.-Dulles (IAD) to Athens (ATH) via Paris, for instance. It's just 56,500 miles one-way in business class whereas a nonstop to Paris would cost at least 70,000 miles.


Washington dc to Athens using flying blue miles


Starting further west, you'll find that the lowest rates tend to run between 60,000 – 80,000 miles each way. This is on par (or much lower) than what other airline programs charge for a business class seat to Europe, but the generally good availability on Air France/KLM Flying Blue makes these much easier to book.

Here's an example of a flight from Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP) to Prague (PRG) via Amsterdam (AMS) for 61,000 miles one-way in business class.


Minneapolis to Prague using flying blue miles


From the West Coast, you could book nonstop flights from San Francisco (SFO) to Amsterdam (AMS) for only 65,000 miles one-way in business class.


San Francisco to Amsterdam using flying blue miles


fly business class to europe for 88k points roundtrip


Virgin Atlantic Upper Class to London from 71K Miles One-Way

When you factor in both airline miles and cash fees, you'll get the best deal booking Virgin Atlantic Upper Class using Flying Blue miles.

Virgin generally charges fewer points for these but has massive cash fees of up to $1,700 roundtrip. Booking Virgin Atlantic flights with Delta SkyMiles requires minimal taxes and fees (just $6 one-way), but you'll typically need to shell out 300,000+ SkyMiles for a business class seat after Delta continued its massive devaluation of partner awards.

Using Flying Blue miles is the happy medium, with which you can book business class flights flying Virgin Atlantic for as little as 71,000 miles plus ~$200 in taxes and fees one-way, like this example from Boston (BOS) to London-Heathrow (LHR).


Boston to London using flying Virgin using Flying Blue miles


Flying roundtrip? Taxes and fees jump to around $700 for business class flights to London due to high U.K. departure taxes and surcharges. If you can make it work, you'll save money by just flying over to London on Virgin and then choosing an alternate route on the way home from a different European city.

This deal to book Virgin Atlantic flights using Flying Blue miles works better for flights from the northeastern U.S. since Flying Blue has varying rates for booking Virgin Atlantic flights: The longer the flight, the more miles it'll cost you.

For instance, flights from Atlanta (ATL) to London cost 91,500 miles one-way as of publication.


Atlanta to London flying Virgin using Flying Blue miles


One quirk with the Flying Blue program is that these rates to fly partner airlines are not set in stone. We've seen these rates fluctuate slightly depending on which day we're conducting the search, so you may see slight variances.


Fly Delta One to London from 68K Miles One-Way

Looking to get to London in a lie-flat seat without such high fees? Using Flying Blue miles to fly Delta One is one of the best ways to do it.

While it's extremely rare to find availability on any of Delta's nonstop routes from the U.S. to London's Heathrow Airport (LHR), Thrifty Traveler Premium+ members have been alerted to multiple deals flying Delta One from New York (JFK) to London-Gatwick Airport (LGW) for just 68,000 miles one-way.


New York to London flying Delta using Flying Blue miles


And thanks to a timely transfer bonus, it was possible to book for even fewer points. Best of all, these flights have low cash fees on top of your miles. It's just $10 one-way or around $295 roundtrip – which is drastically lower than the $1,000+ in fees you'd pay to fly Delta to the U.K. using Virgin points.


premium deal JFK to LGW using Flying Blue miles


Business Class to Northern Africa from 55K Miles One-Way

One of the best sweet spots with Flying Blue miles is the fact that it prices flights to Northern Africa the same as it does for Europe flights: As low as 55,000 miles one-way, according to the miles price estimator.

Most frequent flyer programs put flights to Africa in a different category and charge more, but you'll often find the same low rates to destinations such as Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia, as you do to European cities when using Flying Blue miles.

For instance, you can fly from New York (JFK) to Tunis (TUN) for 55,000 miles one-way in business class.


new york to tunisia using flying blue miles


Or, you can fly from Miami (MIA) to Casablanca (CMN) for 65,000 miles one-way in business class.


miami to morocco using flying blue miles


Economy to Africa, the Middle East, or the Indian Ocean from 35K Miles One-Way

It can sometimes be hard to justify booking an economy award with Flying Blue miles due to the higher cash fees on top of your miles.

But with award rates starting from 35,000 miles one-way in economy flying to destinations such as Israel, Kenya, or even all the way to South Africa, it can be a great way to save compared to normally high cash fares on these routes.




Plus, it can be fairly easy to find the seats in economy. Check out this calendar view for one-way flights from Los Angeles (LAX) to Tel Aviv (TLV).


los angeles to tel aviv flying blue calendar


You may have to do some digging to find good connection times at the lowest rates, but they are there if you're flexible with travel dates.


los angeles to tel aviv using flying blue miles


Redeeming Flying Blue miles can also be one of the best ways to get to remote destinations in the Indian Ocean, such as Madagascar. Check out this flight from New York (JFK) to Antananarivo (TNR) for 48,000 miles one-way in economy.


new york to madagascar using flying blue miles



How to Book with Flying Blue

You'll need to create a free account and log in to search with either Air France or KLM. If you're looking for flights that are operated by either Air France or KLM, you can view fares on a flexible calendar by using this link.

Just enter your departure and arrival cities, and choose your cabin, but leave “passengers” set to “1 adult” and “departure date” blank. Then, click “Search Flights.” It's easiest to search for availability for one-way flights separately, then combine them into a roundtrip booking if necessary.


air france klm award search


If you do this, you'll open up a calendar search tool as long as either Air France or KLM operates a flight on the route you're searching.

One important note: The fares listed on the calendar view are one day behind. This means you'll need to select the date after you see the lowest prices on the calendar to find and book those fares.

For example, the calendar below shows a business class flight available from Minneapolis (MSP) to Amsterdam (AMS) for 61,000 miles one-way on April 2.


Flying Blue calendar search


However, if you were to click on April 2, you may end up seeing a much higher price.


Flying Blue calendar one day behind


This is because when the calendar view is showing that flight for 61,000 miles on April 2, it actually means it's available for that price on April 3.


Flying Blue Minneapolis to Amsterdam for 61k in biz


It's strange for sure, but once you understand this quirk, the calendar search can be an invaluable tool to help you nail down the cheapest fares. Another drawback is that there isn't a way to filter for nonstop flights in the calendar view, so it will still take a bit of trial and error.

Nonetheless, it can be a useful tool as long as you know its limitations. Of course, after you find some dates, you'll want to go back and search those exact dates for the total number of passengers traveling to ensure there are enough seats for your party.

Searching for flights operated by partner airlines like Delta or Virgin Atlantic? You'll need to choose dates during your search and search day by day. Unfortunately, Flying Blue's monthly calendar function doesn't work for partner airline flights.

Read more: The Best Websites for Finding Award Availability


How to Earn Air France/KLM Flying Blue Miles

Flying Blue miles are some of the easiest airline miles to earn since you can transfer points from all major transferable points programs.

This means if you're earning Amex Membership Rewards, Capital One Venture Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, or Citi ThankYou points, you can instantly transfer those points to Flying Blue miles at an even 1:1 ratio. Earning points on rent with Bilt Rewards? You can transfer those points to Air France/KLM Flying Blue as well.

Here are some of our favorite credit cards that earn points which can be converted to Flying Blue miles.

If you're just starting out with points and miles, we consider the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card the best travel rewards credit card for beginners. Currently, you can earn a welcome bonus of 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 in the first three months.

And with 3x points per dollar spent for dining and 2x points for travel purchases, it's really easy to rack up a ton of Chase points that can be instantly transferred to Flying Blue miles.


Chase Sapphire Preferred card


Learn more about the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

We also can’t say enough good things about the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card. It’s the bank’s first premium card, so it's loaded with benefits such as access to Capital One Lounges and Priority Pass lounges, a $300 annual travel credit, a credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, great travel and rental car insurance protection, and more. The annual fee clocks in at $395 a year, but the benefits can easily outweigh that.

The best part is that you can currently earn 75,000 Venture Miles after spending $4,000 in the first three months. Considering you earn at least 2x for every dollar you spend on the Venture X Card, you’ll earn a total of at least 83,000 Venture Miles, which can be transferred instantly to 83,000 Flying Blue miles. That alone is enough to fly business class to Europe from anywhere in the U.S.


capital one venture x


Learn more about the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card.


The American Express® Gold Card is currently offering a 60,000-point welcome bonus after spending $4,000 in the first six months. Better yet, you may be able to qualify for a whopping 75,000-point welcome bonus using CardMatch.

Beyond that bonus, this card is easily one of the best all-around travel cards on the market thanks largely to an unbeatable 4x return on an unlimited amount of spending at restaurants and 4x points on up to $25,000 a year spent at U.S. supermarkets – and 1x points after that.


amex rose gold card


Learn more about the American Express Gold Card.


The Citi Premier® Card is another great way to earn points that can be transferred to Flying Blue miles. You’ll earn 3x points at restaurants, supermarkets, and gas stations and for travel booked with the card. Plus, there is a 60,000-point bonus after spending $4,000 within the first three months.


Citi Premier card


Learn more about the Citi Premier® Card.

Of course, you can also earn Flying Blue miles by crediting flights flown on Air France, KLM, or any other SkyTeam partner airline, such as Delta, to your Flying Blue frequent flyer account. But we think it's easiest and more practical to rack up a ton of Flying Blue miles by transferring credit card points.


Bottom Line

Flying Blue miles can get you a lie-flat seat to Europe or beyond for an amazing rate. And if you just want to fly economy, it can be the best way to get to far-flung destinations such as Southern Africa or Madagascar.

The fact that you can easily earn Flying Blue miles and it's generally not too difficult to find the lowest redemption rates available make Air France/KLM's Flying Blue program one of the easiest ways to use points and miles for your next trip.


Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

1 Responses

  • It’s a nice thought, but I have never found a decent redemption opportunity on FlyingBlue. As a hobby, I arrange travel for 25+ friends and family, as well as a charity that regularly sends people around the world. Occasionally, you might find an economy seat at a decent price through FlyingBlue, but they have just one seat, and who travels to Europe alone? When you look for business class seats, the prices quickly jump up to 300K, and 500k+ is not unusual. I remain optimistic about finding a decent redemption on FlyingBlue, but it has not happened yet.

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