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Air France & KLM Slash Many Award Rates to Europe: Biz Class for 50K

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Everyday travelers and diehard points and miles aficionados are all too accustomed to seeing airlines suddenly charging more miles for award tickets – they're called devaluations, and they're inevitable. Yet we're seeing the opposite with Air France and KLM's Flying Blue mileage program.

We can hardly believe our eyes but it's true: Air France/KLM Flying Blue has decreased many award rates between North America and Europe over the last several days, standardizing award prices whether you depart from the East Coast or fly to Europe from all the way in California. And we're seeing some lower rates no matter which seat you book, from nose to tail:

  • Business class redemptions to or from Europe now price out as low as 50,000 miles nationwide, down from the previous norm of 55,000 miles each way from East Coast cities like New York City (JFK) to as much as 80,000 miles from San Francisco (SFO) and other, longer West Coast flights
  • You can also book Premium Economy seats to Europe for a flat 35,000 miles each way, down from 40,000 miles from many cities previously … though some cities used to see rates as low as 30,000 miles each way
  • Many economy redemptions are cheaper too at just 20,000 miles to Paris-Charles de Gaulle (CDG), Amsterdam (AMS), or almost anywhere in Europe, though that's also a slight bump for some East Coast airports

Whether you book nonstop flights to Paris or Amsterdam or connect onward throughout most of Europe, these same, lower rates apply.

Just last week, this exact same Air France business class flight from Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP) to Paris-Charles de Gaulle (CDG) next summer would have cost you 70,000 miles and about $200 for a one-way ticket. Today, you can book it for 50,000 miles.
 

air france business msp cdg  

This isn't some fluke or temporary change. The director of Flying Blue himself has confirmed these changes after we first reported them, saying the pricing changes are still being rolled out.

Just keep in mind that Flying Blue's dynamic award pricing means award rates are still all over the map, so you won't see these lowest rates every single day – especially in business class, where you're more likely to see rates closer to 200,000 miles or more. And Flying Blue Promo Rewards, the airlines' monthly specials with discounted award rates of 25% to 50% on select routes are still around.

As best we can tell, the two airlines have shifted to standard award pricing nationwide. So while you'd previously get charged tens of thousands more miles to fly business class from Los Angeles (LAX) or San Francisco (SFO) than departing from New York City (JFK), flyers on both coasts (and every KLM or Air France outpost in between) can now book for the same low rate of 50,000 miles each way.

The one downside to that shift is that some East Coast residents may see slightly higher rates to fly economy or premium economy. But for everyone else and anyone aiming to book business class using miles, it's a big win: A decrease of nearly 30% or more!

Out in Los Angeles (LAX), this business class redemption to Paris previously cost at least 80,000 miles minimum. Booking this fare for nearly 40% fewer miles is pretty huge.
 

flying blue la paris  

If you've got Chase points from a card like the *chase sapphire preferred*, these lower rates get even cheaper. A current 25% transfer bonus to Air France means you'd need just 40,000 Chase points to book these seats.

There's no telling how long this new pricing will hold. But any drop is notable – and worth celebrating.

Airlines are notorious for going the opposite way, raising award rates with no warning. This year alone, United has repeatedly raised rates worldwide, whether you use MileagePlus miles to book United or a partner carrier to Europe, Asia, Australia, and beyond. Other foreign airlines like Cathay Pacific have recently done the same. Alaska Airlines, Delta, Emirates – pick an airline, and they've devalued their miles in the last year or so.

We first saw these decreases materialize earlier this week, so we sent an alert to Thrifty Traveler Premium members highlighting some excellent (and suddenly cheaper) availability from several U.S. cities. Days later, Air France and KLM business class award rates dropped again.
 

air france premium deal  

Flying Blue was already one of our favorite airline programs – especially for booking business class. Award availability is better than many other carriers, so you don't need to hunt fruitlessly for seats you can actually book using miles. And those miles are incredibly easy to earn: Flying Blue is a transfer partner of all the major credit card companies. So whether you've got points on the *chase sapphire preferred*, the *amex gold card*, the *venture x*, or even the *citi premier* , you're set.

These lower rates just make it even better. And the savings extend beyond Europe.

While we haven't yet dug into the airlines' extensive network outside of North America, we're also seeing lower rates on Air France's nonstop flights from Los Angeles to Tahiti (PPT). They're hard to find, but business class redemptions that cost at least 95,000 miles each way last week have dropped as low as 75,000 miles.
 

flying blue lax ppt  

Thrifty Tip: When searching for award tickets on Air France or KLM, leave your date blank to pull up a calendar you can click through to find the lowest-priced availability.

 

Bottom Line

You're not seeing things. An airline has actually reduced how many miles it takes you to get from point A to point B.

From economy to business class, we're seeing some substantial award rate decreases across the board with Air France/KLM Flying Blue. It sure seems like the airlines have standardized how much it costs to book award tickets between North America and Europe, and that's a big win for most travelers.

 

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.

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