Air France/KLM Flying Blue is an incredibly valuable airline mileage program whether you're looking to fly Air France or KLM to Europe, book Delta flights for fewer miles, or fly on other partner carriers. And it's getting even better.
Late last year, the airlines rolled out the ability to add a free stopover when using miles to fly Air France or KLM, letting travelers enjoy a few days (or weeks or even months) in Amsterdam or Paris en route to their final destination. That's a rare and lucrative perk in the airline world: Most carriers charge you more miles for a stopover or only allow it on roundtrip bookings … if they let you do it all.
But as One Mile at a Time first noticed, Flying Blue's stopover policy is even more expansive. As of late last week, you can now add a free stopover to any award ticket booked using Flying Blue miles … whether you're flying Air France, Virgin Atlantic, Delta, or dozens of other partner airlines.
For now, you can only book these flights with stopovers by phone. But that's easily worth the hassle, especially with how easy Flying Blue miles are to earn through credit card transfers. If you've got points on 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 set.
The New Stopover Rules for Flying Blue
Think of stopovers like a layover on steroids.
A stopover is any connection of roughly 24 hours … or much more. It's a great way to see two destinations for the price of one, heading into the city where you're connecting for a few days before hopping on another flight to your final spot.
Many airlines heavily restrict stopovers when using their miles to book flights – and most just don't allow them, period. With this change, Air France/KLM Flying Blue's stopover program is one of the most generous of all.
Here's what it boils down to:
- You can add a stopover to any Flying Blue award booking without paying more miles
- One-way flights are eligible for a stopover – roundtrip flights are not required
- Stopovers can last between 24 hours to one whole year
- You can add a stopover to flights operated by Air France, KLM, or almost any of its 30-plus partner airlines including Delta, Virgin Atlantic, WestJet, Korean Air, and many more
- You can even combine several airlines in one award ticket with a stopover
- Award bookings with a stopover must be made by phone – they're not available online (yet)
That is awesome. To date, the best major airline mileage programs for booking stopovers have been Alaska Mileage Plan (which also allows free stopovers on any one-way award ticket) and Air Canada Aeroplan (which tacks on an extra 5,000 points for stopovers). Now Air France and KLM are firmly in the mix.
Of course, you could book Air France business class or KLM business class to Europe and make a pitstop in Paris or Amsterdam, respectively, for a few days, weeks, or more before continuing onward to Prague (PRG) or elsewhere.
But it'd also work to spend a few days in Taipei (TPE) before heading down to Bangkok (BKK) when using Flying Blue miles to book Taiwanese carrier China Airlines.
But it works even if you're flying two (or more) different partner carriers using Flying Blue miles. And it doesn't get much better than this: Fly Air France business class overseas, spend a few days in Paris, then continue all the way to Hanoi (HAN) with Vietnam Airlines … for a grand total of just 55,000 miles.
How to Book a Stopover
Unfortunately, the process of actually booking a Flying Blue ticket with a free stopover built-in will be a bit of a pain.
Currently, you can't do it online. You'll need to call Flying Blue at 1-800-375-8723 in order to book an award ticket with a stopover. The airlines are reportedly working on bringing this functionality online, but there's no timeline for that.
You'll also need to find award availability to actually book your two flights using miles including that free stopover – and you'll want to do that before calling.
Let’s say you want to fly to Prague but take a stopover in Paris for four days on the way there. You’d want to search separately for award availability on each of those flights – for example, a flight from Chicago-O’Hare (ORD) to Paris-Charles de Gaulle (CDG) on March 20, then a second flight from Paris onward to Prague (PRG) on March 25.
Are both flights bookable with miles? Great. Copy down the dates and flight numbers for both segments then call up Flying Blue, inform an agent you’d like to book an award ticket with a stopover, and relay the information for both flights.”
Air France/KLM Flying Blue has become an invaluable mileage program whether you've got your heart set on Europe or flying a partner airline elsewhere. This new, free stopover option – available no matter which airline you're flying with – makes it even better.
Lead photo courtesy of Chris Lundberg via Flickr