Big Changes Coming to Flying Blue Award Program

Flying Blue is one of my favorite frequent flyer programs because it has a number of different sweet spots that you can utilize on SkyTeam partner airlines like Delta and its a transfer partner of the big three programs: Chase, Amex, and Citi. This makes racking up Flying Blue miles very easy and those sweet spots very obtainable.

Dynamic pricing on the way

Despite all of the positive for the Flying Blue program, there are some big changes coming to Flying Blue that could change everything I love about the program’s sweet spots. It appears that as of April 1, 2018, Flying Blue will be converting from a region-based award chart to a dynamic currency.  

New revenue-based program

This new changes comes with a number of other changes to the program as it undergoes a complete overhaul. The new program will be a revenue-based system where you earn miles per Euro spent. Passengers will earn €4 to €8 depending on their status. And the tier structure for climbing the status ladder will be re-done. Customers will receive XP (short for “experience points”) based on the type of flight (domestic, long-haul, etc.) and on the cabin being flown (Silver tier will require 100 XP, Gold 180 XP, and Platinum 300 XP).

Award travel affected

There are a few other changes happening to the program but I’m mostly concerned with how award travel is affected via redemptions. It looks like the new Flying Blue awards will have the amount needed for awards “based on origin, destination and flight date.” In other words, it looks like dynamic pricing will replace the current award charts. 

As much as I despise dynamic pricing and the lack of transparency that often comes with it, I honestly believe that the majority of frequent flyer programs are already in a slow march toward that direction. I think it’s only a matter of time before more and more programs offer some form of dynamic pricing and it’s one of the reasons I’ve aggressively sought out outsized value on business class and first class awards because five years from now, those awards might be much less obtainable.

But the big question here is how will this dynamic pricing work in the real world? Nobody seems to know any real details about it yet. It could be closer to the way Delta’s system operates or miles could be directly tied to a dollar value like Southwest and JetBlue. As of yet we have no idea what to expect when it comes to new award prices and that’s a bit unsettling.

This type of dynamic pricing will mean more awards available to the public since you’ll be able to book any available seat (on Flying Blue airlines like KLM, Air France, etc.). There will also be a new miles + cash option where you can pay for up to 25% of your award with cash. Also, it appears that the monthly promo awards will continue with the new program as well.

Final word

Overall, I see this new pricing system eventually paralleling what Delta has done. It’s a pain to deal with dynamic pricing because you never know what to expect with the pricing but occasionally you do come across a decent deal. Hopefully, Flying Blue will make a push for transparency with the new changes and we’ll see them keep prices in check but something tells me not to expect much.

Cover Photo by Can Pac Swire via Flickr.

Are Flying Blue Promo Awards Good Deals?

Every month Flying Blue announces special promotional fares called Flying Blue Promo Awards to specific destinations in different regions that offer 20% to 50% off. These fares are mostly for economy and premium economy but you can also find business class fares here and there.

How do they work?

You’ll be given a month to book your promo award flights and then a specific window for the flights to take place, which is usually about a 30 to 60 window set out about 3 months in advance. So for example, if you jumped on a Promo Award for April 2017, you’d have to book the award by April 30, 2017, and the flight would have to occur within the month of June and/or July 2017.

Given the limitations for these promos, many wonder whether or not they are worth it.


The biggest drawback to these awards is that they have to book them within a month and fly them within a 1 to 2 month window in most cases. You’re able to book them about 3 months in advance so there’s still a decent amount of planning time allowed but these awards definitely don’t do much good for folks who like to plan (and book) their adventures close to a year in advance.

Another potential drawback is that I’ve heard you’re not allowed to book stopovers on these awards, which undercuts some of the value. I’m not sure if that’s always true but it’s something to think about.

And finally, note that these awards are typically limited to certain cities. So you’ll have to fly out of a specific airport/city to take advantage of the offer.

The redemption rates and fees

Flying Blue offers some great redemption rates for economy, which means that when you’re able to find economy promo awards, it’s probably offering you one of the best rates you’d be able to find out of any airline.

Business class awards are typically on the higher side compared to other programs. But when they offer 25% to 50% off this obviously changes the equation. With these discounts factored in, Flying Blue becomes a much more attractive option but there’s still the issue of the fees.

I’ll show you what I mean by using a few examples.

Normally, you can avoid high fees with Flying Blue by booking tickets on partner airlines. For example, the standard redemption rate in business class to Europe from North America for Flying Blue is 125,000 points and when you can book partner flights, such as Delta the total fees remain reasonably low at around $165.

Screen Shot 2016-04-13 at 9.42.51 AMDelta charges $164 in total fees

It’s not too uncommon to find 25% off business class fares to Europe which brings down the milage requirement to 93,750 roundtrip which is excellent. The only problem is that these special promo awards must be flown on Air France or KLM, meaning that you won’t be able to settle for lower SkyTeam partner fees.

For example, take a look at the fees for a round trip ticket. $541 is pretty steep even with a lower mileage requirement.

Thus, I think a good way to look at the flights between Europe and North America, is that you’re getting a cash discount on the flight by using your miles. For me personally, the fees to Europe are just too high to attract me, but if I were to come across a 50% off business class promo to Europe, I might still consider it even with fees close to $500.

Business class flights to Asia are little more reasonable.

Check out the rate for a one way business class ticket from AMS to XMN (Xiamen, China). It’s only 50,000 miles (50% off) and comes with more manageable fees at $183 for a one way business class ticket. (This is an expired promo.)

This would make it the cheapest redemption out of any airline (25,000 miles cheaper than United or American) for business class on this route although one way fees of $183 might still be a bit much for some. (Fees are about $20 cheaper flying from XMN to AMS.)

Premium Economy

The fees can be high even for premium economy fares. For example, I priced premium economy tickets from AMS to HKG and they came out to over $300.


Now, let’s take a look at fees in economy. Here’s a 25% discounted economy award from AMS to DKR (Dakar, Senegal). It’s only 37,500 for a roundtrip which is a superb redemption rate for this route. But the fees are still pretty significant at $278.

Although that’s not suggest that other programs don’t levy high fees. For example, ANA charges even more for this route (nearly $400!) when you fly with partner TAP Portugal.

For short-haul flights in Europe, though, the fees for these promo awards remain pretty low. From AMS to LYS (Lyon, France), it’s only 13,600 miles for a round trip ticket and $70 in fees. That’s probably going to be the cheapest redemption rate you’ll ever find but even though the fees are reasonable you could get a roundtrip paid ticket for under $120, so you’d be better off just paying cash for an award like that. (Using 13,600 miles to save about $50 just isn’t worth it to me at .004 cents per point.)

Final word

Flying Blue promo awards can offer ridiculously low redemption rates for both economy and business class. The issue with these cheap mileage requirements is that they often come with pretty heavy fees. For that reason, it’s really important to always compare your savings to cash prices and to other award programs because in many instances the savings in miles won’t be worth it due to high fees.


The Best Ways to Use Miles And Points to Get to The Caribbean

Getting to the Caribbean with great deals is actually very easy because you have plenty of options with tons of different routing opportunities. If you plan in advance and are a bit flexible with routing, you can really stretch your miles with some of these programs. Here’s a breakdown of 6 of the best ways to use miles and points to to get to the Caribbean.

1. Southwest Airlines 

Southwest airlines
Southwest has a growing presence in the Caribbean.

Photo by Pieter van Marion via Flickr

Southwest now has an emerging presence all over the Caribbean, including Mexico. Their award rates are based on the ticket fare so there’s no standard award chart for their redemptions. However, some of their routes are exceptionally cheap and if you’ve been fortunate enough to pick up the Companion Pass, you can hop all around the Caribbean for extremely cheap.

For example, below is a redemption from HOU to CUN for 4,248 points for a one way award. For a round trip, that’s about 9,000 points. If you’ve got the Southwest Companion Pass (which I highly recommend), then that means you’ve got two round trip tickets for merely 9,000 points

Screen Shot 2016-05-23 at 4.09.26 PM

Now that I have the Companion Pass, Southwest is my go-to for Caribbean destinations for the most part but even if I didn’t have the Companion Pass, I’d always be sure to give Southwest a look for trips to the Caribbean.

Here are some other examples of great redemptions from Southwest:

  • 20,000 Rapid Rewards BWI to SJU
  • 22,000 Rapid Rewards MDW to MBJ
  • 25,000 Rapid Rewards DEN to CUN

Use the Southwest Route Map to search where you’d like to go and you’ll see there are plenty of options for getting to the Caribbean. If you schedule your trip in advance and are a bit flexible with the routing, you shouldn’t have a problem finding cheap routes like the ones above.

Southwest Rapid Rewards can be accumulated very quickly with three Chase cards:

  • The Southwest Plus Card
  • The Southwest Premier Card
  • The Southwest Premier Business Card

All three of these cards offer 50,000 sign-up bonuses at different times and can make obtaining the Southwest Companion Pass extremely doable.

Southwest is also a transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards.

2. British Airways Avios

Using Avios to get to the Caribbean is one of the best uses of Avios, in my opinion. Avios is distance-based meaning that your mileage requirements will depend on how far you’re going to travel. For getting around the Caribbean with Avios, you’ll likely be making bookings with One World partner American Airlines.

Thus, I suggest that you follow these steps to find the flight for you:

  1. Locate American Airline hubs you might fly out of .
  2. Then use this extremely helpful American Airlines route finding map  to see what kind of direct routes go out of those airports to Caribbean destinations. You can do this by selecting “Destinations” and the inserting the airport into the “Leaving From” field.
  3. Uncheck the boxes in the image below for “AA Connections” and “AA Partners”

Doing that will allow you to see only the non-stop flights from that hub. You can then use the Great Circle Mapper to measure the distance for these non-stop flights and then use the British Airways Award Chart I made to determine how many Avios you will need to book that flight.

Screen Shot 2016-05-23 at 6.46.32 PM

Once you start playing around with the map and looking at the British Airways Award Chart, you’ll be able to know exactly what the mileage requirements will be for different trips. Anything under 3,000 miles be 25,000 Avios for a round trip and will likely be a good redemption. Once you go over 3,000 miles the redemptions jump up to 40,000 round trip and you’d probably be able to find better deals with other programs. 

I’ve included some examples of redemptions below.

From Miami 

  • 15,000 MIA to MBJ, SJU, AUA (Aruba)

If you depart from Miami, you can hit many of the Caribbean destinations for only 15,000 round trip. Going from Miami to Aruba (1,133 miles) is just under the 1,150 mile threshold for the next Avios zone, so it’s a great sweet-spot to hit.

Here’s a look at what the American Airlines route finder will show you when looking for direct flights out MIA — it can look a bit messy, but it’s an easy way to check if non-stops go to your desired destination.

Direct flights from MIA on American Airlines

From ORD

  • 20,000 Avios ORD to MBJ, CUN, (Cancun), PUJ (Dominican Republic)

The flight to to PUJ from ORD is just 19 miles under 2,000, although straight shots appear to be somewhat limited.

From JFK

  • 20,000 Avios JFK to CUN, SJU, STT, ANU

From DFW

  • 15,000 Avios DFW to CUN, CZM
  • 20,000 Avios DFW to BZE, NAS, MBJ, GCM

Some of these redemptions can be pretty valuable. For example, for the DFW to CZM flight you’d spend $27.74 taxes, fees and carrier charges. Factoring in those fees to the lowest cash rate for this flight with American Airlines (seen below), and that 15,000 Avios redemption is worth 4.2 cents per point, which is very good. 

Cost of flights from DFW to CZM

You can earn British Airways Avios in the following ways:

  • American Express Membership Rewards (10:8)
  • Starwood Preferred Guests
  • Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • Chase British Airways Credit Card

3. American Airlines

  • American Airlines: 25,000 to 30,000

Off-peak SAAver Awards will only cost you 25,000 miles to get to the Caribbean. It’s not always easy to find these off-peak awards, however, so realistically you might be looking at booking the standard SAAver award of 30,000.

Many of the redemptions aren’t as lucrative as the Avios, however. For example, if you booked the same DFW to CZM flight with 25,000 American Airline miles and paid the fees, you’d be spending 10,000 more miles and redeeming at 2.5 cents per point, almost 2 cents less per point than with Avios. That’s still not horrible, it’s just not great when you know you could book the same route for cheaper with Avios. However, if you don’t have any spare Avios, American Airlines is still a solid choice to get to the Caribbean.

You can collect American Airlines miles with cards like the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® and the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Card. Citibank also often offers targeted promotions for opening up bank accounts to earn AAdvantage miles, but we’ll see is those continue to roll out with recent changes.

4. Flying Blue Flying Blue

Photo by Can Pac Swire via Flickr

  • Flying Blue: 30,000 North America to the Caribbean

Flying Blue is a solid option for getting to the Caribbean, especially if you leave near a Delta hub.  Take a look at the booking all the way from Seattle to San Juan below that came out to only 30,000 miles and about $40 USD flying via Delta. That route would cost about $566 in cash flying Delta and so this redemption comes out to 1.7 cents per point, which again, it not bad at all. 

Screen Shot 2016-05-23 at 2.02.10 PM

The great thing about Flying Blue is that it’s now a partner of the four major rewards programs:

  • American Express Membership Rewards
  • Chase Ultimate Rewards (new)
  • Starwood Preferred Guests
  • Citi Thankyou Points

Thus, it shouldn’t be very difficult for you to put together enough points to cover a trip to the Caribbean considering how many options you have. And don’t forget, Flying Blue allows you to add one stopover. You’ll have to book it over the phone but it’s a great way to see more of the Caribbean!

Also, if you’re flying to the following destinations, the 25,000 redemption rate applies for Flying Blue making it an even better deal:

  • Mexico
  • Netherlands Antilles (Aruba, Bonaire, etc.)
  • U.S. Virgin Islands

5. Alitalia Millemiglia

Alitalia Millemiglia

Photo by Roberto via Flickr

  • Alitalia: 30,000 North America to the Caribbean

The Italian airline Alitalia, a member of the SkyTeam alliance, requires only 30,000 miles for SkyTeam redemptions from North America to the Caribbean (as well as Mexico, Central America and Hawaii). Alitalia is a transfer partner of both American Express Membership Rewards and SPG, so it’s pretty easy to build up a balance of their miles.

The only issue is that Alitalia can be pretty difficult to deal with. Their website can be confusing, you’ve got to call in to book awards (which can be a process), and if something goes wrong while you’re trying to book your flights, it might be a pain to trying to get it to work out. Thus, while Alitalia offers some nice redemptions at 30,000, if I were trying to book a SkyTeam award to the Caribbean, I’d just go with Flying Blue.

Alitalia is a transfer member of SPG and American Express.

6. LAN (LATAM Pass kms)

LAN Airlines business class
LAN business class

Photo by alobos Life via Flickr

  • 12,000 LATAM Pass kms MIA to NAS

LAN is another distance-based award system similar to Avios. They are also a member of the One World Alliance so you can use them to book flights with American Airlines. Their partner award chart is not as generous as the Avios chart is for the majority of distances you’d use for destinations in the Caribbean, except for very short flights, such as those under 500 kms like the one above.

However, when you transfer from SPG the ratio to LATAM is 1 to 1.5, so you get an extra 50% on top of an extra 5,000 points if you transfer 20,000 SPG points.

So for example, let’s say you wanted to redeem an American Airlines flight going from ORD to MBJ.

This would require 28,000 LATAM kms versus the 20,000 Avios required. Avios would look like the better route here but if you are transferring from SPG, it’s actually cheaper to go with LAN. That’s because you’d only have to transfer 18,666 SPG points to reach 28,000 LATAM kms with the 1:1.5 ratio.* That would come out to about 2.1 cents per point which isn’t bad (but I know a lot of people may not be interested in using their SPG for such a redemption). 

(*I’d actually only use SPG transfers for transfers of 20,000 or more to get the 5,000 point bonus but the point is just to show that using SPG points to LATAM can be a cheaper way to redeem with the 50% bonus transfer ratio than Avios.)

Thus, if you are looking to book American Airline routes to the Caribbean and are interested in transferring your SPG points to get there, you should consider LATAM.

LATAM is a transfer member of SPG.

Caribbean airport fees

I feel obliged to mention that many (if not all) of the airports in the Caribbean impose fees that often times seem disproportionate to the value of the redemption. There’s nothing you really can do about these except pay them. Some of them are included in the booking process so you pay them upfront with your ticket price, but others are requested in the airport.

It’s really important to research beforehand what kind of fees you might be up against and I recommend always having the local currency on hand to cover the fees, as sometimes the fees can process as a cash advance if you use a credit card. Here’s an article that goes into detail on the fees. It was published in December 2014 so some figures might have changed by now, but it should give you an idea as to what to expect with the fees.

Cover Photo by Britt via Flickr.

Chase Ultimate Rewards Adds Flying Blue And That’s A Good Thing

Chase Ultimate Rewards adding Flying Blue is great news for a lot of people. I’ll run down some of the benefits and highlight some of the best redemptions for Flying Blue. 

flying blue LOGO

It’s Progress

First, it’s good because it shows progress that Chase is adding members. I think a lot of people right now are of the mindset that most changes to reward programs are going to be negative, so it’s good to see a positive change with the list of transfer partners growing.

Here’s a new complete  list of airline partners for Chase Ultimate Rewards.



  • British Airways Executive Club
  • Flying Blue
  • Korean Air SKYPASS
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  • Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards
  • United MileagePlus
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

Flying Blue is now easier than ever to accumulate points 

You can accumulate Flying Blue miles from the following reward programs:

  • American Express Membership Rewards
  • Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • Starwood Preferred Guests
  • Citi Thankyou Points

That means you have tons of possibilities for earning miles from sign-up bonuses now! 

There’s a new Sky Team alliance partner 

Before the addition, in order to book Sky Team partners, such as Delta, you’d have to go through Korean Air SKYPASS. Many people didn’t like doing this because there are no one-way redemptions available and SKYPASS requires you to jump through a lot of hoops to complete bookings and places restrictions on who you can redeem award tickets for (limits to family members, etc.). 

However, now you can use Flying Blue to book Delta awards — if you live near a Delta hub, this is really good news for you! 

Best use of Flying Blue miles

Flying Blue offers some pretty solid redemptions including:

  • North America to Israel and North Africa for 50,000 in economy
  • North America to Europe for 50,000 in economy
  • North America to Mexico, Netherlands Antilles (Aruba, Bonaire, etc.) and the U.S. Virgin Islands for 25,000 in economy
  • North America to the Caribbean for 30,000 in economy
  • North America to (north) South America for 35,000
  • North America to Hawaii for 30,000 in economy

If you fly Flying Blue metal (KLM, Air France, etc.) the fees can be a little high and really cut into your savings, but if you’re able to book Delta with Flying Blue the fees can be as low as $5! 

Screen Shot 2016-04-13 at 2.46.16 PMOnly 30,000 miles and $5 via Delta to get to Hawaii!

If you want to find out more about Flying Blue, see my guide to Flying Blue awards for more.

Cover Photo by Can Pac Swire via Flickr

New Flying Blue Promo Awards to Europe for Summer 2016

Flying Blue, the frequent flyer program for Air France and KLM (and others), offers promo awards at the beginning of each month for special redemptions that usually range from 20% to 50% off certain flights. Most of these flights are typically for economy or economy plus but sometimes Flying Blue will even offer business class fares.

flying blue LOGO

Starting next month, on May 1st, 2016, Flying Blue members will have the chance to get from Boston to Europe in business class for 93,750 miles roundtrip or 46,875 miles one way. This is a great rate for business class to Europe and it even approaches the insane business class redemptions of ANA that go for 88,000 miles to Europe.

Screen Shot 2016-04-30 at 7.08.37 AM

You’ll have to book from May 1st to May 31st and travel between July 1st and August 31st to take advantage of the offer.

Don’t forget that for Flying Blue, several countries in northern Africa and even Israel fall into the “Europe” category. These countries are:

  • Algeria, Israel, Libya, Morocco, and Tunisia.

Getting to the Middle East (to Israel) in business class for 93,750 miles is an absolute bargain when compared to the mileage requirements of other airlines:

  • Aeroplan: 165,000
  • American Airlines: 140,000
  • ANA Partner: 104,000 (high surcharges likely)
  • Delta: 170,000
  • United: 160,000

There are a few drawbacks to using these promo awards.

First, you’re not allowed to modify or cancel your bookings.

Second, because you’d be flying with Air France or KLM, you’d be paying somewhat hefty fuel surcharges. If you’re heading to Israel, I think the savings are still pretty outstanding considering your other options and if you’re headed to the continent of Europe, they are still good, just not as outstanding as they would be with lower fuel surcharges.

The final drawback is a little unclear. I can’t recall where I came across the information, but I recall reading that stopovers are not allowed on Flying Blue promo awards. A little bit of research shows that some have been able to call in and add stopovers to these bookings, but I’m pretty sure I read that they are not allowed.

The official Flying Blue website only provides the following with respect to the booking conditions of promo awards:

General conditions on Promo Awards

  • Reservations must be made exclusively on or (except for bookings for children, infants and minors, who are not authorised to book an award on the website).
  • In the event that a technical problem occurs when reserving the promotional fare or if the reservation cannot be finalised, the Flying Blue member must log on to the site and repeat the procedure.
  • This award ticket may be used on connecting flights within Europe and on connecting flights from Europe to long-haul flights.
  • These promotional Promo Awards may not be modified, cancelled or refunded.
  • Promo Awards are available for one-way tickets and round trips.
  • Flex Awards are not included in the Promo Awards offer.
  • Promo Awards are subject to availability

Since stopovers for Flying Blue need to be called in to be booked, there might be some issues in booking a stopover for the promo award. In any event, there’s no harm in giving it a try.

Cover photo by BriYYZ via Flickr.

The Best Way to Get to Israel with Reward Points and Miles

[This post contains credit card offers that may no longer be available.]

Anytime I hear someone talk about planning a trip to Israel, the first question I ask is, “Have you ever heard of Flying Blue?” With Flying Blue, you can get to Israel with some of the best redemptions you’ll find from any airline. What’s more, you can throw in an additional stopover to Europe at no extra cost! Here’s a breakdown of the best way to get to Israel with reward points and miles.

What is Flying Blue?

Flying Blue is the frequent flyer program for Air France and KLM, and several other air lines. Read more about Flying Blue redemptions and how to book them here.

Here’s how many miles you will need to get to Israel

  • Economy: 50,000
  • Business Class: 125,000

These are pretty phenomenal rates, especially the economy rate.

Earning the Points

The first step to getting to Israel is earning the points you’ll need to get there. Luckily, Flying Blue is a transfer partner of three of the major rewards programs:

  • American Express Membership Rewards
  • Starwood Preferred Guests
  • Citi Thankyou Points


Thus, it’s very easy to accumulate miles for this program in a hurry if you need to. If you’re looking to rack up some points in a hurry, I’d recommend looking into the following cards:

Just getting one of those cards can earn you enough miles to cover your trip in economy and getting the bonuses from a couple of them can get you really close to having a business class ticket waiting to take you to Israel.

The wailing Wall and the Temple Mount

Photo by Neil Howard via Flickr.

Redeeming Flying Blue miles to get from North America to Israel

The most valuable redemption Flying Blue has to offer is probably the 50,000 economy award to Israel. Now, you will still have to pay some fees and/or fuel surcharges to take advantage of this redemption but the value is still unbeatable.

Here’s what you’d pay flying Air France and KLM:

via Air France and KLM

You can get an even better bargain flying via partner airlines like Russian’s Aeroflot and Delta.

Screen Shot 2016-04-13 at 10.41.19 AM
Via a combination of Aeroflot, Delta, and Air France

So how much value does this come out to if you were to compare it to paying cash for your airfare?

If you snagged a paid fare for the JFK to TLV flight you would pay $2,267.99, which means that a 50,000 redemption would come out to a value of approximately 4.2 cents per mile for this trip which is excellent and honestly a somewhat conservative valuation given how much those tickets can cost.

Furthermore, when compared to the rates of other rewards programs you see how much of a steal this 50,000 redemption award is.

  • Aeroplan: 80,000
  • American Airlines: 80,000
  • ANA Partner: 65,000 (high surcharges likely)
  • Delta: 70,000
  • United: 85,000

Compared to most other airlines, business class from JFK to TLV for 125,000 miles is a steal, too (ANA can’t really be beat by anyone with their routes to the Middle East).

Screen Shot 2016-04-13 at 10.48.41 AM
Business class via Alitalia and Delta.


  • Aeroplan: 165,000
  • American Airlines: 140,000
  • ANA Partner: 104,000 (high surcharges likely)
  • Delta: 170,000
  • United: 160,000

Adding a trip to Europe for free?

Flying Blue allows for one stopover and open jaw. This stopover can be on your inbound or outbound leg. Therefore, you hit Europe up either on your way to Israel or on your way back.

For example, your route might look like:

  • JFK -> CDG (Paris) [stopover]
  • CDG -> TLV
  • TLV -> JFK

Unfortunately, after calling in a few times I wasn’t able to see the exact amount of surcharges that I would incur for this flight but I imagine it couldn’t be much more than what shows for booking the legs individually.

See even more of Europe

Don’t forget that Flying Blue allows for one open jaw in your destination zone. Typically, you might be restricted to your destination zone for your open jaw. For example, since you’re arriving in the Middle East, you would be restricted to planning an open jaw in one of those countries.

However, somewhat inexplicably, Flying Blue includes Israel with its Europe region. That means you’re allowed to open jaw in places like London or Paris on your way back from Israel. Thus, you could hit up two spots in Europe in addition to the Middle East and only have to pay for a one way ticket to get to your European open jaw destination.

In this case your route might look like:

  • JFK -> TLV
  • TLV -> FCO [paid ticket]
  • FCO (Rome) [open jaw]  -> CDG (Paris) [stopover]
  • CDG -> JFK

You would just have to take care of your leg from TLV to FCO but those flights can be as cheap as $166. This, in my opinion, is one of the cheapest ways to do Europe, let alone also get to the Middle East! Even when compared to airlines like ANA,which has some pretty unbelievably low redemptions to Europe and the Middle East, economy redemptions for Flying Blue are still more valuable with this itinerary!

So the take-a-way for me would be that with Flying Blue you can get to the Middle East and Europe for fewer miles than most airlines require just to make it to Europe! If you’re thinking about taking a trip to Israel, Flying Blue is definitely one of the best ways to go!

Cover Photo by jaime.silva via Flickr



Guide to Flying Blue Award Flights

Flying Blue has some stand-out redemptions that you definitely need to know about. If you’re okay with flying economy, Flying Blue can present you with some tremendous value when going abroad to places, such as Israel, Africa, South America, and several tropical areas. Here’s what you need to know about how to make smart redemptions with Flying Blue Award Flights.

What is Flying Blue?

flying blue LOGO

Figuring out Flying Blue can be a little confusing for starters. When I first got into the game I wasn’t sure what is was. An airline? An alias for KLM and/or Air France? An alliance?

First, do not get Flying Blue mixed up with jetBlue  — they are two entirely separate entities! This mistake has definitely happened to people before so make sure it doesn’t happen to you.

Flying Blue is not the same as jetBlue!

Flying Blue is actually the frequent flyer program for several airlines. Most notably, it’s the frequent flyer program for KLM and Air France but it also includes:

  • Air Europa
  • Aircalin
  • HOP!
  • Kenya Airways
  • TwinJet

Air Europa, Kenya Airways, and TAROM are part of the SkyTeam alliance and the other airlines are mostly smaller, regional airlines.  Flying Blue is thus represented in the SkyTeam Alliance, which consists of the following airlines:

The SkyTeam Alliance

In addition, Flying Blue has many non-alliance partners. Here’s the complete list of those partners with a brief description of where those partners serve for your future reference.

  • Air Corsica – flights between Corsica and numerous destinations in France and between Corsica and Rome and Venice in Italy.
  • Air Mauritius –  offers flights to and from Europe, Asia, Australia and Africa.
  • Alaska Airlines –  offers low airfares on all airline tickets to destinations throughout the United States, western Canada and Mexico, and is a great option for Hawaii.
  • Bangkok Airways – flights from Suvarnabhumi Airport to places such as Samui, Phuket, Trat (Koh Chang) and the Maldive Islands.
  • Chalair Aviation – Has a network of domestic regular lines in France.
  • Comair – South Africa’s longest operating airline after the national carrier; cooperates with two brands: British Airways and the low-fare
  • Copa Airlines – Offers flights through South America
  • Czech Airlines – Operates from the Czech capital, Prague, and flies to most European capitals and major North American destinations.
  • GOL – offers extensive and convenient routes in South America and the Caribbean
  • Japan Airlines – one of the largest airlines in the Asia-Pacific region
  • Jet Airways – India’s premier international airline – flies to India, North America, Europe, Asia, Africa and the Gulf.
  • Malaysia Airlines – one of Asia’s largest carriers.
  • Middle East Airlines –  the national carrier of Lebanon.
  • TAAG – Angola’s national flag carrier, operating long-haul and domestic flights.
  • Transavia – a low-cost airline that offers charter flights and scheduled flights to summer and winter holiday destinations, mainly in Europe and the Mediterranean.
  • Ukraine International Airlines – Ukraine’s leading airline

As you can see, Flying Blue has a broad partner network, which is one of the reasons why finding routes all over the globe is fairly easy for Flying Blue.

How to get Flying Blue Miles

Flying Blue is a transfer partner of four of the major rewards programs:

  • American Express Membership Rewards
  • Chase Ultimate Rewards (new)
  • Starwood Preferred Guests
  • Citi Thankyou Points


Thus, it’s very easy to accumulate miles for this program in a hurry if you need to. If you’re looking to rack up some points in a hurry, I’d recommend looking into the American Express® Premier Rewards Gold Card, Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express, and the Citi Thankyou® Premier card.

Flying Blue booking policies

Flex, classic, and promo rates

There are three different rates that Flying Blue charges for their award tickets

  • Flex – These offer you the most flexibility, hence their name. You can change them without cost and they often have more availability. The issue is that they usually cost two to three times more than Classic awards to redeem.
  • Classic – These are the standard award fares and while fairly consistent, they can vary depending on certain factors.
  • Promo rates – These are offered temporarily and can reduce the redemption rates from 25 to 50%. Some of them can be absolute steals if the timing is right for you.

Some other policies to be aware of:

  • International first class airfare is only available with Flex awards and is only available to Flying Blue members with elite status. Thus, those amazing new Air France first class cabins are not available to newcomers.
  • Unless you book a Flex award, you must pay €45 to cancel your tickets.
  • The promo deals are announced at the beginning of each month and usually apply to travel a couple of months out. Keep a constant eye on the Flying Blue promo page for the best deals, like 50% off to Europe! Most of the deals are for economy fares, which is another reason why I feel this program is well-suited for those who don’t mind economy.


Flying Blue does not release a full reward chart. Because of that, I ultimately suggest just playing around with the Flying Blue mileage calculator to figure out mile requirements. However, if you want to get a general idea on the different zones, see below:

  • Middle East, Central Asia, Central Russia
  • North America, Netherlands Antilles, Mexico
  • Central America, Caribbean, Hawaii, Bermuda
  • Africa 1 (Central, East & West Africa)
  • Africa 2 (South Africa, Indian Ocean)
  • Indian subcontinent
  • Latin America 1 (Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela)
  • Latin America 2 (Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Uruguay)
  • Asia 1 (China, South Korea, Japan, East Russia, Mongolia)
  • Asia 2 (Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwain, Thailand)
  • Pacific 1 (New Caledonia, French Polynesia)
  • Pacific 2 (Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Guam)

Europe is a bit confusing. It is apparently divided into three zones and one zone includes countries from Africa and even one from the Middle East:

Europe 1

  • Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Switzerland, Luxembourg

Europe 2

  • Austria, Denmark, Spain, Balearic Islands, Finland, Italy, Malta, Norway, Portugal, Sweden

Europe 3 (+North Africa & Israel)

  • Albania, Algeria, Belarus, Bosnia Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Croatia, Canary Islands, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, IsraelLibya, Lithuania, Latvia, Macedonia, Moldova, Morocco, Poland, Czech Republic, Romania, West Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Turkey, Tunisia, Ukraine.

(Europe breakdown courtesy of Flyertalk.)

The redemptions rates will change as you depart and enter different zones of Europe, so again, play around with the mileage calculator to figure out what your requirements will be.

Stopovers and open jaws

  • Allowed an open jaw on your destination so long as you remain in the destination zone
  • Allowed one stopover (you must book over the phone)
    • Stopover must be different from country of departure
    • Maximum of three segments allowed to get to destination

Fuel Surcharges

Flying Blue bookings often do incur fuel surcharges. To give you an example of the kind you can expect, take a look at this sample booking from New York to Paris (JFK -> CDG) with Air France.

Business Class

This business class route with Air France requires $575 in total fees!

Screen Shot 2016-04-13 at 9.39.33 AM
Air France charges $575 in total fees

But take a look at the same route but flying Delta instead… only $164 in total fees.

Screen Shot 2016-04-13 at 9.42.51 AM
Delta charges $164 in total fees

That’s a $411 difference.

Now, maybe you’d much prefer business class in Air France over Delta so it would be worth the extra fees to you, but if you’re being very price conscious, you may want to go with the better deal.


The total fees for economy are much more reasonable across the board but again, you’ll usually save booking with Delta.

Screen Shot 2016-04-13 at 9.50.07 AM
Delta charges about $120 in total fees for economy bookings
Air France/KLM charges about $225 in total fees for economy bookings

As you can see the total fees are twice the price when you book KLM/Air France.

So I’d recommend finding Delta availability or some other partner airline if you’re wanting to avoid large fees.

Same fees, different redemption rates?

Another thing to keep your eye on when booking is the different redemption rates. Take a look at the image below. Both of the flights are direct flights from JFK to CDG and on the same type of aircraft. Yet, one requires an additional 10,000 miles!

Screen Shot 2016-04-13 at 9.54.54 AM
Make sure you seek out the lowest fares when redeeming

Sometimes you’ll see a lot of different redemption rates for a route that vary drastically but sometimes there’s a cheap award that’s a bit of hidden. The green “Lowest fare” tab should help you not to miss these low fares, however.

Always look for the green!

Flying Blue sweet spots

I tend to focus on business class when searching for sweet spots, but I think that most of valuable sweet spots with Flying Blue are with economy seats. Here’s a rundown of what are some of the most valuable redemptions for Flying Blue.

1) North America to Israel and North Africa

The wailing Wall and the Temple Mount

Photo by Neil Howard via Flickr.

Probably the most valuable redemption Flying Blue has to offer is the 50,000 economy award to Israel.

This rate kind of stumps me as to how it make sense but it is absolutely a bargain! At 50,000 miles, that means with one credit card sign-up bonus from a card like the American Express® Premier Rewards Gold Card, you could accumulate enough points to take you round trip all the way to the Middle East! Pretty wild.

Here’s what you’d pay flying Air France and KLM:

via Air France and KLM

You can get an even better bargain flying via partner airlines like Russian’s Aeroflot and Delta.

Screen Shot 2016-04-13 at 10.41.19 AM
Via a combination of Aeroflot, Delta, and Air France

If you snagged the cheapest paid fare for the JFK to TLV flight you would pay $2,267.99, which means that a 50,000 redemption would come out to a value of approximately 4.2 cents per mile for this trip which is excellent and honestly a somewhat conservative valuation given how much those tickets can cost.

Furthermore, when compared to the rates of other rewards programs you see how much of a steal this award is.

  • Aeroplan: 80,000
  • American Airlines: 80,000
  • ANA Partner: 65,000 (high surcharges likely)
  • Delta: 70,000
  • United: 85,000

Compared to most other airlines, business class to TLV is a steal, too (ANA can’t really be beat by anyone with their routes to the Middle East).

Screen Shot 2016-04-13 at 10.48.41 AM
Business class via Alitalia and Delta.


  • Aeroplan: 165,000
  • American Airlines: 140,000
  • ANA Partner: 104,000 (high surcharges likely)
  • Delta: 170,000
  • United: 160,000

Remember, other African countries fall into the same Europe category, so tickets from North America to Algeria, Libya, Morroco, and Tunisia, should all also fall into the same 50,000 redemption rate. For example, New York to Casablanca, Morocco, would also go for 50,000 miles as seen below.

Flying via Delta and Alitalia

Combining Middle East/North Africa locations with Europe?

Combining a trip to Europe with Israel/North Africa is a great way to maximize value with Flying Blue. By combining these destinations, you can get to Europe and the Middle East for a mere 50,000 points!

Since Flying Blue includes Israel with its Europe region, you’re allowed to open jaw or stopover anywhere in Europe on your way back from Israel (or vice versa). Thus, you could hit up two spots in Europe in addition to the Middle East and only have to pay for a one way ticket to get to your European open jaw destination.

In this case your route might look like:

  • JFK -> TLV
  • TLV -> FCO [paid ticket]
  • FCO (Rome) [open jaw]  -> CDG (Paris) [stopover]
  • CDG -> JFK

(This could also be done backwards where your destination and stopover are somewhere in Europe but your open jaw inbound departure is in Israel.)

This means you would only have to pay out of pocket to get a one way ticket from TLV to somewhere in Europe or vice versa. My suggestion would be to not use points to book this flight because one way trips can easily be under $200. If you did use points, chances are your redemption value would be sub-par.

2) North America to Mexico, Netherlands Antilles (Aruba, Bonaire, etc.) and the U.S. Virgin Islands

United States Virgin Islands

Photo by Robert Pittman via Flickr

I don’t know of any other program that lumps all of these countries and territories together but this is another sweet spot because it will only cost you 25,000 miles for a round trip to these destinations with Flying Blue.

Screen Shot 2016-04-13 at 2.06.11 PM
Getting to Cancun Via Delta and Aeromexico


  • Aeroplan: 40,000
  • American Airlines: 30,000
  • ANA Partner: 30,000
  • Delta: 35,000
  • United: 35,000
Screen Shot 2016-04-13 at 2.04.06 PM
Getting to Aruba Via Delta


  • Aeroplan: 40,000
  • American Airlines: 30,000
  • ANA Partner: 55,000
  • Delta: 55,000
  • United: 35,000
Screen Shot 2016-04-13 at 2.39.14 PM
Getting to Bonaire via Delta

Note: finding availability at these low rates for some of these destinations like the Netherlands Antilles can be a little difficult so search far ahead of your booking date if possible. And don’t forget, Southwest Airlines is a contender for many of these destinations now. 

3) North America to Hawaii Hawaii
Na Pali Coast, Kauai, Hawaii

Photo by Dhilung Kirat via Flickr

Getting to Hawaii via Flying Blue is pretty easy and I found a lot of availability when I ran a lot of searches.

Screen Shot 2016-04-13 at 2.46.16 PM
Only 30,000 miles and $5 via Delta!


(I added other competitive airline programs that I know offer great deals to Hawaii in economy.)

  • Aeroplan: 45,000
  • American Airlines:  45,000
  • British Airways Avios: 25,000 Avios from the West Coast
  • ANA Partner: 40,000
  • Delta: 45,000
  • Korean Airlines: 25,000 miles
  • United: 45,000
  • Singapore Airlines: 35,000 

30,000 miles to Hawaii is very competitive compared to most airlines and would be a great redemption if you couldn’t take advantage of any of the better deals.

4) North America to South America

The required mileage to South America 1 is 35,000 and for South America 2 it’s 50,000. Both of these redemptions are among the best for economy.

Screen Shot 2016-04-13 at 3.26.15 PM
35,000 miles to South America 1


  • Aeroplan: 60,000
  • American Airlines: 35,000
  • ANA Partner:  55,000
  • Delta: 60,000
  • United: 40,000

American Airlines ties but they don’t even allow stopovers.

50,000 miles to South America 2


  • Aeroplan: 60,000
  • American Airlines: 60,000
  • ANA Partner:  55,000
  • Delta: 60,000
  • United: 60,000

Even going to South America 2 is one of the best redemptions in economy. Unfortunately, I had some trouble finding the bargain rates for places like Rio but with enough patience you could probably get lucky.

These are some of my favorite redemptions. To find out more about some other great Flying Blue redemptions, check out this article by Travel is Free for a thorough review of the program.

Final Word

Flying Blue has some very valuable redemptions, as unexplainable as some of them are. If you’re heading to Israel, this should be your top choice. And even if you’re heading out to Mexico, Hawaii, South America, or some tropical locations, Flying Blue might be a solid option for you.

Cover Photo by Can Pac Swire via Flickr