Flying Blue, a joint loyalty program of Air France and KLM, isn’t a U.S.-based program, but that doesn’t mean it should be written off quickly. The two European airlines are SkyTeam members, so earning their miles presents you with a variety of redemption options on carriers within the alliance.
What you need to know
You can earn Flying Blue miles the hard way — by flying on SkyTeam partners and crediting your flights to the program. Or you can earn Flying Blue miles the easy way — by converting your existing bank points to miles.
Flying Blue is a partner of major transferrable point programs, including American Express Membership Rewards, Capital One, Chase Ultimate Rewards® and Citi ThankYou Points. Point transfer rates range from 1:1 to 2:1.5.
Flying Blue doesn’t publish an award chart and uses dynamic pricing. Even so, it’s still possible to find low-level redemption rates between specific city pairs using the Miles Price Estimator. This tool can tell you the lowest rate you could pay for a specific award in both economy and business cabins, giving you at least an idea of what to expect.
You’re allowed to book one-way and round-trip itineraries, but the program has done away with its stopover feature. You’re now expected to pay for each flight segment if you’d like to stop for a day or two in a layover city.
Let’s look at some fun redemption opportunities with the Flying Blue program.
Optimal Flying Blue points redemptions
Flying Blue Promo Rewards
Promo Rewards are specially priced award flights between specific regions or cities, determined by Flying Blue. In some cases, you can score up to 50% off a redemption rate in economy, premium economy or business class. These promo rates and destinations change every month and typically offer a short booking window, so you have to act quickly.
For example, you may see a Promo Reward that includes business class awards between the United States and Europe, and it’s discounted by 25%. As long as you travel within the stated period, a one-way fare drops from 53,000 miles to 39,750 miles.
U.S. to Europe for 21,500 miles in economy or 53,000 miles in business class
Because redemption rates vary from city to city, you’ll notice a spread in rates for different departure and destination cities. For example, an economy flight between Washington, D.C., and Budapest, Hungary, clocks in at 21,500 Flying Blue miles at the lowest rate.
Depending on your U.S. departure city and European destination city, you’ll find one-way economy rates ranging from 21,500 miles to 29,000 miles. For example, a flight from Salt Lake City to Madrid is at the highest end of the redemption spectrum. Still, a common redemption rate across other loyalty programs is 30,000 miles between the U.S. and Europe, so these options are below average.
U.S. to Israel or Northern Africa for 53,000 miles in business class
One of the unique sweet spots of the Flying Blue program is its classification of certain countries as "Europe," such as Israel, Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia. This opens up a whole new world of possibilities, especially for those looking to fly in premium class.
A one-way flight in Air France’s business class starts at 53,000 Flying Blue miles and goes up from there based on demand and departure city.
Keep an eye on pesky surcharges — but even with them, this redemption opportunity is a steal.
U.S. to Mexico for 14,500 miles in economy on Delta or Aeromexico
SkyTeam partners Delta Air Lines and Aeromexico come into play if you want to jet off south of the border. Whether you’re interested in balmy beaches, ancient cities or authentic Mexican cuisine, 14,500 Flying Blue miles can take you one-way from the U.S. to Mexico in economy class.
A similar itinerary booked with United MileagePlus typically costs about 17,500 miles, which means that booking a round-trip journey with Flying Blue can save you about 6,000 miles.
Nerd tip: Delta SkyMiles and United MileagePlus run flash sales for many destinations, including Mexico. We recommend checking across loyalty programs for the best redemption rate.
Mainland U.S. to Hawaii for 17,500 miles in economy on Delta
Say hello to the Aloha State with economy flights for 17,500 miles each way. Fly from any of the 48 contiguous states to Hawaii on SkyTeam partner Delta and redeem just 17,500 miles per direction, or 35,000 miles round-trip.
Nonstop flights and itineraries with stops are priced at the same rate, so don’t fret about a connection — you’ll redeem the same number of miles.
The bottom line
Considering how easy it is to get your hands on Flying Blue miles, why wouldn’t you familiarize yourself with some of the program’s sweet spots? It’s true that some redemptions come with high surcharges, especially on Air France- and KLM-operated flights, but the low redemption rates to certain regions more than make up for it.
How to Maximize Your Rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2021, including those best for:
Airline miles and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card
Flat-rate rewards with no annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Premium travel rewards: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card