On Wednesday I argued that Flying Blue, the loyalty program of Air France/KLM, may provide a model for an acceptable dynamic-priced award program. I’ve got a new data point to bolster my argument.
I’m in Italy on business this week. Yesterday morning, I flew from London City to Milan Linate on Alitalia with a seven-hour connection before a connecting flight to Naples. I had meetings in the area.
Unfortunately, those meetings went long. And it was raining. And traffic was horrible. Long story, short I missed my flight to Naples.
While I hoped for a flat-tire rule, especially in easy-going Italy, I’ve never seen a generous Italian working an airline ticket counter. Since I bought a restricted ticket, I was promptly, succinctly, and sternly told my unused flight coupon had no value. If I wanted to go to Naples, I’d have to buy a new ticket.
How much, I asked?
369.85EUR (my original ticket was only about 200EUR). Yes, 370EUR for a walk-up ticket on a flight on a short domestic flight. In fact, the airport wanted an extra 25EUR just for the pleasure of ticketing it for me.
My mind started racing. I’d drive to Naples or take an overnight train before I wasted that kind of money on a regional jet in economy class.
But then I remembered my trusty companion for last-minute intra-Europe SkyTeam tickets, Flying Blue. The stupid wi-fi was non-functional at Linate, but I was finally able to tether off my phone. I only had a little over an hour before departure. My fear was that it would be too late to book anything on Air France if anything was left…
Thankfully, Flying Blue had an award seat on the late Alitalia flight for 7,500 miles and $28.59 in taxes. I quickly booked it and within two minutes it was ticketed and I had my boarding pass in hand.
Going off the 369.85EUR retail price (~$414), that meant my Flying Blue miles achieved a value of 5.1 cents each! Even if I would never have paid the $414, a train ticket or car rental plus fuel would have cost at least $250. I came out ahead and enjoyed a quick trip to Naples.
What a lifesaver Flying Blue was once again. And with the current 25% transfer bonus from AMEX, my ticket was even cheaper.
image: Valentin Hintikka / FLICKR