Without the transparency of award charts, prices rise overnight or destinations magically move to different regions, all without notice. That’s what happened to Israel, a long-term Flying Blue sweet spot, over the weekend.
Flying Blue Devaluation: Israel Sweet Spot Gone – An Important Reminder About “Loyalty” + Points
Airline loyalty programs without award charts dispute the term “devaluation,” essentially arguing that with no published pricing there can be no devaluations. But we know better than that: we know that that even without charts prices are still set at a certain level or within a certain range.
Flying Blue is the loyalty program for Air France and KLM. In the case of Israel, it has been placed in the Europe region for years, while most loyalty programs place it in the Middle East region. That means tickets to Israel priced in the same range as tickets to London, Paris, or Rome. Even though Flying Blue removed award charts, it has kept the regional pricing structure it maintained when award charts were still published.
Practically, that means the lowest economy class fares you’ll see between the USA and Israel have jumped from as low as 25K points to 34K in “saver” economy and “saver” business class has jumped from 53K to 85K, a 60% jump. Fees are also about $20 higher; about $250 one-way in business class.
This latest devaluation is a reminder to:
- Keep your points in flexible currencies, including:
- American Express Membership Rewards
- Capital One
- Chase Ultimate Rewards
- Citi ThankYou
- Earn and burn: treat your points as a depreciating asset, not a nest egg
- Don’t drag your feet on booking planned travel: paying 60% more today than yesterday is not fun
I wasn’t expecting this, though I was expecting Flying Blue to raise prices on the entire European region. I suppose the Israel devaluation is better than a broader devaluation. But it is nevertheless an important reminder that loyalty programs don’t have your back, are increasingly non-transparent, and you should be very cautious in stockpiling points in non-flexible currency like Flying Blue.
This Israel redemption was one of my popular at Award Expert and I am truly sad to see it go.
(H/T: Dan’s Deals)