With three days left to take advantage of the 35% Air France/KLM Flying Blue transfer bonus offer from American Express, there is still time to benefit from this bonus.
I used to think the Air France/KLM Flying Blue program was good for checking SkyTeam inventory online and that was about it. But as the Delta Skymiles program has become less valuable of late with Delta’s horrible website, inept phone agents, and rumors of a massive devaluation of miles becoming louder, I have taken a closer look at Flying Blue. And I’ve found some good things.
First, the bad. Air France and KLM flights carry a big fuel surcharge and Alitalia fights carry a moderate one, so avoid these carriers when possible. Second, routing from North America to Asia will cost you extra—though it will on Delta too. Better to stick to Star Alliance for those type of routings. Last, the Air France website, though decent, is not…creative. Search for a domestic flight using Delta miles and you will often get no results, even in the rare instances when Delta has made “low level” space available. Flying Blue blames Delta for this, but whoever is actually to blame really does not matter to most of you—if you want a “low level” award you are seeing on Delta.com, you may have to call Flying Blue to book it.
Now the good. My favorite deal is Israel, which Air France places the nation in the Europe category. That means you can fly from Los Angeles to Tel Aviv via Paris or on Delta’s New York-Tel Aviv non-stop (see below) for only 50,000 points. And take a look at the taxes/fees on the Delta flight—less than $20! It was not always this way, but lately we have not seen fuel surcharges passed on when booking Delta flights.
Another good deal is heading to South America from North or Central America. Good luck finding any award seats on Delta, but Aeromexico does make a air number of seats available and taxes/fees are also low—
Going to India can be a bear when having to pay over $800 in taxes/fees to fly Air France or KLM, but with Saudia (formerly Saudi Arabian Airlines) now a member of SkyTeam, premium cabin award availability to India has never been so good. And look again at the fees—very reasonable. The prodcut may be two decades out of date, but I think it would be an experience just to fly through RUH or JED and no transit visa is requried for Americans if you are just passing through…
Finally, when you can find award space on Delta domestic U.S. flights, fees will be dirt cheap. Premium space via Detroit or Atlanta is not impossible if you are flying coast to coast—use the Delta site to try to find the space though the month-long search calendar on the Flying Blue award search engine can quickly show you if there are any direct routings available.
It merits repeating that if you do not have any specific travel plans, I would not transfer miles for the heck of it, but if you are planning an upcoming trip to one of the places above, check out award availability by signing up for a free Flying Blue account and transfer over some points before this offer ends if you find something.
You’re forgetting the only real interesting feature of the AF/KLM miles program.
The only way of maximizing Flying blue miles, given the fuel surcharges, is to look for the promo awards (50 per cent off). You still have to pay taxes but your milescost is cut in 2, meaning that a roundtrip from NAmerica to Europe will be 25 000 miles + taxes for Y-class or 31500 miles + taxes for premium eco or 50 000 miles + taxes for C-class. The list of cities available changes every two months and you’ll find destinations available on all geographic areas so it’s worth a look ( Dubai from Europe is 40 000 miles RT in C class).
It helps reduce the impact of the taxes. I got to fly the A380 in Business from CDG to IAD for 50 000 miles + 500 dollars in taxes, making it as interesting as a co-pay (miles + cash) on BMI..
We are thinking about going to St Petersburg Russia. So I looked at KLM’s 50% off award chart for October. What I found was for the 12,500 point awards the taxes was 241.64 Euro each way. But for the 25,000 point awards the taxes were only 112.44 Euro each way. I don’t understand how they are coming up their taxes. I can fly cheaper flights for no points on Delta and Aeroflot. But thanks for the post, I’ve never played around with Flying Blue.