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This guide has the information you need to book flights with points and miles through Flying Blue, Air France-KLM’s airline loyalty program.
What is Flying Blue?
Flying Blue is the frequent flyer program of both Air France and KLM. You can use Flying Blue miles to book award flights on Air France, KLM, or on any of their partners—that includes other SkyTeam airlines like Delta and Virgin Atlantic, as well as some non-SkyTeam partners like Japan Airlines and Qantas.
All transferable points currencies—that is, credit card points earned via Chase, American Express, Citibank, and Capital One cards—can be transferred to Flying Blue at a one-to-one (1:1) ratio. Here are guides on how to transfer points from American Express, from Chase, and from Capital One to airline loyalty programs.
How to book flights through Air France-KLM Flying Blue
Step 1: Go to airfrance.us and log in with your Flying Blue account number.
If you don’t have a Flying Blue account, get one by clicking “Sign up” in the upper-right corner of the screen.
Step 2: Go to the flight search engine and click the “Book with miles” tab.
Step 3: Enter your departure airport and your arrival airport, and pick your departure date.
Depending on your itinerary, you might have better luck finding award availability by searching for one-way flights and one seat at a time.
Once you find available flights for your desired departure and return, you can then try booking the flights as a roundtrip—or even as a multi-city trip—on one reservation. (Write down flight numbers and other details as you come across available flights, then use that info to make your complete booking.)
The same goes for the number of seats you need; when you search for multiple seats at once, Flying Blue will present you with the total cost in miles for all passengers for each flight.
And here’s a pro-tip: If you leave the departure date blank and run a search for flights between two airports, you’ll be prompted to choose a departure date on an award calendar (like the one in the image below), which grants you better visibility into which dates have available flights and how much they’ll cost in miles.
Step 4: Browse through the flight options.
In the Flying Blue award search tool, you can filter by maximum price, number of stops, airlines, class of service, and more.
The weekly calendar is also a useful feature. If you can’t see a ticket you like on one day but are flexible on the dates you’re flying, you can tab over to another day without having to re-enter your search requirements.
Step 5: Select the award flight you want to book.
When you click on the available flight you want to book, you’ll be shown what’s exactly included in your fare: baggage limitations, whether or not the ticket is changeable or refundable, and fees you might incur, and more. If everything looks good to you, click the “Select” button.
You’ll be shown all the details again. Confirm that all is as it should be, then click the “Continue to passenger details” button.
Step 6: Finalize your booking.
Proceed with your booking as you normally would. Enter your passenger details and payment information, and complete your purchase. The points you selected to pay will be deducted from your account, and you’ll get a booking confirmation email in your inbox.
Pro-tip: Pay more in fees, but less in miles. You might get better value out of it.
Note that Flying Blue also offers the option to modify how much you pay in miles vs. in taxes and fees. The fewer miles you elect to pay, you’ll pay more in cash. This could be a helpful option if you’re a few miles away from the standard award cost in miles, or if you just want to save some miles for another day.
It could be worth it to do some math and see how much more (or less) value you’d get out of your points and miles by paying more in taxes and fees.
Anecdotally, I recently booked a Flying Blue award flight for travel on Air France business class, from Istanbul to New York via Paris—a ticket that would have cost me $2,326 had I paid in cash. The award was originally priced at 55,000 Flying Blue miles and about $301.65 in fees. Instead, I chose to pay 48,100 miles and $412.69 in fees.
To determine which booking would be a better value, I first calculated the cents per point (CPP)—the value of a point when I use it to book a flight instead of paying for the flight in cash—in each scenario. I took the full cash price of the ticket and subtracted from it the amount I had to pay in fees for the award booking; then I divided that difference by the number of miles I had to pay. That yields a decimal, which I multiply by 100 to get a cent value.
Put more simply, here’s that math as a formula:
Cost per point in cents = ((Cash price of the flight - the taxes and fees to be paid in cash for an award booking) / the cost in miles) x 100
So for the original award, the math looks like this:
((2326 - 301.65) / 55,000) x 100 = 3.68
And for the award I ultimately booked:
((2326 - 412.69) / 48,100) x 100 = 3.98
In the end, I came out ahead with a value of almost four cents per point for the booking, which I felt good about. I had 100,000 Flying Blue miles at the time, so the adjusted award left a balance that I could use to book another award at the same price, just in case.
Why should I book award flights via Air France-KLM?
It varies from program to program, but airlines tend to value flights on their own metal (that’s to say: on their own planes) more highly than they do flights on partner airlines. Which is why—sometimes, not always—you can maximize the value of your points and miles by using one airline’s loyalty program to book travel on their partner airlines.
For example, a one-way flight in economy on Delta from New York-JFK to London-Heathrow, booked through Delta SkyMiles could cost 66,000 miles and $6 in taxes and fees.
That same one-way flight—Delta 001 on March 12—booked through Flying Blue costs only 24,000 miles and about $10 in taxes and fees. That’s a third of the points cost.
Of course, all that doesn’t matter if you only have miles with one airline and not another. But in this example, both Air France-KLM and Delta miles can be transferred from American Express. So if you had 75,000 American Express Membership Rewards points ready to go, you could get a single one-way flight to London if you booked through Delta SkyMiles at the cost of 66,000 miles, or three one-way flights to London if you booked through Air-France KLM Flying Blue at the cost of 72,000 miles.
As always, your mileage may vary in these situations. Both Flying Blue and Delta SkyMiles implement what’s called “dynamic award pricing,” which means that the cost in miles when booking award flights through both Air France-KLM and Delta varies from day to day, route to route.
Pro-tip: Maximize the value of your points by booking in business class and first class.
The savings could be even greater if you’re trying to book a flight in a premium cabin. Let’s say you wanted to travel from New York to London on an overnight flight, and wanted to sleep comfortably on the plane. You could get a one-way flight in Delta One—that’s Delta’s flagship business class cabin—from JFK to LHR, booked through Delta SkyMiles, and it will cost you 375,000 miles.
But if you search for a flight on that same route for that same day via Flying Blue, you have many options to fly with Virgin Atlantic, a partner of both Delta and Air France-KLM. Booking any of these flights in the Upper Class cabin—that’s Virgin Atlantic’s business class—will cost you only 74,000 miles. You even have an option that has a similar departure time to the Delta flight above.
You do pay more in taxes and fees, but you can do the math and see how much more value you’ll get out of your points and miles by shopping around among the airlines and their loyalty programs.
For what it’s worth, Amex points transfer directly to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club too. Booking the Virgin Atlantic flight above directly through Flying Club costs even fewer miles, but way more in fees.
It’s up to you to determine which way to book is better suited to the points and miles you have, your cash budget, your schedule, and your interest in each airline’s onboard offerings.
What to do once you’ve booked an award ticket with Flying Blue
Now that you’ve booked—or are ready to book—an award flight via Flying Blue, check out our business and first class guides so you can know what to expect on the plane. Air France-KLM and their partners offer some of the best transatlantic premium cabin experiences: you get everything from decadent French cheese plates on Air France to an onboard bar on Virgin Atlantic.
- The Complete Guide to Air France Business Class
- The Complete Guide to KLM Business Class
- The Complete Guide to Virgin Atlantic Upper Class
- The Complete Guide to Delta One and Delta First Class
If you booked an award that has a long layover in either of Air France-KLM’s hubs in Paris and Amsterdam, try dipping into the city for a quick day trip.
Debating whether to book in business class or to splurge on first class? We’ll tell you the difference between business and first on most airlines in this guide.
Though finding award flights via airline loyalty programs can take some patience and practice, you’ll eventually get the hang of it. But if you want someone else to do the hard search work for you, we’ve got you covered. Sign up for an Elite membership today and we’ll alert you to the best deals on flights you can book with points and miles.
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