Here’s some unexpectedly good news for the day: Chase has just added Air France/KLM Flying Blue as an Ultimate Rewards transfer partner. Why is this good news? For starters, Ultimate Rewards needed a new transfer partner. After the removal of Amtrak and the devaluation of British Airways Avios, it was time to add travel partner into the mix. While I was personally hoping they’d add Alaska Airlines as a travel partner, I’ll settle for Flying Blue. Here’s why:
1. Flying Blue has lots of airline partnerships. Flying Blue isn’t just Air France and KLM (both of which are members of the SkyTeam Alliance) – the program partners with 36 other airlines, giving members access to a huge network of transportation options from around the world.
• Air Franca • China Southern Airlines
• KLM • Comair
• HOP! • Copa Airlines
• Transavia • Czech Airlines
• Aircalin • Delta Air Lines
• Kenya Airways • Garuda Indonesia
• Aeroflot • GOL
• Aerolíneas Argentinas • Japan Airlines
• Aeromexico • Jet Airways
• Air Corsica • Korean Air
• Air Europa • Malaysia Airlines
• Air Mauritius • Middle East Airlines
• Alaska Airlines • Saudi Arabian Airlines
• Alitalia • TAROM
• Bangkok Airways • Twin Jet
• Chalair Aviation • Ukraine International Airlines
• China Airlines • Vietnam Airlines
• China Eastern • Xiamen Airlines
2. Sweet Spot Award Redemptions. In addition to a massive partner network, Flying Blue has a reasonable award chart. For example, did you know you can fly roundtrip between the U.S. and the Middle East for just 50,000 miles in economy? Taxes and fees aren’t bad either, with SFO – TLV costing just under $200 roundtrip on most dates between now and September. Flying Blue has a few other sweet spot redemptions to Mexico, Hawaii, and the Caribbean. Drew has a great post on the Best Uses of Flying Blue miles, which provides a great overview of the program. Some of the information is outdated (i.e. US Airways no longer exists as an airline), but now that Air France is an Ultimate Rewards transfer partner, hopefully Drew will do a follow up post to expand on this topic.
3. Award Space. Flying Blue releases a good amount of award space and many awards can be booked online. This can be especially useful when you’re trying to book summer award flights to Europe. I still have nightmares of that time I tried to book four business class awards to Istanbul during the summer of 2012. It ended up working out because I booked flights to Abu Dhabi and Dubai first, but the booking process for the return flight home was a major hassle. Just recently I tried to book a Flying Blue award through Alaska Airlines and space was restricted – searching through the Flying Blue website, however, turned up tons of saver space through the end of the summer.
4. Flying Blue Promo Awards. Flying Blue publishes a monthly list of Promo Awards – award flights that have been temporarily discounted by up to 50%. For example, at the moment if you scroll down to the North America tab, you’ll see that Flying Blue is discounting business class flights on Air France between Boston and Europe by 25%. This flight is reduced to 46,875 miles each way and is good for travel through August 31, 2016. Now Air France does impost fuel surcharges on some flights, but in this case they’re fairly reasonable at $566.55 roundtrip. Considering the miles required is less than what most U.S. airlines require for a roundtrip business class award to Europe, this still works out favorable – especially, if you factor in an Arrival Miles redemption.
5. Air France La Premiere First Class. Air France may not boast the world’s best first class seat, but that doesn’t stop them from restricting first class award redemptions as if that were the case. Award space for their First Class product, La Premiere, is restricted to Flying Blue elite members. That’s right, even if you have all the miles needed for an inflated award ticket in their new first class cabin, you can’t redeem it unless you have Flying Blue Silver, Gold, or Platinum membership. The good news is if flying Air France La Premiere first class is on your bucket list and you do a lot of revenue travel, you could credit your miles from a partner flight to Flying Blue to try and earn Silver elite status (which requires 25,000 miles flown or 15 qualifying flights. Earning rates vary by partner airlines, so be sure to look into that before deciding to go this route. I personally wouldn’t go through all this trouble, but if Air France first class is on your bucket list, at least now it’s somewhat attainable.
Flying Blue also a transfer partner of Starwood Preferred Guest , American Express Membership Rewards, and the Citi ThankYou program. This will make stocking up on miles for Flying Blue award redemptions much easier.
Are you excited about Flying Blue being added as an Ultimate Rewards transfer partner?
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