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Flying Blue 50% Off Promo Awards Announced and a Guide on How to Book Them

by on May 3, 2011 · 19 comments

in Air France, American Express, Delta, Flying Blue, KLM, Points Guy Pointers

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I find Flying Blue (the frequent flyer program of Air France, KLM, and some other Skyteam carriers) to be generous with award availability. They even run “50% off” promo awards all year long, which means you can fly roundtrip from certain North American cities to Europe and beyond for as low as 25,000 in coach and 50,000 in business. Flying Blue is a 1:1 transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards, so it’s a great way to stretch the value of your Amex points. Note: Flying Blue taxes on awards are pretty high – for example a 25,000 roundtrip award to Europe may have $450 in taxes. If you can buy that same ticket for $650, it makes sense to just purchase it and earn miles. However, there are some expensive routes – especially in business class, that can be unbelievable values.

The May/June awards can be booked until June 28, 2011 and are valid for travel May 1- June 30, 2011. One of the great things I learned this past weekend from frequent flyer legend Steve Belkin (beaubo on Flyertalk), is that Israel is included in Europe 3. So in essence, you can transfer 50,000 Amex points to Air France and then book a business class roundtrip award to Tel Aviv- an amazing deal, even if it does require a stop in Paris or Amsterdam. Remember, promo awards are only eligible on Air France and/or KLM flights.
Before you get too excited and start transferring Amex points, make sure your awards are available. To check award availability, create a Flying Blue account and then once you are logged in click the “Show” button to get a drop down menu and then select “Book my award ticket”.

Enter city pairs and class of service

Dates with promo awards will come up in green

Select the promo award, note that some classic awards may be mixed in, so verify the segment is at the promo level

Final damage: 50,000 miles and $747

$747 in fees is pretty steep, but it’s not so bad considering this exact itinerary would cost $5,082 to purchase. So $5,082 – $747 = $4,335 saved for using a measly 50,000 points. Thus, each Amex point saves you 8.7 cents. Granted, you should factor in the fact that you wouldn’t earn any miles on the award redemption, but the point is that Amex points can save you a ton of money and allow you to book into business class for half of what you’d pay for coach (I checked and the coach fare for these flights was $1,515 total roundtrip).

Air France Paid Business Class Fare of $5,082

Since Delta and Air France are in the same alliance and these are classic awards, I knew this same flight would be bookable using Delta miles as well, so I pulled up delta.com -> Skymiles -> Use miles -> Award ticket reservations and entered in the same search criteria. With no hassle whatsoever, the exact flights popped up, albeit at 120,000 miles for business class because Delta does not consider Israel part of Europe. A 70,000 mile difference is pretty extreme, however, Delta is currently running a 50% transfer bonus on Amex transfers, so you’d only need to transfer 80,000 points.
Delta’s fees are  much lower; coming in at $181. So let’s do the math – if you go the Flying Blue route, you are getting 8.7 cents per point, whereas Delta gives a return of $5,082 – $181 = 6.1 cents per point. Not bad, but I’d still go the Air France route unless I was short on cash and flush with points.

If you don’t currently have an American Express card that allows you to earn Membership Rewards points and want to get in on these Promo Awards, I highly recommend the Platinum card. Amex is currently offering 25,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend $1,000 within three months and perhaps one of the best aspects of this card is that you can immediately advance yourself up to 60,000 points as long as you’ve been an Amex customer for at least 6 months (otherwise you have to wait 6 months to advance). That means you could get the card, advance yourself the 25,000-50,000 points needed for a Promo award and once your 25,000 sign-up bonus hits, you’d have a year to earn back the additional amount of points beyond 25,000 that you advanced yourself. The card has a $450 annual fee, but comes with a ton of other benefits like $200 in airline rebates, lounge access on Delta, US Airways, Continental (Until Sept 30), Alaska, Starwood Gold status and many more. If interested, check out my most recent review of the card.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • Gregory

    Hey TPG – This might be a silly question, but is there a way to have Air France send emails when the new Promo Awards come out? Their website isn’t exactly user-friendly and I can’t find a place to opt-in to emails at all, much less a specific type of email. Thanks!

  • The Points Guy

    @gregory- I think you can opt=in for emails when you sign up for an account. Otherwise, I always just check at the end of February/April/June/August/October/December

  • Andrew

    TPG – What is Affaires Elite… is that part of their new branding? Some markets have it and some don’t…

  • The Points Guy

    Thats actually a really good question- one I tried finding an answer to and couldn’t. Will keep you updated when I find out

  • Sebastian

    From what I understand, there are “normal” awards and “elite” awards. Normal awards are available to everybody whereas elite awards are only available to Flying Blue elite members — and cost more. [1] says: “As a Flying Blue Silver member, you qualify for award tickets that are exclusively reserved for Elite members. Elite Award: The Elite Award is available on certain flights, for 115% of the Award Miles usually required for a Classic Award in the same cabin class.”

    Doesn’t really sound terribly exciting to me, unless you really really want to be in a certain class. Oh well.

    [1] http://www.airfrance.us/X02/en/local/voyageurfrequent/flyingblue/fblue_avantages_elite_silver.htm)

  • Eric

    I try to look on Delta for 2 J seats from MIA to CDG hoping with this promo it would price out at a decent price and the best I see in 195k per ticket so I must be doing something wrong.

  • The Points Guy

    Air France flies MIA-CDG and they should only be 100k Delta miles if there is availability. I recommend using airfrance.us to look for dates that have Classic Awards and then plug them into Delta.com. You can also sign up for expertflyer.com to search Air France Classic Business Class (O Class) space.

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  • Johan

    I want to book a return ticket from Europe (Stockholm) to US (somewhere) in the middle of July. I am running late for cheap ticket deals and prices are peaking. I am currently evaluating two options:
    1) Book an expensive ordinary ticket right now
    2) Wait for the coming promo awards (at the end of June) but risking having to purchase a ticket at an even higher price if no proper tickets are released.
    * What is your best advice?
    * If I am eager to book in connection to the release is there a good chance to get at ticket somewhere to US even though the season is peaking?
    * Will they release a couple of tickets for each day (i.e. if one of the destinations is Boston will initially each day be bookable)?

  • DuPree

    Do you know if you can use Delta miles to book these promo awards on AirFrance? I’m looking at the specials currently on for August from IAD-CDG and I find bus class for 25K miles on the AirFrance site but the same flight on the Delta site is not giving the discount. Also, if there is a way to use it with Delta miles, can you use it in conjunction with a low tier Delta flight to get me to the city where the discount is from? For example can I find a low tier ticket from ATL-IAD and then use the AirFrance special IAD-CDG and only use a total of 25K miles for the entire ATL-CDG trip?

  • Anonymous

    No- only Flying Blue miles can be used to book promo awards.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks again for this post. I have a question though.

    Let’s pretend you are a Amex Platinum Card member who has 50K membership rewards points. Aren’t Platinum members eligible to cash in a flight to Europe on Air France for 40K because of their 1.25 redemption rate?

  • Anonymous

    Edit: I think I had that wrong. It’s Pay With Points where you get that 1.25 for every point.

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  • Joeyvegaz

    TPG, how are you getting the May/June awards to show up? All I can see are awards the must be traveled by 29 February. Do I need to Flying Blue account?

  • Joeyvegaz

    Please disregard my last comment. I was thinking this was for 2012.

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