Air France’s frequent flyer program, Flying Blue, is a 1:1 transfer partner of American Express, but I generally don’t recommend using them for awards. Their taxes and surcharges are usually very high so it usually makes sense to transfer to Delta instead (usually at a significant transfer bonus) to book the same Skyteam award. However, every two months Flying Blue runs a list of routes that are 50% off for award redemptions. What this means is that you can fly from certain cities in the US to Europe roundtrip for 25,000 miles in coach and 50,000 miles in business class – not bad, even if there are high fees!
If you’ve never booked a promo award and want to learn more, check out my tutorial on how to book them. Now let’s take a look at the July/August promo routes from North America: Dallas and Chicago to Europe via Amsterdam (KLM flights), New York JFK, Washington Dulles, Detroit and Montreal to Europe via Paris (Air France flights). Note: Voyageur = coach, Premium Voyageur= Premium Economy and Affaires = Business Class
So what this means is that any Classic award flight you can pull up in Expertflyer that either starts or ends in one of those North American cities, will be half off. A great thing about Flying Blue is that they allow one-way awards. So you can book one way to Tel Aviv in business class for 25,000 Amex points and then the other way home using British Airways, for example (taking advantage of their 50% transfer promo). To show an example, I did an “Awards and Upgrades” search in ExpertFlyer for Montreal (YUL) to Tel Aviv (TLV) for this weekend. I used Tel Aviv because Flying Blue is one of the only programs that classifies Tel Aviv as a part of Europe, which is pretty incredible, especially with these Promo Awards.
It showed me that there was O class (Classic Business Award) space for this weekend, so I went to Airfrance.us, entered my Flying Blue number and password (which every Amex member should get and store in their profile, you can sign up for free here) and did a one-way search for YUL-TLV in business class for this Saturday.
Sure enough several Promo award options pulled up.
The final flight I selected came to only 25,000 miles and $386.44 for one way in business class – not bad, since Israel flights can cost a small fortune, in either miles or cash.
Tel Aviv was just my example, you could also substitute any city in Europe that Air France flies to and as long as there was Classic award space, the award should price to 25k one way business class or 12,500 one way coach.
An important thing to note is that these promo awards do not work if you have Delta miles. Air France will not reduce the price of their awards if you book via Delta – these discounts are only given to those who have Flying Blue miles (which Amex points transfer instantly at a 1:1 ratio). Pretty crazy to think that one 100k “Bump your Platinum Card Bonus” can get you two roundtrip business class tickets to anywhere in Europe!