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The next round of Flying Blue 50%-off Promo Awards is out with new awards priced out through June 30, 2013.
Flying Blue is the frequent flyer program of SkyTeam partners Air France, KLM and Air Europa. Promo awards are 50% off normal award levels and run all year long, but the gateway cities generally change every two months on a rolling basis, and these awards include either business class and economy awards (though there have been mostly economy awards lately).
Using Promo Awards, you can find award itineraries from North America to Europe and beyond for as low as 25,000 miles roundtrip in economy and 50,000 miles in business class on Air France, KLM and Air Europa. Each airline offers these discounts on different destinations and cabins. Promo award pricing is not available on Skyteam partners. So for example, you cannot book Delta flights at these reduced levels.
Flying Blue is also an instant 1:1 transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards, so this promo could be a great value for using those Amex points especially if you get in on a transfer bonus like the 35% transfer bonus they ran in September. Promo awards could also be a good deal if you got in on Flying Blue’s recent 40% buy miles bonus.
The one thing to be careful of is that Flying Blue charges hefty taxes on awards – even economy tickets can incur $400-$500 in taxes, so even though you find a promo award for 25,000 miles, it still might not be worth it. Especially if you can find that same ticket for $600-$700 and also accrue miles (award/promo tickets do not accrue miles).
The real value lies in finding promo awards on particularly expensive routes and on business class awards since you’re using a significantly smaller amount of miles and saving a lot more money on premium fares, even with steep taxes many times. Different carriers have different fuel surcharges to different cities (for example, flying into Paris and London will always be more expensive than just transiting through them), so below I list several examples which I pulled directly from airfrance.us, so price out your flight before you hop on this promotion.
The North America section of the promo awards includes three new North American gateways with discounted business class for the May-June round:
Chicago ORD to Europe 1, 2, 3 in business class for awards on KLM booked between April 29 – May 27, 2013, for flights between May 1 – June 30, 2013.
Montreal YUL to Europe 1, 2, 3 in business class for awards on Air France booked between April 29 – May 27, 2013, for flights between May 1 – June 30, 2013.
New York JFK to Europe 1, 2, 3 in business class for awards on Air Europa booked between April 29 – May 27, 2013, for flights between May 1 – June 15, 2013 (so two weeks shorter).
Here are the European zones and which countries they include:
Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Switzerland, United Kingdom
Austria, Denmark, Finland, Italy, Malta, Norway, Portugal, Spain inc. Balearic Islands, Sweden
Albania, Algeria, Belarus, Bosnia-Herzogovina, Bulgaria, Canary Islands, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Israel, Latvia, Libya, Lithuania, Macedonia, Moldova, Morocco, Poland, Romania, Western Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Turkey, Tunisia, Ukraine.
So if you’re based on the east coast, you might be able to take advantage of some really well-priced award tickets this spring to some pretty far-flung places.
You won’t be able to start booking any of these until April 29, so I can’t show you any actual promo award availability, but I did want to point out a couple routes to take a look at taxes and charges and give you an idea of how much these awards might cost you.
Let’s say you just wanted to take a fun long weekend in Amsterdam in May, flying from Chicago so you can take advantage of the KLM promo award from that city. A standard business class roundtrip ticket on this route in May (during the promo period) would cost you a base fare of $5,583 plus taxes and fees totaling $954 for a total ticket price of $6,537.
You’d still have to pay that $954 on the promo award, but you’d be saving $5,500 and getting a per-mile value of 11.2 cents each – pretty great.
If you wanted to fly from Montreal to, let’s say Rome (remember, for the promo award, all your segments have to be on Air France), a ticket for a week in May is running at around $2,455 – a base fare of $1,492 + $963 in taxes. So you’d still be paying those taxes and fees, yielding only about 3 cents per mile in value – worse deal, but still you’re getting about a 60% discount on an already cheap business class fare.
As always, do the math and make sure a particular redemption makes sense for you – especially when there are such large taxes involved. You can definitely find some very expensive flights to redeem for that will save you a ton of money and miles. The other good thing is that when the booking period begins, at least, there is usually plenty of promo award availability, so if you’re thinking about a trip to Europe in May or June, definitely look into booking using promo awards starting April 27.