Air France/KLM Flying Blue Half-Off Promo Awards For September-October Announced

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The next round of Flying Blue 50%-off Promo Awards is out with new awards priced out from the gateway cities in the US include Chicago, Dallas, Houston and Washington DC. You have to book between August 27-October 29 for travel between September 1-October 31.

Screen shot 2013-08-16 at 8.22.43 AMFlying 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. However, thanks to Flying Blue’s recent devaluation which raised business class award levels to 125,000 miles roundtrip, those promo business class awards have shot up from 50,000 miles to 62,500 miles roundtrip. That could still be a deal depending on your miles balance and the regular pricing of tickets, but it’s still a 25% devaluation.

A good part of the changes in rules is that Flying Blue would now make First class (Premier) awards available as Promo Awards and bookable to all- not just Flying Blue elites. However, there are no Premiere Promo Awards this time around, so let’s hope that changes in the next round!

The other great thing about Flying Blue is that you can book one-way awards for half the price of a roundtrip, unlike with partner Delta, so it gives you an extra level of flexibility.

Flying Blue is an instant 1:1 transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards, so this promo could be a good value for using those Amex points especially if they run another 35% transfer bonus like they ran last September. You could also transfer Starwood Preferred Guest points to Flying Blue, and get a 5,000-mile bonus on transfers of 20,000 miles, so all you’d need for a roundtrip business class promo award would be 52,500 SPG points. With the current limited-time 30,000-point sign-up bonuses (when you spend $5,000 in 6 months) on the personal and business Starwood Amex cards, one sign-up bonus would be enough for a one-way promo award ticket in business class, and if you get both cards, you’ll have more than enough miles for a roundtrip business class promo award.

For Membership Rewards points, the best current offer is the Business Gold Rewards card with 50,000 points after $5,000 spent within the first 3 months with the $175 annual fee waived the first year.

The one thing to be careful of is that Flying Blue charges hefty taxes on awards. Although Flying Blue lowered these surcharges on economy tickets to about $130 roundtrip (50 EUR flat each way), they remain high on business class tickets and can even hit the $600-$700 mark, so always do the math and make sure you’re getting enough value from your points.

Promo Award Cities

This time around the promo cities include the following:

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Chicago – Europe in Economy on Air France and KLM booked between August 27 – September 29, 2013, for flights between September 1 – October 31, 2013.

Dallas – Europe in Business on KLM booked between August 27 – September 29, 2013, for flights between September 1 – October 31, 2013.

Houston – Europe in Business on KLM booked between August 27 – September 29, 2013, for flights between September 1 – October 31, 2013.

Washington, DC – Europe in Business on Air France and KLM booked between August 27 – September 29, 2013, for flights between September 1 – October 31, 2013.

Although the promo awards from these cities aren’t bookable yet, just to give you an example of how these work, I looked at the gateway cities from July and August which are bookable until August 29 for travel until August 31, and which include New York JFK, Boston, Chicago, Minneapolis, Detroit and Montreal.

There is actually still plenty of availability left on many dates for the rest of the month from several of these cities to various destinations in Europe, as you can see with this calendar of availability from Minneapolis MSP to Amsterdam.

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Let’s say you’re based in the Midwest and can get yourself to Delta hub Minneapolis so that you can take a long weekend in Amsterdam at the end of the month to see the newly reopened Rijksmuseum and stay at the new Andaz Prinsengracht. All in, you could book a promo award business class ticket on Air France for 62,500 miles and $640.

Screen shot 2013-08-16 at 9.07.45 AMThat’s still a pretty big chunk of change, but well less than an economy ticket would cost you, and when you look at comparable business class itineraries on those dates, they’re actually going for over $8,000.

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Not that any savvy TPG reader would likely pay that, and the price is inflated because this ticket is for next weekend, but just going off the sticker price on the ticket, you’d be getting nearly 12 cents per mile in value. Even going off typical prices for these itineraries, which are around the $4,000-$5,000 mark, you’d be getting well over 5 cents per mile in value.

If you are flying economy, you can’t beat 25,000 miles roundtrip on an award ticket from a North American city to Europe (unless you’re specifically using Avios to fly from Boston to Dublin), and thanks to Flying Blue’s flattening of surcharges on economy tickets, you won’t be much out of pocket. In terms of business class tickets, taxes and surcharges can still be hefty and around the $700 mark, but if you’re willing to pay that, you can still end up saving a lot of money and miles on Flying Blue promo awards.

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