Flying Blue Promo Awards – Half Off Air France and KLM Award Flights Through March 2014

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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here – The Enhanced Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPENThe Platinum Card from American Express,

The next round of Flying Blue Promo Awards – where you can score award flights on Air France and KLM for as few as 50% of the miles normally needed from major gateways like Boston, Atlanta and Chicago – is out, and there are a couple new things to note.

First the bad news. Whereas in the past flights have been priced at 50% of the miles, now some are only discounted 25%. Coupled with the recent Flying Blue award chart devaluation, don’t plan on saving too many miles on those routes. Now the good news. Instead of just a two-month window for booking and flights, many of these awards are now available for 5 months from November 1, 2013 – March 31, 2014. So rather than using these for spur-of-the-moment trips, you can actually plan in advance – you just need to book between October 30 – November 30. Blackout dates are from December 18-23, 2013 and from January 2-6, 2014.

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The current list of Promo Award North America gateway cities and mileage rates to Europe includes:

Business Class

  • Boston: 46,875 one-way, 25% discount Air France
  • Cancun: 46,875 one-way, 25% discount Air France
  • Chicago: 31,250 miles one-way, 50% discount KLM
  • Detroit: 46,875 one-way, 25% discount Air France
  • Houston: 31,250 miles one-way, 50% discount Air France
  • Montreal: 46,875 one-way, 25% discount Air France
  • New York JFK: 46,875 one-way, 25% discount Air France/KLM
  • Toronto: 31,250 miles one-way, 50% discount KLM
  • Vancouver: 31,250 miles one-way, 50% discount KLM
  • Washington DC: 46,875 one-way, 25% discount Air France/KLM

Economy and Premium Economy

  • Atlanta: 18,750 miles one-way, 25% discount Air France
  • Boston: 18,750 miles one-way, 25% discount Air France
  • Calgary: 18,750 miles one-way, 25% discount KLM
  • Cancun: 18,750 miles one-way, 25% discount, Premium Economy 25,000 miles each way, 50% discount Air France
  • Chicago: 12,500 miles one-way, 50% discount
  • Detroit: 18,750 miles one-way, 25% discount Air France
  • Houston: 12,500 miles one-way, 50% discount, Premium Economy 37,500 miles each way, 25% discount Air France/KLM
  • Los Angeles: 12,500 miles one-way, 50% discount
  • Mexico City: 18,750 miles one-way, 25% discount KLM
  • Montreal: 18,750 miles one-way, 25% discount, Premium Economy 25,000 miles each way, 50% discount Air France
  • New York JFK: 18,750 miles one-way, 25% discount Air France/KLM
  • San Francisco: 12,500 miles one-way, 50% discount Air France/KLM
  • Vancouver: 18,750 miles one-way, 25% discount KLM
  • Toronto: 12,500 miles one-way, 50% discount, Premium Economy 25,000 miles each way, 50% discount Air France/KLM
  • Washington DC: 12,500 miles one-way, 50% discount Air France/KLM

While some of the 50% off awards are still good deals, I’d personally stay away from the 25% off ones since if you look at the business class promo awards, your roundtrip would be 93,750 miles roundtrip – just 6,250 miles less than a full-price roundtrip business class ticket would have cost you before April’s devaluation.

That makes it much harder to squeeze a decent value from your Flying Blue miles, especially since Air France and KLM do levy sometimes hefty fuel surcharges and fees on award tickets. Though those fees are less than they have been in the past, they can still be hundreds of dollars.

Typically, an economy award ticket will incur about $130 in fees roundtrip, a premium economy ticket will carry about $290 in fees roundtrip and a business class roundtrip award will cost you about $450-$500 in fees.

I’m disappointed by the fact that there are just a few cities with 50% discounts (only 4 in business class!) and the fact that there are no La Premier (first class on Air France) promo awards available, which Flying Blue said there would be when they devalued the program and claimed to be opening up first class award space to non-elites. Let’s hope that changes in the next round!

On the positive side, if any of the 50% off gateways are in your area, you can still score some decent deals, and 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.

Also remember that “Europe” includes more than just Air France and KLM’s hubs in Paris and Amsterdam, so you can fly these awards to various other connecting cities.

Flying Blue is also an instant 1:1 transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards if you have a card like the Premier Rewards Gold or Platinum, 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.  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.

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. The current sign-up bonus on both the personal and business Starwood Preferred Guest cards from Amex are 25,000 points when you spend $5,000 in 6 months.

While I might avoid the 25%-off redemptions, if you are flying economy, you can’t beat 25,000 miles roundtrip on a 50%-off 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.

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