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Flying Blue to add free stopovers: Here's why this could make your miles a lot more valuable

Nov. 08, 2022
6 min read
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There's big news from Flying Blue, the loyalty program for Air France and KLM. Flying Blue will be adding free stopovers to award tickets on Air France and KLM metal in the coming days, as first reported by One Mile at a Time.

The news was announced Monday in a webinar by Flying Blue's Ben Lipsey, senior vice president of customer loyalty. "Now, you're able stop over for no additional charge for up to a year."

Presently, suppose you are booking an itinerary from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to Rome Fiumicino Leonardo da Vinci Airport (FCO) via Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (AMS). In that case, Flying Blue's layover rules allow you to stay for a maximum of 23 hours and 59 minutes in Amsterdam. If you want to stay in Amsterdam for longer, you have to book two one-way tickets: LAX to AMS and then AMS to FCO.

The free stopover will allow you to stay in Amsterdam for up to 12 months at no additional cost. Per the webinar, Flying Blue's free stopover will be valid on flights connecting Air France to Air France, KLM to KLM, Air France to KLM and KLM to Air France metal.

For example, if you're traveling from Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) to Singapore Changi Airport (SIN) on Air France, passengers will be able to stop for up to 12 months in Singapore before continuing on KLM's fifth-freedom flight from Singapore to Bali's Ngurah Rai International Airport (DPS). In theory, this itinerary would cost the same number of miles as traveling directly from Paris to Bali.

Likewise, you could fly from John F. Kennedy International Airport to Amsterdam Airport Schiphol on KLM, stay for a few days, and then continue to Prague Václav Havel Airport (PRG) for the same price as a ticket from New York to Prague.

Lipsey also said that, as of now, the free stopover offer will only apply to flights on Air France and KLM metal, so customers who are connecting from Delta to KLM, for instance, will not be able to take advantage of the free stopover.

TPG's favorite programs that currently allow stopovers are Air Canada Aeroplan, Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan and Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer. Each of these programs has a different take on stopovers. Aeroplan charges 5,000 miles per stopover, but you can add stopovers to partner tickets. Meanwhile, Alaska lets you add a stopover on partner tickets, but you cannot mix partners and can only stop over in the airline's hub. Singapore only allows stopovers on its own tickets.

Related: The complete guide to maximizing stopovers and open jaws on award tickets

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What free Flying Blue stopovers could mean for travelers

Air France is launching a new business-class cabin. PHOTO BY ETHAN KLAPPER/THE POINTS GUY

In the webinar, Lipsey confirmed that the free Flying Blue stopovers will allow customers to stay for up to 12 months on a stopover before continuing to their final destination.

Paris and Amsterdam are likely the two cities that will see the most stopovers, as almost all of Air France's and KLM's flights originate or terminate in their hubs. Free stopovers will give tourists another city to visit at no additional miles or allow you to break up two long flights with a 24-hour-plus hiatus.

When traveling from San Francisco International Airport (SFO) to South Africa earlier this year, a couple of days in Amsterdam or Paris would have been ideal for breaking up the two back-to-back 10-hour red-eyes and acclimating to the time zone.

With up to 12 months to break up layovers, travelers can be strategic about how they want to book their connecting flights. For example, students studying abroad in Europe can book Amsterdam or Paris as a stopover city and another European city as a final destination for a couple of weeks down the road. That's the perfect case for a weekend trip.

Of course, many questions remain. Will free stopovers be valid on one-way tickets? How about inter-Europe short-haul flights? While we haven't been given the details yet, we'll be sure to keep you posted when we learn more.

Related: Doors, wireless charging and 4K video: A first look at Air France's new Boeing 777 business class

But website improvements need to be made first

Air France and KLM have technical issues that should be prioritized. AIRFRANCE.US

We love the idea of Flying Blue adding stopovers, but there will be hurdles that Flying Blue needs to overcome in regard to its website.

Right now, both Air France and KLM have difficult-to-use websites, particularly when it comes to searching for award availability.

To check for award availability, you have to go to either airline's website and log in to your Flying Blue account. After selecting "Book with miles," you can enter your origin, destination, travel dates, number of passengers and desired cabin. You'll see a preview of a week's worth of dates and their respective mileage prices. In our tests, the preview prices don't always match the actual prices when you click on a given date.

But most frustratingly, after that first search, Air France and KLM both have a technical glitch that doesn't allow you to run another search in that session. If you want to check another city pair or adjust the number of travelers, you'll need to close your tab, clear your cookies and log back in before entering all your search details for another search.

These issues make Flying Blue awards time-consuming and difficult to search for. Frankly, it's hard to imagine adding a stopover online would be a pleasant experience if these issues persist, so we'd like to see Flying Blue dedicate its resources to a stable booking tool first.

Related: The ultimate guide to earning and redeeming with Air France/KLM Flying Blue

Bottom line

Ultimately, we're very excited to see Flying Blue launch free stopovers, and we'll be sure to keep you posted on ways to maximize them. Although the program uses a volatile dynamic pricing model, we are optimistic that free stopovers will increase Flying Blue's customer value proposition.

As a reminder, Flying Blue miles are transferrable at a 1:1 ratio from American Express Membership Rewards, Bilt Rewards, Capital One miles, Citi ThankYou and Chase Ultimate Rewards.

Featured image by NICK ELLIS/THE POINTS GUY
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
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Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
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  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

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  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
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Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023