The Illogical New Flying Blue Program, Explained in Screenshots

Jun 4, 2018

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On June 1, the new Flying Blue program took full effect. Award tickets are now priced not on a traditional region- or distance-based award chart, but rather on a pricing calculator.

Like many frequent flyers, I was hesitant about the new program, especially given the rather minimalist pricing calculator which gave prices “starting from” a certain amount with no further details. Routes not flown by Air France or KLM are not available for pricing in the new calculator. After a couple of days of utilizing the search engine and observing the award pricing, I’m confident in the following: I have no idea what an award ticket will cost.

Thanks to the confusing award search results, a lack of award charts, a sub-par pricing calculator, no routing rules written anywhere I can find and more, a standard explanation of the new program is rather impossible and, at this moment, pointless. Instead, I’ll show you a series of screenshots to try and impart upon you the new Flying Blue logic.

Separate But Equal

A business and economy-class ticket cost the same amount of miles from Hong Kong to Atlanta:

Just kidding; this is what it costs to fly the same route the following day:

First is Worst

Delta One Luau

How Much Is Business to Europe?

San Francisco to Amsterdam is 168,500 miles nonstop in business:

But it’s only 151,000 if you take the same flight and continue to Hong Kong:

But if you want to go to Hong Kong, you should go through Paris because it’s only 93,500 miles:

But if you just want to go to Paris, it’s 102,500 miles:

But you should fly Delta to Paris and save 30,500 miles and $210:

Europe is Africa, and Africa is Europe

Tokyo to Paris is 36,000 miles nonstop in economy. That’s pretty good:

But you should fly to Reunion off the coast of Madagascar for $70 more and no extra miles:

Fly Further to Reduce Your Cost

Indicative of most of the above examples, you should fly further with Flying Blue to reduce your cost. More than half of international destinations from the US cost significantly less using one mystery location. Los Angeles to Tokyo via Europe:

Fly Los Angeles to Tokyo with the mystery Flying Blue location as the destination to save 11,500 miles in economy or 40,000 miles in business:

(There’s enough info in this screen shot for you to figure out the location)

Domestic Decisions

Delta operated domestic flights can still be a good deal; but Flying Blue make’s you choose your routing carefully:

Region Defined: Hawaii, Central America and (Parts of) the Caribbean

Honolulu to Atlanta to San Juan for an outstanding price of 14,500 miles:

San Juan is in the same region as Hawaii because it costs 3,000 more miles to just take the first leg and stop at Atlanta:

Bottom Line

I pride myself on studying loyalty programs to understand even the most complex rules and how to extract value from these rules. With the new Flying Blue, that currently is not possible. This is the most confusing and illogical program I’ve observed:

  • Award prices do not correlate to revenue prices.
  • Premium cabins can be less expensive than economy.
  • I’m fairly confident some Delta routes in their entirety have been excluded from booking via Flying Blue (Los Angeles – Sydney, for example).
  • No defined regions or zones of any logical manner have revealed themselves, even after I completed a few hundred award searches.

I hope the program becomes more transparent over the coming months and at some point I can give a full, useful breakdown of the logic of the new Flying Blue. Until then, enjoy the Wild West of airline loyalty programs over on Air France or KLM’s websites.

Featured photo by Shutterstock.com

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