Sweet Spot Sunday: Fly from the US to Europe, North Africa from 21,500 miles each way

Apr 18, 2021

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Sweet Spot Sunday is a weekly series highlighting the best-value award redemptions across loyalty programs.

While the SkyTeam alliance may not have the most powerful loyalty programs, Air France-KLM’s Flying Blue is often considered one of the best. It prices award tickets dynamically but frequently offers excellent deals on transatlantic flights. Two awards that frequently offer a great deal are flights from the U.S. to Europe and North Africa.

Better yet, you can transfer points to Flying Blue from all the major transferable points programs, including:

Let’s take a closer look at these redemptions in this week’s edition of Sweet Spot Sunday.

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In This Post

Why it’s special

KLM airplanes at the gate at Amsterdam airport
You can use Flying Blue miles to score great deals on flights to Amsterdam and beyond. (Photo by Toniflap/Shutterstock)

Flying Blue offers excellent pricing on one-way flights from the U.S. to Europe and North Africa. Most SkyTeam programs — for example, Delta SkyMiles — charge 40,000-plus miles one-way for these awards. Flying Blue frequently offers these awards starting at 21,500 Flying Blue miles one-way plus moderate taxes and fees.

Here’s an example flight from New York-JFK to Zagreb, Croatia (ZAG).

JFK to ZAG Flying Blue itineraries
(Screenshot courtesy of KLM)

You can book flights from the West Coast for the same price on many dates. In my test searches, I found that flights from San Francisco (SFO) to Frankfurt, Germany (FRA), start at 21,500 miles one-way on some dates, but prices spike on other dates. You’ll want to be flexible to find the best deals.

SFO to FRA Flying Blue itineraries
(Screenshot courtesy of KLM)

It’s worth mentioning that you won’t always get a great deal with Flying Blue. Award tickets are priced dynamically, so you’ll see different prices depending on your route, date and operating airline. Regardless, if you can find flights in the 20,000 to 25,000-mile range, you’ll walk away with a solid deal when compared to booking with Delta SkyMiles or other SkyTeam partners.

Related: Sweet Spot Sunday: How to fly round-trip to Europe in business class for 88,000 miles

Business class can be a great deal too

Air France A380 business class
Business class can be worth the extra miles if the price is right. (Photo by Emily McNutt/The Points Guy)

This article focuses on economy-class awards, but it’s worth noting that you can get great value on business-class tickets. One-way flights from the U.S. to Europe start at 53,000 miles on most routes. Awards at this price point are relatively easy to find, even at the end of the year when international travel may resume more broadly.

JFK to FRA Flying Blue business class itinerary
(Screenshot courtesy of KLM)

Keep this in mind when searching for a Flying Blue award ticket to Europe or North Africa. It may be worth paying more miles for business class if you want more comfort on your flight across the pond — especially if the price is right.

Related: Crossing the Atlantic on Air France’s 777-300ER in business class, New York to Paris

What’s the deal with taxes and fees?

One downside to booking with Flying Blue is that you’re liable for paying higher taxes and fees than you would with some other programs. This is in large part because Flying Blue passes on moderate fuel surcharges on some award tickets. You’re also subject to paying usual fees like TSA tax, departure fees and applicable local taxes.

It’s always best to compare the cost of a Flying Blue award ticket to a paid ticket. Sometimes it won’t make sense to book an award ticket — for example, this round-trip flight from New York-JFK to Prague (PRG) costs $695 or 43,000 miles and $249.03 in standard economy. In this case, you’d get 1.03 cents per mile in value, which is lower than our Flying Blue valuation of 1.2 cents per mile.

JFK to PRG KLM Google Flights itinerary
(Image courtesy of Google Flights)

On the other hand, it can make sense to book with Flying Blue when tickets are expensive. For example, this one-way flight from Chicago O’Hare (ORD) to Frankfurt (FRA) via Amsterdam (AMS) costs $1,573 in mid-July.

ORD to FRA on KLM Google Flights itinerary
(Image courtesy of Google Flights)

On the other hand, you can book the same flight for 23,000 miles and $106.02 in taxes and fees. This gives you 6.4 cents per point in value, which is exceptional for Flying Blue.

ORD to FRA Flying Blue itinerary on booking page
(Screenshot courtesy of KLM)

Related: Complete Guide to Flying Blue monthly promo rewards

How to book

Air France 777's at The Gate at CDG
(Photo by hanohiki/Shutterstock)

Booking Flying Blue award tickets is simple. You can book these awards on either Air France’s or KLM’s website. Both websites display the same prices and award space. I’ve grown to prefer the KLM website and will use it for the sample booking below.

Step 1: Log in to your Flying Blue account

You’ll need a Flying Blue account before you can search for an award ticket. If you’re on the KLM site, click the “Sign up” button at the upper right-hand corner of the screen. You can then create your account by filling out the form on the sign-up page.

KLM.us website homepage
(Screenshot courtesy of KLM)

Step 2: Enter your trip information

To book, log in to your Flying Blue account and click the “Book with Miles” button at the center of the screen. Then, enter your desired itinerary and click the orange “Search flights” button.

KLM.com book with miles page
(Screenshot courtesy of KLM)

Step 3: Pick your flights

All flight options and their respective prices will appear at the center of the screen. You can use the filtering options at the top of the screen to narrow down your search and use the calendar search function to view flight options on other dates. The cheapest award is highlighted in green.

Looking at award flights on KLM.com
(Screenshot courtesy of KLM)

Step 5: Confirm and pay

Once you find a flight you like, click on its price to start the booking process. You’ll first be asked to confirm your class of service and then brought to an overview of your booking. This shows the final points and cash price. If all looks good, click the continue button at the bottom right-hand corner of the screen to finalize your booking.

Flying Blue award itinerary from JFK to PRG
(Screenshot courtesy of KLM)

Don’t forget to pay the taxes and fees with a credit card that earns bonus points on flights ot travel, like The Platinum Card® from American Express or Chase Sapphire Reserve. You also may want to consider paying with the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card if your award has high taxes and fees. You’ll earn only 2x miles per dollar spent, but you can redeem miles to offset your out-of-pocket cost.

Related: The best websites for searching SkyTeam award availability

How to earn points for this award

Air France and KLM Planes
(Photo by Markus Mainka/Shutterstock)

The easiest way to earn Flying Blue miles is by transferring points from various credit card points programs. As discussed in the intro, you can transfer points from the following programs to Flying Blue:

I recommend starting with Chase Ultimate Rewards if you’re new to the points and miles world. The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card has a hefty sign-up bonus and earns bonus points on travel and dining. Plus, it’s in your best interest to open Chase cards before you open cards with other banks due to Chase’s strict 5/24 application rule.

Here’s a look at the best Chase credit card offers:

  • Chase Sapphire Preferred Card – Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
  • Ink Business Preferred Credit Card – Earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
  • Chase Sapphire Reserve – Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.

Check out my full guide to earning and redeeming with Flying Blue for more earning methods.

Related: Fly from Florida to Montana and everywhere in between for 7,500 LifeMiles

Bottom line

Flying Blue has long been one of my favorite airline loyalty programs for flying to Europe. In this article, I showed you how to use the program to fly from the U.S. to Europe and North Africa on the cheap. Bookmark this article and refer to it the next time you’re traveling to one of these regions — you may find it’s the best way to get to your final destination.

Featured photo by Nisangha/Getty Images

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Offer ends 11/10/2021.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

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More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 11/10/2021.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
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Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
$250
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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