If you’re looking for a new frequent flyer scheme to join, the Air France/KLM Flying Blue program is undoubtedly a worthwhile option. With an extensive route network through Paris-Charles de Gaulle and Amsterdam-Schipol, the Flying Blue program offers accessible redemptions for flights to the Americas, Europe, and Africa. On this basis, here is a complete guide to the KLM Flying Blue Miles program.
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What is the Air France – KLM Flying Blue Miles Program?
The Dutch and French flag carriers have a joint mileage program called Flying Blue.
Both airlines are part of the Sky Team alliance which also includes US carrier Delta, Mexican flag carrier AeroMexico, and many others.
As such, you can redeem your KLM air miles on all Sky Team airlines and book tickets for the alliance partners through the Flying Blue website.
Here is a breakdown of some of the best-valued Sky Team routes:
- KLM flights from Amsterdam to South America (Lima, São Paulo, Buenos Aires, and Quito);
- KLM/Air France flights from Amsterdam/Paris to North America (New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Los Angeles, Houston, Minneapolis);
- AirEuropa low-cost flights from Madrid to South America (Montevideo, Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Asunción, Buenos Aires, Bogotá);
- Delta flights from Atlanta to Asia and Europe;
- KLM/Air France flights from Amsterdam/Paris to Asia (Bangkok, Singapore, Tokyo, Beijing, Ho Chi Minh City);
- Air France flights from Paris to Africa (Dakar, Abidjan, Casablanca, Cairo).
There are naturally many more routes, but these are some of the most popular ones.
As a rule of thumb, you’ll get the best Flying blue deals if you fly from one of the hub airports (Paris, Amsterdam, Atlanta, LAX, JFK) to other hub airports.
It’s also relatively easy to get connections to these hub airports from anywhere in Europe or the US via KLM air miles.
Things to Know About the KLM Flying Blue Program: Earning KLM Air Miles
Now you know which airlines are part of the Sky Team alliance, it’s time to start earning KLM air miles.
On this basis, here are some of the best ways to earn Flying Blue miles.
Earning Flying Blue Miles Through Flights
The easiest way to get Air France/KLM miles is by flying with Sky Team airlines. When you book your ticket, you simply enter your Flying Blue number and voilà. The airlines will automatically credit the miles to your Flying Blue account.
The catch is that it will take A LOT of flying to earn a significant amount of miles with this method.
As an example, if you fly from intercontinental four times in a year in economy, you’ll earn about 12-15k miles.
With these, you’ll be able to choose your seats in economy class for free or receive an award ticket for a very short flight (Amsterdam-Paris, for example).
The miles expire after two years. As such, if you only fly every 3-4 months with a Sky Team airline, you won’t get a lot out of your miles.
In this context, I recently flew from Amsterdam to São Paulo, and it cost me 20k miles to upgrade to “Economy Comfort” seats. These have more legroom and recline, but other than that, it’s still economy class. If you buy them without miles, they cost around €100 for a 12h flight.
Considering how much flying it takes to earn 20k miles, it’s easy to see that flying alone isn’t the best method to amass KLM air miles.
Earning KLM Air Miles Through Credit Cards
Depending on your financial situation – and your country of residence, earning miles with credit cards is a better option.
Flying Blue is part of the American Express Membership Rewards program. As such, you can transfer your miles from your credit card and use them for Flying Blue rewards.
If you live in the US, Flying Blue works with every major points currency such as Capital One, Citi, and Chase credit cards.
If you live in Europe, you can use the Flying Blue Mastercard. Different rules apply depending on your country of residence.
Many credit cards give you a sign-up bonus of 10-20k miles, already beating what you could earn annually as an average flyer.
Earning Flying Blue Miles Through Hotels and Partner Companies
Flying Blue partners with a host of companies, but one of the best ways to rack up miles is to use their hotel booking platform.
The nightly rates are generally a bit more expensive than on other booking sites, but you get a lot of miles in return.
As an example, I recently paid €80 for a night in a 4-star hotel in Santo Domingo and got 2.4k miles. Getting that number of miles with a flight would cost you well over €300.
There are also deals through car rental companies, Marriott Bonvoy, and World of Hyatt, among others.
Having tried most of them, I believe that the most bang-for-your-bucks partnership is Flying Blue’s own hotel booking platform.
How to Buy Flying Blue Miles
Another way to earn Flying Blue miles is to buy them on the website.
They usually cost around €500 for 20k miles. Some months, however, Flying Blue has promotions, and these can be interesting. You buy X amount of miles – and get 50%, 70%, or even 100% additional miles for free.
As an example, I once bought 14k miles for €350 with 50% (7k miles) as a gift.
I then used these 21k miles for a promotional Flying Blue award ticket from Amsterdam to Mexico City. I had to pay around €70 in fees and taxes, but the ticket usually costs at least €600, so it was great value.
Buying miles with promotions is a solid option.
Nevertheless, don’t buy miles to speculate because they might devaluate, and you never know how much your future ticket will cost in miles.
How to Value Flying Blue Miles
According to The Points Guy, Flying Blue miles are worth £0.01 (€0.012).
Using that valuation, we can do the calculation with my AMS-MEX reward ticket. The miles were worth €252. As such, I paid around €322 euros with taxes and fees. The regular cash price for the ticket was around €600.
That makes it excellent value for money, even though I paid a bit more because I bought the miles in advance.
Explaining the Flying Blue Levels
There are four Flying Blue levels: Explorer, Silver, Gold, and Platinum.
You reach these levels through Flying Blue XP points.
In simple terms, every time you fly, you earn XP points. The amount depends on your route and booking class.
Every level has different benefits. Silver, for example, gets one free checked bag on every flight, promotions on seat selections, and so on.
If you reach Silver (100 XP), you’ll keep the remaining points, but the Flying Blue XP points expire after one year. Your qualification is only valid for one year, so you need to fly enough within the next twelve months to keep your status.
Things to Know About the KLM Flying Blue Program: Spending KLM Air Miles
Now you know how to earn KLM air miles, it’s time to get to the fun part: spending them.
Spending Flying Blue Miles on Flights
Spending your Air France/KLM miles on a Flying Blue award ticket is undoubtedly the best way to redeem them.
I previously mentioned my Amsterdam – Mexico City award ticket, but there are many other top-notch flights deals.
Always check the Flying Blue website for award promotions. Many destinations (often in North America) will have promotional offers where you can fly long-haul business class for as little as 40k miles.
You always have to pay the taxes and fees extra, but these deals are still excellent value.
There are two caveats to mention:
- Flying Blue award tickets are often non-modifiable and sometimes non-refundable;
- You have to be flexible as the cheap award tickets are only available on selected dates and routes.
Spending Flying Blue Miles on Hotels
You can also use your Flying Blue miles on their bespoke hotel booking platform.
In general, you won’t get super-cheap rates on luxury hotels, but it’s relatively simple to get a room upgrade or free breakfast.
I don’t think it’s a great way to spend your Flying Blue miles, but it’s an option if you have some miles lying around that are about to expire.
Using Flying Blue Miles for Upgrades
Another popular method to spend your miles is to upgrade your booking class. On short-haul flights, upgrades cost between 20k-30k miles. It’s not challenging to upgrade these, but then short-haul business class isn’t that much different from economy these days.
If you’re flying long-haul, upgrades can range anywhere from 40k-200k miles.
If your goal is to fly business on the cheap with Sky Team airlines, award tickets are usually a better option.
Other Flying Blue Rewards and Transfers
You can also redeem your miles in Flying Blue’s online shop selling all sorts of travel gear or with car rental partner companies.
Finally, you can also donate miles to charity or transfer them to another Flying Blue member.
Conclusion on the Air France – KLM Flying Blue Loyalty Program
The Air France/KLM Flying Blue miles program is an all-around top choice for frequent globetrotters.
It’s arguably the best program within the Sky Team alliance – and works especially well in Europe and the Americas.
To conclude this guide, here are the points to remember:
- The easiest way to earn Flying Blue miles is via credit cards or by flying A LOT;
- The Flying Blue hotel booking platform is another recommendable choice to earn miles;
- You can buy miles for great prices on the Flying Blue website during their promotional periods (every few months); and
- The best way to spend KLM air miles is on promotional award tickets.