Looking for a flight to Hawaii, Europe, or maybe even … Madagascar? With a stash of Flying Blue miles, you can stamp your ticket – and earning those miles may be much easier than you think.
Air France and KLM share a frequent flyer program, and it’s called Flying Blue. And you can go far by using Flying Blue miles, including seats in Air France business class or KLM business class. But these miles can also be some of the best ways to book flights on Delta, whether you’re flying within the continental U.S., out to Hawaii, or down to Mexico.
Best of all, Flying Blue miles are some of the easiest miles to earn thanks to transfer partnerships with all the major banks. So if you’re earning points on some of the top travel credit cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card, or the American Express® Gold Card, you’re earning points that can be used to book these incredible sweet spots for redeeming Flying Blue miles.
While you’ll get hit with some slightly higher cash fees on top of your miles when using Flying Blue miles, the ease of finding availability and the low rates you’ll pay more than makeup for it – especially for business class flights across the pond.
The Flying Blue program no longer has an award chart, so it’s not always simple to work out exactly how many miles you’ll need to book a flight using these miles.
Fortunately, it does have a miles price estimator to give you an idea of how many Flying Blue miles any given route will cost. The downside: It’s not 100% accurate.
The aptly named “estimator” tool will simply let you know the lowest level redemption that is possible on certain routes – not necessarily what is available at the moment. Since Flying Blue has dynamic pricing on award tickets, you may find much higher rates when you go to search for dates.
This tool should only be used as a guide for how low an award could be. I’ve noticed the numbers only resemble some sort of accuracy for routes where Air France or KLM actually fly. This means if you’re searching routes from the U.S. to destinations beyond Europe or Africa, I wouldn’t hold what it says with much validity.
The upside to booking with Flying Blue miles is that its low rates are some of the best in the business and it’s easier to find availability than some other programs. The downside: Flying Blue charges some carrier-imposed surcharges, which results in higher cash costs on award tickets than you’ll find when booking with programs that don’t pass along these surcharges, such as Delta SkyMiles.
But the fees are still fairly reasonable compared to some of the crazy high fees you’ll find when booking British Airways flights with nearly any program or Virgin Atlantic flights with Virgin points, for instance.
The total fees will vary depending on your destination and the airline you’re flying, but expect to pay roughly $75 one-way or $200 roundtrip on economy awards and $200 one-way or $450 roundtrip on business class awards when flying Air France or KLM flights to Europe.
The best way to book an Air France/KLM award with Flying Blue is to take advantage of its monthly Flying Blue Promo Rewards. Each month, Flying Blue puts select routes on sale for up to 50% off normal award rates. The discount is valid for booking throughout the month for a specific travel period.
If you scroll down the list, you’ll find the long-haul flights at the bottom, which is where you’ll find any routes from the U.S. or Canada.
If you see a KLM logo, that means that flights to/from or via Amsterdam (AMS) are on sale. If you see an Air France logo, flights to/from or via Paris-Charles de Gaulle (CDG) are on sale. Economy flights can sometimes drop as low as 11,000 miles one-way during these promo rewards sales.
Business class awards to and from the U.S. aren’t always discounted with these Flying Blue promo rewards sales. But we occasionally come across discounted business class awards, including in September 2022.
Thrifty Traveler Premium members received an award alert when business class seats to Europe were bookable as low as 42,375 Flying Blue miles thanks to a 25% off Flying Blue promo reward sale.
Better yet, travelers with American Express Membership Rewards could stack this deal with a 25% transfer bonus to Flying Blue – making it possible to book these seats with just 34,000 points one-way.
Get the next great Flying Blue Promo Rewards sale (plus other award alerts and cheap cash fares) with Thrifty Traveler Premium!
Another neat perk when redeeming Flying Blue miles is that you can book kids ages 2 to 11 at a 25% discount when they are traveling with an adult. This means if an award from New York (JFK) to Paris (CDG) costs 55,000 miles one-way in business class …
You’ll be able to book yourself and a child in business class for just 96,250 miles one-way total: 55,000 miles for the adult and 41,250 miles for the child.
Even when there aren’t any promo rewards, using Flying Blue miles to fly Air France business class or KLM business class to Europe can be a heck of a deal.
Prices vary by route, but rates start as low as 53,000 miles one-way, according to the Flying Blue miles calculator. And you can generally find award rates that low whether you’re flying nonstop to Paris or Amsterdam or connecting onward almost anywhere in Europe – if not even lower.
These rock-bottom rates were pretty widespread during the pandemic. Lately, you may have a harder time finding rates quite that low other than during a Flying Blue promo rewards sale (when they can drop even lower).
Still, you shouldn’t have too much trouble finding similar rates, such as this flight from Washington D.C.-Dulles (IAD) to Athens (ATH) via Paris (CDG) for 56,500 miles one-way in business class.
Starting further west, you’ll find that the lowest rates tend to run 60,000 or 70,000 miles each way. This is on par (or much lower) than what other airline programs charge for a business class seat to Europe, but the generally good availability on Air France/KLM Flying Blue makes these much easier to book.
Here’s an example of a flight from Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP) to Prague (PRG) via Amsterdam (AMS) for 61,000 miles one-way in business class.
From the West Coast, you could book nonstop flights from San Francisco (SFO) to Amsterdam (AMS) for only 65,000 miles one-way in business class.
One of our favorite deals in all of points and miles is booking Delta flights to Hawaii with just 35,000 Flying Blue miles roundtrip, or just 17,500 miles one-way!
This is true whether you’re flying nonstop from the West Coast, all the way from the East Coast, or with multiple stops from small regional airports, such as Fargo (FAR) in North Dakota.
This deal can be a bit hard to find the availability, but when it opens up, Thrifty Traveler Premium members are the first to find out. Last year, we sent this screaming deal with availability from nearly every airport with Delta service to the Hawaiian Islands for 35,000 Flying Blue miles roundtrip.
The list of cities in this deal was massive – including over 170 departure airports, such as Delta’s main hub in Atlanta (ATL), small town airports in the Midwest, and even flights from the northeastern corner of the U.S. in Bangor, Maine (BGR).
Read more: How to Book Delta Flights to Hawaii for Just 35,000 Miles Roundtrip
When you factor in both airline miles and cash fees, you’ll get the best deal booking Virgin Atlantic Upper Class using Flying Blue miles.
Virgin generally charges fewer points but has massive cash fees up to $1,700 roundtrip. Booking Virgin Atlantic flights with Delta SkyMiles requires minimal taxes and fees (just $6 one-way), but you’ll need to shell out 120,000 SkyMiles for a business class seat … each way. Ouch.
Instead, using Flying Blue miles is the happy medium, with which you can book business class flights flying Virgin Atlantic for as little as 63,500 miles + $189 in taxes and fees one-way, like this example from Boston (BOS) to London-Heathrow (LHR).
Flying roundtrip? Taxes and fees jump to around $686 for business class flights to London due to high U.K. departure taxes and surcharges. If you can make it work, you’ll save money by just flying over to London on Virgin and then choosing an alternate route on the way home from a different European city.
This deal to book Virgin Atlantic flights using Flying Blue miles works better for flights from the northeastern U.S. since Flying Blue has varying rates for booking Virgin Atlantic flights: the longer the flight, the more miles it’ll cost you.
For instance, flights from Atlanta (ATL) to London cost 82,000 miles one-way.
But flights from Los Angeles (LAX) to London can cost around 106,500 Flying Blue miles one-way. You may actually be better off redeeming SkyMiles if you’re dead set on using miles to fly Virgin Atlantic Upper Class from the West Coast.
One of the best sweet spots with Flying Blue miles is the fact that it prices flights to Northern Africa the same as it does for Europe flights: as low as 53,000 miles one-way, according to the miles price estimator.
Most frequent flyer programs put African flights in a different category and charge more, but you’ll often find the same low rates to destinations such as Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia, as you do to European cities when using Flying Blue miles.
For instance, you can fly from New York (JFK) to Tunis (TUN) for 55,000 miles one-way in business class.
Or, you can fly from Miami (MIA) to Casablanca (CMN) for 65,000 miles one-way in business class.
It can sometimes be hard to justify booking an economy award with Flying Blue miles due to the higher cash fees on top of your miles.
But with award rates starting from 35,000 miles one-way in economy flying to destinations such as Israel, Kenya, or even all the way to South Africa, it can be a great way to save compared to normally high cash fares on these routes.
Plus, it can be fairly easy to find the seats in economy. Check out this calendar view for one-way flights from Los Angeles (LAX) to Tel Aviv (TLV).
You may have to do some digging to find good connection times at the lowest rates, but they are there if you’re flexible with travel dates.
Redeeming Flying Blue miles can also be one of the best ways to get to remote destinations in the Indian Ocean, such as Madagascar. Check out this flight from New York (JFK) to Antananarivo (TNR) for 48,000 miles one-way in economy.
You’ll need to create a free account and log in to search with either Air France or KLM. If you’re looking for flights that are operated by either Air France or KLM, you can view fares on a flexible calendar by using this link.
Just enter your departure and arrival cities, and choose your cabin, but leave “passengers” set to “1 adult” and “departure date” blank. Then, click “Search Flights.” It’s easiest to search for availability for one-way flights separately, then combine them into a roundtrip booking if necessary.
If you do this, you’ll open up a calendar search tool as long as either Air France or KLM operates a flight on the route you’re searching.
You can then navigate between months and click through on the dates to verify availability. You’ll sometimes find that the rates listed on the calendar are incorrect, and there isn’t a way to filter for nonstop flights in the calendar view, so this will take a bit of trial and error.
Nonetheless, it can be a useful tool as long as you know its limitations. Of course, after you find some dates, you’ll want to go back and search those exact dates for the total number of passengers traveling to ensure there are enough seats for your party.
Searching for flights operated by partner airlines like Delta flights to Hawaii or Virgin flights to Europe? You’ll need to choose dates during your search and search day-by-day. Unfortunately, Flying Blue’s monthly calendar function doesn’t work for partner airline flights.
Read more: The Best Websites for Finding Award Availability
Flying Blue miles are some of the easiest airline miles to earn since you can transfer points from all major transferable points programs.
This means if you’re earning Amex Membership Rewards, Capital One Venture Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, or Citi ThankYou points, you can instantly transfer those points to Flying Blue miles at an even 1:1 ratio. Earning points on rent with Bilt Rewards? You can transfer those points to Air France/KLM Flying Blue as well.
Here are some of our favorite credit cards that earn points which can be converted to Flying Blue miles.
If you’re just starting out with points and miles, we consider the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card the best travel rewards credit card for beginners. Currently, you can earn a welcome bonus of 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 in the first three months. And with 3x points per dollar spent for dining and 2x points for travel purchases, it’s really easy to rack up a ton of Chase points that can be instantly transferred to Flying Blue miles.
Click Here to get more information about the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.
We also can’t say enough good things about the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card. It’s the bank’s first premium card, so it’s loaded with benefits such as access to Capital One Lounges and Priority Pass lounges, a $300 annual travel credit, a credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, great travel and rental car insurance protection, and more. The annual fee clocks in at $395 a year, but the benefits can easily outweigh that.
The best part is that you can currently earn 75,000 Venture Miles after spending $4,000 in the first three months. Considering you earn at least 2x for every dollar you spend on the Venture X Card, you’ll earn a total of at least 83,000 Venture Miles, which can be transferred instantly to 83,000 Flying Blue miles. That alone is enough to fly business class to Europe from anywhere in the U.S.
Click Here to learn more about the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card.
The American Express® Gold Card is currently offering a 60,000-point welcome bonus after spending $4,000 in the first six months. Better yet, you may be able to qualify for a whopping 75,000-point welcome bonus using CardMatch.
Beyond that bonus, this card is easily one of the best all-around travel cards on the market thanks largely to an unbeatable 4x return on an unlimited amount of spending at restaurants and 4x points on up to $25,000 a year spent at U.S. supermarkets – and 1x points after that.
Click Here to learn more about the American Express Gold Card.
The Citi Premier® Card is another great way to earn points that can be transferred to Flying Blue miles. You’ll earn 3x points at restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, and for travel booked with the card. Plus, there is an 80,000-point bonus after spending $4,000 within the first three months.
Click Here to learn more about the Citi Premier® Card.
Of course, you can also earn Flying Blue miles by crediting flights flown on Air France, KLM, or any other SkyTeam partner airline, such as Delta, to your Flying Blue frequent flyer account. But we think it’s easiest and more practical to rack up a ton of Flying Blue miles by transferring credit card points.
Flying Blue miles can get you a lie-flat seat to Europe or beyond for an amazing rate. And if you just want to fly economy, it can be the best way to get to Hawaii on Delta flights or even all the way to Southern Africa or Madagascar.
The fact that you can easily earn Flying Blue miles and it’s generally not too difficult to find the lowest redemption rates available make Air France/KLM’s Flying Blue program one of the easiest ways to use points and miles for your next trip.
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