We all know the feeling: After spending months or years accumulating miles for a free trip, you try to redeem them, only to encounter no award inventory or sky-high redemption levels.
The Flying Blue Promo Awards are one of the little-known hacks in the travel world, and one of the best ways to beat the system. Flying Blue is the combined network of Air France and KLM, and the Promo Awards are a great way to save 25% or even 50% off the cost of your ticket. Armed with a little knowledge and a modicum of flexibility, you can make your travel dreams come true.
One of the best things about the Promo Awards is that they change every month. Currently (September 2019), you need to purchase your ticket by September 30 for travel between November 1-December 31. The current lineup is typical: four flights from North America to Paris, two from the Caribbean, six from Asia/Middle East and seven within Europe. As an example, you can fly Premium Economy from JFK to Paris for 34,125 miles (normally 68,250) or Business Class from Toronto for 45,000 miles (normally 90,000). If KLM flies the same route, the deal still holds. Taxes and fees are additional, and they vary according to destination.
As mentioned, you need a bit of flexibility, particularly if you don’t live in the city where the flight originates—but in many cases, you’re still coming out ahead even if you have to absorb the cost of a connection. Once in Paris, you’re a train ride away from anywhere in Europe you’d like to go. Things were easier prior to last year when Flying Blue introduced variable award pricing. If you booked an award from North America to Europe before that, it was possible to fly virtually anywhere on the Continent for the same number of miles.
The Promo Awards still represent great value, particularly if you can snag a flight for half the number of normally required miles. The biggest benefit is avoiding the agonizing search for award space: it’s actually there, and they’re offering it to you. It’s not unlimited, of course, and it makes sense to jump on these awards when they first come out.
Ah, but I hear you saying, I don’t have any miles accumulated with either Air France or KLM. Not to worry: Flying Blue is a transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou points, Capital One Rewards, and Marriott Bonvoy points. Transfers are immediate in many cases, so it makes sense to open a Flying Blue account and have it ready. If you’re lucky enough to hold a point currency that’s offering a transfer bonus, you’re even better off (with Marriott Bonvoy, there’s the ongoing bonus of 5,000 miles for every 60,000 points you transfer; the ratio is 3:1, so you get 25,000 miles for every 60,000 points).
Once you have your Flying Blue account, the booking process is simple. Go to either the Air France or KLM website (the awards must be booked online), and search Using Miles. You can’t book your ticket until the miles are in your account, but searches are permissible. Enter your dates (within the window permitted for the Promo Award) along with your departure point and destination. One-way searches tend to be easier. You may have to include a range of dates for the best results.
They won’t work for you every time, but Flying Blue Promo Awards are a powerful tool to have at your disposal when searching for free travel.
[Image Source: Air France]
Source: frugal travel guy