Numerous reports have sprung up recently concerning a “fraud crackdown” from Flying Blue, the loyalty program of Air France, KLM, Air Europa, and Kenya Airways. Here’s the situation– in more than one instance, a traveler has opened up a Flying Blue account in order to book an award trip, transferred in points from American Express Membership Rewards or CITI Thank You Points, booked the award, and then been informed later that the transaction was “fraudulent”.
The result? Cancelled reservation, confiscated miles, closed account.
In correspondence from Flying Blue, one customer was told:
[T]he use of our frequent flyer accounts as boxes opened to transfer miles with our non air partners won’t be allowed anymore .
Let’s be clear – the point of the American Express and CITI is exactly that – to transfer points from a non-air partner (the bank) to the airline partner (here Flying Blue) in order to book a ticket. The rationale from Flying Blue is astoundingly lacking in logic.
This is not a problem of people buying or selling points – we are talking about people using their own points to book tickets for themselves or spouses/friends. Think about it – American Express does not even allow customers to transfer points to accounts other than your own or an authorized cardholder on the same account.
So we are left scratching our heads, wondering when someone with common sense will step in and put a stop to this witch-hunt.
I run an award booking service, Award Expert, which does not engage in the buying and selling of points – but this news is especially concerning to me because I bring an enormous amount of business to FlyingBlue – to the tune of several bookings per week. As a lawyer and consumer advocate, FlyingBlue better think twice before going after any of my clients and I beg.
This issue is quickly making its way up the Air France/KLM food chain and I trust that with appropriate pressure from AMEX and CITI, we can quickly put to bed this unbelievable charade on the part of the Flying Blue.