Flying Blue, the loyalty program of Air France / KLM, offers two tiers of awards, classic and flex. For travel between North America and Europe, that translates to 62.5K for a one-way in business class at the classic level and 150K at the flex level. Until now. Without notice, the price of a flex business award has increased to 187.5K for a one-way ticket. Classic awards remain at 62.5K. First class awards, only available at the flex level to Flying Blue elite members, did cost 162.5K miles one-way and now cost 200K one-way.
The Beauty of Flying Blue Flex Awards
Flying Blue already has decent award availability at the saver level — often enough for the whole family — but if classic award space is not available, flex may still be worthwhile. Say you are flush with AMEX points and want to fly non-stop from LA to Paris and say the ticket is $5,000 retail. Your choice was to redeem AMEX points via its travel portal at a cost of 1 point = $0.01 or 500K points for the r/t or transfer to Flying Blue and book a flex award, generally available as long as seats are available on the flight. At 300K r/t, even with ~$650 in taxes/fees you were getting a much better deal. Now at 375K r/t, using points may still be a better deal, but not nearly as good as before.
First Class awards are up 37.5K points one-way, but were already exorbitantly priced in the first place. 200K one-way for first class is brutal. I’d love to fly Air France First Class, but for 200K one-way I find it rather difficult to justify. Also remember that Flying Blue elite status is required to even redeem for first class.
Devaluation Further Evidence of Flying Blue’s Dishonesty
As always, lack of notice and transparency is worse than the devaluation itself.
Flying Blue should be ashamed of itself for raising costs with no notice to members–the increase in cost is yet another reason that Flying Blue simply cannot be trusted.
Remember to be cautious when using these miles — Flying Blue often acts in an arbitrary and capricious fashion in shutting downs accounts and cancelling tickets with no valid reason.
Your only way to avoid sudden and unannounced devaluations is to place space on hold before you transfer any points from AMEX or CITI. That locks in the space and the price, giving you 48-hours to book.