For the optimists out there, consider that the Air France Flying Blue program may offer a positive example for U.S. airline loyalty programs moving to a dynamic pricing model.
Last year, Flying Blue, the loyalty program of Air France-KLM, made a transition, from fixed-price awards to variable pricing.
We’ve seen some weird phenomenon, like a trip from New York to Paris costing more miles than a ticket from New York to Singapore via Paris on the same flight.
But putting aside married segments, I have to admit that I am rather pleased with the current state of affairs at Flying Blue.
Yes, Flying Blue is still zealous about fraud…you should be careful not to engage in any and take steps to prevent against being accused of it.
But that’s not what I meant. I’m talking about pricing. Sure, there are some days with horrible pricing…on the level with Delta. But I routinely see (and book for Award Expert clients) many exceptional deals using this program.
You can still score one-way business class tickets to Europe, Israel, or Northern Africa for under 60K miles. I’ve booked many last-minute economy class trips on the same routes for 25K miles each way. Furthermore, fuel surcharges are not nearly as bad as British Airways.
But that’s not even the best value. Last-minute shorthaul trips are often priced at extremely compelling rates. I wrote about a last-minute trip I took from Bilbao to Amsterdam. Revenue tickets were over $450 but I paid only 7,500 miles and less than $12 in taxes.
> Read More: The Best Award Redemptions Are Often The Most Boring
Thus, unlike on British Airways, I see value on both shorthaul and longhaul awards.
Of course, there are regions in which redemptions don’t make sense. Africa and Asia are two examples…the value isn’t there.
Thus, Flying Blue is not the model, but it is an acceptable model. It is still a loyalty program that has value, even though there are no more award charts and that accountability that accompany them.
I’m not enthusiastic about what American, Delta, or United will do as all move toward a more dynamic pricing model. But at least in the case of Flying Blue we see a model that is no so devoid of value that is not worth even thinking about. While I may be setting my expectations too low, I’ll take a program like Flying Blue over no program at all…or even a 2% cashback credit card.