Some folks like to transfer their American Express Membership Rewards, Starwood, or Citi ThankYou points to Flying Blue to take advantage of discounted Flying Blue Promo Award flights to Europe, the Middle East, and Near Asia.
And the Point Princess writes there’s a glitch in Flying Blue’s award booking system. It causes different available award seats to be displayed, depending on which country and airline you set on their website when you search for tickets.
Sometimes it won’t show available award seats at a certain mileage level when you check for tickets from 1 country, and shows a different number from another!
I decided to experiment to see if I could replicate Point Princess’ findings!
What’s the Deal?
Point Princess reports she was able to see available Flying Blue Promo Award seats on KLM’s website when she set the website to a European country (in this case, Denmark), but NOT when she searched from their US site.
You can change your default country and airline by clicking on the flag icon in the upper right hand corner of the Flying Blue Promo Awards page.
You can also change the airline website you’d like to search on, and in some cases, language.
This month, Flying Blue Promo Awards are available on flights from Houston, Toronto, and Montreal to Europe. I experimented with different website and country combinations to see if there were any differences.
1. Example: Houston to Paris in Coach
I searched for flights in March from Houston to Paris in coach using the US Flying Blue Promo Award website. It returned available Promo Award seats on almost every day except three.
I repeated the same search, this time choosing France as my country. The results show fees in euros, and the same dates are available for Promo Award seats.
Here’s something weird! On the dates where Promo Award seats aren’t available, the number of points needed for an award ticket are different.
Booking on the US site, you need 42,500 miles to fly on March 13, and 35,000 miles on March 14.
But on the French site, you need 50,000 miles for the same dates! And the fee conversion between dollars and euros doesn’t always match up.
The return trip from Paris to Houston is even more strange. Here are the available seats using the US website:
And here are the results from the French site. There are 3 days that had available Promo Award seats on the US website that do NOT show up on the French search!
So in this case, it’s better to search from the US site.
I tried another search.
2. Example: Toronto to Amsterdam in Business Class
Using the US Flying Blue Promo Award site, I searched for Business Class seats from Toronto to Amsterdam. There are still many dates available.
But when I searched from the Dutch site, there was 1 date that was no longer available at the discounted award price. Instead of 31,250 miles, the price jumped to 150,000 miles 1-way!
The return flight had missing award seats, too. Here’s the search from the US site:
And here are the Dutch search results:
I have NO idea why there’s a difference! My best guess is that maybe each country gets a certain quota of low-level award seats to use.
In the examples I checked, I got better results searching from the US site. But for Point Princess, the opposite was true.
So if you’re having trouble finding available award seats on the dates you want, try switching countries or airlines!
Just remember, if you’re booking your award ticket in euros, you should use a card that does NOT charge foreign transaction fees, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred or the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard.
You might get different results searching for Flying Blue award seats, depending on the country and airline you have your website set to.
In the examples I checked, there were better award seats available searching from the US Flying Blue site, compared to European sites. But others have had the opposite experience.
It’s worth checking other country and airline combinations if you have trouble finding the Flying Blue award seats you want. You never know what you might find!