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If you’re planning holiday or New Year’s travel, this month’s Flying Blue Promo Awards from KLM and Air France are now out. You can save 25% off the usual number of miles required to fly between Europe and certain US destinations.
Each month, a new group of destinations goes on sale. Sometimes the discounts are as high as 50%, but this month, all included US destinations are 25% off.
If you don’t have Flying Blue miles, you can transfer American Express Membership Rewards, Starwood points, or Citi ThankYou points.
With the new set of Flying Blue Promo Awards, you’ll pay 25% fewer miles between Europe and:
- Chicago or Washington, DC, in coach class
- Houston in Premium Economy or coach class
- Boston or Miami in Business Class
You’ll need to book tickets by October 31, 2014, for travel between December 1, 2014, and January 31, 2015 (except Miami, which is on sale for the month of December only).
Even if you don’t live near this month’s included cities, you can still get in on the deal. That’s because there are lots of ways to get to these cities cheaply. I’ll show you how!
How Does It Work?
Link: Flying Blue Promo Awards
Every month, Flying Blue discounts award tickets on certain routes. This month’s list 5 US cities, and you’ll save 25% off the number of miles for a regular award ticket. You can fly between:
- Chicago or Washington, DC, and Europe 1-way in coach class for 18,750 miles (normally 25,000 miles)
- Houston and Europe 1-way in coach class for 18,750 miles (normally 25,000 miles) or in Premium Economy for 37,500 miles (normally 50,000 miles)
- Boston or Miami and Europe 1-way in Business Class for 46,875 miles (normally 62,500 miles)
The taxes and fees you’ll pay depend on the route. KLM and Air France fly to Amsterdam and Paris from the US, but you can connect onwards to other destinations in Europe for the same number of miles!
Flying Blue’s definition of Europe also includes destinations in North Africa, the Middle East, and near Asia. For example, Turkey, Canary Islands, and Estonia are included in the sale.
Award tickets can be cancelled without penalty within 24 hours of purchase. But after that, no changes, cancellations, or refunds are allowed.
And you can NOT add a stopover, because Promo Awards can ONLY be booked online.
Is It Worth It?
In the past, Flying Blue Promo Awards have included a 50% discount for US destinations. This month, the discounts are only 25%. So this isn’t as good a deal.
But Flying Blue doesn’t often discount Business Class award tickets, and this month Business Class award seats are on sale from Boston and Miami. So some folks might find this useful.
You will pay fees and fuel surcharges, which are different for each route. So do the math to decide if this is a good deal for you.
To get the discounts, you need to click through the Flying Blue Promo Awards website first. You won’t see the sale if you log into your Flying Blue account through the regular website.
Example: Miami to Paris on Air France
You can fly in Business Class from Miami to Paris in December for 46,875 miles and ~$251.
Coming back from Paris, there are fewer award seats available, and the fees are higher (~$383).
So for a round-trip Business Class award ticket between Miami and Paris, you’ll pay a total of 93,750 miles and ~$634 in taxes and fees. While that seems like a lot, consider that a paid Air France Business Class ticket in December for the same route could cost over $6,000.
I wouldn’t go out of my way to fly this route, because the fees are high and the discount isn’t very good. But for folks who might have bought a Business Class ticket anyway, this could be a good deal.
Example: Chicago to Amsterdam on KLM
You’ll pay 18,750 miles and ~$87 to fly in coach class from Chicago to Amsterdam on KLM. I checked for available award seats in January and there are still a number of dates available.
Returning from Amsterdam, there are a similar number of available dates, but the fees are ~$137.
So a round-trip coach class ticket between Chicago and Paris costs 37,500 miles and ~$224. Again, while the fees seem high, if you bought a paid ticket on the same route you’d pay ~$1,108.
That’s not a bad deal for a round-trip flight to Europe, especially since you’re saving miles.
But there’s a cheaper way to fly to Europe this winter! Between January 15, 2015, and February 28, 2015, it only costs 35,000 miles round-trip in coach class on US Airways (30,000 miles if you have the Barclays US Airways MasterCard). That’s a much better deal.
Where Else Can You Go?
Your trip doesn’t have to end in Paris or Amsterdam (the destinations served by Air France and KLM from the US). You can continue to other cities in Europe, near Asia, Africa, and the Middle East for the same number of miles!
Maybe you’d like to fly to Edinburgh, Scotland, for Hogmanay, an all-night street party held on New Year’s Eve.
You can still get award seats to and from Edinburgh, for example from Houston. You’ll pay 18,750 miles and ~$107 to get there.
Coming back there are options too, though none immediately after New Year’s Day. The fees are higher (~$251).
I think celebrating New Year’s Eve in Scotland would be a lot of fun!
What If Your City Isn’t Included?
If you don’t live near a city included in the sale, you could use points (like British Airways Avios) to get there.
British Airways Avios points are great for short-haul flights on American Airlines, because you only pay 4,500 points 1-way for flights up to 649 miles, and 7,500 points for flights up to 1,149 miles. There are no fuel surcharges.
Folks with the Southwest Companion Pass could get to these cities very cheaply. That’s because with the Companion Pass, your companion flies with you for almost free on both paid and award tickets.
Note: If you’re flying from Houston, Southwest flies into Houston Hobby Airport (HOU) while KLM and Air France fly out of Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH). So you’d have to change airports if you fly in on Southwest.
And in Chicago, Air France and KLM fly out of Chicago O’Hare airport (ORD) but Southwest flies out of Chicago Midway (MDW). So you’d have to change airports there, too.
At worst, you could try to find a cheap paid ticket from your home airport to an included city. But do the math to see if it’s worth it.
How Do You Get Flying Blue Miles?
Link: Citi ThankYou Premier
Link: Citi Prestige
To book Flying Blue Promo Awards, you’ll need Flying Blue miles. You can’t use miles from other SkyTeam airlines (like Delta). But if you have certain credit cards, they’re easy to get.
You could transfer points from the American Express Starwood Preferred Guest card to Flying Blue at a 1:1 ratio.
This can be a very good deal, because if you transfer 20,000 points, you’ll get a 5,000 point bonus for a total of 25,000 Flying Blue miles.
Note: Starwood points can take up to 4 weeks to transfer, although in my experience it takes 2 to 12 days. So keep in mind your exact award ticket might disappear while waiting for the points to transfer!
Or, if you have an American Express card that earns AMEX Membership Rewards points, like the American Express Platinum, American Express Mercedes-Benz Platinum, Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express, American Express EveryDay, or American Express EveryDay Preferred card, you can transfer your points to Flying Blue miles at a 1:1 ratio.
Note: You don’t get an extra 5,000 miles on the transfer like you would with the Starwood Preferred Guest card. However, there have been transfer bonus promotions in the past between AMEX Membership Rewards and Flying Blue.
With this month’s Flying Blue Promo Awards, you can fly to Europe and beyond on KLM and Air France for 25% fewer miles. This time, the cities on sale are Chicago, Houston, Boston, Miami, and Washington, DC.
Tickets must be booked by October 31, 2014, for travel between December 1, 2014, and January 31, 2015 (except Miami, which is only the month of December).
To get the discount, you’ll have to book directly through the Flying Blue Promo Awards website.
This sale isn’t as good as previous sales, which have offered up to 50% off award tickets. And you’ll still pay taxes and fees. But there are still lots of award seats available.
Remember, you can connect to North Africa, the Middle East and near Asia for the same number of miles.
And if you need Flying Blue miles, both Starwood Preferred Guest points and American Express Membership Rewards points transfer to Flying Blue at a 1:1 ratio.
Will you book a Flying Blue Promo Award ticket, even though the discounts are lower this month?