Air France/KLM Flying Blue has made changes to the program that go into effect April 1, 2009. In a move that sets the program apart from others, Flying Blue members who are not elite members cannot redeem their miles for a first class seat regardless of how many miles they have in their account. The cost for first class seats has also risen and discount economy fares for KLM/Air France flights will earn only 25-75 percent of the miles flown when these changes go into effect–previously, all fares earned 100 percent of miles flown. Some good bit of news is that the earning rates for SkyTeam partner airlines will stay as is.
We asked road warrior, Steve Belkin, for his take on the changes and this is what he had to say: “The most eye-popping change is the first class award policy. First class awards were recently increased quite markedly in mid-2008 (i.e. U.S.-Europe went from 100,000 to 150,000). With the new policy, first class award levels have been ratcheted up even more (i.e. U.S.-Europe from 150,000 to 400,000) and only available to members with elite status.”
And, “the other key mileage burning change is that all business class awards will be 100 percent more instead of 50 percent more than coach awards. For U.S.-Europe, awards will increase nominally from 90,000 to 100,000, but for the rest of the world, there is a 33 percent redemption increase.”
Not all of the news is bad, Flying Blue is promising more award seat availability on certain Air France long-haul flights for elite members–but they must pay 15 percent more miles than a Classic award in business or economy. Elites will also now have access to extra legroom seats on Air France/KLM.
Belkin also points out what’s good: “The program remains unique in its offering of promotional awards–50 percent off award sales that are announced every month or so. U.S.-Europe in Y for 25,000 miles, J for 50,000 miles… it’s a pretty compelling usage of miles.”