Air France/KLM Flying Blue Reduces Status Validity By Three Months (And Doesn’t Even Tell Members) …

Flying Blue luggage tag (Image source: KLM/Flying Blue)

At the end of last year, Flying Blue announced it was abolishing physical membership cards and free branded baggage tags. The loyalty program’s intentions to go 100% digital were not very well received by some, but it was hardly the end of the world. Now, Flying Blue has made another, and much more substantial, change. Status validity will be reduced by three months, meaning that your Flying Blue status is not valid for 15 months, but only for 12 months.

Maintain loyal customers

With continuing travel restrictions, testing and vaccination certificates, many people are still hesitant to travel. Airlines were forced to ease the elite status requirements of their loyalty programs and introduce more ways to earn or retain status.

Several times, Flying Blue has offered members ways to retain their (elite) status without flying. Last year Flying Blue did this for a third time. All members with their qualification date between 1st of January and 30th of June 2022 will have their status extended with another 12 months. Even if they don’t fly at all.  Currently, the program also offers 50% extra XP on flights to make reaching a (higher) status easier. Earlier the offer was 100% extra XP.

Flying Blue has also announced another way to earn XP. By paying to offset the CO2 emissions of your flights, it will also be possible to earn XP. It isn’t yet clear how this will work in practice, but Flying Blue confirmed to InsideFlyer that more details will be announced in the course of the year.

Embraer A190 in KLM livery parked at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (Source: KLM)
KLM aircraft parked at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (Source: KLM)

Status validity

Historically, Flying Blue elite status is valid for 15 months, even though the qualifying period is 12 months.

For example, if you have Gold status, then your re-qualification period is 12 months to retain your status or upgrade to Platinum. Even if you didn’t earn enough XP to retain your status, your Gold perks remain valid for an additional 3 months. (After that you will fall back to Silver tier and you have 12 months to either retain that or go back to Gold, depending your activity).

The nice thing about the 15 month validity is that you can enjoy your status longer than a year – even when you don’t requalify.

On the Flying Blue website we recently noticed that the status validity is now 12 months. Flying Blue states that the validity reduction is done to ‘simplify the rules’. In reality, this is a devaluation of the program and Flying Blue has apparently chosen not to proactively communicate this to members.

At time of publication, Flying Blue has not provided an official response to our questions about this change. However, customer service representatives explain that the change is to do with the implementation of the digital member cards. Previously, a 3 month grace period was used for sending the member cards by post. Digital cards don’t need to be sent by post, so no grace period is needed anymore.

“Your personal qualification period starts as soon as you earn your first Mile or gain your first XP and lasts for 12 months. Once you gain enough XP to move up a level, you’ll be upgraded instantly and your qualification period will be restarted. In 2022, Flying Blue will align the level validity end date with the qualification end date in order to simplify the programme rules.” – Website Flying Blue

KLM Crown Lounge at Schiphol airport (Image source: KLM)
KLM Crown Lounge at Schiphol airport (Image source: KLM)

Is Flying Blue still an attractive program?

The perks that loyalty programs offer usually cost them money. If airlines can save a buck, they will likely look to do so. However, any perks are of course also a reward to loyal customers. Some airlines invest in their loyal customers, and others apparently don’t.

Devaluations make loyalty programs less attractive to join and actively participate in. Some frequent flyers already criticize Flying Blue and KLM/Air France for their limited approach towards loyal customers. This change will certainly not help to improve that perception.

In previous conversations, Flying Blue let InsideFlyer know that more changes will come during 2022. Let’s hope the future changes are more positive for members…

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