The good and the bad of the latest changes to the Flying Blue program

Yet another round of changes in the Flying Blue program

This year has been a year of change for the Flying Blue program. First, the program was revamped and they went with a revenue based earning style for award miles accrual and moved to a system of tier points called “XP” which determines your elite status level.

Now, they are changing the way you will be able to redeem miles in the Flying Blue program. First, the bad.

Dynamic award pricing and removal of award calendar

Flying Blue has moved from a traditional award chart to one which sees award tickets being “dynamically priced”. This brings a lot of uncertainty to the table as now, you will not be able to accurately predict how many miles you would require for an award ticket in the Flying Blue program. They have also introduced the concept of “Book Any Seat” where you’ll be able to use your award miles to book a flight as long as the flight isn’t sold out. You can check how many miles your flight will require here as well but just be aware that the mileage figure you see will be the minimum required for the flight.

In addition, they have removed the option of viewing award availability via the award calendar which to me has been one of the best features of the Flying Blue award search engine.

Up until 1 June 2018, it would cost you a fixed amount of mileage to fly from Singapore to Europe or Singapore to America even in the Flying Blue program. A one-way Business Class ticket to Los Angeles would have costed you 100,000 Flying Blue miles, which is still priced higher than what KrisFlyer and Asia Miles charges for a one-way Business Class ticket to Europe.

Here’s how much it’ll cost you to fly to the Americas now:

In this example from New York to Singapore, the cheapest ticket would set you back 103,000 Flying Blue miles instead of a previous flat rate of 100,000 Flying Blue miles. Alternatively, you could fork out more miles in return for lower taxes which is something which I would consider doing. Flying Blue’s new “Book any seat” policy also means that we’ll be seeing a lot more of these 500,000 Flying Blue miles award flights when performing your searches. But you might find an even cheaper seat due to their dynamic award pricing model as you’ll see below.

Previously, flying to London Heathrow or anywhere in Europe rather would have cost you a flat rate of 100,000 Flying Blue miles.

And here’s how much it’ll cost you now to fly to London Heathrow:

Flights to London could be had from 90,000 Flying Blue miles on Air France via Paris, costing you 10,000 miles less than pre-1 June 2018. This is one situation where the dynamic award pricing engine works in our favour. During the peak holiday seasons however, things are not that good looking with flights costing as high as 450,000 Flying Blue miles one-way.

Personally, I very much prefer the traditional fixed award pricing chart which Flying Blue had. While there might be some situations where you’ll be saving some miles in this new model compared to the old model, I prefer knowing from the get go how much my award flight will cost me.

Now, the good. Well somewhat.

 Air France’s La Premiere cabin is now bookable for everyone, but…

(Edit: while space is appearing on the Flying Blue website for La Premiere, it seems to be that it is still non-bookable for non-elite Flying Blue members as per this SFO777 in this FlyerTalk thread)

Air France’s La Premiere product may just be the best overall product offered by an airline at the moment. Their ground experience looks amazing and their on board product is also breathtaking. Previously, you had to hold elite status in the Flying Blue program before you were able to book an award seat in the La Premiere cabin. Award tickets were not cheap too with a ticket from Milan to Houston in La Premiere costing 200,000 Flying Blue miles one-way.

Air France ran a sale for the La Premiere cabin for flights ex-Singapore a few months back but that would have set you back approximately S$7,600 per person.

Since 1 June 2018, Air France has made the La Premiere product much more accessible to all Flying Blue members. You are now able to book La Premiere award flights even if you’re just a basic Flying Blue member. But the caveat on this is that, tickets do not come cheap.

Before I go on, might I just add that if you want to experience the full La Premiere experience you should book it on flights departing Paris or with a transit in Paris as you’ll be able to enjoy the full suite of privileges which comes with a La Premiere ticket.

Here’s how much it will cost you to fly from Paris to Singapore in La Premiere:

A staggering 320,000 Flying Blue miles. If you’re starting your journey from Los Angeles however and transiting through Paris on your way back to Singapore, the cost remains exactly the same at 320,000 Flying Blue miles. So if I were you, I would splash out the miles and start my journey from Los Angeles instead. Air France flies their A380-800 between Los Angeles and Paris so you’ll get to experience two different La Premiere hard products. Interestingly, it’s cheaper to fly in La Premiere than in Business Class on this particular date from LAX to SIN thru CDG.

While you may balk at the 10 hour transit in Paris, bear in mind you’ll be spending it in the Air France First Class lounge, scallops anyone?

320,000 miles is still on the high side for a First Class ticket, in my books it might just be worth that premium pricing with the amount of amenities you’ll be enjoying both in air and on the ground.

Concluding thoughts

Personally, I really don’t like the concept of a dynamic award chart as this affects the way I plan my mileage transfers. In the scenario where I perform a mileage transfer of 100,000 Flying Blue miles for a 90,000 miles award ticket and then the price jumps to 103,000 Flying Blue miles for the same ticket before my miles are in, I would have to perform yet another transfer and spend another S$25 for it.

Note that for all mileage figures quoted above, they may or may not fluctuate depending on the date which you’re looking to book your flights as this is the nature of dynamic award pricing.

While the ability to book La Premiere awards is a welcome addition, the super premium price tag for award flights means that Air France is still trying to keep their La Premiere product super exclusive. A reminder that for us here in Singapore, Flying Blue miles can only be transferred from points earned with Citibank cards.

Matthew Chong
Matthew Chong
Addicted to luxury travel while trying not to go broke, Matthew is always on the prowl for the best deals in the travel industry. When he's not busy studying, he can be found trawling the internet and reading up on credit cards, airlines and hotels. He also wouldn't mind taking you out on a date.

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