Flying Blue Program to be Based on Revenue Instead of Distance Flown Starting in 2018

The Flying Blue frequent flier loyalty program will change to base rewards on the airfares paid by customers of Air France, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and other airlines rather than the distance traveled — which is also known as “butt-in-seat” miles — effective as of Monday, April 1, 2018.

Flying Blue Program to be Based on Revenue Instead of Distance Flown Starting in 2018

The basis of the calculation will be the fare — meaning the ticket price in euros plus any surcharges levied by the airline concerned and not for product and service fees — for flights booked on Monday, April 1, 2018 and afterwards. This figure is then multiplied by a factor dependent on the elite level status of the passenger to calculate the Flying Blue award miles given to the frequent flier member.

You will earn miles for every one euro spent — excluding government-imposed taxes and fees — on flights which are marketed as Air France, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, HOP! and JOON as well as 36 partner airlines. You can also earn miles for every one euro spent with the aforementioned airlines on extra options — such as more comfortable seating, extra baggage allowance, and “à la carte” menus.

The awarding of Flying Blue miles will be based on the multiplying factor of elite level status earned:

  • Ivory = 4 Miles per euro
  • Silver = 6 Miles per euro
  • Gold = 7 Miles per euro
  • Platinum = 8 Miles per euro

Miles Do Not Expire For Two Years — and Eligible Activity Extends Them

Flying Blue miles will expire in two years, which is one of the longer periods of validity in frequent flier loyalty programs — but they will remain valid as long as you:

  • Take an eligible flight at least once every two years with Air France, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, JOON, HOP!, Aircalin, Kenya Airways, TAROM or other SkyTeam partner airlines
  • Are a member who has achieved Elite or Elite Plus status
  • Purchase a product or service with your Flying Blue co-branded credit card at least once every two years — except for JCB and Mitsui Sumitomo
  • Take a flight with any of the 36 partner airlines of Flying Blue airline partners
  • Stay with, rent a car with, or make use of any service from commercial partners of Flying Blue, you will extend the validity of miles earned with other airline and commercial partners to two years — but note that only the validity date for miles earned with commercial and other partners is extended, and not the validity date for other miles.

Membership Level Via Experience Points

Your membership level will be determined by Experience Points — or “XP” for short — and you will gain XP with every eligible paid flight you take with Air France, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, JOON, HOP!, Aircalin, Kenya Airways, TAROM or other SkyTeam partner airlines effective as of Monday, April 1, 2018. You will no longer earn Level Miles or segments per flight.

If you have any Level Miles on Sunday, March 31, 2018, they will be converted to XP at a rate of 1,000 Level Miles = 5 XP. If you have any qualifying flights on Sunday, March 31, 2018, they will be converted to XP at a rate of one qualifying flight = 7XP. The higher outcome determines the number of XP that will be added to your XP counter.

Travel the world, gain XP, get to the next level — and unlock additional benefits. The further you explore the world and enhance your flight experience, the more XP you will get as follows:

  • You will gain a fixed number of XP per flight
  • The number of XP will be based on your flight type and cabin
Experience Points Domestic Medium
(< 2,000 miles)
Long 1
(≥ 2,000 – < 3,500 miles)
Long 2
(≥ 3,500 – < 5,000 miles)
Long 3
(≥ 5,000 miles)
Economy Class 2 5 8 10 12
Premium Economy 4 10 16 20 24
Business Class 6 15 24 30 36
First Class 10 25 40 50 60

Disclaimer: no rights can be derived from this published chart.

Your qualification period covers 12 months — and if you gain enough XP to move up to the next level before the end of the 12 months, you will be instantly upgraded. The moment you reach the next level, the XP needed to qualify for that level will be deducted from your XP counter and your 12-month qualification period will restart. Any XP you gained above the required threshold will be yours to keep.

The thresholds for the different membership levels are:

  • Silver = 100 XP
  • Gold = 180 XP
  • Platinum = 300 XP

Use Miles to Book Any Seat

Effective as of June of 2018, you will be able to use your miles to book any available seat on flights operated by Air France, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, JOON, HOP! and Transavia.

The number of miles needed to book your ticket will be calculated based on the origin, destination and date of your flight. You will still be able to spend miles on flights with 35 partner airlines — including SkyTeam partner airlines and other partner airlines.

You can also use miles if you want extra comfort during your flight by upgrading to a better seat, gain access to the lounge at the airport, or have an extra baggage allowance to bring that extra suitcase.

You can also spend your miles on a hotel stay, a car rental, a museum visit, a meal out or even on a new watch through the Flying Blue Store.

Miles & Cash Option

If you do not have enough miles to book a flight to your dream destination, you can use the new Miles & Cash option effective as of June of 2018. Instead of using only miles, you can pay for up to 25 percent of your ticket with cash so that you will not need to wait to book your favorite seat — even if you are a few miles short of your desired award ticket.

Additionally, Promo Reward tickets — which were formerly known as Promo Awards — offer savings of up to 50 percent and are available every month for a limited travel period only.

If you are planning to book a ticket or upgrade with miles before June of 2018 or if you have already booked a ticket or an upgrade with miles for departure after June of 2018, your ticket or upgrade will still remain valid.

Keep Your Favorite Benefits

You will still get the same benefits — such as discounts on check-in baggage and extra comfortable seats, priority services at the airport and access to lounges, depending on your level — after Monday, April 1, 2018.

Please refer to these membership benefits for more details.

Other Terms About Which You Should Know

Flights which were not valid to earn Flying Blue miles in the past will continue not to earn miles under the new system. Award miles will continue to be credited solely for flight segments that have been flown — a single route with both a take-off and a landing — and not on canceled flights or flights on which you missed when you are not a passenger aboard an airplane.

Miles will continue to be credited to you after each flight. For this purpose, the ticket price is allocated to the individual flight segments. Once you have completed your entire journey, the total miles for the individual flight segments are thus equivalent to the mileage amount for the entire ticket.

Summary

The claim of “earning award miles will be easier than ever” is specious at best, as the accumulation of the amount of miles will be significantly less for the majority of members — similar to other frequent flier loyalty programs which switched from distance flown to revenue spent.

Similar changes occurred in recent years with the three legacy carriers based in the United States: with the SkyMiles frequent flier loyalty program by Delta Air Lines as announced on February 26, 2014; with the MileagePlus frequent flier loyalty program by United Airlines as announced on June 10, 2014; and with the AAdvantage frequent flier loyalty program by American Airlines as announced on November 17, 2015 — and the airlines show no signs of reversing those changes in the foreseeable future.

That the airlines which participate in the Flying Blue frequent flier loyalty program — Air France, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, JOON and HOP! — announced the launch of this new system was eventually expected and definitely no surprise with airlines based outside of the United States, as the Miles & More frequent flier loyalty program of Lufthansa Group airlines announced a similar move for 2018

…and other than customers with “deep pockets” who spend a lot of money on revenue tickets, many members of frequent flier loyalty programs typically do not benefit from the new system of earning miles based on revenue — especially when gauging the responses posted by FlyerTalk members of this announcement — although the changes were not as bad as they expected.

Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

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