In 2004, Air France and KLM formed the Air France-KLM Group. Around the same time, the company launched Flying Blue, a combined loyalty program for the two airlines.
The program quickly became one of the most well-known airline loyalty programs because of its list of credit card transfer partners, lucrative Promo Rewards and selection of airline partners.
As a result, Flying Blue is a popular program for travelers who focus on earning transferrable points. But if you’re new to the program, it can be a bit daunting — especially given its unpredictable dynamic award pricing.
Here is everything you need to know about the Flying Blue program.
An overview of the Flying Blue program
Flying Blue is the joint loyalty program of Air France and KLM, but these aren’t the only carriers that use Flying Blue as their default loyalty program. Several other airlines — inside and outside of Europe — use the program for mileage earning and elite status:
- Air France
- Kenya Airways
If you’re a Flying Blue member traveling on one of these airlines, you can add your Flying Blue member number to earn miles, Experience Points (XPs) for elite status qualification and more. Once you reach elite status, you can use your benefits on these airlines and reciprocal benefits on other partner airlines.
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But just because these airlines use Flying Blue as their default program doesn’t mean you’re limited to earning on those flights. Most partner airlines that allow you to earn Flying Blue miles are in the SkyTeam alliance, but there are an assortment of non-alliance partners, too. These include:
- Air Corsica
- Air Mauritius
- Bangkok Airways
- Chalair Aviation
- Copa Airlines
- Japan Airlines
- Malaysia Airlines
- Twin Jet
Note that there may be restrictions regarding which flights on which you can earn or redeem miles within these partnerships. Review the airline’s partner page on the Flying Blue website before you plan your travels so you know what to expect.
Flying Blue elite status tiers
The airline offers three elite status tiers: Silver, Gold and Platinum. You can qualify by earning Experience Points (XPs), which we’ll detail out below.
Flying Blue Silver
Silver is the lowest tier of Flying Blue elite status and requires 100 XPs. It includes some basic benefits, including:
- 6 Flying Blue miles per euro spent on Flying Blue-issued tickets
- Free standard seat selection
- Priority check-in and boarding
- SkyTeam Elite benefits (the most notable SkyTeam Elite benefit is a free checked bag on all Flying Blue and SkyTeam partner flights)
Flying Blue Gold
Gold requires 180 XPs beyond Silver status. You have access to the Flying Blue Silver benefits and:
- 7 Flying Blue miles per euro spent on Flying Blue-issued tickets
- Access to SkyTeam lounges on international flights operated by a Flying Blue or SkyTeam airline (valid for you and a guest)
- Access to partner lounges on airlines like Virgin Atlantic, Qantas and Air Mauritius
- SkyTeam Elite Plus (benefits like SkyPriority boarding, fast-track immigration and more)
- 50% discount on preferred seats and Delta Comfort+
Flying Blue Platinum
Flying Blue’s top-tier Platinum status requires 300 XPs beyond Gold and includes all of the Gold benefits we mentioned earlier. However, it sweetens the deal by upgrading some benefits and adding others. Platinum members earn 9 Flying Blue miles per euro spent on Flying Blue-issued tickets, have access to free Economy Comfort and extra-legroom seats on all SkyTeam flights and can access Delta Comfort+ seats for free.
Additionally, only Flying Blue Platinum members can book award tickets in Air France La Premiere — the carrier’s renowned first-class cabin. That said, they come at a pretty hefty cost. La Premiere tickets often cost more than $10,000 when flying from Europe to North America, Asia or Africa, so being able to book with miles makes an otherwise unattainable ticket possible for many flyers.
Once you hold Flying Blue Platinum for 10 consecutive years, you’ve got the status for life.
Qualifying for Flying Blue elite status
You can qualify for Flying Blue elite status by earning Experience Points, or XPs. Each tier requires a specific number of these points, and you can earn them by flying and through credit card spending. All Flying Blue (except Transavia) and SkyTeam partners are eligible for earning XPs, as well as some non-alliance partners like Qantas.
|100 XPs||180 XPs||300 XPs|
You must reach this number of XPs within a year of earning your first XP. So, if you take a paid flight in May, you have until May of the following year before your XP counter resets. Current Flying Blue elite members must requalify by earning enough XPs to maintain or upgrade their status tier within one year.
Earn XPs by flying
(0-2,000 miles, international)
(2,000-3,500 miles, international)
(3,500-5,000 miles, international)
(5,000+ miles, international)
|Economy||2 XPs||5 XPs||8 XPs||10 XPs||12 XPs|
|Premium economy||4 XPs||10 XPs||16 XPs||20 XPs||24 XPs|
|Business class||6 XPs||15 XPs||24 XPs||30 XPs||36 XPs|
|First class||10 XPs||25 XPs||40 XPs||50 XPs||60 XPs|
Earn XPs through Flying Blue’s US credit card
Flying Blue has a cobranded U.S. credit card with Bank of America. I’ll go more in-depth on the Air France-KLM World Elite Mastercard® in the next section, but one of its standout benefits is earning XPs via credit card spending.
You receive 60 XPs when you open your account for the first year. In subsequent years, you earn 20 XPs yearly on your account anniversary. If you spend $15,000 on purchases (excluding fees, returns and adjustments), you’ll receive an additional 40 anniversary XPs (totaling 60 anniversary XPs). That’s more than half the 100 XPs required for Silver without stepping on a plane.
The information for the Air France-KLM World Elite Mastercard has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Earning miles with Flying Blue
Earn miles by flying with Flying Blue airlines and SkyTeam partners
You can earn Flying Blue miles by flying. How you earn these miles varies by airline, though. When you book a flight on Air France or KLM, you’ll earn miles based on how much you spend on the ticket (before taxes). This is also true for Flying Blue-marketed tickets (i.e., booked on a Flying Blue airline website but operated by another carrier).
The number of miles you’ll earn per dollar also depends on your Flying Blue status tier. Flying Blue Explorer members (those without status) earn 4 miles per euro spent, while Silver, Gold and Platinum members earn 6, 7 and 8 miles per euro spent, respectively. This earning doesn’t include taxes and certain fees charged on the ticket.
Earn Flying Blue miles with partner airlines
Earning with SkyTeam and non-alliance Flying Blue partners on tickets not purchased through Flying Blue is a different story. For tickets that are marketed by another airline and credited to Flying Blue, you’ll earn miles on the following criteria:
- Distance flown
- Fare class
- Operating airline
- Your elite status tier
Each airline partner awards a different number of miles for each fare class — you can find how many miles your partner flight earns on the Flying Blue partners page.
Here’s the Flying Blue earning chart for Delta Air Lines tickets.
Spend on the Flying Blue cobranded credit card
Another way to earn Flying Blue miles is with the previously discussed Air France-KLM World Elite Mastercard®. This card earns 3 Flying Blue miles per dollar spent on SkyTeam airfare purchases bought directly with a SkyTeam airline and 1.5 Flying Blue miles per dollar everywhere else.
The card also has a solid welcome bonus of 50,000 Flying Blue miles after spending $2,000 on the card in the first three months of account opening. TPG values Flying Blue miles at 1.2 cents each, so this bonus alone is worth $600.
Additionally, you’ll earn 5,000 Flying Blue points on your card anniversary date so long as you spend at least $50 on your Flying Blue credit card each year. We value the 5,000-mile anniversary bonus at $60, which can help justify the card’s $89 annual fee.
Transfer points to Flying Blue
The program is a transfer partner of:
So, if you have a card like The Platinum Card® from American Express, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card (among others), you can transfer your points or miles to Flying Blue.
Stay at Accor hotels and earn bonus points
Flying Blue and Accor Hotels — a French hotel group that includes brands like Fairmont, Novotel and Ibis — have a partnership called Miles+Points. Flying Blue members earn Accor Live Limitless points when flying on member airlines, thanks to this partnership. Conversely, you can use the program to earn Flying Blue miles when staying at Accor properties. These points are earned in addition to the typical rewards, so you can double dip.
Link your Flying Blue and Accor Live Limitless accounts on the Flying Blue Miles+Points website to earn these bonus points. Earnings start immediately, so do it before your next Flying Blue member flight or Accor hotel stay.
Book other hotels through Flying Blue
If you’re not staying at an Accor property, you can still earn Flying Blue miles when you book hotels. Flying Blue has a hotel booking platform called hotels for Miles. Using this portal, you can earn up to 10,000 Flying Blue miles per night booked through the portal, with promoted and more expensive stays generally earning more miles.
For example, a one-night $246 hotel room at the Kimpton Hotel Monaco, Washington, D.C., earns 6,100 Flying Blue miles per night.
Additionally, you can earn 1 Flying Blue mile per 1 euro spent on Booking.com if you go through Flying Blue’s Booking.com portal. While you can still not use elite benefits and earn hotel points, Booking.com sometimes has excellent deals on boutique hotels and bed-and-breakfasts that wouldn’t otherwise earn hotel points.
Redeeming miles with Flying Blue
While there are various ways to redeem Flying Blue miles, I recommend sticking to award flights. This will almost always give you the most value for your miles.
Since 2018, Flying Blue has used dynamic pricing. This means there’s no set award chart, and some tickets can be extremely expensive — think 200,000 miles for an economy-class flight from JFK to Europe. That said, Flying Blue has published an interactive award map with entry-level award rates.
Even with dynamic pricing, Flying Blue often has the best pricing for many SkyTeam awards, beating out Delta, Korean Air and other major airlines. The key to finding these awards is to be flexible and watch for great deals. For inspiration, check out TPG’s guide to maximizing Flying Blue miles.
The second thing you should know is that Air France and KLM charge moderate fuel surcharges on some tickets. You can expect to pay $200 to $350 on a one-way business-class award ticket across the Atlantic. While these fuel surcharges are significantly less than those charged by airlines like Emirates and British Airways, it’s still something to remember as you compare pricing across loyalty programs.
Book Air France or KLM to Amsterdam, Paris and beyond
While Flying Blue prices its awards dynamically, the program has now standardized saver-level pricing for all one-way flights between the United States and Europe as follows, regardless of origin or destination, meaning you can connect at no extra cost:
- 20,000 miles in economy
- 35,000 miles in premium economy
- 50,000 miles in business class
Remember that these rates are only for the lowest saver-level seats, which are limited. We have found plenty from the West Coast at the new lower rates (including those with European connections) in the economy and premium economy cabins.
However, business-class seats at saver levels remain very hard to find, with only a few flights available on some routes over the entire next 12 months. Booking business class from anywhere in the U.S. to anywhere in Europe for 50,000 Flying Blue miles is a fantastic deal, so jump on this if you find this price on dates that work for you.
In addition, you could spend a few days in Paris or Amsterdam using the free Flying Blue stopover. This is a great way to visit another city without forking over additional miles or cash. To book Flying Blue stopovers, you’ll need to call Flying Blue at 800-375-8723.
Transatlantic Flying Blue award rates can be reasonable, so it’s worth checking Flying Blue when planning trips to Europe.
Book first class on select SkyTeam partners
Flying Blue recently announced first-class redemptions were available to book with miles on the following SkyTeam partner airlines:
- China Eastern
- Garuda Indonesia
- Xiamen Air
While you should be able to book these online, we have found it virtually impossible to find any availability, and with the exception of Garuda, these airlines are not known to have the world’s best first-class products anyway, so you may wish to save your miles and look for Saver award space in business class on Air France and KLM instead.
Fly Delta between the US and Europe, South America and beyond
As mentioned earlier, Delta doesn’t charge fuel surcharges, so you can use your Flying Blue miles to book Delta tickets with low fees. For example, you can book an economy-class flight from New York to Dublin for just 22,500 Flying Blue miles and $10.10 on many dates in 2023.
We have not seen any Delta premium economy or business class (Delta One) award availability using Flying Blue miles.
Keep an eye out for Promo Rewards
Every month, Flying Blue releases a batch of Promo Rewards. You can only book these deeply discounted award tickets within the same month they’re released. They’re more restrictive than standard Flying Blue award tickets — they can’t be changed, so make sure your plans are finalized. But if you’re willing to risk it, these promotions can provide an excellent deal on tickets to Europe and beyond (e.g., transatlantic business class for under 40,000 miles).
You can view an up-to-date list of Promo Rewards on the Flying Blue website, and TPG updates our Flying Blue Promo Rewards page at the beginning of each month with the latest deals.
Be sure to keep an eye on the Flying Blue Promo Rewards. There are some incredible deals to be had.
Fly Copa Airlines to Panama City and beyond
Copa Airlines is a Star Alliance member, but the airline has a non-alliance partnership with Flying Blue. This means you can earn and redeem miles with Copa, further expanding the reach of Flying Blue’s loyalty program. Pricing usually starts around 21,500 miles for a ticket from North America to Copa’s hub in Panama City, and you add connecting flights too.
Copa Airlines flies to major Central and South American destinations like Colombia, Brazil and Argentina.
Flying Blue is an underrated frequent flyer program. You can earn miles with all Flying Blue airlines and their SkyTeam and non-alliance partners, meaning you can book thousands of different routes with your miles. While its elite status program isn’t the most rewarding, earning status is easy enough with the loyalty program’s U.S. credit card. It includes full SkyTeam elite status benefits when you reach Platinum status.
I think the best way for most people to earn Flying Blue miles is with transferable-points credit cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred. Not only will you earn more points on most purchases, but you’ll also have the flexibility to redeem your points with other partners.