Award Redemption Increases; Fuel Surcharge Decreases by Air France and KLM Royal Dutch

If you want to sit in a seat in this Affaires business class cabin in the upper deck of an Airbus A380 aircraft operated by Air France for a trip from Paris to Los Angeles, be prepared to redeem more Flying Blue frequent flier loyalty program miles — with no reduction in the fuel surcharge — as of early June of 2013. Photograph by FlyerTalk member Kölner. Click on the photograph for a trip report written by Kölner.

Changes pertaining to the Flying Blue frequent flier loyalty program of Air France and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines were announced recently and are set to be effective as of “early” June 2013, purporting to offer more award availability, reduced international surcharges imposed by carriers for award seats in the economy and premium economy class cabins, and more upgrade possibilities with Flying Blue frequent flier loyalty program miles.

The claims of the Flying Blue frequent flier loyalty program pertaining to the changes of the award redemption for long-haul flights are as follows:

  • The fuel surcharge will be “significantly decreased” — meaning that you will pay “much less” for an award ticket — and that will include connecting flights within Europe.
  • A greater number of seats will be available for award tickets — but at the detriment of an increased amount of Flying Blue frequent flier loyalty program miles to be redeemed for those business class award tickets.

 

Many FlyerTalk members are not buying what is perceived to be the euphemistic marketing of the changes, citing an increase of:

  • 60 percent of Flying Blue frequent flier loyalty program miles needed for award routes in premium economy class, with the following exceptions:
    • 33.34 percent from Europe to North America and the Netherlands Antilles
    • 59.09 percent from Europe to Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela
  • 25 percent of Flying Blue frequent flier loyalty program miles needed for award routes in business class
  • 30 percent of Flying Blue frequent flier loyalty program miles needed for award routes in first class

 

REDEMPTION FOR AWARD TRAVEL

The redemption for awards of Flying Blue frequent flier loyalty program miles for seats in the economy class cabin remain unchanged.

The following charts — which include specific information requested by me from FlyerTalk members quite familiar with the Flying Blue frequent flier loyalty program — detail the increase in the redemption of Flying Blue frequent flier loyalty program miles needed to be redeemed for award travel.

Please note that in all of the charts — as both groupings of Asia destinations were identical in every chart — I combined them into simply one group called Asia 1 and 2. However, here are how the following groupings of destinations in Asia are combined for the Flying Blue frequent flier loyalty program:

  • Asia 1 China, South Korea, Japan, East Russia and Mongolia
  • Asia 2 Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan and Thailand

 

For one-way travel from Europe in premium economy class on Air France only, as aircraft operated by KLM Royal Dutch Airlines are not equipped with premium economy class  — all increases are 60 percent except where noted in red:

From Europe in Premium Economy Class to:
Middle East, Central Asia, Central Russia
North America, Netherlands Antilles 33%
Central America, Caribbean, Hawaii, Bermuda
Africa 1 (Central, East & West Africa)
Africa 2 (South Africa, Indian Ocean)
Indian subcontinent
Latin America 1 (Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela) 59%
Latin America 2 (Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Uruguay)
Asia 1 and 2 — All Destinations
Pacific 1 (New Caledonia, French Polynesia)
Pacific 2 (Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Guam)
Current
25,000
37,500
37,500
31,250
37,500
37,500
44,000
50,000
50,000
50,000
June 2013
40,000
50,000
60,000
50,000
60,000
60,000
70,000
80,000
80,000
80,000
100,000
Increase
15,000
12,500
22,500
18,750
22,500
22,500
26,000
30,000
30,000
30,000

 

For one-way travel from Europe in business class — all increases are 25 percent:

From Europe in Business Class to:
Middle East, Central Asia, Central Russia
North America, Netherlands Antilles
Central America, Caribbean, Hawaii, Bermuda
Africa 1 (Central, East & West Africa)
Africa 2 (South Africa, Indian Ocean)
Indian subcontinent
Latin America 1 (Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela)
Latin America 2 (Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Uruguay)
Asia 1 and 2 — All Destinations
Pacific 1 (New Caledonia, French Polynesia)
Pacific 2 (Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Guam)
Current
40,000
50,000
60,000
50,000
60,000
60,000
70,000
80,000
80,000
80,000
June 2013
50,000
62,500
75,000
62,500
75,000
75,000
87,500
100,000
100,000
100,000
125,000
Increase
10,000
12,500
15,000
12,500
15,000
15,000
17,500
20,000
20,000
20,000

 

For one-way travel from Europe in first class — all increases are 30 percent:

From Europe in First Class to:
Middle East, Central Asia, Central Russia
North America, Netherlands Antilles
Central America, Caribbean, Hawaii, Bermuda
Africa 1 (Central, East & West Africa)
Africa 2 (South Africa, Indian Ocean)
Indian subcontinent
Latin America 1 (Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela)
Latin America 2 (Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Uruguay)
Asia 1 and 2 — All Destinations
Pacific 1 (New Caledonia, French Polynesia)
Pacific 2 (Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Guam)
Current
100,000
125,000
150,000
125,000
150,000
150,000
175,000
200,000
200,000
200,000
June 2013
130,000
162,500
195,000
162,500
195,000
195,000
227,500
260,000
260,000
260,000
325,000
Increase
30,000
37,500
45,000
37,500
45,000
45,000
52,500
60,000
60,000
60,000

 

…and the above charts reflect the redemption of Flying Blue frequent flier loyalty program miles for Classic award travel, of which there should be increased availability — but a “varying number” of Flying Blue frequent flier loyalty program miles will be required.

None of the FlyerTalk members whom I had contacted knew what is the current redemption structure for Pacific 2 (Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Guam) awards as they were supposedly never published, so I left them blank. If you know that specific information, please let me know so that I may update the charts.

Additionally, the amount of Flying Blue frequent flier loyalty program miles required for Flex awards — which do not impose a fee if you need to change your itinerary — will increase as well.

However, you will still be able to redeem your Flying Blue frequent flier loyalty program miles with the current award redemption structure through the end of 2013 — but that can only be done by contacting a call center of Air France or KLM Royal Dutch Airlines via telephone, and you may be required to pay a fee for calling a customer service representative to assist you.

Also, elite award redemption on flights operated by Air France will no longer exist as of early June of 2013.

There will be additional possibilities for upgrades to the premium economy and business class cabins. The following charts show the amount of Flying Blue frequent flier loyalty program miles you will need to upgrade according to the original booking class of service of your itinerary.

 

REDEMPTION FOR UPGRADES

To upgrade on flights within Europe where the zones shown in the chart below are defined by the Flying Blue frequent flier loyalty program as follows:

  • Europe Zone 1 Germany, Belgium, France, United Kingdom, Ireland, Netherlands and Switzerland
  • Europe Zone 2 Austria, Denmark, Spain, Finland, Italy, Norway, Portugal and Sweden
  • Europe Zone 3 Central, Eastern Europe, Southern Europe and North Africa
From:
Europe Zone 1
Europe Zones 1 and 2
Europe Zones 1, 2 and 3
To:
Europe Zone 1
Europe Zone 2
Europe Zone 3
W, S, A, Y, B
7,500
10,000
12,500
M and U
10,000
12,500
15,000
K and H
12,500
15,000
17,500

 

To upgrade from economy class to premium economy class on intercontinental flights:

From Europe to:
Middle East, Central Asia, Central Russia
North America, Netherlands Antilles
Central America, Caribbean, Hawaii, Bermuda
Africa 1 (Central, East & West Africa)
Africa 2 (South Africa, Indian Ocean)
Indian subcontinent
Latin America and Asia — All Destinations
Pacific 1 (New Caledonia, French Polynesia)
Pacific 2 (Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Guam)
Y and B
7,500
7,500
8,000
7,500
8,000
7,500
8,000
8,000
M and U
10,000
15,000
16,000
15,000
16,000
15,000
16,000
16,000
K and H
20,000
25,000
32,000
30,000
32,000
30,000
32,000
32,000
L and Q
30,000
35,000
48,000
45,000
48,000
45,000
48,000
48,000

 

To upgrade from economy class to business class on intercontinental flights:

From Europe to:
Middle East, Central Asia, Central Russia
North America, Netherlands Antilles
Central America, Caribbean, Hawaii, Bermuda
Africa 1 (Central, East & West Africa)
Africa 2 (South Africa, Indian Ocean)
Indian subcontinent
Latin America and Asia — All Destinations
Pacific 1 (New Caledonia, French Polynesia)
Pacific 2 (Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Guam)
Y
15,000
15,000
24,000
22,500
24,000
22,500
24,000
24,000
40,000
B, M, U
20,000
25,000
40,000
30,000
32,000
30,000
40,000
40,000
55,000
K and H
30,000
35,000
56,000
37,500
44,000
37,500
56,000
56,000
70,000
L and Q
40,000
45,000
64,000
52,500
60,000
52,500
72,000
72,000
85,000

 

To upgrade from premium economy class to business class — also known as Affaires — on intercontinental flights:

From Europe to:
Middle East, Central Asia, Central Russia
North America, Netherlands Antilles
Central America, Caribbean, Hawaii, Bermuda
Africa 1 (Central, East & West Africa)
Africa 2 (South Africa, Indian Ocean)
Indian subcontinent
Latin America and Asia — All Destinations
Pacific 1 (New Caledonia, French Polynesia)
Pacific 2 (Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Guam)
W
10,000
10,000
16,000
15,000
16,000
15,000
16,000
16,000
S
15,000
15,000
24,000
22,500
24,000
22,500
24,000
24,000

 

To upgrade from business class to first class — also known as La Premiere — on intercontinental flights:

From Europe to:
Middle East, Central Asia, Central Russia
North America, Netherlands Antilles
Central America, Caribbean, Hawaii, Bermuda
Africa 1 (Central, East & West Africa)
Africa 2 (South Africa, Indian Ocean)
Indian subcontinent
Latin America and Asia — All Destinations
Pacific 1 (New Caledonia, French Polynesia)
Pacific 2 (Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Guam)
J, C, D
60,000
75,000
90,000
75,000
90,000
105,000
120,000
120,000
150,000

 

FUEL SURCHARGES

As for fuel surcharges, they will now be included “within the award, which means you don’t have to pay this surcharge separately anymore” — although you will still have to pay airport and security taxes and fees separately.

The following chart lists the new fuel surcharges for all awards in economy class and premium economy class:

From Europe to:
Middle East, Central Asia, Central Russia
North America, Netherlands Antilles
Central America, Caribbean, Hawaii, Bermuda
Africa — All Destinations
Indian subcontinent
Latin America, Asia and Pacific — All Destinations
Regular
€20
€50
€50
€50
€20
€50
Premium
€70
€110
€110
€110
€70
€110

 

The following chart lists the new fuel surcharges each way for all awards in business class and first class, on which there will be no decrease:

From Europe to:
Middle East, Central Asia, Central Russia
North America, Netherlands Antilles
Central America, Caribbean, Hawaii, Bermuda
Africa — All Destinations
Indian subcontinent
Latin America, Asia and Pacific — All Destinations
Business
€160
€180
€180
€180
€160
€180
First
€160
€180
€180
€180
€160
€180

 

…so that — according to examples provided by the official Internet web site of the Flying Blue frequent flier loyalty program — the fuel surcharge for an award ticket in the economy class cabin on a round-trip flight between Stockholm and New York through Paris will be reduced from €416 to €100; and the fuel surcharge for an award ticket on a round-trip flight between Rome and New York through Amsterdam will be reduced from €376 to €100.

Here is an analysis offered by FlyerTalk member brunos, who disputes the aforementioned examples by calling them “totally false”:

“I now just looked at the example Paris-Singapore given for Premium economy. It says:
Before:
Paris – Singapore:
From 62,500 Miles + €188* carrier surcharge one way
(Return 125,000 Miles + € 376* carrier surcharge one way) Paris – Singapore:
After:
From 80,000 Miles + €110* carrier surcharge one way
(Return 160,000 Miles + € 220* carrier surcharge one way)

“But the current level of miles required is 50,000 not 62,500 (an increase of 60% as mentioned in post #74).

“The current carrier surcharge is 157 not 188.

“To answer the post by RoadWarrior75: Are you happy to pay 60% more miles to save 47 euro? That’s 30,000 miles per 47 euros and value each mile at 0.00156 euro.”

To reiterate, please note that all of the charts listed above are not for round-trip — or return — travel, but for travel one way.

These changes appear to favor customers who redeem Flying Blue frequent flier loyalty program miles for awards for seats in the economy class cabin and not so much for the premium cabins where Flying Blue frequent flier loyalty program members will be adversely impacted — despite increased availability.

I always thought that fuel surcharges were ridiculous, as — in my opinion — fuel surcharges are a form of false advertising designed to give the initial airfare or redemption of miles an appearance of being less expensive. Unlike ancillary fees — many of which are optional — you are required to pay fuel surcharges…

…unless you know where to look.

FlyerTalk member Henry III posts “What seems clearer to me now…is that the primary motivation seems to be to balance their books, rather than incentivising casual travellers or rewarding loyalty. Shame!”

Here is what FlyerTalk member florin has to say about this latest perceived devaluation of a frequent flier loyalty program:

“FF programs are being gutted all over the place. Across the pond, DL, UA and AA are all diluting their programs. The days of playing the FF game are quickly coming to an end. They are all going in the same direction, rewarding HVCs (high-value customers) and leaving low-yield customers behind. I don’t like it, but I can’t say that I blame them.

“On the specific changes, I have 2 comments:

“1.Quote:

AIR FRANCE and KLM have increased the number of award booking classes, strongly increasing your award availability. As is the case with commercial tickets, the price of a Classic award ticket will vary depending on the available booking class. You will however still find many seats available at the lowest Miles level.

“That last sentence is something that I’ve heard from DL several years ago and it was a GIANT lie. More tiers means that low awards are for the most part gone.

“2. Premium economy DOUBLE the miles of regular Y?! I find that pretty ridiculous. You get a few extra inches of space and a curtain that separates you from Y. Who in their right mind would pay double for that?!”

Interestingly — whether he knew it or not — FlyerTalk member david4455 predicted the future, as he posted the following concern about how these changes might affect award redemption of frequent flier loyalty program miles from partner airlines :

“Right now I can get a business class RT award on AF/KLM using 100K of my AlaskaAir miles.

Is this changing as well?

If it is, the Alaska website makes no mention of a redemption increase.”

I intend to cover this aspect pertaining to Alaska Airlines in a future article here at The Gate.

In the meantime, what are your thoughts on these changes pertaining to the Flying Blue frequent flier loyalty program of Air France and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines?

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Comments (Showing 8 of 8)

  • Paddy45 at 3:30pm May 28, 2013

    Am a platinum for life member and can never get award availability for classic awards. One of the worst loyalty programmes I am afraid. Need some real pressure put on them – who is the klm moderator?

  • Brian Cohen at 4:43pm May 28, 2013

    If you are asking who are the moderators for the Flying Blue forum on FlyerTalk, Paddy45 — which includes KLM Royal Dutch Airlines — they would be FlyerTalk members JOUY31 and Gajan, who are fairly well connected with officials of the Flying Blue frequent flier loyalty program.

  • Paddy45 at 10:17pm May 28, 2013

    Many thanks for the information brian

  • PDXNRTLHR at 12:30am May 29, 2013

    What effect does this have on Skymiles redemptions ex-Europe? Should we expect to see a decrease in “foreign origination fees”?

  • […] hier ein interessanter blogartikel von flyertalk zu dem thema … Award Redemption Increases; Fuel Surcharge Decreases by Air France and KLM Royal Dutch | The Gate […]

  • irishguy28 at 6:54am May 29, 2013

    You wrote: “None of the FlyerTalk members whom I had contacted knew what is the current redemption structure for Pacific 2 (Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Guam) awards as they were supposedly never published, so I left them blank. If you know that specific information, please let me know so that I may update the charts.”

    Why didn’t you just use the Flying Blue Mileage Finder ?

    Europe 1 to Pacific 2 is currrently: Economy – 100k (Classic) 200k (Flex); Business – 200k (Classic) 400k (Flex) for a reward ticket

    https://www.klm.com/travel/nl_en/flying_blue/earn_and_spend_miles/spend_miles/miles_finder_spending.htm?from=ams&to=syd

    [IMG]http://i40.tinypic.com/30vi41s.jpg[/IMG]

    • Brian Cohen at 5:52pm May 30, 2013

      Thank you for the update, irishguy28 — I appreciate it.

  • HuwRLewis at 6:16am May 30, 2013

    After years and years of being a Platinum and then (lately) a Diamond with NW/Delta, I’ve finally decided to step off the ‘FF treadmill.’ My habits changed so that most of my flying is international, and when Delta took over NW, the prices for upgradeable fares went through the ceiling. So from my perspective, the value of their program went down the tubes.

    Are the upgrade halcyon days are done…?

    My more common routes are DTW & GRR to SIN, KUL, BKK: any suggestions where I might reinvest? I’d been thinking of Air France, but…..

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