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how do upgrades work with KLM / Air France Flying Blue?

how do upgrades work with KLM / Air France Flying Blue?

Old Jan 24, 2024, 9:37 am
  #1  
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how do upgrades work with KLM / Air France Flying Blue?

Hello -- new to the FlyingBlue program so I'm hoping someone can help me understand how upgrades work.

I've been a long-time top-tier elite with Air Canada, and just recently jumped ship to FlyingBlue. On Air Canada, we would receive "eUpgrade credits", dependent upon your Aeroplan status and mileage flown and spend. Whenever you'd reach a certain threshold in a calendar year, you'd 'earn' these eUpgrade Credits that could then be used for upgrading on a future flight (either to premium economy or business, and dependent upon the class of service on the ticket you're wishing to upgrade on). You'd also be gifted these credits at the beginning of the calendar year based on your status. Note that these eUpgrade credits are different than the miles that you accrue with Aeroplan. On VERY rare occasions, at the gate you could receive a "complimentary" upgrade. I think in my 6+ years of flying Air Canada, this maybe happened twice.

So how do upgrades work on FlyingBlue? I'm looking through the FlyingBlue website and not finding anything obvious as to how upgrades work.

thanks in advance!
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Old Jan 24, 2024, 10:51 am
  #2  
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Miles and/or money.
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Old Jan 24, 2024, 11:12 am
  #3  
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Elite upgrades, a staple of North American programmes, are far less common in European programmes. As in most European programmes, there are no 'free' upgrades within the Flying Blue programme (except at Ultimate level and other than on Delta domestic flights, where FB elites are assimilated to DL elites) other than (rare) operational upgrades.

What you can get is paid-for upgrades either under normal programme rules in miles at normal rates or at OLCI time or at the check-in counter at possibly lower rates (and in miles or cash).
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Old Jan 24, 2024, 11:12 am
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Originally Posted by ajcopley
So how do upgrades work on FlyingBlue?
You pay for them.

The only exception: if you fly so much* on Air France and KLM (it has to be these 2 airlines) that you obtain "Ultimate" status, and then you get a limited number (4?) of upgrade vouchers, each one good for a single-cabin upgrade (so: Y to J on an AF widebody would require 2 vouchers).

*you need to earn 900 XP on AF and/or KL flights in your qualification year to get "Ultimate" status. That's the same number of XPs are as required to qualiify from Gold to Platinum 3 times over.
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Old Jan 24, 2024, 12:11 pm
  #5  
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Originally Posted by irishguy28
You pay for them.

The only exception: if you fly so much* on Air France and KLM (it has to be these 2 airlines) that you obtain "Ultimate" status, and then you get a limited number (4?) of upgrade vouchers, each one good for a single-cabin upgrade (so: Y to J on an AF widebody would require 2 vouchers).

*you need to earn 900 XP on AF and/or KL flights in your qualification year to get "Ultimate" status. That's the same number of XPs are as required to qualiify from Gold to Platinum 3 times over.
LOL ok well "Ultimate" status will never happen. And thanks for educating me on the upgrade (or lack thereof) process with FlyingBlue.
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Old Jan 24, 2024, 12:23 pm
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Originally Posted by NickB
Elite upgrades, a staple of North American programmes, are far less common in European programmes. As in most European programmes, there are no 'free' upgrades within the Flying Blue programme (except at Ultimate level and other than on Delta domestic flights, where FB elites are assimilated to DL elites) other than (rare) operational upgrades.

What you can get is paid-for upgrades either under normal programme rules in miles at normal rates or at OLCI time or at the check-in counter at possibly lower rates (and in miles or cash).
Good to know, thanks! So your comment "on Delta domestic flights, where FB elites are assimilated to DL elites", say for example I'm FlyingBlue Gold and I'm flying on a domestic U.S. Delta flight. Are you saying I'm treated the same as a Delta Gold in terms of the complimentary upgrade list?
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Old Jan 24, 2024, 12:54 pm
  #7  
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Originally Posted by ajcopley
Are you saying I'm treated the same as a Delta Gold in terms of the complimentary upgrade list?
No.
Delta and Aeromexico elites have priority; all other Skyteam elites come lower than them in the upgrade list.

https://www.delta.com/us/en/skymiles/medallion-program/medallion-upgrades
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Last edited by irishguy28; Jan 24, 2024 at 12:59 pm
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Old Jan 24, 2024, 1:11 pm
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Originally Posted by ajcopley
Hello -- new to the FlyingBlue program so I'm hoping someone can help me understand how upgrades work.

I've been a long-time top-tier elite with Air Canada, and just recently jumped ship to FlyingBlue. On Air Canada, we would receive "eUpgrade credits", dependent upon your Aeroplan status and mileage flown and spend. Whenever you'd reach a certain threshold in a calendar year, you'd 'earn' these eUpgrade Credits that could then be used for upgrading on a future flight (either to premium economy or business, and dependent upon the class of service on the ticket you're wishing to upgrade on). You'd also be gifted these credits at the beginning of the calendar year based on your status. Note that these eUpgrade credits are different than the miles that you accrue with Aeroplan. On VERY rare occasions, at the gate you could receive a "complimentary" upgrade. I think in my 6+ years of flying Air Canada, this maybe happened twice.

So how do upgrades work on FlyingBlue? I'm looking through the FlyingBlue website and not finding anything obvious as to how upgrades work.

thanks in advance!
The upgrade process is much less robust than your past experience with AC (as Im finding as a first year FB Platinum while still maintaining my AC SE status). The counter is that its seemingly a lot easier to maintain Platinum status than maintaining SE status due to the sped requirement on AC.
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Old Jan 24, 2024, 2:05 pm
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Originally Posted by EdmFlyBoi
The upgrade process is much less “robust” than your past experience with AC (as I’m finding as a first year FB Platinum while still maintaining my AC SE status). The counter is that it’s seemingly a lot easier to maintain Platinum status than maintaining SE status due to the sped requirement on AC.
Ok good to know as I move forward with flying KLM / AF this year. Just wanted to make sure my expectations were set appropriately. And the AC spend requirement is the exact reason why I lost my SE status after so many years. When they doubled the requirement for U.S. residents to $20K, that's when I knew my SE days were over.

And it does seem much 'easier' to obtain status with FlyingBlue. After just one trip this year (and getting the credit card), I'm already at Silver. Should hit gold after two more trips. We'll see how this goes.

Last edited by ajcopley; Jan 24, 2024 at 2:29 pm
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Old Jan 24, 2024, 2:06 pm
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Originally Posted by irishguy28
No.
Delta and Aeromexico elites have priority; all other Skyteam elites come lower than them in the upgrade list.

https://www.delta.com/us/en/skymiles...llion-upgrades
OK got it. Thanks for the clarification.
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Old Jan 24, 2024, 2:16 pm
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So an international flight KLM or AF flight is departing with 10 free biz class pods and 8 free premium economy seats. I've purchased the highest fare economy ticket and I'm a FlyingBlue Platinum. Both Air France and KLM will let those seats go empty and not upgrade me at the gate?
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Old Jan 24, 2024, 2:24 pm
  #12  
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Originally Posted by ajcopley
So an international flight KLM or AF flight is departing with 10 free biz class pods and 8 free premium economy seats. I've purchased the highest fare economy ticket and I'm a FlyingBlue Platinum. Both Air France and KLM will let those seats go empty and not upgrade me at the gate?
Pretty much. There's always the $$$ UG offer at checkin.
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Old Jan 24, 2024, 2:42 pm
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Originally Posted by YVR Cockroach
Pretty much. There's always the $$$ UG offer at checkin.
As I think this through, I guess I was just so conditioned to AC's fares being so ridiculously expensive into biz class, that I pretty much always relied on those eUpgrades to get that biz class (or even PE) seat.

But as I've switched to KLM / AF, I've noticed quite the disparity between ACs and KLMs fares. For example, my YVR --> AMS flight earlier this month was $1900 USD roundtrip. Biz class outbound, PE return (and it was fully refundable).

And just two days ago I booked another YVR --> AMS flight on KLM for beginning of April for $2000 USD (again biz class outbound, premium econ on the return (and fully refundable)). The comparable AC YVR --> FRA flight is $7300 USD!!!!!!! (my destination always being Dsseldorf, so it doesn't matter to me whether I land in AMS or FRA as I just hop on the next available train to DUS).

So I guess so long as I'm able to just keep finding biz class / PE fares like this, then I won't ever miss that AC "perk" of eUpgrades nor will I ever need it :-)
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Old Jan 24, 2024, 2:53 pm
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Originally Posted by ajcopley
So I guess so long as I'm able to just keep finding biz class / PE fares like this, then I won't ever miss that AC "perk" of eUpgrades nor will I ever need it :-)
The cheap BC fares - which apparently have been running regularly for quite a while - are certainly attractive as they don't reduce elite status (just the earned miles). All these changes at FB (and other airline FFPs) are new to me to me as I stopped flying for quite a while.

FWIW, the very few times I've checked, the BC fares to Germany and Austria (among some other places) seem to be a higher than to say, FR, NL, IT, HU, CZ among other European countries. Might as well tag on an "international" (AMS/CDG-BRU/LUX?) segment if you can to earn more XP.

Have you ever priced out SEA-YVR-FRA (or wherever) on AC vs YVR-FRA at the same time? I imagine there is probably a non-stop premium for the latter.
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Old Jan 24, 2024, 3:00 pm
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International upgrades aren't super common on North American airlines either, are they?
​​​​​​ Here's what it looks like from a FB Plat perspective:
Euro Business class with most carriers (Lufthansa Group-AF/KLM-IAG) isn't much: just a moving curtain (seats in the front usually have a little more pitch), a meal of questionable quality, easier lav access, and more attentive service. There isn't the bigger seat you find in other parts of the world. People who buy Euro Business Class also get lounge access, priority check-in, priority through security (most places), priority through passport control (some places), priority boarding, and extra baggage.
As an elite, I sit just behind the curtain, I get the priority in the lines, and lounge access. I also get the magic number to call if something happens (like a flight cancellation). If the plane is full, I might get an operational upgrade. That happens at most once a year.
Now, on long haul flights, the only times I've been upgraded was when the cabins in back were full and there were openings in the front. And, one time there was a full PE cabin, and a couple flying together had an INOP seat.
Otherwise, you pay to upgrade, and the cost isn't cheaper because you have status.
Online check-in will sometimes offer your upgrades: at 24 hours before your TATL flight leaves, you can change your seat; if the desired cabin is visible, you can pay for the upgrade that way.
At the airport, checking in, you can ask if upgrades are being sold. In north America, at the gate, you can see if the gate agents are selling them. Finally, once onboard, your flight attendant can sell open seats.

So, no, we don't get the equivalent of NA domestic upgrades, but we do get things that you don't get in NA, like a lounge that's quiet enough to work in.
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