The frequent flyer programme of Air France and KLM, Flying Blue, has announced major changes from next year. Following the US model, it appears that loyalty will be rewarded based on spend with the carriers.

This is already becoming a trend in Europe as airlines like Aer Lingus already operate a scheme where you earn points per Euro spent. Hopefully some carriers will choose to keep the current miles model as a point of differentiation. Let’s have a look.

Flying Blue Miles

Award Miles have been renamed Miles which I am sure will not confuse anyone using Flying Blue. The earning rate is 4 miles for every €1 spent for flights on Air France, KLM, Hop and Joon. This does not include spend on government taxes.

It does include your spending on seating fees, baggage and A La Carte menus which is good. Miles will be valid as long as there is activity once every two years and you can continue to earn them on partner airlines.

Experience Points

Borrowing from computer games, you now move up to a new level in Flying Blue with Experience Points. These are referred to as “XP” for short – sound familiar? You earn these flying Air France, KLM, Hop, Joon, Aircalin, Kenya Airways, Tarom and the SkyTeam partners.

I am an Ivory member in the programme which is the entry level and it tells me I need to earn 100 XP between 1 January and 31 December 2018 to move to Silver. 100 XP are deducted and the 12 month period resets so I get a year at the new status.

Redeeming Flying Blue Miles

From June 2018 passengers will be able to redeem miles for any flight with Air France, KLM, Hop, Joon and Transavia. The amount of miles will be calculated depending on origin, destination and date. Clearly this means there will be various redemption rates available.

Frequent flyers will also be able to pay up to 25% of the award ticket with cash if they don’t have enough miles. You can also spend miles on seats, lounge access and extra baggage which will be handy for those with low balances.

Overall Thoughts

Flying Blue is a popular programme in Europe and these changes will affect quite a large number of people. As such a major airline has now switched to a revenue earning model rather than distance earning, it does not bode well for the other large programmes.

Airlines tend to follow each other when it comes to introducing new things, so it is probably a matter of time before the other airlines follow suit and ditch the earning by distance model. That will be a terrible shame.

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