Category Archives: Air France

For Many People, the Air France Award Ticket Changes Are Good News

Last week Air France announced changes to their Flying Blue program that, if you’re a half-full kinda person, are fantastic or, if you’re a half-empty kinda person, represent a devaluation. Here’s the deal:

- Coach tickets from the US to Europe will see their currently-ridiculous fuel surcharges slashed to 50 Euro each way (roughly $65) from about $200 each way.

- Business class tickets from the US to Europe increase in cost from 100,000 miles to 125,000 miles. Fuel surcharges (obnoxious) stay the same on the trans-Atlantic portion of the trip, but they’ll throw in the fuel surcharges on any connection for free (in other words, flights to Paris will have the same surcharge while flights to, say, Oslo will be slightly lower).

- Increase cost of premium economy ticket to Europe from 75,000 to 100,000, with a reduction in surcharges from $240 each way to about $145 each way.

Yes that stinks about business class (and premium economy) tickets increasing the number of points required, but let’s be honest — why were you redeeming Flying Blue miles for tickets on Air France? The surcharges are completely ridiculous – you have plenty of better options if you want to transfer Starwood or Amex points into a program to get to Europe.

However, the reduction in surcharges on coach tickets to Europe is a pretty big deal, because it opens Air France up as a redemption partner (I considered a $400+ surcharge to be ridiculous for a coach ticket). With the lower surcharge, you’re looking at 40,000 Starwood points for a roundtrip coach ticket to Europe (I know, I know, bloggers act as if coach doesn’t exist.) For those interested in visiting Israel, Air France considers Israel to be part of Europe, so that’s a bargain there, too.

Plus, several times a year Air France offers 50% off deals for award tickets to Europe, meaning there will (likely) be opportunities to grab a roundtrip coach ticket to Europe for 25,000 miles plus only $130. That’s a great deal.

Air France Crew to Passengers: Does Anyone Have Any Cash to Pay for Fuel?

An Air France flight from Paris to Beirut made an emergency landing in Damascus, Syria, last Wednesday after running low on fuel. The flight had circled for some time because demonstrations at the Beirut airport had caused flight diversions. The fuel situation was serious enough that Air France decided to land the plane in Damascus, which is seeing its own share of domestic unrest.

But when the plane landed, the flight’s crew made an unusual request: they asked passengers to check their wallets to see if they had cash that the crew could use to pay for fuel at the airport. Economic sanctions against Syria made payment for fuel challenging, and an Air France spokesperson called the measure “unusual” and said that asking for the cash was simply a precautionary measure.

Eventually the airline found another way to pay for the fuel, so they did not need passengers to pitch in for gas money (like they were your big brother driving your 14-year-old friends to the movies.)

Oddly enough, this is the second time an airline has hit up passengers for gas money in the past year — you may remember this story about a Comtel Air pilot asking passengers to put up 150 Euro each to get from Vienna to Birmingham.

Another European Fare Deal: 1 Day Fares to Barcelona and More from $640 in April and May on Air France

Air France is offering a 1-day sale (March 15th) on fares from the US to Europe, starting at $640 (taxes included) for flights from New York to Barcelona April 1 – May 17.

(Note: that landing page says you can book by March 26th, but the email says you must book today. YMMV).

Given the ridiculously high fares to Europe ($1000+ in April), this is a bargain.

Other fares include $685 to Amsterdam from New York and up to $835 from flights from LA to Amsterdam. Lots of other cities available.

Why You Would Take Advantage of 25% Amex Transfer Bonus to Flying Blue

View from the Wing points out that through February 29 you can get a 25% bonus for transferring Membership Rewards points to Flying Blue (Air France & KLM frequent flyer program).

You may initially think this is a good idea because of their seemingly great mileage sales that, for example, currently allow you to get a round trip ticket to Europe for 25,000 miles (or only 20,000 Membership Rewards points). That’s true, but they also charge $570 in taxes and fuel surcharges on that “free” ticket, making it pretty much worthless.

However, they DO NOT charge fuel surcharges when you book a flight on Delta. True, you cannot take advantage of the ridiculous 25k round trip deal, but Flying Blue only charges 50,000 miles for a round trip ticket to Europe (instead of 60,000 with Skymiles), so it would only cost you 40,000 Membership Rewards points for a trip to Europe in coach, with no added fuel surcharges.

I definitely wouldn’t transfer points for the 25k round trip deal – the fuel surcharges make that ridiculous. And if you want to fly Air France or KLM, use your Delta miles, as they do not charge fuel surcharges (and availability is usually pretty good). But if you’re going to fly Delta, Flying Blue is a great way to take advantage while using fewer miles.

Air France Eliminates Dedicate Service in Africa

Long-time airline nerds may remember that Air France launched a service for oil workers called Dedicate, where they flew A319s outfitted with 28 biz class seats and just 54 coach seats to oil-related destinations in Africa (they used to fly to other, non-African oil destinations).

Beginning April 16th, Air France will eliminate the last of these services (to Malabo, Equitorial Guinea; and N’djamena, Chad) and switch them to mainline aircraft. Some destinations served by Dedicate were eliminated but some, such as the two noted above, have just been moved to larger planes.

Don’t Give Up Yet on Using Miles for that Thanksgiving Trip

I’ve done a number of radio interviews (hi KTRH in Houston!) in the past couple of weeks about whether it’s too late to get a good fare or use miles for your Thanksgiving trip. (We’ll set aside for a moment the question of why I seem to only do radio interviews.) The answer (as you’ve probably figured out from the title) is that it’s not too late to use miles for your Thanksgiving trip. In some cases.

Flights to Europe, especially on European carriers, look quite open over the Thanksgiving break. No, it’s not exactly springtime in Europe, but Paris is in the mid-50s, low 60s, which isn’t bad at all. Air France is showing good availability from the East Coast to Paris over that weekend, including some flights with Premium Economy (not bookable using Delta miles, as far as I know) and business class available, though with spottier availability. KLM looks good to Amsterdam as well.

Continental’s partners, especially Lufthansa, are showing pretty open availability as well. If you’re looking to go, be open to connecting through one of the German gateways, as they’re looking pretty good right now.

Many folks are heading to Florida that weekend from the Northeast, and that’s a tougher ticket. Though a quick check shows that you can grab a Wednesday departure on US Airways from New York to Ft Lauderdale (stopping in Charlotte) with business class seats available. You can book that one-way using Continental or United miles.

Even the Caribbean, at least until quite recently, wasn’t out of the question. A couple of weeks ago we decided to go to Curacao over Thanksgiving and were able to get 4 one-way reward tickets on Continental departing on Wednesday before Thanksgiving (that flight, which Continental flies twice a week and everyone seems to forget about, generally has great award availability, and still had seats open until a couple of days ago, though they’re gone now). Don’t give up all hope: US Airways has availability in business class to San Juan on Wednesday before Thanksgiving and Thanksgiving day (thru Philly or Charlotte), with returns available on Tuesday after the holiday.

As always when using miles, a little flexibility goes a long way.

Air France A380 to Washington Goes to 4x/Week from Daily

Quick one: I know that some folks with Delta Skymiles have been (at least somewhat) excited that they can use those miles on Air France’s daily A380 service from Washington Dulles to Paris. Availability on the route is good, even in business class.

According to AirlineRoute.net (indispensable for airline dorks), that service moves to 4 times a week from daily beginning March 25. A380 flights are now on Monday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.

Air France & KLM Discount Select Reward Travel by Half through April

Flying Blue, the loyalty program offered by Air France & KLM, is offering 50% off reward tickets on select routes through April.  Economy tickets between Europe and Houston, Washington, Vancouver, Chicago and Atlanta (and vice versa) are only 25,000 miles round trip.  Routes with premium economy are only 29,000, and Business Class (Affaires) are just 50,000 miles (Toronto is also available for business class travel).

Starwood points are convertible to Flying Blue points at 1:1, with the regular 5,000 point bonus, so that spring trip to France can run you just 20,000 Starwood points in coach, or 40,000 in Business.  Solid deal.