It is official: Flying Blue is now a revenue-based loyalty program. Points earning and redemption will both shift in early 2018, though not on the same date. The company believes the change “will offer more simplicity and flexibility in the use of the programme, a clearer reward scale and more choice in the use of Miles.”
Adapted to simplify our members’ experience and increase our attractiveness, the new Flying Blue programme will support our commercial offensive as well as our strategy to personalize customer service. – Jean-Marc Janaillac, Chairman and CEO of Air France-KLM.
Earning for Euros
Points earning will be based on Euros spent, less government fees and taxes. The new earning scheme takes effect on 1 April 2018.
Much like the US-based programs that have similarly shifted the earn rate scales by status tier. The status multipliers are lower than on the US counterparts, with Ivory (base) members earning 4 points per euro. Silver, Gold and Platinum members earn 6, 7, and 8 points per euro, respectively.
On the plus side, earning also covers various ancillary products, including extra legroom seats on KLM or inflight meals on Air France. The revenue-based earn scheme applies to all fares marketed by the two parent brands as well as HOP! and Joon. Notably absent from this list is Transavia.
Existing balances will not be adjusted with the conversion from a distance-based to revenue-based program.
Elite Status Changes Too
Looking for elite status in the Flying Blue program? Rather than focusing on distance flown the program is shifting to “eXperience Points (XP)” that are akin to Tier Points in the British Airways Executive Club program, despite the claim that Flying Blue is the first to offer such a scale.
Fares are split into five categories based mostly on distance. From there points are assigned by class of service, with a 2x, 3x, 5x multiple for Premium Economy, Business and First, respectively. Silver status is earned at 100 XP, Gold at 180 and Platinum at 300.
Status earning will be based on a rolling 12-month cycle and XP earnings will roll over if earned in excess of the level required
The qualification period for each Flying Blue member will be effective over a 12-month period to gain the XP required to reach or maintain a level. In case of a level upgrade, the level is activated and the qualification period will simply start again.
For Silver, Gold and Platinum members, all XP gained beyond the threshold will be carried forward to the next 12-month running period.
My read on this is that if you hit Silver with 110 points the new 12-month cycle starts and you have 10 points in your account, with a target of 180 to make Gold. But I’m not positive on that and the initial announcement offers little in the way of clarifications.
Status earning progress will be converted to the new scheme on 31 March 2018. Existing balances will be calculated at 1000 miles = 5XP and 1 qualifying segment = 7XP. Whichever number yields a higher total XP score will be what the passenger receives.
Redemption goes Revenue
Starting in June 2018 redemption will also be revenue-based. Or at least something approximating that. Officially the company states that “We’ll calculate the number of Miles needed to book your ticket based on the origin, destination and date of your flight.” That doesn’t explicitly tie award prices to fares and the net result could very well be something different. But it is clear that awards operated by Air France, KLM, HOP!, Joon and Transavia will be more variable in pricing. Travelers will also be able to cover up to 25% of the trip cost in cash while paying the rest in points.
Partner awards have not changed, at least not in an obvious manner. It is unclear what a mixed carrier award will look like in the new program.
The new rules do allow Flying Blue to extend redemption to new products. As part of the shift points can now be redeemed for extra legroom seats, baggage or lounge access. Much like with earning, the new redemption scheme helps on the ancillary side of things.
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From what I read on the “Exciting news” (not!) that klm sent me the points will exclude tax and fees. That would mean in many cases earning only a small part of the ticket price.
Klm have turned a good and very simple to understand scheme into a complicated and almost incomprehensible one. Only benefit is to AF/KLM, certainly not to the member.
I started flying a lot in the early 1990’s around the time many of these loyalty schemes started. Now semi retired and flying a lit less it is a shame that,with some notable exceptions, that the airlines are not extending lounge access (which is more important to me than points) to those of us who helped to build their business over many years but because of age and employment status now travel less!. Note all my comments here refer to Europe.
Up to now I have managed to just make the 30 sectors a year with KLM to keep my gold card. Now, if I understand the new scheme I will have to do 36. Most likely it’s good by and thank you to klm. So they loose what travel I now do to another airline. Am sure that is going to benefit them!!
Fuel surcharges count towards earning, too. It is only government taxes/fees that are excluded. That’s standard for revenue-based programs.
The programs are no longer designed to reward frequent budget travel. That is pretty clear. And I do not see that changing in the near future.
I would consider myself as a normal short haul economy traveller who fly’s around 50 – 60 sectors a year or to put it more suscinctly the everyday bread and butter traveller that keeps airlines in business. As you indicate it now appears the only ones to benefit are those shelling out considerably more money to basically sit in a seat no better and with the same leg room as an economy seat. By not rewarding the standard passenger the airline therefore is pushing it’s most loyal customers (who my well also use them for more lucrative long haul in premium class ) towards the low cost airlines thus depriving them of the basic revenue needed to maintain their business.
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