Even though I’m based in the Amsterdam region, until a few months ago the Flying Blue loyalty program was a black box for me. Flying Blue is the loyalty program of the Air France-KLM airline combination. As a OneWorld airlines loyalist I never felt the urge to switch to the Flying Blue program.
It only caught my attention a few years ago when they switched from being a program that awards flights based on distance to a revenue based(the more you spend, the more you get) kind of program. With that the way you earn frequent flyer status changed more to the system used by British Airways (Tier Point system).
As said Flying Blue is the loyalty program of Air France-KLM. Its purpose is to reward customers who frequently use their services aboard their aircraft. This rewarding happens in two ways.
When you continue flying Air France-KLm (or their SkyTeam partners) you will gain more and more benefits during your travels. Which benefits you will receive depends on the status you hold with in the program. When you just sign up for the program you will enter the “Explorer” level which doesn’t give any mentionable benefits at all. When you keep flying you will move along the different levels like Silver, Gold and finally Platinum. The latter status gives you the most benefits of course.
The second way the program awards you for flying with them is by handing out award miles. With those miles you can choose rewards eventually when you collected enough of them. The amount of miles given to you used to be based on the booking class and distance of the flights you took. However since a few years the amount is based on the price of ticket in combination with the status you hold within the program.
Beside the award miles which you can collect during your flights you will also earn XP which each flight that you take. The amount of XP you will receive is indirectly still based on the distance of your flight. As you can see in the image below the amount of XP is based on the the cabin class you fly in combined with the distance you fly. Lets say we fly from Amsterdam to Paris, a distance of 248 miles in business class. According to the table it would classify in the “Medium” distance class and therefore earn as 15 XP.
Unlike award miles, XP are only used to determine in which status level within the program you belong. The XP counter resets to zero every year.
To be rewarded for the flights you take you need to become a member of Flying Blue (can be done via this page). When you haven enrolled you will be placed on the “Explorer” level of the program. Since this is an entry level there are not much benefits attached to it. I think the most noticeable is that you will receive some discount on addingextra baggage to your booking.
With the account in the pocket you now can start collecting award miles and fly yourself to the top of the program.
On this level you will earn 4 award miles per euro spent on the ticket.
Once you enrolled the program and start flying one of the SkyTeam airlines you will start earning XP. You need to collect 100 XP during a year to reach the Silver level. That equals seven medium classified business class flights or 20 medium classified economy class flights.
Once you reach the 100 XP your XP counter will be reset to zero and your frequent flyer status will be upgraded to “Silver”
You get priority at some places during your travels. For starters you get priority check-in, priority baggage handling and priority board, which means you can enter the airplane before the main groups can enter. Besides that you are able to select a seat on board for free.
The Flying Blue Silver level reflect to SkyTeam Elite status which can be used on other SkyTeam member airlines.
On this level you will earn 6 award miles per euro spent on the ticket.
You continued flying with your Silver status in the pocket and are now aiming for the Gold level. With the XP counter reset to zero once you reached the Silver status you need to start collect some more XP.
Once you reach the 180 XP your XP counter will one again reset to zero and your frequent flyer status will be upgraded to “Gold”
In my opinion Flying Blue Gold is the level the real benefits start to kick in. With you Gold member card you can use the SkyTeam airport lounges before your flights to give your journeys a relaxing beginning. Of course all the benefits you gained on the earlier “Silver” level still remain.
On the level you will earn 7 award miles per euro spent on the ticket.
You are almost on the top level of the Flying Blue program. However where you earlier needed to collect 100 XP for Silver and then 180 XP for Gold the XP goal for the final level is steeper.
Once you reach the 300 XP your XP counter will one again reset to zero and your frequent flyer status will be upgraded to “Platinum”
Earlier we explained that you earn XP based on the distance of flights you take. We used the example of a flight from Amsterdam to Paris which would give you 15 XP. For a return flight to Paris that would give us 30 XP.
If we take a look at the amount of XP required for each status level it you take 4 return flights to Paris for Silver, after that 6 return flights to Paris for Gold status and finally 10 return flights to Paris to reach the top of the frequent flyer pyramid. With a total of 20 return trips that’s a serious amount of time (and money) to spend on flying each year.
Luckily for us there is a faster way to reach the top and that is to use the fact that XP are awarded per flight. Amsterdam to Madrid for example also classifies as a Medium distance flight and would give therefore 30 XP for a return flight. However if we decide to add a transfer in Paris (the Air France hub airport) we suddenly have four flights, which each earns 15 XP. Instead of the 30XP for the direct return flight we now collect 60 XP for a return trip. That cuts the amount of trips needed to reach the top of the pyramid in half.
But we don’t have to stop there. Amsterdam is the hub airport for KLM. What if we start our journey in for example Dusseldorf (nearby city in Germany) and decide to transfer in both Amsterdam and Paris. Well I guess you got the idea and have calculated that this will earn you 90 XP.
Of course not every ticket you find online will allow this kind of routing through many hubs. There is a community online which discuss their findings on creative routings to earn lots of XP. Findings are often shared on Ikvliegveel.nl (in Dutch) or on the Flyertalk forum.
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