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FlyingBlue is a program that doesn’t typically get much of my focus. But there is definitely some potential here that is left untapped.
FlyingBlue has some unique geography and pricing nuances that savvy travelers can exploit. For example, Israel and some other North African countries are classified as Europe. This means that when the promo awards (one of the best uses of these miles) roll around, you can actually fly to Tel Aviv for less.
One of the major bummers is that many partners levy serious fuel surcharges, especially KLM and AirFrance, the two carriers associated with the FlyingBlue program. Still, there are some interesting options where it may be worth forking over some cash to save a significant number of miles. Here are some unique options you may not be aware of for using FlyingBlue miles:
U.S. to Aruba (and a few other territories)
Given FlyingBlue’s unique geographical categories, Aruba somehow ended up in the same region as the continental U.S. This means that awards in economy are a mere 12,500 miles each way, which is a complete steal.
Other places this should work are Bonaire and Curaçao. Suriname, in South America, is technically also classified in the same region, but I don’t think there is a routing that works from the U.S. to get you there for this price.
U.S. to Europe via Mexico
I often forget that AeroMexico is a SkyTeam partner. They are not an airline that is on my radar in terms of either flying or redeeming miles. But I noticed something funny when I was searching FlyingBlue for seats from SFO or LAX to Paris – you can connect via MEX!
Now, this isn’t the most direct route to get to Europe. But it could be a fun option if you enjoy trying out different airline products. It’s also cheap, compared to the fuel surcharges applied to AirFrance and KLM flights. You can fly this route for the same 62,500 miles charged between the U.S. and Europe for business class.
Taipei to Delhi via….Amsterdam?
This isn’t for the faint of heart. With a large number of options for flying on Asian partners directly to Delhi, flying via Europe doesn’t make much sense, unless you’re simply one of those people who loves flying business for the sake of flying business.
This routing works from a large number of East Asia origins, not just Taipei to Delhi, as there are a number of SkyTeam partner options. With this routing, you’ll only pay 50,000 miles for the trip in business class, which is much less than the 75,000 miles required for flying the single leg from Asia to Europe!
Expect to get hit with massive fuel surcharges for the “privilege” of flying this crazy routing!
Guam to New Caledonia for 15,000/37,500 miles
This one is super weird. Due to the odd FlyingBlue award regions and the fact that FlyingBlue doesn’t always charge the higher price for transiting additional regions, you have a steal on your hands for getting to Noumea, New Caledonia.
New Caledonia is typically difficult to get to cheaply (and even this isn’t exactly cheap, as you get hit with $150+ in fees). But given that even round-trip flights from Sydney to Noumea often cost $500, miles are the way to go.
This would be a brutal trip in economy, as it requires a minimum of two connections for vast bulk of the routing options (Asia and Sydney). There is also this one via Tokyo on Delta and Aircalin:
But it might be fun if you’re flying up front. 37,500 miles is a great deal for a long haul. Contrast this with the 100,000 miles Flying Blue charges to fly Taipei to Sydney directly! #nothanks
U.S. to New Caledonia via Sydney
This is yet another example that takes advantage of FlyingBlue’s unique award chart pricing at times. If you flew a Delta award from LAX to Sydney, it would cost you 50,000 miles one-way. Hardly worth a second glance.
Slap on the extra leg to Noumea, and now you’re only looking at 30,000 miles. That is quite a deal. Even the fees are a reasonable $65.
It’s too bad that FlyingBlue awards no longer let you have a stopover on a round-trip. Would be cool to see both Australia and New Caledonia on the same trip.
FlyingBlue is one of the best programs to use for SkyTeam awards, and it has some unique region geography and pricing nuances that you can exploit to your your advantage. I’d argue that there are better programs to invest in overall, but considering that it is a transfer partner of all major transferable currencies, knowing some unique situations in which to use FlyingBlue miles is definitely an advantage.
Header image courtesy of BriYYZ under CC 2.0 license.