Through February 29, 2012, American Express Membership Rewards is offering a 25% transfer bonus to Air France/KLM’s Flying Blue frequent flyer program. The bonus is built into transfers, meaning the 25% bonus posts immediately and can be used an unlimited number of times.
Generally speaking Flying Blue isn’t a program I would transfer Membership Rewards points to (despite the high degree to which Membership Rewards points been devalued recently). But there are a few instances in which transfer could prove to be a great value.
Air France just about has the best transatlantic business class award space, especially over summer. While Star Alliance and OneWorld have virtually no transatlantic award space over the summer, many of Air France’s routes still have excellent space. For example, Washington to Paris has tons of business class award space, sometimes even nine seats per flight.
But if you’re redeeming for a roundtrip ticket on Air France you’re generally best off transferring your Membership Rewards points to Delta SkyMiles, given that they don’t impose fuel surcharges on award tickets, which can be roughly ~$500 roundtrip. The downside is that Delta doesn’t allow one-way awards, while Flying Blue does. So while you do pay fuel surcharges, you’re only paying 40,000 miles for a one-way business class ticket to Europe, which is a pretty great deal, especially over summer. Given that most airlines other than Delta allow one way awards nowadays, I’ve found myself transferring Membership Rewards points to Flying Blue for clients quite a bit, as they mix and match between alliances on a single trip.
Furthermore, Flying Blue runs promotional 50% off awards, whereby business class roundtrip to Europe is only 50,000 Flying Blue miles on select dates/routes. Through this promotion the price is lowered even further, to only 40,000 Membership Rewards points. That’s a spectacular deal for business class to Europe.
As you can see, this includes routes like Washington and Detroit to Europe on Air France, or New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles to Europe on KLM.
This promotion won’t (and shouldn’t!) work for everyone, though it’s certainly worth keeping in mind.