Air France FlyingBlue Award Search Glitches

Air France has really grown on me over the past few years.

They have a solid first class product, and their flagship Paris Charles de Gaulle lounge is possibly the best first class lounge in the world.

Air-France-A380-First-Class-03
Air France A380 first class cabin

Their new business class product looks really solid, and is a great upgrade upgrade over their old business class product.

Air-France-New-Business-4

Oh, and I really, really love their marketing.

FlyingBlue, on the other hand…

Air France FlyingBlue miles can be incredibly useful for SkyTeam redemptions. For one, FlyingBlue allows one-way redemptions for half the cost of a roundtrip, which Delta doesn’t. So it’s a great way to book one-way award tickets on SkyTeam carriers, be it Air France, Delta, or another partner.

Furthermore, they make more award space available to their own members than to members of Delta SkyMiles, so it’s a good way to lock in transatlantic business class award seats, since they’re pretty good about releasing space.

Unfortunately the actual process of booking awards through them leaves a bit to be desired.

And when I say “a bit,” I mean a lot.

Where do we even begin with the problems?

Air France FlyingBlue phantom award space

The FlyingBlue award search website consistently shows phantom award space.

For those of you not familiar with the concept, it means they show award space as being available which isn’t actually there, and it’s not until the purchase page that you realize the space isn’t bookable.

This can be frustrating since Air France FlyingBlue is transfer partners with American Express Membership Rewards, so you can transfer points only to find that the space isn’t actually bookable.

Broken FlyingBlue award calendar

I guess they learn this from their SkyTeam partner Delta. The FlyingBlue award calendar will consistently show dates as having award space when there isn’t actually any availability.

That’s really frustrating and makes the award search fairly useless.

Air-France-FlyingBlue

Useless US FlyingBlue call center

Air France’s US FlyingBlue call center really is an embarrassment, and makes British Airways’ Executive Club call center look good, by comparison (which is saying a lot).

They can’t price out anything even remotely complicated, and if you ask them why, they’ll say “oh, it’s too complicated to explain.”

Even something as simple as booking a mixed cabin award is more than they can handle, even though it’s well within the rules.

FlyingBlue website outright displaying wrong price

This is a completely new one for me. I’m used to the website showing phantom award space and displaying incorrect award space on the calendar, but up until now I haven’t actually seen the results page and booking page show different prices.

For example, take a look at this award search between New York and Edinburgh:

Air-France-FlyingBlue-1

It display the one-way business class Classic Award price to be 62,500 miles, which is correct.

But then when you go the results page, it tries to charge you 65,625 miles — that’s not even an award cost on their award chart!

Air-France-FlyingBlue-2

Bottom line

Don’t trust the FlyingBlue website. And definitely don’t expect that the FlyingBlue call center agents will work miracles either.

Has anyone else experienced the above, being quoted prices that don’t even match up with the award chart?

(Tip of the hat to Mac)

Comments

  1. says

    I have issued with this all the time. The biggest frustration is the website showing an x amount of miles and when clicking through the numer suddenly changes to a higher amount…

  2. Ismael says

    I agree that agents often price awards incorrectly, but at least they are very nice when doing so. Overall, HUCA.

  3. lucky says

    @ Ismael — The only problem is that they have about five agents that staff their US call center, so that gets tricky. :D

  4. Beachfan says

    Hi Lucky,

    Is expertflyer accurate? What about Alaska Air’s site?

    Do they do status matches?

    Thanks!

  5. lucky says

    @ Beachfan — The glitch I’m referring to here involves award pricing and not award space, and ExpertFlyer doesn’t display award prices. That being said, for searching award space on Air France, ExpertFlyer is usually accurate. The “catch” is that Air France’s website is theoretically great for searching award space on some partners that ExpertFlyer doesn’t show (like Kenya Airways and Aerolineas Argentinas), and that’s where a lot of phantom space is.

    Air France doesn’t status match as far as I know.

  6. Suzette says

    I find that if you have an Elite Account is helps with those prices indifferences. Air France has great availability just that it needs to work on the pricing issues in regards to the flights that can be a kiiler..

  7. WorldWingedExplorer says

    You have to use that to your advantage. There are certain routes that price 30/40% cheaper and can be boooked no problem. The best deal is that the YQ is fairly minimal.

  8. Gabe says

    Lucky – Is there any way to know which routes will be getting the new biz class seats first? Im flying AF biz on Jan 1 form CDG-ATL on a 777-200. I would love to know if my flight will feature the new seats, and if not, try to switch to one that does

  9. lucky says

    @ Gabe — New York has the new product so far, but aside from that I don’t know what future plans are.

  10. Garrett says

    New York has the new product? That’s cool. I’d be willing to break up a flight at JFK to try these out…even if it doesn’t give you enough time to sleep. And I would have to make a connection in Paris. And I would have to fly Air France. But still, it would be nice to get off KLM for a minute.

  11. Hessel says

    Not seen any of this but what I did see (and mentioned on ‘ask Lucky’) is that they have higher award redemptions in high-season which are not following their award chart and I have also noticed different availability when switching locations, try switching between US and the Netherlands for example. This was for KLM Flying Blue. which I assume works the same way.

  12. Ivan Y says

    @ WorldWingedExplorer – any hints on how I can find which locations are cheaper due to the bug?

  13. Mo says

    I am platinum for life wit AF but I stopped flying them 3years ago because I was left trapped due to the constant errors in their flying blue award site, showing promo space available the disappearing when you select,days after days,I don’t trust the ingots displayed,beside their first class is the most expensive one in term of miles.

  14. JW says

    Lucky, I found two AF award seats to Europe using awardnexus. What is the best way to book AF award? I have lots of Chase points, probably not enough AMEX points and enough SPG points but I understand SPG transfer may take 1-2 weeks? Thanks!

  15. lucky says

    @ JW — If roundtrip Delta is the best options so you avoid the fuel surcharges, assuming the space shows on their website. If you don’t have enough AmEx points and want to book it instantly, though, Korean Air might be your only option, since they partner with Chase. Just keep in mind their restrictions regarding who you can book tickets for, and call them to be sure they see the space.

  16. Terra says

    I’m also having glitchy mileage requirements. I tried to book Lisbon->Dulles in late November, and on the award website, it says it’s only 12,500 miles. When I get to the confirmation page, it says I need 15,000 miles instead. I tried calling in several times, but got the run around and “try the website again later”. Any ideas on how to get this flight booked?

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