FlyingBlue To Become Revenue Based In 2018?

Over the past several years we’ve seen the “big three” US frequent flyer programs go revenue based, where they award redeemable miles based on how much your ticket costs rather than how many miles you fly. This started with Delta SkyMiles, United MileagePlus quickly followed, and then eventually American AAdvantage did as well.

In Europe we haven’t yet seen any of the major network carriers introduce revenue based programs. However, it’s probably less necessary over there than here. That’s because prior to revenue based programs in the US, airlines typically awarded a minimum of 100% miles based on distance flown, even on the cheapest economy fares. In many cases this was perhaps overly generous, especially when we’re talking about $500 transpacific fares.

Meanwhile in Europe, Air France, British Airways, Lufthansa, etc., award 25% miles for discounted economy tickets. In other words, they have less of an issue with overrewarding those who are booking cheap fares. US airlines knew that they’d get a lot of pushback if they started only awarding a fraction of the number of miles flown, so at that point they figured they might as well go fully revenue based.

While nothing has officially been announced yet, FlyerTalk member Azureas notes something interesting s/he saw while using the FlyingBlue online mileage calculator. For those of you not familiar, FlyingBlue is the frequent flyer program of Air France, KLM, etc.

When looking at Air France flights as of May 1, 2018, the online mileage calculator indicated that miles would be awarded based on dollars spent rather than distance flown. The results page said “your flight is in 2018, discover FlyingBlue new programme rules.”

It listed the following mileage earning for tickets, based on status:

  • Ivory: 4 miles per EUR spent
  • Silver: 6 miles per EUR spent
  • Gold: 7 miles per EUR spent
  • Platinum: 8 miles per EUR spent

As you can see, the mileage earning here is significantly less generous than US programs, especially when you account for the fact that government taxes & fees make up a larger portion of most tickets in Europe than the US. Base members earn 4 miles per EUR, while in the US programs offer 5 miles per USD, which is significantly more generous when you factor in the exchange rate. On the high end, top tier elites earn 8 miles per EUR, while US programs offer 11 miles per USD.

It would appear that this information was accidentally leaked, because the mileage calculator was quickly fixed, and now once again shows miles being awarded based on distance flown rather than dollars spent. Clearly this didn’t just appear out of thin air, so there are two possible explanations for this:

  • This is a concept that FlyingBlue was considering, but won’t actually implement soon; this seems unlikely, but is a possibility
  • This is a concept that FlyingBlue is implementing, and someone accidentally hit “publish” too early; this seems like the most likely explanation

If this does actually happen, I’m not surprised to see FlyingBlue be the first airline to implement this. They work very closely with Delta, and Delta was the first global US airline to introduce a revenue based program.

Bottom line

For now we’ll have to mark this as “developing,” though I expect this to be true. It would be a shame to see European airlines follow the lead of US airlines, though it wouldn’t be quite as big of a blow to those programs as in the US. That’s because US programs used to offer 100% miles on discounted economy fares, while European carriers generally offer 25% miles for those types of fares.

If Air France-KLM implements this, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the other two European mega-airlines follow their lead.

What do you make of the concept of FlyingBlue introducing revenue based mileage earning?

Comments

  1. FlyingBlue is a joke, tried to book an award on Garuda recently….all individual flights show as available but combined itineraries don’t show up. Called in and had an incredibly rude, condescending as-hole talk over me trying to tell me it’s not possible if it’s not showing up online. I ended up booking same thing with Delta miles in 15min….saved $100+ in “fuel” surcharges at the same time.

    Had similar issues before, they’re totally useless except in rare cases where stars align and their website functions properly.

  2. I think we in Europe (esp UK-LHR) have had a raw deal with miles, airline surcharges and airport taxes. We also had ridiculously low credit card sign up offers. Now, if the EU biggies slowly move towards this, basically any interest in miles towards upgrades/tickets will quickly fade away even in the minds of mod usage business travellers.

    I feel with the amount of competition, the pence/cent value of a mile for most airlines is going to be even more worthless. best option is to buy good cheap business class revenue fares and just forget miles altogether apart from those last min awards/high cost tickets in which miles maybe worthwhile.

  3. Even though most European ffp award just 25% of miles now the new revenue based system (if it happens as shown above) make things even worse, much worse. To the point I don’t even know who will be interested in mileage programs.

    2 examples.

    1. CDG-BCN, cheapest ticket for 49 EUR, of which 40 EUR are airport and government taxes and fees (no YQ).
    Currently as a FB Plat I would get 750 miles * 0.25 + 100% = 376 miles
    New system 9 EUR * 4 + 100% = 72 miles

    2. ARN-CDG-LAX, discounted business which you can casually buy for 1500-1750 EUR, of which taxes 150 EUR.
    Currently it earns me around 30,000 miles.
    New system 1350 EUR * 4 + 100% = 10,800 miles.

    Disaster.

  4. Wakey wakey. Flying Blue has been awarding miles based on ticket fare class (F, J, Y etc,..) for years, so essentially not much new here, only further devaluation.

  5. It makes sens to change Flying Blue current advantages. Too many people benefit from the programme by buying cheap domestic or european tickets. When everybody is cheap platinum or cheap gold you can expect that champagne will be cheap and lounges full.

  6. I checked some of my flights, and if you happen to pay the tickets that are slightly more expensive, it’s quite attractive.

    I fly AMS-CDG quite some times and I took a recent ticket which was EUR 182 + taxes = EUR 248.

    This was for the V booking class so I got 188+188 = 376 miles (excl. elite bonus).
    With the new system, it would give me 4*182 = 728 miles (excl. elite bonus), almost double the amount.

    On another flight, I had my outbound flight in M and the return in V, which gave me 900+188 = 1088 miles. The fare ex tax was EUR 376, so the new system would give me 4×376 = 1504 miles.

    I’d favor the change šŸ™‚

  7. Put it bluntly, if Flying Blue goes revenue based, I’m probably gonna ditch my AF Silver Amex card in favour of the regular Amex green card. Reason why I didn’t go straight with MR direct is that Amex France has pitiful transfer rates (All at 5:4 or worse) and not really many good partners.

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