Through Sunday, September 16, 2012, American Express Membership Rewards is offering a 35% bonus on points transfers to Air France’s Flying Blue program. The bonus is coded into the transfer ratio, so you can take advantage of the offer as many times as you’d like during the promotion period.
Now I don’t actually find Flying Blue miles especially useful for travel on Air France/KLM, since they levy huge fuel surcharges for those award redemptions.
For example, the taxes and fuel surcharges on a one-way business class award from Los Angeles to Paris are a whopping $447.20.
However, there are plenty of other great redemption options that could make this promotion lucrative, including:
Travel to Europe/Israel on Delta
Flying Blue charges 25,000 miles for a one-way ticket to Europe in coach (50,000 miles in business class one-way), and if you fly on Delta there aren’t any fuel surcharges. For example, a one-way ticket from New York to London on Delta would cost just 25,000 miles plus $19.20 in taxes.
Or in business class it would cost just 50,000 miles plus $19.20 in taxes and fees.
Even more exciting is that Flying Blue charges the same number of miles for travel to Israel, so you could fly Delta’s service between New York and Tel Aviv roundtrip for 50,000 miles in coach or 100,000 miles in business class.
With the transfer bonus, this means you’re potentially looking at 38,000 Membership Rewards points for a roundtrip ticket to Europe/Israel in coach, or 75,000 Membership Rewards points for a roundtrip ticket to Europe/Israel in business class.
Domestic travel on Delta
Air France Flying Blue charges just 12,500 miles for a one-way domestic award on Delta, with the added advantage of allowing one-way awards at half the price of a roundtrip, which Delta doesn’t. Now the big challenge here is that Delta domestic award availability is rare. Very rare.
That being said, if you can make it work, it’s a smashingly good deal (though be sure to price out a ticket on American using British Airways Avios as well, as they’re running a 40% transfer bonus at the moment). You’d potentially be looking at paying just 19,000 Membership Rewards points for a roundtrip domestic ticket.
Travel to Australia, Africa, and Asia on Delta
While not quite as good of a deal, I suspect this could be useful in some instances. Flying Blue charges 40,000 miles for one-way awards to Asia/Africa (or 80,000 miles in business class), and 50,000 miles for one-way awards to Australia (or 100,000 miles in business class). When factoring in the 35% transfer bonus to Flying Blue, this works out very close in cost to booking directly with Delta, except with Flying Blue you have the option of booking one-ways.
Travel to South America on Aeromexico
Back in April I wrote a post about the great opportunities for redeeming SkyMiles for travel on Aeromexico. While Delta’s award space to South America is virtually non-existent at the low level, Aeromexico has plenty of award space and doesn’t impose fuel surcharges. For example, a one-way from New York to Buenos Aires in business class would run you just 50,000 miles plus $20.49 in taxes.
In other words, a roundtrip between the US and South America would cost you just 38,000 Membership Rewards points in coach or 75,000 Membership Rewards points in business class. That’s an amazing value, especially given how much award space is available on Aeromexico’s flights.
- You need to register for a Flying Blue account before you can search for award space on their website.
- Points transfers to Flying Blue can sometimes take up to 24 hours, and there’s no way (to the best of my knowledge) to hold the tickets in the meantime.
- See this post and this post for tricks on how to use the Air France website to search for award space on partner airlines efficiently.
What tempts me
I’m very tempted to book an award ticket on Delta to Tel Aviv for only 75,000 Membership Rewards points. I’ve been meaning to visit Israel, and this is about half of what any other airline would charge for travel to Tel Aviv. Besides, I believe Delta has their new business class product on the New York to Tel Aviv route, which makes this all the more tempting.