Last fall, it was announced that Air France/KLM Flying Blue members would soon be able to add a free stopover on reward bookings. The program has made it official, and you can now add a stopover of up to one year for free on a Flying Blue reward booking.
Few loyalty programs offer such a benefit, and in the recent past, more programs have taken this feature away rather than add it. In fact, Flying Blue now has one of the most generous stopover policies, allowing members to stay for up to a year at no extra cost!
Free Stopovers on Air France/KLM Flying Blue Redemptions
While the initial announcement about stopovers was made on a webinar, there is now an official news release on the Flying Blue website that outlines the policy.
You can book a stopover of between 24 hours and a year on reward bookings made with Flying Blue miles. There is no additional cost in miles or cash to add a stopover, which is a great deal.
For the time being, all stopovers must be booked over the phone with the call centre, but hopefully the ability to book online will be rolled out in the future.
Last fall, when the initial announcement about stopovers was revealed, it was suggested that the feature would only be available on flights operated by Air France or KLM. However, in the FAQ section the news release, it states that stopovers may be added with Air France, KLM, or partner airlines, which seems to suggest that any partner airline of Flying Blue should be eligible.
With this development, Flying Blue joins the ranks of other major loyalty programs that offer stopovers on reward bookings, including Air Canada Aeroplan, Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan, and Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer.
For North Americans, this means that the natural stopover points will be Paris and Amsterdam, the two hub cities for the airlines. However, stopovers will also be possible on the airlines’ “fifth freedom” routes.
For example, if you’re planning a trip to Europe, you can fly from Washington to Amsterdam, stay for up to a year, and then continue onward to another destination in Europe, such as Prague, at no additional cost. In economy class, this could cost as few as 12,750 Flying Blue miles, which is an incredible deal.
With Air France, you could fly from New York to Paris, stopover for a while, and then continue onward to Budapest for as few as 15,000 Flying Blue miles in economy.
Similarly, you can break up two long-haul flights with a stopover in Europe. For example, you could fly from Edmonton to Amsterdam, stopover for a few days or a few months, and then head onwards to Nairobi at no additional cost.
The stopover option also extends to business class redemptions. If you’re able to find pricing at the lower end of the dynamic range, you can travel in comfort on both long- and short-haul flights without paying anything extra.
It gets even more interesting when you consider some of the other possibilities by leveraging Air France and KLM’s fifth freedom routes.
You could fly from Paris to Singapore with Air France, enjoy a stopover, and then continue onwards to Bali on KLM’s fifth freedom route.
Similarly, you could fly from Amsterdam to Miami with KLM, plan a stopover for up to a year, and then continue onwards to Pointe-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe with Air France.
The possibilities are many, and it’s great to see a program adding more value instead of taking it away. This is especially the case as we’ve seen so many program devaluations in the very recent past.
The Latest of Many Flying Blue Changes
Air France/KLM Flying Blue is becoming quite a contender amongst popular loyalty programs. In the recent past, we’ve seen many developments that have taken the program from an afterthought to one that’s indeed worthy of attention.
Flying Blue burst onto the scene when it became the latest transfer partner for American Express Membership Rewards in August 2021. This paved the way for easy access to earning Flying Blue miles, albeit with a less-than-ideal Canadian transfer ratio of 1:0.75.
The monthly Promo Rewards can offer exceptional value for long-haul flights between North America and Europe. There are even some months where there are discounts on business class award pricing, such as flights from Montreal to Paris for as few as 27,500 miles.
In October 2022, Brim Financial released the Air France KLM Flying Blue World Elite Mastercard, the first Canadian credit card with which you can earn Flying Blue miles on your daily spending.
While the lack of a welcome bonus made the debut land with a bit of a thud, it’s entirely possible that we could see a better offer in the near future. In fact, in the United States, the Bank of America offers the Air France KLM World Elite Mastercard with a welcome bonus of 50,000 Flying Blue miles, so hopefully something similar comes to Canada.
It’s worth noting that Air France and KLM will soon implement advance seat selection fees for business class passengers, which is a negative development. As of April 4, 2023, passengers booked on long-haul flights with Air France or KLM will have to pay €70–90 to select a seat prior to check-in.
The policy won’t apply to North American flights to begin with, which is at least good news for the time being.
Free stopovers of up to a year are now a feature of Air France/KLM Flying Blue rewards. You’ll have to phone the contact centre to add one to your booking, which is a bit of an inconvenience, but at least it comes without any extra charges in miles or cash.
This development further adds value to the frequent flyer program, and is a great way to see multiple cities on the same trip.