Flying Blue is the frequent flyer program of KLM and partner Air France and may be a good option for regular travellers based in the Netherlands.
The following article is an overview of the Flying Blue program.
KLM is the Dutch national airline, now part of the Air France-KLM group. It is based at Amsterdam Schiphol (AMS) and has excellent connections to UK and Europe and a wide international network which includes North and South America, Africa, the Middle East and Asia.
Some destinations may require a connection through Paris with Air France.
Air France-KLM and Skyteam partners
It is part of the SkyTeam alliance with the following members:
Aeroflot, Aerolineas Argentinas, Aeromexico, Air Europa, Air France, China Airlines, China Eastern, Czech Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Garuda Indonesia, ITA Airways, Kenya Airways, KLM, Korean Air, MEA, Saudia, TAROM, Vietnam Airlines and Xiamen Air.
KLM also partners Air Astana, Air Baltic, Air Malta, Air Serbia, Bangkok Airways, Belavia, Bulgaria Air, China Southern, Copa Airlines, Etihad Airways, Georgian Airways, GOL, Malaysia Airlines, Sichuan Airlines, Transavia, Westjet and Widerøe Airlines.
It’s free to join the Flying Blue program and occasionally bonus miles are given on joining.
Earning Flying Blue Miles
Flying Blue is a revenue based program. This means you will earn Miles corresponding to the amount you spend on Air France-KLM. The number of miles earned depends upon your status level (see below) in the program.
Explorers (basic level) earn 4 miles for each euro spent
Silver members earn 6 miles for each euro spent
Gold members earn 7 miles for each euro spent
Platinum members earn 8 miles for each euro spent
Note, that only base fares and carrier charges earn miles, taxes do not.
For flying on other Skyteam partners, the amount of miles earned still depends on distance flown and the booking class of the ticket.
For those at the Explorer level, Flying Blue Miles will expire after 2 years if there is no activity on your account. To preserve your miles you should take a flight on Air France-KLM or one of its Skyteam partners or use one of the co-branded Flying Blue credit cards. This ‘Overall Extending Activity’ will extend the validity of all your miles by another 2 years.
It is also possible to earn miles from other partners (hotels, car rental etc) – this is regarded as a ‘Partial Extending Activity’. This means only new miles earned after the last ‘Overall Extending Activity’ shall be extended, the rest will expire.
Hotel booking partners which earn Flying Blue Miles per stay include: Accor, Marriott Bonvoy, Best Western, Golden Tulip, Hyatt, IHG, Shangri-La and Yotel. It is also possible to transfer hotel loyalty points into Flying Blue Miles.
Finally, the Flying Blue shop for Miles online store allows you to earn miles from online retailers such as bol.com, Media Markt, H&M.
Redeeming Miles for Flights
To book flights using miles on Air France, KLM and Transavia you now need to check the Flying Blue reward price calculator. The number of miles required for an award flight is variable and linked to the actual cost of the ticket. There is no longer a published Flying Blue award chart.
Examples of new one-way award flight costs (in miles) are as follows:
|ROUTE||Economy (Miles)||Business (Miles)|
You would have to pay the taxes and surcharges on top.
For those without enough miles there is a Miles & Cash option where you can pay up to 25% of the miles using cash.
Changes to booked Flying Blue award flights are permitted for a €45 fee, although this has sometimes been waived during the recent travel restrictions. Cancelling a reward ticket costs €50.
Watch for occasional Promo Awards to selected destinations which offer 25% or 50% mileage discounts on reward flights.
Flying Blue Status (XP)
Flying Blue also has status levels (as mentioned) which are based on XP (Experience Points) gained. You will earn XP each time you fly on Air France-KLM or Skyteam partners. The number of XP depends on cabin and distance flown. This is the XP earning chart published by Flying Blue:
You can see that premium economy earns 2x more XP than an economy flight; business class earns 3x XP and first class earns 5x XP.
An Amsterdam-London flight would earn 5 XP in economy and 15 XP in business. An Amsterdam-New York flight earns 10 XP in economy and 30 XP in business.
When you join Flying Blue you start at Explorer level.
To reach Flying Blue Silver level you require 100 XP within 12 months. On reaching Silver your XP total is reset and you have a new 12 month period to either maintain the level (100 XP) or reach Flying Blue Gold (180 XP) – otherwise you will be downgraded back to Explorer.
On reaching Gold your XP total is reset by 180 and you have 12 months to maintain status (180 XP) or reach Flying Blue Platinum (300 XP) – otherwise you will be downgraded back to Silver.
Any surplus XP above a qualifying level are generally rolled over to the next period.
Status offers the following benefits:
Explorer (non-elite) members only get a €10 discount on additional baggage and 10% off extra legroom seats.
Silver level benefits include priority check-in and boarding, an extra item of checked baggage, free standard seat assignment and 25% off extra legroom seats.
Gold level members get priority check-in and boarding, an extra item of checked baggage, free lounge access, free standard seat assignment (including travel companion) and 50% off extra legroom seats.
Platinum members get priority check-in and boarding, an extra item of checked baggage, free lounge access and free preferred seating assignment.
Lifetime Platinum status is granted after 10 consecutive years of Platinum membership.
Lounge Access at Amsterdam Schiphol
KLM has 2 Crown Lounges at Amsterdam Schiphol airport. Whilst Flying Blue Gold and Platinum get free access it is also possible for any Air France-KLM passengers to purchase lounge access. This costs €65 for Intercontinental Lounge 52 and €50 for Lounge 25. Explorer members get a 10% discount, Silver members get a 25% discount.
For a detailed overview see Airline Lounges at Amsterdam Schiphol airport
Flying Blue Credit Cards
To maximise Flying Blue mileage earnings Dutch residents could consider applying for one of the Flying Blue American Express Cards below:
|Card||Annual Fee||Bonus Miles||Miles Earned|
|AMEX Flying Blue Entry Card||€35||2,500||0.5 per €1||Apply|
|AMEX Flying Blue Silver Card||€75||2,500||0.8 per €1||Apply|
|AMEX Flying Blue Gold Card||€170||7,500||1 per €1||Apply|
|AMEX Flying Blue Platinum Card||€600||15,000||1.5 per €1||Apply|
Flying Blue is also a partner for American Express Membership Rewards. This means Membership Rewards card holders in the Netherlands and elsewhere can transfer their points into Flying Blue miles to book flights, particularly effective if promos awards are available. The transfer rate is 5 membership reward points to 4 Flying Blue miles.
For a comprehensive review please see American Express Cards in the Netherlands – A Complete Guide
Alternative Frequent Flyer options for Netherlands-based individuals
British Airways Executive Club – BA has an excellent global network via the Oneworld alliance although you would generally need to travel via London. BA members collect ‘Avios’ points. A one-way Amsterdam-London flight earns from 125 Avios at the lowest economy fare and 750 Avios for discount business class fares.
Redemption rates start at 4,750 Avios (plus a fee of £17.50/€21) for a one-way economy flight under 650 miles – which includes London-Amsterdam flights.
Other Oneworld carriers at Amsterdam are American Airlines, Iberia, Finnair, Cathay Pacific, Qatar Airways, Royal Air Maroc and Royal Jordanian.
Miles & More from the Lufthansa group (which also includes Austrian and Swiss) is part of the extensive Star Alliance. You would need to fly via one of the hubs such as Frankfurt, Munich or Vienna.
Like Flying Blue, earning miles on the lowest fares is difficult and fuel surcharges can be high on redemptions. If you are after easier status in Star Alliance then consider Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles or Aegean Airlines Miles&Bonus.
Emirates Skywards is is the frequent flyer program of Gulf heavyweight Emirates which flies up to twice daily from Amsterdam to its Dubai hub by Airbus A380.
Emirates has a significant international route network including the Middle-East, Asia, Africa and Australia/NZ. Emirates is not part of a major alliance but partners include Qantas, Easyjet and Alaska Airlines.
This article was originally published in 2010. Last updated 18 February 2022. Note, information is subject to change.