Air France Partners With Amex...But are there Any First or Business Class Seats Available?

04/03/2009 | Permalink
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Air France’s Flying Blue mileage program has joined the American Express Membership Rewards (points-to-airline miles transfer) program. This is easily one of the most important developments in frequent flyer credit card partnerships for Business and First Class travel to Europe. Why? It gives Air France Flying Blue members the chance to purchase up to 500,000 Membership Rewards points per calendar year at a cost of $25 per 1,000 points; and it gives Membership Rewards members many new options (often better) for seat availability for Business and First Class travel to Europe.

Air France is a SkyTeam alliance member, with US partners Continental Airlines, Delta, and Northwest. Flying Blue came about in 2005 when Air France and KLM combined their loyalty programs. Anyone can join Flying Blue in five minutes over the phone at (800) 375-8723.

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You can’t get First Class travel awards to Europe with SkyTeam US members Continental, Delta, and Northwest because they don’t offer that class of service. And you can’t use these carriers’ miles to book First Class travel on one of their foreign partners, including Air France.

Why not? Because these three don’t have First Class travel to offer in return; therefore the SkyTeam partners offering three classes of service (Air France and Korean Air) pulled First Class travel for the other partners. Yes, somewhat of an anomaly.

All this is to say what I like most about Flying Blue is that it gives you access to First Class travel awards-—my favorite.

Decent award availability

Where flights are more frequent, as in the northeast, there is decent availability of both Business and First Class travel awards with Air France when booking on either short-notice or about 10 months out.

If traveling from the west, availability is light until you get 9 months out. Also consider checking Business and First Class travel availability with Air France to Europe on an itinerary requiring a connection. We found good availability in First Class 10 months out from Washington, DC.

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