After canceling our SWISS First Class trip to Zurich, I booked us four tickets on Air France to Paris…in economy class. The seasonably reasonable Air France Flying Blue fares offer great value for family travel.
Family Matters: From SWISS First Class To Air France Economy Class Via Flying Blue
One first class ticket on SWISS from Los Angeles to Zurich was 121K miles. Four tickets in economy class from Los Angeles to Paris on Air France were 84K miles.
That alone was not reason enough to book Air France (I explained my reasoning here), but I was delighted at what a great value the tickets were.
Flying Blue, the loyalty program of Air France-KLM and a number of other airlines, does not publish a fixed-price award chart. Instead, award tickets are dynamically priced and can vary from as little as 15,000 miles to well over 200,000 on the same route, depending upon the day and flight loads. That can sting you if you are trying to book a last-minute ticket on a popular route during a busy time, but can also save you thousands of miles if you are a bit flexible.
Furthermore, Flying Blue “sleeps around” so to speak by partnering with most flexible points currencies (like American Express, Chase, Capital One, and Citi). Therefore, getting the points into your account is quite easy.
Flying Blue used to be a pain to deal with it over the phone. Flying Blue is still a pain to deal with over the phone. Two things, however, have made it easier. First, the website has dramatically improved such that you can reasonably rely upon it to book award travel. Second, the Flying Blue call center is now open 24/7 so you can book a trip any time of day if you require telephone assistance.
Tip: If you are in the USA, call Flying Blue late at night and you will reach the far more competent European call center than the Mexico call center.
Flying Blue now offers complimentary stopovers, even on one-way awards. The plan was to stop over in Paris and then continue on to Basel or Zurich or even Frankfurt. Sadly, there was no connecting space at all available such that we could take advantage of the stopover (you need “saver” space on both segments, even though you cannot tell by looking at the website if it is available).
Ultimately, we decided to fly to Paris and then take a train to Basel. Train tickets were reasonable and going to Gare de l’Est seemed much easier than going back to CDG Airport.
From high rollers to budget travelers, we are shifting gears and heading to Europe on Air France in economy class. I look forward to bringing you updates along the way. This whole episode really has me thinking about the world of miles and points, especially as it pertains to travel with children. I look forward to addressing this next week.
image: Air France