Air France/KLM and Qantas Link Frequent Flyer Programmes

Qantas has announced today that its frequent flyer programme will be partnered with Flying Blue, the frequent flyer programme of Air France and KLM, giving Australian and European frequent flyers more choice when it comes to earning and redeeming miles.

The cooperation means that members of Flying Blue can now earn miles while flying Qantas, as well as redeem frequent flyer miles on Qantas awards. Vice versa, members of Qantas Frequent Flyer can earn miles when they take an Air France or KLM flight, as well as spend their miles on flights operated by those two airlines. The cooperation between the two frequent flyer programmes follows an earlier codeshare agreement between the two airline giants in 2018, which allowed Air France and KLM passengers to connect in Hong Kong or Singapore onto Qantas flights to Australia.

The benefits of the new partnership

The partnership is good news for frequent flyers who mostly focus their travels on only one of these two airline alliances (Air France and KLM are Sky Team members, Qantas is a member of the Oneworld alliance). Let’s explain it with a little example. If you are a member of Flying Blue and mostly fly on Sky Team airlines, you might not be inclined to take a flight on Qantas as the miles you earn on this flight could so far only be credited to one of the Oneworld frequent flyer programmes. Unless you happen to fly a lot more on Qantas or another Oneworld airline, these orphaned miles would go to waste as it would probably take a few more flights until you would have earned enough miles to in order to earn enough miles for a free flight redemption.

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An Air France aeroplane on the tarmac in Bilbao. ©Paliparan

With the new partnership in place, you can now credit the miles you earn on a Qantas flight to your Flying Blue account. Similarly, a Qantas frequent flyer who mostly focuses his travels on Oneworld airlines such as Qantas, Qatar Airways and British Airways, can now rest assured that when flying on KLM or Air France he can use the earned miles towards his balance on his Qantas Frequent Flyer account.

How many miles will I earn?

If you are a Flying Blue member you can earn both XP and award miles if you have a Qantas ticket booked in one of the following travel classes, with mileage earnings is based on distance flown according to the following scheme:

– First class: F, A (150%);
– Business class: J, C, D (125%); I (100%);
– Premium economy: W (110%); R (100%); T (75%);
– Economy: Y, B (100%); H (75%); K, M (50%); L, S, V (25%); G, N, O, Q (20%).

Flying Blue platinum and gold members would also benefit from additional baggage allowance when flying Qantas (1 piece or 23 KG above standard allowance), priority check-in, priority baggage handling, priority boarding and free access to preferred seats. Flying Blue silver members would only get the additional baggage allowance when flying Qantas.

The other way around, Qantas Gold, Platinum and Platinum One members travelling on Air France or KLM will receive Sky Priority benefits, this being one additional checked bag, priority check-in, priority baggage handling, priority boarding, free access to preferred seats. Qantas silver members will again only receive the extra free bag on Air France or KLM.

Redeeming an award flight

Of course, it is also beneficial that you can now access award flights of the other airline. You can now use your stack of Flying Blue miles to redeem a free flight on Qantas, while Qantas frequent flyers can use their points to redeem a flight on Air France or KLM.

That said, I would urge caution doing this as it does not seem to be a particularly good way how to spend your frequent flyer miles. This might be irrelevant if you only collect miles on one particular account and do not have the freedom to decide which pool of miles to use, but if you do collect miles both with Qantas and with Flying Blue (or can transfer credit card points to one of these frequent flyer programmes), you need to take care.

Two examples

Let’s again explain it with an example. If you want to redeem miles for a one-way ticket in business class from Hong Kong to Sydney on Qantas it would cost you a fixed 68,400 miles according to the Qantas award table (Hong Kong to Sydney being around 4,600 miles in distance, thus a category 5 award). If you would however book the same flight using Flying Blue miles, it would cost you 115,000 miles to redeem the flight.

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When using Flying Blue, a business class award from Hong Kong to Sydney would cost you 115,000 miles for a one-way flight. ©Paliparan
qantas award table
A flight from Hong Kong to Sydney on Qantas would cost you 68,400 miles for a one-way award in business class when using Qantas’ own Frequent Flyer programme. ©Paliparan

The same can be true the other way around. Let’s take the example of a person wishing to fly from Paris to Chicago in business class on Air France. Currently Flying Blue has listed Chicago as a ‘Flying Blue promo deal‘ for December, with one-way business class flights starting at 43,500 Flying Blue miles. That is a good deal and a great way to use your Flying Blue miles!

If you want to redeem the same flight using Qantas points, it would however set you back 75,000 miles according to the Qantas award table for partner airlines. If you have enough miles for the flight in both your Qantas and Flying Blue accounts, it is of course much better value to use Flying Blue miles for this particular flight.

qantas partner awards
The Qantas partner awards table. Paris to Chicago being a category 5 flight (4147 miles distance) means that you need to redeem 75,000 Qantas points for a free ticket. ©Paliparan

Other caveats to note

Of course, Air France and KLM make most of their award inventory available to their own frequent flyer programme, and only a limited amount to their partners. You are thus more likely to find an award seat using Flying Blue than you would using Qantas Frequent Flyer. The same no doubt counts the other way around as well! Also, while Qantas has a static programme with flight redemptions costing a fixed amount of miles according to the above tables, Flying Blue uses a dynamic award pricing mechanism. This mechanism works according to supply and demand, which means that a free flight award an be an incredible deal (for example when Flying Blue releases award seats as part of their monthly Promo Rewards), but it can also mean that one some dates and routes you might pay double or triple the amount of miles a flight would normally cost.

As always, we recommend you to compare prices in miles when redeeming an award, just like you would do when buying a normal ticket! Also, always ask yourself whether it is worth to redeem miles for an award ticket or to pay for the same ticket in cash instead, as some flight redemptions are just not really good value for the miles you earned.

In short

While we applaud the cooperation between Air France/KLM’s Flying Blue programme and Qantas Frequent Flyer, and we do see the benefits in mileage earning, you need to be careful when it comes to redeeming those miles.

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Koen works as a freelance journalist covering south-eastern Europe and is the founding father and editor-in-chief of Paliparan. As a contributor to some major Fleet Street newspapers and some lesser known publications in the Balkans, he travels thousands of miles each year for work as well as on his personal holidays. Whether it is horse riding in Kyrgyzstan’s Tian Shan mountains, exploring the backstreets of Bogotá, or sipping a glass of moschofilero in a Greek beachside taverna, Koen loves to immerse himself into the local culture, explore new places and eat and drink himself around the world.

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