Corona Update: Flying Blue Extends Frequent Flyer Status By Full Year

Air France/KLM’s frequent flyer programme Flying Blue has announced that it will extend all membership statuses by a full year due to the ongoing corona virus crisis.

Corona crisis

Due to the ongoing corona virus (COVID-19) crisis, flights across the world are grounded as dozens of countries imposed lockdowns and closed their borders.

Needless to say, this created a massive crisis among airline companies, some of them which are now struggling to stay afloat.

Frequent flyers

The crisis has also impacted frequent flyers as many travellers are unable to travel and thus cannot collect any miles or points to retain their status in their respective frequent flyer programmes.

Some airlines, most notably those in the US and Asia, have already showed their magnanimous side by extending all statuses by a year. A few European airlines such as Aeroflot, Turkish Airlines and Air Europa have followed suit, although the main three (British Airways, Lufthansa and Air France/KLM) has so far remained silent.

Flying Blue

Flying Blue, the joint frequent flyer programme of Air France, KLM, TAROM, Aircalin and Kenya Airways, had previously announced that it would only help those members who saw their status expire in March and April by giving them a 25% deduction of the requalification threshold.

Needless to say, this still gave some of those members some major headaches as it is not uncommon for frequent flyers to do a last-gap mileage run to earn the remaining status miles – which of course is now impossible due to the corona crisis. Even with the deduction, quite some frequent flyers still saw their chances of requalifying go down the drain.

The initial solution also did not address the needs of frequent flyers with a status expiry date somewhere the next couple of months.

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

One year extension

Fortunately, Flying Blue has now decided to extend all membership statuses by a full year. This is great news for frequent flyers as they no longer need to worry about their status.

Flying Blue has announced that it will extend frequent flyer statuses by 12 months irrespective whether or not a member will meet the requalification threshold.

This counts for all members who see their status expiry between March 2020 and February 2021. Flying Blue also announced that it would prevent all frequent flyer miles from expiring for members in the lowest ‘Explorer’ tier.

Example

For example, if you are a gold member you need 180 XP (‘experience points’) in your membership to requalify for another year of gold. If your expiry date is 31st October and you only managed 80 XP, Flying Blue will gift you the other 180 XP – which means you requalify for another year of gold.

Your XP count will be reset and you again need to earn 180 XP the next membership year which will run until 31st October 2021.

My own case

Personally I’m very grateful for the decision of Air France/KLM. As a platinum member, I need to earn 300 XP before 31st August to requalify. As I’m only on 94 XP so far with the entire spring travel season being scrapped completely, it would be an immense task to requalify even if flight traffic would be resumed in June or July.

The extra year of platinum membership which will automatically kick in on 31st August irrespective whether I meet the 300 XP threshold will also count towards qualifying years for platinum for life (you need to be platinum for 10 consecutive years in order to earn lifetime platinum status).

air france klm flying blue platinum corona
As a platinum member of Flying Blue, I’m very happy with the news of the status extension. ©Paliparan

In short

Air France/KLM went for the only prudent and customer-friendly move which in my opinion a frequent flyer programme can do in these unprecedented times and it will create a lot of goodwill among most of their customers.

It will also most likely mean that some of the other big European frequent flyer programmes will now be pressured to follow Flying Blue in its example.

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Koen

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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