Air France KLM Flying Blue

An interview with Air France KLM about their new credit card & the Flying Blue program

Rewards Canada recently had the pleasure to talk with Air France KLM about their newly launched credit card and the Flying Blue program. The Flying Blue program is undergoing somewhat of an evolution that has included lower mileage requirements, the introduction of the credit card and in the near future free stopovers on award tickets. What follows is our interview with Jean-Eudes de La Bretèche that provides some more insight on the Air France KLM Flying Blue World Elite Mastercard and the Flying Blue program.

RWRDS: Could you please tell us your name and position with Air France KLM, how long you have been with the airline and briefly describe your role?

Jean-Eudes: My name is Jean-Eudes de La Bretèche, and I am General Manager of Air France – KLM in Canada, based in Montreal. I arrived in this position this summer after 13 years within the group, in France and in Japan. As a GM, my role is to promote the 2 brands and make sure as many Canadian passengers as possible choose Air France and KLM to travel to Europe and the rest of the world. I also oversee the operations in our 6 stations in Canada, with direct operations to Europe (Montreal, Quebec, Toronto, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver)

RWRDS: Congratulations on your new Air France KLM Flying Blue Card in Canada. Air France and KLM have a great and long history in Canada so it nice to see a credit card for your program here. Can you give us a quick background on the decision to launch a card for the Canadian market?

Jean-Eudes: Indeed, it’s a fantastic achievement for Air France KLM in Canada, and for our customers. We know how important credit cards are for our passengers, and it was key for Air France KLM to be present in this market. For us, it’s all about loyalty, proximity and recognition. How can we get closer to our customers in their everyday purchases and reward them for the next time they want to travel with us. As you can imagine, these projects take time to build. One needs to find the right partner to join in the project, I want to congratulate our teams for their efforts to make it happen together with Brim Financial.

RWRDS: Who did you have in mind when you created the card? Is it targeted to semi-frequent / frequent Air France KLM flyers or did you also have in mind those who fly AF KLM less frequently?

Jean-Eudes: I’d say both! Of course, for our frequent flyers, it is a great opportunity to reach quicker a higher status with 30 yearly XP and collect Miles faster than ever, thanks to the Miles accelerator. But it’s also appealing for new customers since it significantly accelerates their earn rate as well. When subscribing to the card, our customers will collect 60XP… which are 60% of what is needed to become a Silver member (100XP), with the associated benefits (priority lanes in airports; extra luggage; free seat option, etc.). Knowing the 60XP are not related to any conditions such as what we see on the market (eg minimum spend).

RWRDS: The card has the best earn rate for airline ticket purchases in Canada with the 5 miles per $1 for Air France KLM flights. Do you think this has the potential to sway frequent Transatlantic flyers from other airlines?

Jean-Eudes: It’s actually even more than that. With this card, for the first time we are introducing a 5-Mile “Miles accelerator” on top of the regular Flying Blue flight earning scheme for Air France and KLM flights. As mentioned earlier, a Platinum member will now earn 13 Miles per Euro spent (vs 8 without the card). An Explorer member will earn 9 Miles vs 4 Miles without the credit card… it’s more than doubled! Collecting Miles has never been easier.

I’d like to highlight the fact that this Miles accelerator of 5 additional Miles per Euro spent automatically applies to everyone holding the new Air France KLM World Elite Mastercard issued by Brim (the offer is always On), irrespective of their form of payment.

So with the Miles accelerator, we add a unique perk to this card, making it even easier to earn Miles with the purchase of Air France or KLM tickets. And earn a reward ticket within a very short period of time.

Actually, with this proposition, all our members are able to earn a reward flight within a period of 12 months or less, and for our Elite members, most likely even much more yearly.

Important addition also: Brim has an interesting network of merchants where Flying Blue members can earn extra bonus Miles on top of the Miles that they earn with our credit card. These Card Linked Offers are always On at several merchants. When Flying Blue cardholders register with selected participating merchants, they will automatically receive welcome Miles from these merchants

In a nutshell, when you are a frequent flyer, getting the Air France KLM World Elite Mastercard issued by Brim is a real asset.




RWRDS: One question many readers have asked is why are there no bonus miles as part of the welcome offer? The US card for example offers bonus miles and XP. Can you let us know why the choice was made to not include welcome bonus miles?

Jean-Eudes: We decided to focus on the number of XPs offered at subscription, as our frequent travelers know how valuable these XPs are.

Also, often the welcome bonus offered by other issuers are a one-off, whereas the Flying Blue accelerator is always on!

The welcome bonuses we see in the market are mostly for a limited period and often tied to spend limits. While we aren’t ruling out the possibility that we might see a welcome bonus tied to this card at some point in the future, our intention is to reward Flying Blue members on an ongoing basis. The Miles accelerator applies to all Air France and KLM tickets linked to the Flying Blue member’s account. As mentioned, this means that it is not a one-time offer, but rather a benefit that is always on. The only condition: Flying Blue members must hold the Air France KLM World Elite Mastercard issued by Brim.

In addition, If Flying Blue members require another cardholder to their Air France KLM World Elite Mastercard issued by Brim, the other cardholder when becoming a Flying Blue member, will also benefit of the Miles Accelerator on every Air France or KLM purchased tickets.

Finally, our Flying Blue members have the option to pool Miles in a family account. Therefore our friendly tip of the day is to create a Flying Blue family account so that members can swap their Flying Blue Miles within the Family account.

No other card offers this combination of benefits. The Air France KLM World Elite Mastercard issued by Brim is unique and most likely the value proposition exceed any Co-branded card in the market for frequent travelers.

In a nutshell, and to answer your question, without a doubt the Miles accelerator offers a bigger benefit than a welcome bonus for frequent travellers.

RWRDS: Another question that has come from our readers is how come the card doesn’t provide access to the Air France KLM lounges in Montreal and Toronto or other benefits for flying directly with Air France KLM such as the first checked bag free, priority boarding etc. Are these benefits that you are considering adding?

Jean-Eudes: It is indeed a choice not to make lounge access a commodity, but a privilege reserved for our passengers, based on their travel cabin or their Elite status (Gold, Platinum, Ultimate). The other benefits that you mention are perks that come with Flying Blue Silver status. And as you subscribe to our card, you can already collect 60% of the 100 XP you need to reach the status, even before your first flight : we are easing the way to make travel more comfortable.

As for the Air France KLM World Elite Mastercard issued by Brim, we always have to make choices. It is always a consideration and coordination with the relevant stakeholders of what is feasible and realistic. We selected the most relevant perks for our cardholders: we have opted for a card with extensive perks and Miles earning, an extensive insurance package, a payment app, digital card, in-app purchases, the possibility to add multiple E wallets and Free Boingo WIFI.

We have worked to making this credit card value proposition really attractive for our Flying Blue members and also frequent flyers. That being said, we always listen to our customers on how we can improve, and we value very much any feedback, so stay tuned!

RWRDS: You recently lowered the minimum miles required for economy class Transatlantic flights out of Canada. How well have these new redemption levels been received? Have you seen an increase for economy class award bookings out of Canada? Any chance we may see adjustments to Business Class or will those remain at 70,000+ one way?

Jean-Eudes: Yes, we see an increase in Economy class award bookings but on other cabins too, overall we are getting back to 2019 levels of Reward tickets out of Canada. On top of that, Pricing on Entry Miles Fares has been adjusted as you know since summer 2022 (July) and North America (to/from Europe) is more attractive than ever. If you combine it with Miles accelerator, you have one of the best burning ratios in Canada, if not the best.

On top of that, availability of such “Starting Miles Fares” has been improved with an average at 50%. So we see that as a huge part of our Canadian Flying Blue members having paid the cheapest reward fares in 2022.

Whether Economy, Premium or Business, here are a few examples of our entry fares and you will see that Business fares are attractive as well:

  • Calgary (YYC) to/from AMS starting at 25,500 Miles Eco, 40,000 Miles Premium & 65,000 Miles Business
  • Vancouver (YVR) to/from CDG starting at 20,000 Miles Eco, 40,000 Miles Premium & 80,000 Miles Business
    YVR to/from AMS starting at 25,500 Miles Eco, 40,000 Miles Premium & 65,000 Miles Business
  • Toronto (YYZ) to/from CDG starting at 15,000 Miles Eco, 30,000 Miles Premium & 70,000 Miles Business
    YYZ to/from AMS starting at 15,000 Miles Eco, 30,000 Miles Premium & 55,000 Miles Business

RWRDS: It has been over 6 months since we have seen Flying Promo Rewards for Canadian cities. Can you give us a hint or any inclination as to if we’ll see cities back on the list anytime soon?

Jean-Eudes:  We are working on it!

RWRDS: Is there anything you would like to add about the credit card, the Flying Blue program and/or the airlines that has not already been asked or mentioned?

Jean-Eudes:  With this credit card, our goal is to make Flying Blue as a lifestyle loyalty program, not only when they are travelling on Air France or KLM but also on the daily purchases. I also would like to highlight that we have a strong partnership with WestJet, allowing Canadian passengers to earn and burn Miles and XP with WestJet, not only to Europe but also within Canada and to sunny destinations in winter!

As for the Flying Blue programme itself, we can provide you with a hint already with several enhancements to come: a free stop-over for reward tickets for connections over 24h, as well as enhancements to the different status. More to come!

RWRDS:  I do have one more question regarding expiry of miles but this is more of a general question. Do points transfers from partners like American Express Canada, Accor, Marriott etc. extend the validity of non-flight miles? Or is it only the actual car rentals, hotel stays and experiences that will extend those non-flight miles?

Jean-Eudes: Yes, conversion transaction extend non-flight Miles.

Recommended reading: The Air France KLM Flying Blue World Elite Mastercard is officially here

Wrapping it up

I want to give a big thank you to Jean-Eudes for taking the time to answer our questions! It definitely clarifies and explains some of the decisions behind the credit card. If there was anything you feel we may have missed asking please feel free to contact us and we will pass along the questions!

Some quick takeaways from the interview:

The 5 extra miles when you purchase Air France KLM tickets will be awarded with any form of payment so long as you have the Air France KLM World Elite MasterCard® powered by Brim Financial! This means when American Express runs their Amex Offers for a statement credit when buying Air France or KLM flights you can pay with whichever card has the offer. You’ll receive the statement credit and your 5 additional miles on your purchase! That’s a pretty sweet deal.

It is also good to have clarification on the Flying Blue expiry policy regarding transfers. If you convert your American Express Membership Rewards points to Flying Blue you can keep them from expiring by converting more points. This will not extend any miles you have earned from flights however. Those can only be extended with actual flights or by having the Air France KLM Flying Blue World Elite Mastercard.