Flying Blue: WestJet deal, a look at the KLM UK network and latest promo awards

This is, potentially, not the best time to be highlighting the joys of KLM, given our story last week about their Flying Blue loyalty programme potentially going ‘revenue based’ for miles earning.

I thought the following analysis was interesting though.  If you want to know why KLM is so popular with business travellers outside the M25, take a look at this table of UK regional airports:

UK regional airports served by BA to a London hub:

  • Aberdeen
  • Belfast
  • Edinburgh
  • Glasgow
  • Inverness
  • Jersey
  • Leeds Bradford
  • Manchester
  • Newcastle
  • Newquay (via a Flybe codeshare)

UK regional airports served by KLM to its Amsterdam hub:

  • Aberdeen
  • Belfast
  • Birmingham
  • Bristol
  • Cardiff
  • Doncaster Sheffield (via a Flybe codeshare)
  • Durham Tees Valley
  • East Midlands (via a Flybe codeshare)
  • Edinburgh
  • Exeter (via a Flybe codeshare)
  • Glasgow
  • Humberside
  • Inverness
  • Leeds Bradford
  • Manchester
  • Newcastle
  • Norwich
  • Southampton (via a Flybe codeshare)

BA has 10 hub-connecting destinations compared to 18 with KLM.  Even if you strip out codeshares, KLM has 14 routes it serves directly compared with just from BA.  There is no surprise, even before factoring in the transfer headaches at Heathrow, that many people prefer to change in Amsterdam instead.

Flying Blue partners with WestJet

This passed me by when it launched in August, but you can now earn Flying Blue miles when you fly with low-cost Canadian carrier WestJet.

WestJet is not a member of SkyTeam, so you won’t receive any status benefits on WestJet.  Miles earned on WestJet will not count for Flying Blue status, and they will not count as qualifying flights for the purposes of keeping your Flying Blue miles alive.  You will earn miles towards Flying Blue flight redemptions.

Full details are on the Flying Blue website here.

Flying Blue promo awards

Talking of KLM, Flying Blue has launched a new batch of discounted redemption routes.

The Flying Blue promo awards website is here.  The new batch of deals must be booked by the end of October for travel in December or January.

Some of the interesting long-haul premium economy and business class deals include:

Business Class – 25% off Calgary, Toronto, Edmonton and Vancouver (plus Wuhan in China)

Premium Economy – 25% off Amman, Beijing, Cairo, Guangzhou, Ho Chi Minh, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Tehran, Wuhan

Remember that Flying Blue is an American Express Membership Rewards partner if you need to top-up your account.

The KLM and Air France networks should be bookable with Virgin Flying Club miles at some point in 2018 once the new joint venture gets regulatory approval, which will be an excellent result for all Virgin frequent flyers.

Bits: HMRC miles alternative?, Groupon / Avios deal back, 'Credit Card Reviews' returns
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Comments

  1. So, am confused.. you tell us about Westjet then tell us no points to be gained by registering your Flying Blue number with them, so what IS the point of the article ?

    • The article says you can earn points but not status (and doesn’t count to keep alive) ie equivalent of going FlyBe and earning Avios, but not BA tier points.

    • fivebobbill says:

      I flew with WestJet last month, Quebec-Toronto-Orlando. I wasn’t aware they were a Flying Blue partner until I seen this article. After reading here this morning I forwarded by booking details off to Flying Blue’s “missing miles” dept – got an email within the hour awarding the miles!
      Result – Cheers Rob!

  2. KLM flies from Durham Tees Valley Airport (MME) as well!

  3. Delbert says:

    Would like to try out KLM business class but always seems so expensive whenever I look, even compared to BA which is saying something.

    • i got upgraded to Business class on a european flight from Bordeaux after Euro 2016.
      It was like the sketch out of come fly with me.
      Only thing different was the headrest napkin thing.

      • Joseph Heenan says:

        I find the opposite – flying from Glasgow KLM or AirFrance (or Emirates) business class is almost always cheaper than BA.

        KLM, AifFrance & Emirates have a better product on the newer planes too (eg. direct aisle access).

  4. KLM flies itself from Southampton as well as the Flybe codeshares!

  5. Fly via AMS (Schiphol) from UK at your peril. Amsterdam must be one of the world’s worst airports for transiting between flights. Firstly there is a very reasonable chance that one or both of your flights will use the Polderbaan. For those of you that have not had the misfortune to transit Amsterdam, the Polderbaan is the newest of the Amsterdam runways which was completed in 2003 – it was built to the west of the A5 motorway and is a considerable distance from the terminals. Taxing to / from the far end of the Polderbaan takes a minimum of 15 minutes and to certain of the stands can take as long as 30 minutes depending on congestion of the taxiways – this can be longer than the airborne flight time from closer UK destinations. The Polderbaan is the butt of jokes from pilots landing at Shiphol and is sometimes quoted as the worlds longest passenger aircraft taxi although I don’t know whether this is correct. The second problem with transiting Schiphol is the outdated terminal. Constructed in the 1960’s, it was once hailed as a marvel of airport design, but is now hopelessly out of date despite a series of refurbishments. Transit passengers can be forced to walk huge distances between gates and there is no chance of rapid transfers like those that can be achieved at modern facilities such as the excellent Hamad International Airport in Doha (Qatar Airways), Helsinki Airport (Finnair) or even London Heathrow T5 (BA). Signage and wayfinding is confusing and often further disruption is caused by maintenance and construction work which is perhaps not surprising at such an old terminal. My last transits of Amsterdam were in November / December 2016 and I vowed “Never Again”.

    • Interesting comments. I thought most people like to transit Schipol. IIRC KLM has also been the most punctual airline in UK in the past year. Frequency of flights from some airports such as EDI is high so short transit times are possible although probably more relaxing to take one flight earlier and do lounge, shopping etc. True that HEL and DOH are good to transit but only one flight daily from most UK airports compared to multiple daily connections on KLM in most cases. As for LHR T5 and it’s idiotic photo shoots every 100m and it’s understaffed security…forget it.

      • ”The idiotic photo shoots every 100m” is something of an exaggeration. The photo shoots are only used for Departing UK domestic flights and the photo is only taken once on entering security and then matched at the gate. The reason it it enables BA UK domestic passengers to fly without photo ID which is required by other airlines such as Flybe and Easyjet. Also don’t really agree that security is understaffed at T5. Much better to use the south security at T5 which tends to be quick – the north gets crowded due to proximity to passengers arriving by tube, Heathrow Express, and pod parking. Even better get Gold status and use the excellent First Class Wing which also has the benefit of bypassing all those ghastly shops.

        • Yes, I know, it just feels that way when you are not subjected to it elsewhere. I did not know about photo ID though, first I heard about it. I have only ever been in T5 as a connecting passenger, sometimes security has been painless but just as often it has been horrendous. Where is fast track for UK connections, does it no longer exist? I seem to recall using it previously but could not find it this month.

        • Fast Track connection immigration to domestic flights went when BA stopped paying for it. I find that the most painful element of T5, I now tend to risk the eGates, landside and back in that do connection (although if tight for conformance then still safer connecting as at least they’ll scan your BP). Outbound domestic to international is obviously fine. I’ve found AMS very efficient for connections, not an issue at all. PP lounges easy to find as per app and lounge numbers, although sadly last time I was there they were full due to weather issues at AMS.

        • ”The photo shoots are only used for Departing UK domestic flights and the photo is only taken once on entering security and then matched at the gate. The reason it it enables BA UK domestic passengers to fly without photo ID which is required by other airlines such as Flybe and Easyjet.”

          Disagree. For exampe, departing ABZ on BA, there are no photos or indeed any form of ID checks required.

          And what’s the scanning of boarding pass required for when going through the security scanners at T5?

        • Graeme – this is because at LHR you have international pax that are connecting to other international flights and haven’t cleared UK immigration. Therefore if they didn’t have the photo system they would either have to require domestic pax to have photo ID or stop the groups from mixing. At ABZ there aren’t international-international connecting pax.

        • Lady London says:

          @JamesB apparently the standard advice from frequent flyers for those transiting between terminals at LHR is to “immigrate” landside, transit terminals landside, then check back in again for your next flight at the other terminal. Anecdotally this is faster and better organised or at least more reliable/predictable in how much time it will take, than relying on disorganised and frequently clogged transfer routes airside.

          Not sure if I’m up to date though but IIRC I’ve seen this advice again and again over the years.

        • Thanks everybody, some useful info and tips here. Baggage would seem to be a big issue at AMS but one I need not worry about as I travel HBO.

        • Graeme: “Disagree. For exampe, departing ABZ on BA, there are no photos or indeed any form of ID checks required.”

          I don’t believe ABZ supports INT-INT connections. So it is not necessary.

          All passengers arriving on INT flights at ABZ are I believe sent to the UK border, even if they have a subsequent international flight – after going through the UK border they then go airside again. INT-INT is not formally supported. INT-DOM go landside then back through security.
          Meanwhile, everyone arriving on a domestic flight, regardless of whether that is the end of their journey, or they are connecting DOM-INT or DOM-DOM, they are already inside the UK.
          As a result it is not an issue at ABZ.

          At LHR, you have people doing INT-INT connections who have never crossed the UK border. As a result, without photographing there is the immigration risk of them not boarding their INT onward flight, but instead (by boarding pass swap or duplicate booking) boarding a DOM flight, and walking straight out upon arrival at another domestic airport, without going through immigration.

          Since everyone in the departure lounge at ABZ is already inside the UK imigrationally, there is no risk if someone did board a domestic flight rather than their booked INT departure.
          Hope that makes sense.

          The BP scan you are referring to at T5 is ‘conformance’ – designed to ensure that people who are very late for their flights don’t attempt to go airside and then get stuck, potentially further delaying themselves. There are pros and cons to it as implemented.
          Conceptually the setup can also be used to control who goes airside, and when in other situations.

    • Schipol also notorious for losing luggage and items being stolen from bags in the hold. (eg Laptop)

      That said it can offer cheaper connections flying east, esp with KLM/Malaysia , also Qatar business class deals?

      Before I knew how to really exploit loyalty programs I once did Scotland-AMS-Detroit-Tampa with KLM & NorthWest.

      In Economy.

      It was dreadful, bags delayed (no surprise), uncomfortable seatrs, terrible surly cabin crew, horrible food, in fact it probably inspired me to look into miles collecting to get further forward in the future and on better airlines

      • +1. In 2015 one of our cases didn’t arrive at our destination with us, plus because of security at the gate we weren’t even allowed to take a bottle of water on an 8 hour flight!

      • Given NWA no longer exists, this story is of limited use but back in 1999, I flew LGW-Detroit-Orlando, then Detroit-Amsterdam-Heathrow, all in Y. Think i had Flying Dutchman Silver at the time.

        Very quiet flight, whole row of seats to myself and a steady supply of G&T. Landed early in DTW, whistled through immigration and got to the gate of the earlier MCO flight. New BP printed with no dispute at all and find myself in F on a DC10.

        On the way back, get bumped from Y into the J cabin on the upper desk. I was unsurprisingly a huge NWA fan.

        • Mikeact says:

          I was lucky enough to be on the first Northwest Orient, 3 class 747, out of Gatwick in ’82, to my office then in Minneapolis, and that was to be the start of a lifelong ‘ affair ‘ with them. A few problems over the years, luggage, landing at the wrong airport, emergency landings, being forced to land when a passenger refused to stop smoking shortly after the ban came in…met at Denver by police…all interrogated, hotel for the night, and met a few celebrities along the way….all pretty pleasant to chat to, complete with a wedding invitation to a celebrity wedding on the beach at Malibu!. My longest day trip ? London to Minneapolis and back…arrived at mid afternoon to pick up Christmas shopping, back on the 10pm to Gatwick. It was so much easier travelling in those days ,with limited security, so much so, I could walk my daughter on to the 747 at Minneapolis, and she would be picked up by her school the next morning at Gatwick. Not many Frequent Flyer programmes would put your daughter straight up to Business or First without asking. Safe travels one and all.

    • I may be weird, but living near Southampton, flying from the local airport via AMS is far less stressful than driving up the M3. Personally, I am happy to relax once checked in and airside as I am in the hands of someone else, something I cannot control, so when a connection goes wrong I am quite chilled. That said, I’ve travelled with colleagues who are completely the opposite and hate the fact that they are not in control and would rather risk driving the M3/M25 drive and T5 security.

      I do agree that AMS in-terminal signage is bizarre, try finding the Priority Pass lounge. There’s also some arrival immigration issues (like T5), I have been held in the terminal twice recently due congestion downstairs in the immigration area.

      The best thing about the Polderbaan, if you have personal transport and time to waste, is the spectator facility adjacent to the runway. There is a car park, food, toilets and the ability to walk a path parallel to the whole length of the runway separated only by a canal and no fence. I can’t think of anywhere in the West where you can be at such close quarters to arriving aircraft without any fence for the whole length of a runway. Very popular with locals and plane spotter/photographers. Shame they don’t rent bicycles in the terminal although it’s a fair distance from the terminal by road/path. Even as the crow flies, it’s around 4 miles from the Polderbaan to the terminal area….Northolt to Heathrow is 5.5 miles I think.

      • I like Southampton – given we are 10 minutes from Waterloo and Clapham Junction, I would be happy to take the train down and fly from there. Easier than Luton or Stansted.

        • Hopefully Southampton PR are reading this, sounds like an ideal comparison trip, one person leaving home for AMS via LHR and the other via SOU. They have been good to me over the years, or maybe I’m the only person who enters the competitions in the airport mag!

          Even if SOU loses I still think it may win on stress levels. I’ll probably annoy the commuters but in my experience, South West Trains – sorry, now South Western Railway – are much more predictable than the M3.

          N.B. Hopefully Volotea will be back next year, their IT system can be maddening, making IAG’s look perfect! But flying to the Balearics hand luggage during school hols for £70pp rtn from SOU is great….usually much cheaper than flybe.

        • Mikeact says:

          Southampton is my local airport too, and as an Elite for life with KLM, it was good news a couple of years back when they reopened the route to AMS, albeit with Flybe. And I can get to Paris with them as well. With these options, long haul is a doodle, (and save charges.) I accept that AMS can be confusing but it is actually pretty easy to get around……if you know how. The bigger problem with SOU is that the fares into Europe can be considerably higher than either LGW or LHR. I wrote to them, complaining , as they were still forcing me to drive up the M3. Their response that it was totally out of their control as it was down to the airlines of course. And to be a serious player, they need to consider more destinations. However, at least I can hop on the train to Gatwick if needs be…assuming that Southern are running that day.

      • Michael Jennings says:

        Oh good. I am therefore not alone in having been at Amsterdam Airport and completely unable to find my lounge.

        • Joseph Heenan says:

          Yeah, the lounges are weird at Schipol. Once you’ve found the ‘number’ for your lounge you’re generally good – but I’m sure they’ve reviewed a lot of the boards that had the airline -> lounge number table.

          The priority pass lounge at Schipol frequently refuses priority pass / loungkey / etc passengers unfortunately.

          I do generally like Schipol – it all being one massive terminal where you can easily walk between the gates I find far healthier and less annoying than ‘satellite’ terminals at LHR T5, changing terminals at LHR, etc. That’s helped me make some implausibly tight connections (due to delayed incoming flight) at Schipol.

          Other than very tight connections, I’ve never had an issue with luggage through Schipol – and one the tight connection, the bag was delivered to me the next day, very efficient. Historically Charles De Gaulle has a reputation for delayed bags, at least at the company I worked at at the time – employees going through CDG were warned to at least take a change of clothes in hand baggage!

  6. John Gallagher says:

    Of course 4 or 5 of those regional airports are too close to LHR to have flights connecting them

  7. TigerTanaka says:

    It’s a bit generous awarding LGW the title of a “hub” airport so including NCY and JER on the BA list a bit questionable.

    KLM fly 3 times a day from Durham Tees Valley to Amsterdam as well.

  8. We have flown Humberside, Schipol, Middle East for quite a few years now whilst my husband was working out there & with children the convenience of a 20 minute airport drive was useful. I admit you do generally spend more time on the far runway at Schipol than actually flying! We have flown both economy & business depending on the fare prices. 5 or 6 years ago most flights were good, but in the past couple of years I have noticed a marked deterioration with crew becoming much more bolshy, baggage getting left behind more frequently & KLMs newer aircraft are less comfortable – last new year in business class was especially bad on our return to the extent that my daughter & I got a £300 flight voucher each as compensation & a new suitcase (2 out of 3 bags left in Schipol & one badly damaged when they turned up) out of them. Generally though, compared to Etihad & Emirates by the time travel and, often, a hotel overnight is factored in KLM prices from our local airport are too good to ignore. However, given an unlimited budget & the extra travelling time I would always choose Emirates over KLM! Fortunately OH is now based in U.K. again & the children are older, so once our Flying Blue points are used up we will probably use other options as we’ll be flying less often.
    We have used the vouchers to book flights to the US with their partner Delta & are travelling soon – not used Delta before but reports are mixed!

  9. London City – Amsterdam too 🙂

    Before the Flying Blue devaluation (2008?) and when Heathrow was a bigger mess than it is now (pre-T5) and LCY was a quiet airport I often travelled LCY-AMS-X rather than direct from LHR as it was just a lot less stressful (plus a return trip was 4 status segments on FB)

    When FB devalued bmi was welcoming me with a status match and as BA had vacated T1 at this point flying through LHR was fine. Then again, as bmi didn’t have a massive network I’d often use my *G on LX to fly LCY-ZRH-X

    BTW if you’ve experienced the new Virgin Trains East Coast booking site and are on Twitter, can you vote in my Twitter poll? Currently 95% think the new site is worse than the one it replaced: https://twitter.com/SaveECRewards/status/918443252939919363

  10. There are also the AF/HOP options via CDG but I doubt they are flying anyplace in the UK that is not already covered by KLM.

  11. Kinkell says:

    The above comments re: Schiphol don’t fill me with great confidence! My son and his school mates all ended up with delayed bags, deliverd 5 days later, after they had climbd Kilimanjaro! Lesson learnt….pack a change of clothes into hand luggage. We are flying from EDI at the weekend and a change in AMS. Lets hope we manage to find the Lounge and have clean pants and socks for the rest of our trip!