From April 22nd, Dutch airline KLM is taking the somewhat-bold step of introducing baggage charges on all short-haul fights.
(I know that BA has de-facto done this at Gatwick, by giving you a discount on your ticket if you agree not to bring a suitcase. This is still a rare move by a ‘legacy’ airline, though.)
1 piece of hand baggage and 1 handbag (or other ‘accessory’) will remain free. The suitcase fee will be €15 per case if booked online, and €30 if you pay at the airport.
There is, however, a way of avoiding this fee.
There are four scenarios under which you don’t pay the baggage fee for your first suitcase:
- You are a Flying Blue member
- You are a SkyTeam Elite Plus member
- You are travelling on a corporate or a BlueBiz account
- You book a fully flexible ticket (booking class Y or B) within Europe
- You are flying to and from Belarus, Georgia, Italy, Russia or the Ukraine. Or on an intercontinental KLM flight – including if you will be flying within Europe as part of an intercontinental journey.
The first bullet point is the key one. If you have a Flying Blue account – even the basic free one – you will not pay the baggage fee for your first case.
Note that basic level members of other SkyTeam programmes (Delta etc) do NOT get a free suitcase. This means that Delta and other SkyTeam base level members need to choose between receiving miles for the flight or taking a free suitcase. Although, if you’re lucky, you may be able to get a ticket desk to switch the frequent flyer number in your booking after you’ve checked in.
How to earn Flying Blue miles from UK credit cards (August 2021)
Air France and KLM do not have a UK Flying Blue credit card. However, you can earn Flying Blue miles by converting Membership Rewards points earned from selected UK American Express cards. These are:
- American Express Preferred Rewards Gold (review here, apply here) – sign-up bonus of 20,000 Membership Rewards points converts into 20,000 Flying Blue miles. This card is FREE for your first year and also comes with two free airport lounge passes.
- The Platinum Card from American Express (review here, apply here) – sign-up bonus of 30,000 Membership Rewards points converts into 30,000 Flying Blue miles
- American Express Rewards credit card (review here, apply here) – sign-up bonus of 5,000 Membership Rewards points converts into 5,000 Flying Blue miles. This card is FREE for life.
Membership Rewards points convert at 1:1 into Flying Blue miles which is an attractive rate. The cards above all earn 1 Membership Rewards point per £1 spent on your card, which converts to 1 Flying Blue mile. The Gold card earns double points (2 per £1) on all flights you charge to it.