Points, miles, and snide remarks.


Points and Miles Heartbreak: Flying Blue Won’t Honor Ultra-Cheap Canada-Europe Mistake Fares

Last week, the points and miles community buzzed with excitement as a glitch in Air France/KLM’s Flying Blue program seemingly paved the way for unbelievably cheap fares from Canada to France. The deal involved booking flights from Toronto (YYZ) or Montreal (YUL) to an off-the-beaten-path train station in Lille, France. The original offer of 13,500 miles each way in business class was already a steal, but then came the jaw-dropping drop to a mere 1,500 miles each way. Naturally, skepticism lingered, but that didn’t stop eager travelers from seizing the opportunity.

Let’s face it; most of those who jumped on the deal probably had no intention of embarking on a scenic train journey to Lille. The idea was to get to Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG), and “throw away” the train segment. Unlike with air-based “hidden city” ticketing, train tickets in Europe tend to be inspected at random (as opposed to each passenger scanning a boarding pass), so there’s a bit of plausible deniability for not showing up for your onward train journey.

However, as the saying goes, “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.” And, alas, this proverbial wisdom rings true once again. Flying Blue has decided not to honor these mistake fares, delivering a collective sigh of disappointment across the points & miles community.

A post from Ben Lipsey, a director with Flying Blue, emerged on FlyerTalk, laying out the grim reality for those who thought they had hit the points and miles jackpot:

Hi all,

Unfortunately, this deal was too good to be true. Due to a technical glitch affecting some city pairs (primarily French train stations), some of you were able to book fares for as low as 1,500 miles in J. This was an error fare; the true price should have been 37.5k miles, which matches what is published for this month’s promo rewards and can be found on FB.com.

All the 1,500 mile bookings have already been canceled, and the 13.5k mile bookings will also soon be canceled. Your miles and taxes will be refunded, and we will be sending out an email to those affected this week.

However, we are making an exception for FB Gold, Platinum, and Ultimate members who booked the 13.5k mile fares – in recognition of their loyalty, we will honor the mistake fares for these members.

Thanks for your understanding, and of course apologies for any inconvenience caused.

Ben Lipsey, Director, Flying Blue (as posted on FlyerTalk)

In a somewhat silver lining, Flying Blue extends a courtesy nod to its elite members—Gold, Platinum, and Ultimate—honoring the 13.5k mile fares as a token of appreciation for their loyalty. For the rest, it’s back to the drawing board, or in this case, the departure board, as dreams of a budget-friendly transatlantic jaunt are grounded. It does seem odd to me that they are honoring only certain mistake fares, and only for certain groups of passengers.

And so, the lesson lingers once more: in the world of points and miles, as in life, be wary when faced with a deal that seems too good to be true. And definitely try to avoid nonrefundable hotel, train, and activity reservations that rely on a mistake fare to get you there.