How I Became a Flying Blue Platinum Member With 1 Mileage Run
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Up until 2018, I flew lots of different airlines — always in economy, finding the best deals. Being a longtime The Points Guy reader, I had always dreamt of obtaining elite status with an airline. As I don’t fly for business often, that was completely out of reach — or was it?
I dove into the subject of mileage runs with the objective of becoming a Platinum member under the Flying Blue programme — after only two intercontinental economy class flights with KLM.
I started my search in the premium fare mileage run section on the Flyertalk forums — a wonderful place to find like-minded AvGeeks with lots of expertise. After some months, I stumbled upon a fare that allowed unlimited stopovers between certain European city pairs. Under the old rules in 2018, European business class was very lucrative, as you would get 250% redeemable miles and 250% level miles. Level miles determined your status level, before XP (eXperience Points) were introduced. Furthermore, Flying Blue is known for having a very flexible understanding of the word ‘Europe’, since places like Tel Aviv (TLV) and all of Russia are included. I immediately saw the opportunity, and got very creative.
As mentioned, the fare rules allowed for unlimited stopovers. This only occurred between city pairs that were served by KLM and needed a minimum of two stopovers. After a lot of puzzling, I landed on Dresden (DRS) to Istanbul (IST) in business class, for a total ticket price of €769,70 (around £685). That sounds like a hefty price tag, until you see my itinerary listed below.
In total, I managed to book three separate trips: a weekend to Athens (ATH) at the start of January, a weekend to Istanbul (IST) at the end of January and a long weekend to Irkutsk, Siberia (IKT). The latter was added in the first place because Irkutsk is the farthest destination that still counts as Europe under Flying Blue rules, but it is also a fantastic destination given its location next to the beautiful Lake Baikal.
Flying to Russia was made even nicer by choosing flights on Aeroflot. The Russian carrier’s business class is a lot better than usual in Europe because it uses larger seats (comparable to US domestic first), and you are treated like royalty because of its recent push towards better service for premium passengers.
Redeemable Miles and BlueBiz Credits
Since all flights were treated as European business class, I got 250% redeemable miles and 250% level miles for all segments. That amounted to 56,197 redeemable miles for the full itinerary, plus I got 1,135 redeemable miles for booking the ticket with my Flying Blue American Express Gold Card. At the 1.0p valuation, that means I ended up with £573,51 in redeemable miles value.
I am also a small business owner, so I make sure to always link my BlueBiz number to all of my Air France-KLM bookings. That allows me to save BlueBiz credits alongside the regular miles. BlueBiz credits are worth €1 each and can be used for tickets and upgrades. For this itinerary, I received 240 credits, netting another €240 (~£210) in value. That means I essentially made money on my flights. Not bad, right?
Level Miles and Elite Status
Before flying this itinerary, I had no elite status and only 14,230 level miles in my account from two intercontinental round-trips. For the desired Platinum level, 70,000 level miles were needed. With the 56,197 level miles added to my account, I jumped to top-level status in one go.
Mileage Runs With the New Flying Blue
Recently, Flying Blue changed the way status is earned. Instead of a number of level miles, elite status is now obtained through earning XP. The amount of XP earned depends on the booking class. When planning a mileage run, it is all about getting the most XP for your pound. Among mileage runners, it is generally considered a good deal when you can earn one XP for under £9.
The best deals are in intra-Europe business class flights. For every segment, you get 15XP. That means tickets with multiple stops get you to a higher level fast, like Spain to Oslo (90XP for £450). If you are more into long-haul routes, there are some opportunities there as well, like Oslo to Singapore via Amsterdam, Paris and Taipei (180XP for around £1,300).
If you currently have no status, you need 100XP to reach Silver status. When you obtain that, you need an additional 180XP to get Gold status. Subsequently, you can go for the highest Platinum level by earning another 300XP.
Find out more about elite status and benefits for each level in The Ultimate Guide to Flying Blue for UK Flyers.
Mileage running can be gruesome, but for me, this was a great experience and therefore a great success story. I tried out lounges in five cities, flew six different plane types and had plenty of time to gaze out the window and out over the tarmac: AvGeek heaven!
Featured photo by the author.