Back in May this year HSBC launched the TravelOne card in Singapore, a general spend option offering 1.2 mpd on local transactions and 2.4 mpd for non-SGD spend, but the big news was that the bank was finally offering a wider range of transfer partners in the process, including nine frequent flyer programmes.
Included on that list was Air France – KLM’s Flying Blue scheme, which allows redemptions on those two carriers, SkyTeam alliance partners like Virgin Atlantic and Vietnam Airlines, and other partners like Qantas and Malaysia Airlines.
Following on from that, OCBC expanded its selection of frequent flyer transfer partners in July this year, with Flying Blue making the list at the same transfer ratio the bank offers for KrisFlyer conversions (several other new partners were not so lucky in that regard!).
20% transfer bonus
From 1st October 2023 to 31st October 2023, transfers from your HSBC TravelOne card or from OCBC STACK rewards to the Flying Blue programme get an uncapped 20% bonus.
In the HSBC example, the minimum transfer quantity is 25,000 HSBC Reward points, into 10,000 Flying Blue miles, but during this promotion that will net you 12,000 Flying Blue miles instead.
Transfers above the minimum quantity can then be made in 5 HSBC Reward point (2-mile) denominations, for example you can transfer 31,420 HSBC Reward points into 12,568 Flying Blue miles, which during this promotion would get you 15,081 miles.
This bonus miles promotion is part of a wider campaign covering transfers from several other global banks and credit cards, but do note that Citi and Standard Chartered, the programme’s other partners in Singapore, are not included this time round.
Isn’t Flying Blue award redemption dynamic?
Yes and no.
Flying Blue has a semi-dynamic award chart for redemptions on its own flights, like Air France and KLM services, with starting rates for redemption seats depending on your city pair and cabin class, but think of these as KrisFlyer’s Saver awards – not always available.
Higher rates are normally offered on most dates and rather than charging a fixed “Advantage-type” rate this is where the dynamic element kicks in, so these quotes can be eye-watering depending on demand!
The lowest available rate for Air France and KLM flights, which you can find easily via the programme’s interactive map or city pair search function, is often hard to actually secure, especially during peak periods.
For example, a Business Class redemption between Singapore and New York is shown as “starting from” 137,000 miles.
While awards at this rate do exist, they are difficult to find.
As you can see awards for 137,000 miles in this particular week are surrounded by more costly options, in excess of half a million miles on some other dates!
Nonetheless there are still some award rates worth considering with Flying Blue miles that can represent good value.
- Amsterdam – Madrid (Economy): 5,500 miles
- Amsterdam – New York (Economy): 15,000 miles
- Singapore – Bali (Business): 22,000 miles
- Paris – New York (Business): 55,000 miles
Flying Blue promo rewards
The programme also releases regular Flying Blue promo rewards, a bit like the KrisFlyer Spontaneous Escapes promotion, but typically for travel over the next six months to and from Amsterdam or Paris.
Asian routes don’t normally feature, but there may still be deals you can take advantage of, including Economy Class flights between Europe and the USA sometimes for as little as 11,000 miles.
Partner award rates are fixed
Unlike redemptions on its own flights, Air France / KLM Flying Blue miles rates for airline partners (including SkyTeam and non-SkyTeam partners) operate on a fixed rate basis.
Sadly there is no published award chart for each one, you just have to experiment with the search engine, which allows you to make unlimited searches provided you are logged on to your account, even with a zero balance.
Here are some partner options to consider, which are good value or at least decent value, especially when KrisFlyer has no Saver award space.
- Sydney – Brisbane (Economy): 9,000 miles
- Singapore – Perth (Economy): 16,500 miles
- Singapore – Sydney / Melbourne / Brisbane (Economy): 26,500 miles
- Singapore – Sydney / Melbourne / Brisbane (Business): 61,500 miles
- Singapore – Kuala Lumpur (Economy): 5,000 miles
- Singapore – Kuala Lumpur (Business): 10,000 miles
The Malaysia Airlines award rate in Business Class from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur is competitive at 10,000 miles + EUR 55 (~S$79).
Remember this is your key to a Oneworld lounge safari at Changi Airport, with the ticket above gaining you access to the following fantastic selection of facilities prior to departure, thanks to Malaysia Airlines’ Oneworld membership:
- British Airways Lounge T1
- Qatar Airways Premium Lounge T1
- Qantas Business Lounge T1
- Cathay Pacific Lounge T4
Malaysia Airlines allows early check-in at Changi from 8am, so you can potentially spend the whole afternoon and evening feasting and sipping Champagne at the lounges listed before your flight, for this great rate.
For example, a transfer of 41,668 HSBC points to Flying Blue, which would normally net you 16,667 miles in Flying Blue, is all that’s needed for a couple to enjoy this experience during this 20% bonus promotion, since 20,000 miles will be credited to your account (16,667 x 1.2).
That’s equivalent to only 8,334 miles + S$79 per passenger.
- Singapore – Taipei (Economy): 14,500 miles
- Singapore – Taipei (Business): 28,500 miles
Flying Blue not only offers a more competitive rate on China Airlines than KrisFlyer does for Singapore – Taipei awards, but there is far better award space in Business Class based on our searches, so this is a good backup if you can’t jump on SIA.
- Singapore – Seoul (Economy): 24,000 miles
- Singapore – Seoul (Business): 59,500 miles
Another benefit for HSBC TravelOne cardholders to note is that transfers to Flying Blue are instant, so provided you find an award available you can safely transfer and lock in the redemption almost immediately.
Update: We’ve also had a user report that their OCBC STACK to Flying Blue transfer earlier today took less than five minutes for the miles and bonus to be reflected in-account.
Other things to know
- 20% bonus miles will be awarded at the time of transfer, together with base miles.
- Flying Blue miles are valid for 24 months. All the miles in your account have their validity refreshed with a qualifying earning or redemption activity within this period.
- Flying Blue awards can be changed, or cancelled with full miles redeposit, for a EUR 50 (~S$72) fee.
Air France-KLM’s Flying Blue programme is offering a 20% bonus when you transfer miles from selected banks, including HSBC (TravelOne) and OCBC in Singapore.
To take advantage, just make a regular transfer into the programme and you’ll receive the 20% bonus along with the base miles when they credit to Flying Blue (which is instant for HSBC TravelOne cardholders).
While the programme largely adopts dynamic pricing for its awards, there are still some good value redemptions available, and partner awards operate at a fixed rate including on some useful non-SkyTeam carriers like Malaysia Airlines and Qantas.
If nothing else, this is a “cheap” pass to some excellent Oneworld lounges at Changi Airport via a competitive Malaysia Airlines Singapore – Kuala Lumpur Business Class redemption, for the equivalent of 8,334 miles + S$79 per passenger.
(Cover Photo: Air France)