Flying Blue Ultimate: Air France and KLM change qualification criteria

Air France and KLM have just announced to their Platinum customers yesterday a significant evolution in the qualification for the Ultimate superstatus: a change in the qualification period from 2 years to one year.

Indeed, until now, it was necessary to reach 1800 UXP over 2 years, to qualify for the Ultimate superstatus for a period of two years as well. It will now be 900 UXP over one year, with a qualification for a period of one year.

The e-mail received yesterday morning by the North American clientele of which I am now a part

Announced as an improvement by the Franco-Batavian group… What do we think of this change?

Ultimate, a status that is not one

The Ultimate status has been the hot topic in the French travel blogosphere. And for good reason, this status reflected the upmarket nature of the French airline and the recognition of its best customers.

But the craze was short-lived and we wrote about it on TravelGuys in an article that cost us a lot: very limited benefits and very, very complicated qualification that made us conclude that the game was not worth the candle.

The new Air France status matrix, made more complex by the emergence of the Ultimate status

And while the status received a boost in benefits in 2018, the lack of tangible and intangible benefits is striking. Almost all benefits are either not guaranteed (at the discretion of ground staff and/or crews) or useless for 90% of Ultimate customers (e.g. access for up to 9 people in the lounge).

With such high qualification criteria, which require a stratospheric level of expenditure, I reiterate my proposals for tangible benefits:

  • Systematic access to the La Première lounge and services when travelling in long-haul Business, including during stopovers
  • A systematic upgrade on medium-haul flights to Business Class when there is availability, and even if a meal tray is not available, to guarantee the middle seat
The Air France La Première lounge, a veritable haven of peace in Terminal 2E at Paris Charles de Gaulle

Please come and prove to me that the cost is unrealistic or that it will lead to a loss of income! I don’t believe it at all in view of the prices charged post-Covid, and let’s not forget that these are Air France’s 1,000 best customers who are already leaving a significant part of their income to it!

The medium-haul business class of European airlines (no matter the arirline) is at a catastrophic level compared to that of other continents

UXP, a new currency directly linked to Ultimate status

At the end of 2017, Flying Blue radically reformed its frequent flyer programme, making it purely revenue-based for mileage earning, and introducing the notion of Experience Points, hence the abbreviation XP.

This system is directly modelled on the system used by the British Airways Executive Club for many years and its famous Tier Points (TP). This system applies not only to flights on Air France, KLM and airlines using the Flying Blue programme, but also to all flights credited to Flying Blue and operated by an airline of the SkyTeam alliance.

The principle of Ultimate status is the contribution to turnover in the Franco-Dutch group, not the frequency of travel on SkyTeam

However, and contrary to what we wrote in our 2017 article, it will not be XP that will be used by Flying Blue for eligibility for the Ultimate superscore, but another currency called Ultimate Experience Points or UXP. The difference? Only flights on Air France and KLM count. If you made 1800 XP in two years flying Delta, no Ultimate for you.

Why such a change in the qualification criteria?

I imagine that Air France and KLM were initially inspired by the HON Circle of Miles & More (LH Group) which had the same kind of functioning until the end of 2022. However, the transition of Miles & More to full revenue-based at the end of 2022 meant that the two-year qualification periods for Senator and HON Circle status were no longer possible.

The First Class ground service is available to all HON Circle members at LH Group, regardless of their class of travel.

One can also imagine that the group would like to make a little cleaning up of its members The COVID period led to a rather too massive generosity in the extension of statutes (all statutes taken together) and this change to one year makes it possible to disqualify travellers with irregular travel patterns And since there is no rollover of UXP: if you make 1200 UXP in one year, you will not be able to use the surplus of 300 in the following year and will have to generate 900 again.

All this to increase the benefits offered to restricted members? The mere mention of this idea already seems absurd to the airline’s management.

Bottom line

All this for that? Yes, in fact, we don’t really care about this change. If only this announcement was accompanied by an increase in Ultimate benefits… But that’s not the caseIt is just another trick, a magic trick that keeps on going wrong.

Olivier Delestre-Levai
Olivier Delestre-Levai
Olivier has been into airline blogging since 2010. First a major contributor to the FlyerTalk forum, he created the FlyerPlan website in July 2012, and writes articles with a major echo among airline specialists. He now co-runs the TravelGuys blog with Bertrand, focusing on travel experience and loyalty programs.

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