There's an old adage in the world of loyalty programmes. “Burn while you earn”. Because a company's goal is to make money, not friends.
Air France – KLM's loyalty programme Flying Blue has undergone some pretty unfriendly changes in the last couple of years, going from a fixed reward chart to dynamic pricing. For the uninitiated, it effectively means they have come up with a fixed monetary value for each Flying Blue point, with a tiny bit of each side.
Starting sometime between, er… last night and this morning, KLM no longer allows Flying Blue members to search for award space online if your account balance is zero. (I am still testing this out for Air France).
[Edit: see the comments section as this might not be an isolated incident, but things could be back to ‘normal' after the weekend. We shall see!]
While to the layperson this may seem entirely sensible for lack of ‘loyalty', this creates a big problem for those searching for passengers who are trying to book business and first class flights on either KLM or Air France, then paying for it with a different Skyteam partner's programme. Indeed they may be very loyal to the French or Dutch airlines when buying tickets, but instead credit their miles to a different programme.
Confirmed. Looks mostly aesthetic at first blush – form fields are set to disabled in the UI – but even adjusting that does not seem to be working so far.
— Seth Miller (@WandrMe) January 20, 2019
When I try to do anything with a dummy account all the fields are greyed out and I am unable to click anything.
Further inspection of the source code following Seth Miller's comment, it clearly looks like Flying Blue have done what they can to disable the inputs.
Please let us know below if you are experiencing similar issues, if you have a non-zero balance but cannot book rewards, or if you have a zero balance but are still able! The plot is thickening…