Qatar Business Class

Your complete guide to redeeming Virgin Flying Club miles on Air France and KLM (Part 1)

Links on Head for Points may pay us an affiliate commission. A list of partners is here.

This is your complete guide to redeeming Virgin Flying Club miles on Air France and KLM. 

After a couple of years of anticipation, as well as a few unexpected delays, today is the day when you can finally fly to most of the planet using your Virgin Atlantic miles!  Booking is up and running at virginatlantic.com.

IMPORTANT: This article is based on advanced information provided by Virgin Atlantic but they have not proof read it so errors may have crept in.  There were also still bugs on the Virgin Atlantic site yesterday but they were expected to be fixed by the time you read this …. let’s see.  If you see different numbers on the Virgin website to what I have written here, it is probably the Virgin website that is wrong!

The ‘official’ versions of the information below can be found:

on this page of the Virgin Atlantic website for Air France, and

on this page of the Virgin Atlantic website for KLM 

This is going to get a bit complicated, so let’s summarise the key information.

The miles needed for a KLM or Air France flight do NOT match what you need for a Virgin Atlantic flight to the same destination.  There is an entirely separate reward chart.

Short haul connections are FREE in terms of miles.  Pricing is NOT segment based, unlike Avios.  You are NOT penalised for connecting in Paris or Amsterdam.  A redemption from Paris to Bangkok requires the same number of miles as Birmingham – Paris – Bangkok.

However, you will pay £173 Air Passenger Duty if you book a connecting flight from the UK to a long haul destination in Business Class.  There are substantial savings in taxes if you book your reward flight from Paris or Amsterdam and book a separate ticket to get there.

It appears that KLM will through-check baggage if your flights are on separate tickets.  If you booked a cash or redemption ticket on KLM from Manchester to Amsterdam and a separate long-haul KLM redemption ticket, it appears that KLM will check through your luggage at Manchester to your final destination.  British Airways no longer does this so it wil be a bit of novelty to some people!

How many Virgin Atlantic miles do I need for a KLM or Air France redemption?

The rest of this article looks at short haul flights.  Part 2 – click here – looks at how to spend Virgin miles on long haul Air France and KLM flights.

The short haul pricing chart applies to all flights under 1,750 miles each way.  This pricing INCLUDES connections where the total distance remains under 1,750 miles, so Manchester – Amsterdam – Stockholm would be OK.

Stopovers are allowed, I was told.

All of these numbers exclude taxes and charges.

Up to 600 miles (eg Heathrow to Paris CDG):

  • Economy (peak date) – 4,500 miles
  • Economy (off peak date) – 4,000 miles
  • Business (peak date) – 9,000 miles
  • Business (off peak date) – 8,000 miles

601 to 1,249 miles (eg Amsterdam to Rome):

  • Economy (peak date) – 8,500 miles
  • Economy (off peak date) – 7,500 miles
  • Business (peak date) – 26,000 miles
  • Business (off peak date) – 25,000 miles

1,250 to 1,749 miles (eg Paris to Athens):

  • Economy (peak date) – 11,000 miles
  • Economy (off peak date) – 9,000 miles
  • Business (peak date) – 32,000 miles
  • Business (off peak date) – 30,000 miles

Who wins and who loses here compared to Avios?

Solo travellers:

This is more relevant for long-haul redemptions, of course, but solo travellers should take more interest in these new redemption options than couples.  Even when Virgin Flying Club is better value than Avios – which it is in many cases – it will always be worse when you factor in a British Airways American Express 241 voucher.  This isn’t a factor for the solo traveller.

Whilst there is a 2-4-1 voucher on the Virgin Atlantic credit cards, it is only valid for Virgin Atlantic redemptions.  It is also only valid for Economy redemptions unless you have Virgin Flying Club elite status.

Business Class short-haul travellers:

In general, Business Class redemptions are uncompetitive compared to Economy once you are travelling beyond 600 miles.  You are looking at roughly 3x the Economy price, whereas Avios would ask for 2x.

Both Air France and KLM have a similar Business Class set-up to British Airways.  Here is my review of Air France short-haul business class from Heathrow to Paris.  You get an empty middle seat, a meal (a slightly odd meal on my review flight) and lounge access.  If you have flown British Airways Club Europe, you know what to expect.

Whilst I DO generally redeem for Club Europe when I fly short-haul with British Airways, even I am struggling to see the value in paying 3x the Economy points price for Air France or KLM.

If you don’t see the value in booking Club Europe on BA for double the cost of Euro Traveller (which I think is a decent deal if you don’t otherwise have lounge access, fast track security and priority boarding), you certainly won’t see the value in paying a 200% premium for KLM or Air France Business Class.

That said, for flights under 601 miles you are looking at a 2x multiple for Business Class.  I consider this decent value given all the extras but you may not.

If you live near Heathrow or Gatwick:

If you live near Heathrow or Gatwick, most European redemptions on Air France and KLM won’t interest you unless British Airways has no availability for the dates you want. (Remember that, as school holidays rarely match between the UK, France and Netherlands, you may get seats with Air France and KLM when BA has nothing.)

There are NO substantial savings over booking the sames routes with British Airways on Avios, and your trip would require a change of aircraft unless you were heading to Paris or Amsterdam.  Taxes will also be higher because of the Reward Flight Saver taxes cap put in place by BA.

Even if you are heading to Amsterdam, taxes and charges are £20 higher, return, than they would be on British Airways.  This applies to both Economy and Business Class.  For Paris, expect to pay an additional £25 return in Economy and £38 in Business.

If you don’t live anywhere near Heathrow or Gatwick:

The winners are people living outside the Heathrow and Gatwick catchment area.  Remember that British Airways charges for connections on Avios tickets on short haul.  Virgin Flying Club does not.

If you live in Leeds and want to go to Athens, British Airways charges you twice – once for Leeds Bradford to Heathrow and once for Heathrow to Athens.  You would pay between 39,000 Avios + £2 and 11,200 Avios + £202 (return, off-peak, economy) depending on which combination of cash and Avios you chose.

In contrast, Virgin Flying Club would charge 22,000 miles + taxes and charges for Leeds Bradford to Athens via Amsterdam.  I couldn’t get the Flying Club website to price this yesterday but Expedia shows £84 of taxes and charges.

The Virgin Flying Club option is better value here and changing aircraft in Amsterdam is generally easier than changing at Heathrow.

What are the peak and off-peak dates?

Here is the list running through to next Spring:

  • Off peak pricing applies to 2nd April, 22nd April – 19th June, 7th September – 11th December, 6th January 2021 – 31st March 2021
  • Peak pricing applies 3rd April – 21st April, 20th June – 6th September, 12th December 2020 – 5th January 2021

This link shows you the Avios peak and off-peak dates for 2020.  There may be dates when it is benificial to switch your booking from BA to Air France KLM, or vice versa, if one is peak and the other is off-peak.

Where does KLM fly from in the UK?

Here is a list (put together by HFP, not Virgin Atlantic) of UK airports which offer direct flights to Amsterdam together with the taxes and charges figure for a return flight.

You will need 9,000 Flying Club miles peak or 8,000 Flying Club miles off-peak return, plus:

  • Aberdeen – £55.36
  • Belfast – £65.52
  • Birmingham – £51.79
  • Bristol – £60.06
  • Cardiff – £57.99
  • Durham Teesside – £58.30
  • Edinburgh – £56.62
  • Glasgow – £51.43
  • Humberside – £67.98
  • Inverness – £43.79
  • Leeds Bradford – £56.80
  • London City – £73.93
  • London Heathrow – £57.24
  • Manchester – £52.04
  • Newcastle – £52.26
  • Norwich – £64.70

In general, Air France taxes to Paris are higher than this.  Air France flies from, outside London:

  • Aberdeen (in the 601+ miles price zone, although Great Circle Mapper puts it at exactly 600 miles!)
  • Birmingham
  • Edinburgh
  • Manchester
  • Newcastle

Both Air France and KLM nominally fly from other UK airports but these flights are Flybe codeshares and are not bookable via this partnership.  They will, of course, soon be bookable with Virgin Flying Club miles anyway once Flybe is integrated.

In Part 2 of this article, we look at long-haul flight pricing on Air France and KLM using Virgin Flying Club miles.

Flying BA on Saturday 15th February? Cancellation / reroute guidelines due to Storm Dennis
Your complete guide to redeeming Virgin Flying Club miles on Air France and KLM (Part 2)

Click here to join the 14,500 people on our email list and receive the latest Avios, miles and points news by 6am.

IHG Your Rate
About Head for Points

We help business and leisure travellers maximise their Avios, frequent flyer miles and hotel loyalty points. Visit every day for three new articles or sign up for our FREE emails via this page or the box to your right.

Comments

  1. I wonder if BA will see a drop on connecting flights from the regions?

    I think this is a fantastic opportunity for Virgin.

  2. @Rob, why do you always publish Part 1 and Part 2 in reverse order? Also it’s a bit annoying when we receive Part 2 by email an hour before Part 1 – there seems to be very little logic in it…

    • We assume no-one cares at 5am 🙂

      We are driven by the way it sits on the home page, because we want Part 1 to sit above Part 2.

      • Plus the more recent email will sit about the previous one in the inbox (i.e. Part 1 will be above Part 2).

        • Well, earlier emails in your mailbox normally sit below later ones, and so are the updates on all websites. It’s the online logic and there is no reason to confuse people further…

          As for 5am / 6am, you never know. Your audience are globetrotters, they are constantly in different time zones and given the timing of comments they read the website 24/7, so it will make perfect sense to send Part 1 before Part 2. First things first!

  3. Will you write a ‘Your complete guide to redeeming Air France and KLM Flying Blue miles on Virgin Atlantic” article for the many Flying Blue (such as me) in the UK?

  4. O/T
    Does anyone know how IHG treat MCC 6540 ? Will it be tested as a purchase of cash advance and get charged a fee ?

  5. Do AF/KLM fly direct to anywhere else in their home countries from London aside from Paris / Amsterdam?

  6. Rich Slater says:

    Until there’s a way to earn a companion voucher with a Virgin (or other airline credit card other than BA’s) which can be used in for rewards seats in a business/upper class cabin (without already having status with that airline), I’m going to have to stick with British Airways.

    Which is a shame, because I’m sure I’m not one in wanting to switch loyalty from BA, but wouldn’t let travel in Business Class otherwise 😔

    Earning a BA companion voucher on my Premium Plus amex, then juggling it with my amex gold for the extra bonuses, is the only way I am able to afford our annual business class treat (both in terms of points and money)

    If I’m missing anything less, Please do let me know 🙏👍

  7. Any update when all destinations will be loaded into the system for travel from regional airports? Some are working example huy to cph but others are not

    • Shoestring says:

      yep up and running for me today

      9000 miles + £75 to get to our place in the sun via AMS – vs BA 8000 + £17.50

      not too bad vs BA cash prices at times & definitely the extra flexibility could come in handy

      better availability than when I first checked, too

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

Please click here to read our data protection policy before submitting your comment.