How to earn easy Virgin Atlantic Silver and Gold status flying with KLM and Air France

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As of last Thursday, you can now earn Virgin Flying Club tier points on every Air France and KLM flight you take.

We wrote this long two-part article on how to spend Virgin Flying Club miles on Air France and KLM.  Today I want to look at how to earn tier points with the two airlines.  A further piece will look at how many Flying Club miles you earn with Air France and KLM.

You have been able to earn Virgin Atlantic tier points on Delta flights for a couple of years now, and for the last few months it also worked on Air France and KLM codeshares.  It now extends to all flights.

Before I go on, I should say that there has been virtually no discussion of these earning rates online, which is unhelpful as it would have been good to get feedback from heavy Virgin flyers.  What follows below is my interpretation of what has been published, but there could be other unpublished rules and quirks we don’t know about.

Do you need to fly with Virgin Atlantic to earn Virgin Flying Club status?

With British Airways, you need to take at least four BA or Iberia flights to earn status.  It cannot be earned purely from partner flights.  There is NO minimum flight requirement with Virgin Flying Club.  You can earn Virgin Atlantic status ENTIRELY from Air France and KLM flying if you wish.

More importantly, Air France and KLM flights are treated as long-haul if they are over 600 miles.  (For comparison, the British Airways rule is 2,000 miles!)  This opens up some amazing opportunities.

How to earn Virgin Atlantic status flying with KLM and Air France

But before we go on ….

The reverse situation is also true.  You can now credit all Virgin Atlantic flights to Flying Blue, the Air France and KLM frequent flyer programme.  You could therefore also choose to abandon Virgin Flying Club and concentrate on Flying Blue instead.

There is no ‘best’ answer.  It depends on the amount of Virgin and Air France KLM flying you do, and in what classes.  Here are a couple of points to think about:

Virgin Atlantic is NOT in SkyTeam.  There are strong rumours that it will join but nothing is official.  If you fly with other SkyTeam airlines (Korean, Czech etc) then Flying Blue may be better as you can’t credit those flights to Virgin.  Your Virgin Atlantic status won’t get you anything on SkyTeam airlines apart from Air France, KLM and Delta.

Similarly, if you want to be able to redeem across the whole of SkyTeam, not just Air France, KLM and Delta, then crediting your Virgin Atlantic flights to Flying Blue may make more sense.

Flying Blue has few UK partnerships.  You CAN earn via a UK credit card, because American Express Membership Rewards points transfer at 1:1.  It isn’t as good a deal as the Virgin Atlantic Reward credit cards, however, and Flying Blue isn’t a partner with Tesco Clubcard, Heathrow Rewards etc.   If you earn a lot of miles from non-flying means, you may want to drop Flying Blue and credit to Virgin Flying Club.

How to earn Virgin Atlantic status flying with KLM and Air France

A simple guide to earning Virgin Atlantic status with Air France and KLM

Let’s look at the Virgin Atlantic tier point system, which is outlined on its website here.

Virgin Flying Club is tiered like this:

Red – sign-up level

Silver – requires 400 tier points per year, key benefits are free seat selection in Economy Light for member only (Virgin does not charge in other classes), Premium check-in (where Premium desks exist), premium security, 30% mileage bonus on Virgin / Air France / KLM / Delta

Gold – requires 1,000 tier points year.  This is where the real benefits kick in – free seat selection in Economy Light for your entire party, free exit row seat selection in Economy Classic, Upper Class check-in, premium security, extra baggage allowance, 60% mileage bonus on Virgin / Air France / KLM / Delta, lounge access when flying Virgin, KLM, Air France or Delta, arrivals lounge access at Heathrow, ability to create a Household Account for miles earning, companion reward voucher upon renewal

Here is a reminder of how you earn tier points with Virgin Atlantic.

Virgin and BA work slightly differently when you first earn status.  With Virgin, your past activity as a Red member is counted on a ROLLING 12 month basis without fixed membership dates.  Once you hit 400 tier points within the past 12 months (to be precise, 12 months plus the entire first month, so it would be 1st February 2019 to 18th February 2020) your membership expiry date is fixed.  You need to hit 400 or 1,000 tier points within the next 12 months to renew Silver or reach Gold.

The downside versus BA is that you cannot go from Red to Gold by earning 1,000 tier points.  You need at least 1,400.  This is because as soon as you hit 400 you are upgraded to Silver and your tier points are reset at zero.  In contrast, British Airways DOES let you go from Blue to Gold via Silver for the standard Gold requirement of 1,500 tier points, as long as you do it all within the same membership year.

When heading from Red to Gold, your tier points are reset to zero when you hit 400 and become Silver.  However, you are then given Gold when you hit 600 tier points – you do not need to earn 1,000 for the first year.

This is what you earn when you fly with Virgin Atlantic (we will come to Air France and KLM earning in a minute):

  • Upper Class (Z) – 100 tier points each way
  • Upper Class (J, C, D, I) – 200 tier points each way
  • Premium (H, K) – 50 tier points each way
  • Premium (W, S) – 100 tier points each way
  • Economy Delight – 50 tier points each way
  • Economy Classic – 25-50 tier points each way depending on sub-class
  • Economy Light – 25 tier points each way

IMPORTANT:  You earn NOTHING if your flight is booked into A, X or O (Air France) or X or O (KLM).  Discounted sale fares may well fall into these categories.

Renewing Gold would require as few as 5 one-way Upper Class flights per year as long as they were on flexible or semi-flexible tickets.  British Airways, for comparison, requires 11 one-way Club World flights.  BA does not discriminate between flex, semi-flex and non-refundable tickets however.

How to earn Virgin Atlantic status flying with KLM and Air France

How many Virgin tier points do you earn with Air France and KLM?

Here is the key thing you need to know:

British Airways, for partner flights, treats ‘long haul’ as a flight over 2000 miles for the purposes of earning Executive Club long haul tier points

Virgin Atlantic, for Air France and KLM partner flights, treats ‘long haul’ as a flight over 600 miles for the purposes of earning long haul Flying Club tier points

This opens up some interesting opportunities for anyone who wants to do a status run.

The tier point earning chart is here on the Virgin website for Air France and here for KLM.  The numbers are the same for both airlines.

Note that there is an error on the Virgin Atlantic website which says that you only earn on ‘VS-marketed’ flights.  This wording was there last week when only codeshare flights counted and they forgot to remove it. I have flagged it with them!

Flights over 600 miles:

  • Business Class (J, C, D) – 200 tier points each way
  • Business Class (I, Z) – 100 tier points each way
  • Premium (Air France only) (W, S) – 100 tier points each way
  • Premium (Air France only) (H) – 50 tier points each way
  • Economy – 25-50 tier points each way depending on sub-class

Flights under 600 miles:

  • Business Class – 40 tier points each way
  • Economy – 5-10 tier points each way depending on sub-class

How to earn Virgin Atlantic status flying with KLM and Air France

What are my first thoughts here?

Here are a few obvious things that jumped out at me:

It isn’t clear what you earn from Air France First Class, not that many people fly it (it is far more exclusive than BA First Class and rarely discounted)

The 600 mile cut-off is interesting, because 600 miles really isn’t very far!  Amsterdam to Nice, for example, is 608 miles.

I can see a big sweet spot here for flights just over 600 miles from Paris or Amsterdam.  If you could get a cheap non-refundable Business Class flight between, say, Amsterdam and Nice it would earn 200 Virgin Flying Club tier points return!

There is good value here for people flying Economy in Europe.  It is very difficult to earn British Airways status – even Silver – on Economy short-haul flights since you earn as few as 5 tier points per segment and need 600!  However, a super-cheap KLM flight from the UK to Nice will earn at least 60 tier points (5 + 25 + 25 + 5) return.  This means Virgin Flying Club Gold from 17 return trips.  More likely, European short haul trips will be an easy of topping up your Virgin Flying Club tier points.

If you have a very liberal travel policy, there is LAUGHABLE value here.  A fully flexible Business Class return flight on KLM from Manchester to Nice will earn 40 + 200 + 200 + 40 = 480 tier points return.  You get Virgin Atlantic Silver status in one – admittedly expensive – return trip to Nice because of the ‘600 mile’ rule!

We still need to see how all this works in practice.  The Virgin Atlantic website is still not fully re-written to reflect the addition of full miles and tier point earning on Air France and KLM and quirks may continue to appear.  For now, however, it is looking very interesting.

You can, of course, now also earn Virgin Flying Club miles with Air France and KLM.  This is an article for another day ….

Virgin Atlantic credit cards

How to earn Virgin Atlantic miles from UK credit cards

As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Virgin Flying Club miles from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Virgin Flying Club miles.  That page is regularly updated with the latest special offers and will still be accurate even if you are reading this article months after publication.

It is also worth reading our recent article on 10 reasons why I think you should get the free Virgin Atlantic Reward Mastercard credit card.

(Want to earn more Virgin Flying Club miles?  Click here to see our recent articles on Virgin Atlantic and Flying Club and click here for our home page with the latest news on earning and spending other airline and hotel points.)

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  1. Hi rob,

    You’re incorrect about needing 1400 to go from red to gold. While your points are reset as displayed online, they are tracked internally, and on attaining 1000 you are upgraded.

    • Born2sKydive says:

      Thank God thought I would have to adjust my Good strategy Th x so much for posting this 🙂

    • I’ve gone from Red to Gold this year. The tier points reset on your account when gaining Silver but still count apparently. It surprised me tbh but it’s definitely only 1000 tier points required in a 12 month period.

    • Fixed, apologies.

  2. Born2sKydive says:

    One of the cheapest tier points run I have found while obsessively looking at exactly this over the last several days is AMS to ARN 718 miles with many flights per day. Possible to do 2 x return runs in 1 day.

  3. Surprised you haven’t mentioned the benefits of being silver or gold if you have early the credit card voucher!

    • The Savage Squirrel says:

      That was the first thing I thought too. Status has fairly limited benefit in you travel Biz anyway ….. apart from this!

  4. Am I being stupid, why would a Manchester to Nice earn 40 + 200 each way fully flexible business class rather than just 200?

    • Connection in AMS, so MAN-AMS-NCE.

      • Ah ok. So with that flight costing about £350 return that means gold status for around £1500 of flights? Or am I missing something?

        • One way you would be looking at around £320 to £340, double for the return. A better option is likely to be UK Airport to CDG to HEL with Air France which can be done as a return for £365 and should be the same number of Virgin tier points. If so, it may be possible to pick up Gold for sub £1000, with 2 returns in business at 480 points each, plus a return in economy. Which in theory would be over 40 points, and could be flown via AMS or CDG.

          • Just having a quick look around and OSL, ARN, KRK, LIS or as reviewed recently OPO from CDG as all are over 600 miles on great circle mapper. You would need to ensure that your ticket for the long leg drops into a valid fare bucket as connection flights with AF do tend to have an O fare for one leg. These don’t seem to be valid for collection of tier points with VS.

  5. powdarrmonkey says:

    Does the new partnership mean there is any status matching available now?

  6. Looks like it is easier to move up a tier with KLM than Virgin given their lower threshold…

    A test run of ABZ – KIX gives 39 XP with KLM = 39% amount needed to move up to Silver.

    With Virgin, you would receive 50 tier points = 12.5% amount needed to move up to Silver.

  7. Hardpack says:

    Almost on topic; I noticed on my Virgin Atlantic credit card statement that from December 2019 they don’t charge Non-sterling fees on EEA transactions so no curve required. I didn’t notice this on this site anywhere

    • Curve still required if you need a debit card (some merchants won’t take credit cards)

    • That’s because I believe that a new 2.99% charge, not called a ‘fee’ to get around the EU rules, may replace it (this is what other issuers are doing). Why do you think Virgin Money isn’t splashing ‘No FX Fees’ across its application page? In fact the card T&Cs still say you have to pay.

    • I just checked my statement as well, and saw it mentioned, with respect to charges in EUR, SEK and RON only. This seems to have flown entirely below the radar. It’s a major step forward in the UK market, and an important added feature on this card for many of us. Yes, Curve is an option, but it’s also a bit of a hassle – far easier just to use the underlying card.

      • Was mentioned pretty extensively in HFP comments at the time. Rob says it’s temporary, which may be true – but they’ll still need to give a month notice, it’s great while it lasts.

        • Hardpack says:

          Ah, I didn’t see it in the main articles. I will have another look at my statement to check but in initial reading it seemed there would be no fee or non-sterling fee etc at all on the Virgin Atlantic credit card. And yes, I will certainly continue to use Curve with my other cards, just not this one in EEA

  8. Pete McAllister says:

    Is it possible to combine miles between the two schemes yet?

    • No, highly unlikely to happen. Same as you can’t combine Delta Skymiles to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club.

    • No, and it won’t be possible. They are fundamentally different schemes with different currencies

  9. Very interesting indeed – and would mean quite a few sweet spots. Interesting that a flight from AMS to NCE would be considered long haul even though the flight is less than 2 hours.

    Taking into account B2Bs; what is the best price that we can effectively ‘buy’ gold?

  10. Also, with KLM and Air France working out of T4 in LHR, it would be difficult (impossible) for people to fly in with KL or AF and take advantage of the lounge access in T3 right?

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Yeah I think it would be near enough impossible.

      Perhaps there will be a skyteam reshuffle one day.

  11. I already have flights booked on KLM for rest of year. Can I retrospectively change the earning to Virgin instead of Flying Blue?

    • Yes, you should easily be able to change the frequent flyer number in the manage my booking services 🙂

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