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  What follows below is my interpretation of what has been published, but there could be other unpublished rules and quirks we don’t know about.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. Andrew (@andrewseftel) says:

    Seems like a bit of a damp squib – all of the cheap European AFKLM fares I’ve seen have been AF flights in the O fare bucket, which doesn’t seem to earn anything with VS.

    • I agree – I have been trying to get confirmation from Virgin and KLM as i have return business class to Seoul in May and trying to work out where best to credit my miles and tier points but i am flying bhx-ams (j class) and ams to icn (O class) all on a single ticket.

  2. Sort of OT but sort of not: If i was Virgin Red when i earned my voucher from Virgin credit card spend but then hit Silver/Gold can the voucher be used for a 2-4-1 in premium? Thanks in advance!

  3. If there are gaming opportunities isn’t it likely they will go the way of Domestic First on AA, when you had the old 60 and 210 TP flights, which went to Business codes and 40 and 140TP to stop among other runs, the ridiculously cheap ones from Dublin to Hawaii.

  4. I have just asked Virgin Money and they have confirmed this. It is strange that they are not making more of it, though.

  5. While FB points really aren’t good value at all, it is actually super easy to earn status flying even the cheapest AF/KLM flights. Assuming you need to connect at AMS then you can get gold status with just 9 return journeys within Europe (9x20XP=180), or silver (meaning a free check-in bag) with 5. The cheapest 10XP I’ve ever earned was Madrid to Cardiff with an overnight stop over in AMS (where I have friends) for 70 pounds.

  6. Jeremy I says:

    I can see cheapish (£450 return) z class flights to places like Porto , Warsaw and Oslo via ita matrix. May give it a go for a weekend! Seems like good value as I already have 200 virgin tier points. So two long weekends to one of those places plus a few virgin economy trips (already booked) and I’ll be gold before you know it !!! Am I missing anything or is that about the right analysis ?

  7. Lady London says:

    For some strange reason I think the earth might move soon and miraculously Nice will end up 598 miles from AMS. A bit like BA discovered Dublin had moved itself a bit further away from BOS.

    • To be fair they are moving apart constantly at the rate of up to 5cm per year due to tectonic movements, so at some point in the very distant future BA will be correct. Indeed, this really can be classed as future proofing by BA.

  8. Is it exactly 600 miles, or is it 1000km which comes to 621, in which case Nice is too close?

    • Lady London says:

      With a bit of luck it will be stated as 600 miles for UK members even if it’s 1000km for members in Europe 🙂

  9. I have 82k Virgin miles but can rarely find availability for reward flights and find that the taxes and fees tend to be eye-wateringly high.

    Any suggestions on how to spend them down without facing high fees?

    Would shorthaul AF/KLM be the best way to use them?

    • Cheapest redemption is HKG – LHR which is 57.5k / 22.5k / 12.5k one way off peak (UC / Premium / Eco) + £35 odd in charges. Tends to be very good availability on that route. Alternatively redeeming on Delta flights from US with charges of under $20

  10. OT. Turkish airline is giving out their Elite status if you have a BA Gold membership.. I’ve just got mine confirmed. Catch is you need to fly within the first 4 months, and then maybe once a year I think…

  11. maccymac says:

    Relatively easy to get Flying Blue silver. Essentially got it with a return discounted business class fare (IIRC booking class O) to KIX via AMS last year. Does anyone know if VS will status match FB Silver to FC Silver now?

    • Lady London says:

      There are repeated questions on here about will Virgin status match AF and KL.
      Also questions about will miles transfer become possible between these.

      The answer to these has to be NO. Not unless the programs are actually merged.
      The reason is quite simple : Virgin, AF, KL are in cooperation. Why would they stab each other in the back by allowing status matches and mileage transfers? Otherwise all members would flow to whichever gives the best deal – ruining cooperation. Airlines working together would be NUTS to allow this.

      Same within alliances. With very, very rare exceptions (TK having been one in the past), airlines within the same alliance will NOT status match each other.

      As a general rule, miles cant be transferred between any two airline schemes. Avios is the exception only as BA and IB now have common ownership and there are historical commercial ties to EI. How that develops, for example if Meridiana/Air Italy had survived would avios have become transferable between all avios schemes including them, would have to be seen. Suffice it to say it wasn;’t happening before Air Italy went down and won’t for a long time if it does. While frequent flyer schemes remain separate for each airline it would take quite a lot for them all to agree to use just avios. May happen but not for a very, very long time.

      • maccymac says:

        Ah sorry must have missed the comments while skimming through the comments, I can see them now. Thanks for the answer and insight into the rationale.

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