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Your complete guide to redeeming Virgin Points on Air France and KLM (Part 1)

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

The partnership between Virgin Atlantic, Air France and KLM launched in February 2020.  This was, of course, terrible timing.  No sooner had we published our initial coverage then the UK slipped into lockdown.

With travel now opening up, I thought it was a good time to remind you of the benefits of the partnership and explain how to book redemption flights on Air France and KLM.

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 points 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 points.  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 £180 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.  This doesn’t apply on your return flight.

It appears that KLM will through-check baggage if your flights are on separate tickets although I don’t have any recent confirmation.  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 points do I need for a KLM or Air France redemption?

The rest of this article looks at short haul flights.  Part 2 later this week looks at how to spend Virgin points 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 believe.

All of these numbers exclude taxes and charges and are for one way flights.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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.

(This article in our ‘Avios Redemption University’ series looks at how Avios Reward Flight Saver works on short-haul British Airways flights.)

Even if you are heading to Amsterdam, taxes and charges are around £30 higher, return, compared with British Airways Reward Flight Saver rates.  This applies to both Economy and Business Class.

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 Manchester and want to go to Athens, British Airways charges you twice – once for Manchester to Heathrow and once for Heathrow to Athens.  You would pay between 46,000 Avios + £2 and 14,400 Avios + £206 (return, off-peak, economy) depending on which combination of cash and Avios you chose.

In contrast, Virgin Flying Club would charge 18,000 points + £92 of taxes and charges for Manchester to Athens via Amsterdam on an off-peak data.

The Virgin Flying Club option is clearly 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:

  • 6th September 2021 – 14th October 2021
  • 27th October 2021 – 10th December 2021
  • 6th January 2022 – 31st March 2022
  • 26th April 2022 – 29th May 2022
  • 6th June 2022 – 17th June 2022
  • 5th September 2022 – 30th September 2022

Peak:

  • 19th June 2021 – 5th September 2021
  • 15th October 2021 – 26th October 2021
  • 11th December 2021 – 5th January 2022
  • 1st April 2022 – 25th April 2022
  • 30th May 2022 – 5th June 2022
  • 18th June 2022 – 4th September 2022

This link shows you the Avios peak and off-peak dates for 2021 and 2022.  There may be dates when it is beneficial 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 of UK airports which – pre covid – offered direct flights to Amsterdam.  It isn’t clear at the moment if any of these routes have been closed for good or if all will return over the next few months.

You will need 9,000 Virgin points peak or 8,000 Virgin points off-peak return, plus:

  • Aberdeen
  • Belfast
  • Birmingham
  • Bristol
  • Cardiff
  • Edinburgh
  • Glasgow
  • Humberside
  • Inverness
  • Leeds Bradford
  • London City
  • London Heathrow
  • Manchester
  • Newcastle
  • Norwich
  • Southampton
  • Teesside

In general, Air France taxes to Paris are higher than this.  Pre-covid, Air France flew from, outside London:

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

In Part 2 of this article later in the week, we look at long-haul flight pricing on Air France and KLM using Virgin Points.


How to earn Virgin Points from UK credit cards

How to earn Virgin Points from UK credit cards (October 2021)

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

You can choose from two official Virgin Atlantic credit cards (apply here, one has a bonus of 15,000 points):

Virgin Rewards credit card

Virgin Atlantic Reward Mastercard

The UK’s most generous free Visa or Mastercard at 0.75 points / £1 Read our full review

Virgin Rewards Plus credit card

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

15,000 points bonus and the most generous non-Amex for day to day spending Read our full review

You can also earn Virgin Points from various American Express cards – and these have sign-up bonuses too.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold is FREE for a year and comes with 30,000 Membership Rewards points, which convert into 30,000 Virgin Points:

Nectar American Express

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 30,000 points, FREE for a year & two airport lounge passes Read our full review

Until 2nd November 2021, there is a special offer on The Platinum Card from American Express.

You will receive a sign-up bonus of 60,000 Amex points which converts into 60,000 Virgin Points.

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

60,000 points and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Virgin Points

(Want to earn more Virgin Points?  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.)

Comments (58)

  • Chris DB says:

    Just to confirm my understanding please as this next comment is under the heading of solo travellers, “Whilst there is a 2-4-1 voucher on the Virgin Atlantic credit cards, it is only valid for Virgin Atlantic redemptions.” We already have two 2-4-1 vouchers “banked” and prefer to fly out of Manchester but we can ONLY use these vouchers for Virgin Atlantic flights, and not, for example, KLM or Air France?

  • Jonathan says:

    The taxes/charges figures are missing from the list FYI.

  • Munch says:

    If I had Virgin gold status would I gain lounge access at LHR on a klm economy reward ticket via Virgin?

  • Paul says:

    I would have hoped for a guide price on taxes for flights in such an in-depth article

    • Rob says:

      Taxes are roughly what BA would be without Reward Flight Saver – we mention Amsterdam as an example.

      • DI says:

        This explanation might be obvious to veterans, but is still very cryptic for some of us 😉

      • Sean says:

        Except you actually miss out the taxes and charges figure:
        Here is a list of UK airports which – pre covid – offered direct flights to Amsterdam together with the taxes and charges figure for a return flight.
        It isn’t clear at the moment if any of these routes have been closed for good or if all will return over the next few months.
        You will need 9,000 Virgin points peak or 8,000 Virgin points off-peak return, plus xxxxxx:

        • Rob says:

          Ah sorry. The taxes were in the old version 18 months ago but I couldn’t reprice as some routes not running.

      • Mikeact says:

        Here’s an example of using KLM miles from Southampton to Amsterdam. (Not sure how this would compare using Virgin points)
        Typically and the lowest ;
        12,000 miles + € 67.87.

  • Ed says:

    What I’ve never been able to work out is whether you can book routes for domestic travel (via AMS). I.e. NWI – AMS – EDI is less than 600 miles but it doesn’t show on Virgin’s site. Anyone had any luck booking this type of route?

    P.s. I would normally call and ask but I can only listen to so much King’s of Leon.

  • Graham Walsh says:

    Really looking forward to Part 2 as I think my LHR>ATL>AUA won’t happen in December. I’ll need to go LHR>AMS>AUA to avoid the US.

  • stevenhp1987 says:

    KLM are currently flying from Southampton Airport to Amsterdam.

    • Mikeact says:

      Hopefully for the long(er) term. Over the years it’s been too much, “Now you see us, now you don’t.”
      And SOU Airport could do with an App.

      • stevenhp1987 says:

        Yes, they keep yo-yoing between being here and not being here.

        They disappeared from SOU at pretty much exactly the same time as VS points were redeemable… Recently returned within the last couple months.

        Would be nice to fly long haul (via AMS) from an airport < 10 minutes Uber away!

  • Der Fliegende Amerikaner says:

    The Virgin Atlantic website is still showing TXL for Berlin. So obviously there’s never any availability if AF or KL don’t fly there.

    • WaynedP says:

      😆 Totale Wahnsinn !

      • JanM says:

        Yes, that was a real pain when I was in living in Germany in the spring. BER just wasn’t recognized and there is no obvious person to complain to about such a fundamental IT error.

        • WaynedP says:

          The whole TXL to BER project seems to have been royally jinxed right from the start.

          Surprising given the usual German reputation for clinical efficiency.

          • Doug M says:

            Reputation and reality do not always align, unless you meant Swiss reputation for efficiency.

          • AndrewM says:

            Berlins efficiency is not quite like that of south or west Germany. Most Germans still somewhat look down on the Capital.

    • Der Fliegende Amerikaner says:

      I sent an inquirty last week to VS about TXL still being used for Berlin. Here’s the nice response that I received today:

      Hello Der Fliegende Amerikaner,

      Thanks for getting in touch, it’s lovely to hear from you.

      I’ve received a notification that TXL will be removed from our website in the next week.

      Please accept my apologies for the time it’s taking to be removed.

      If you do have any further questions please do not hesitate to get in touch.

      Kind regards
      Gareth Bromley
      Virgin Atlantic Customer Centre

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