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Your complete guide to redeeming Virgin Points on Air France and KLM (Part 2)

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This is Part 2 of your complete guide to redeeming Virgin Flying Club points on Air France and KLM.

Apologies for the delay in getting Part 2 of this article live – it fell into the cracks due to holidays and Bank Holidays as well as all of the Amex coverage this month.  Part 1 of this article, which looks at redeeming Virgin Points for short-haul flights on Air France and KLM, is here.  Part 1 also includes the peak and off-peak dates.

redeeming Virgin Points on Air France and KLM

You can find out more:

Before I jump into long-haul redemptions, let’s summarise the key information again which I laid out in Part 1:

  • 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.
  • 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.
redeeming Virgin Flying Club points on Air France and KLM

Virgin Flying Club has split the world into 10 zones

Here is the zonal list which will let you work out the cost of a redemption.

Remember that short-haul flights under 1,750 miles do NOT price off this chart and instead use the short-haul pricing chart which we discussed in Part 1 of our ‘how to spend Virgin miles on Air France and KLM’ article.  This creates some inconsistencies due to the sharp jump in peak date pricing when using the long-haul chart.

Zone 1 (Western and Central Europe)

  • UK, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Ireland, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Spain, Portugal, Austria, Denmark, Balearic Islands, Finland, Italy, Malta, Norway and Sweden

Zone 2 (Eastern Europe and North Africa)

  • Albania, Algeria, Armenia, Belarus, Bosnia Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Croatia, Canary Islands, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Israel, Libya, Lithuania, Latvia, Macedonia, Madeira, Moldavia, Morocco, Poland, Czech Republic, Romania, West Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Turkey, Tunisia, Ukraine, Montenegro, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan
  • West Russia includes the following Federal Districts – Central Federal District, North-western Federal District, Volga Federal District, Southern Federal District and North Caucasian Federal District

Zone 3 (Middle East and Russia)

  • Saudi Arabia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Central Russia, Egypt, UAE, Georgia, Iraq, Iran, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kirghizstan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Syria, Qatar, Uzbekistan and Djibouti
  • Central Russia includes the following Federal Districts – Urais Federal District and Siberian Federal District

Zone 4 (Central Africa)

  • Benin, Burkina, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Congo, Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Equatorial Guinea, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Uganda, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Senegal, Sudan, Republic of South Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Chad, Zambia and Sierra Leone

Zone 5 (Southern Africa, Indian Ocean and Indian Subcontinent)

  • Angola, South Africa, Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Mauritius, Rodrigues, Reunion Island, Seychelles, Mayotte, Comoros, Madagascar, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka

Zone 6 (East Coast North American & Caribbean)

  • East Coast USA, East Canada, Antigua, Barbados, Bahamas, Cuba, Bermuda, Dominican Republic, French Guyana, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Caiman Islands, Turks and Caicos Islands, Virgin Islands, Jamaica, Martinique, Haiti, Porto Rico, Trinidad and Tobago and Saint Marteen
  • Includes the following US states – Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Washington D.C., West Virginia, Virginia, Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin, Illinois, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Florida
  • Includes the following Canadian provinces – Ontario, Quebec, Newfoundland, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island

Zone 7 (West & Central North America and Central America)

  • Central & West USA, Hawaii, Central & West Canada, Mexico, Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama and Nicaragua
  • Includes the following US states – Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Idaho, Utah, Arizona, Nevada, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, California, Hawaii and Alaska
  • Includes the following Canadian provinces – Nunavut, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, Northwest Territories, British Colombia and Yukon

Zone 8 (South America)

  • Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela, Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay and Uruguay

Zone 9 (Far Eastern Asia and Eastern Russia)

  • China, South Korea, Japan, Mongolia, East Russia (& Siberia), Cambodia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Laos, Macau, Myanmar, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam (Eastern Russia to include the following Federal Districts – Far Eastern Federal District)

Zone 10 (Oceania)

  • Australia, Fiji, Guam, Marianas Islands, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, New Zealand, Palau Islands, Vanuatu, Wallis and Futuna, New Caledonia and French Polynesia

Over time, we will probably discover sweet spot redemptions based on how certain countries have been categorised.

You need to remember that, whilst this system has been in operation since February 2020, this was only a month before the pandemic took off in Europe. Few people have flown on Air France and KLM redemptions using Virgin Points.

redeeming Virgin Flying Club points on Air France and KLM

Here is the Virgin Flying Club redemption chart for Air France and KLM

Peak and off-peak dates are in Part 1 of this article here.

Economy:

This is OFF PEAK each-way pricing.  You must add 10,000 points each-way for peak dates.  Connecting flights are included.  Click to enlarge:

Virgin Flying Club reward miles pricing on Air France and KLM

Premium Economy: 

This is OFF PEAK each-way pricing.  You must add 10,000 points each-way for peak dates.  Connecting flights are included.

Virgin Flying Club reward miles pricing on Air France and KLM

Business:

This is OFF PEAK each-way pricing.  You must add 10,000 points each-way for peak dates.  Connecting flights are included.

Virgin Flying Club reward miles pricing on Air France and KLM

First Class:

KLM does not have First Class.  Air France does not allow partner airline customers to redeem points for First Class.

How are the taxes on Air France and KLM redemptions?

If you want to know how this pricing compares to Avios, there is no overall answer.  In general:

  • you will usually require the same or more Virgin Points than Avios but it will vary by destination
  • peak and off-peak calendar differences between Avios and Flying Club will also make a difference to which scheme is best value
  • taxes and charges on your outbound flight will be SUBSTANTIALLY lower if you do not book a through-ticket from the UK via Paris or Amsterdam
  • taxes and charges will be roughly similar if you do book a through-ticket from the UK

Here is an example for business class to Dubai (Zone 3) where you can see Virgin Flying Club offers very similar value to using Avios unless you split your trip into two separate tickets:

  • 100,000 Virgin Points off-peak vs 100,000 Avios off-peak
  • 120,000 Virgin Points peak vs 120,000 Avios peak
  • €297 (£254) return taxes and charges with KLM if booked AMS-DXB, buying a connection to/from Amsterdam separately
  • €372 (£318) return taxes and charges with Air France if booked PAR-DXB, buying a connection to/from Paris separately
  • £449 return taxes and charges with KLM if booked LHR-DXB with a connection in Amsterdam
  • £457 return taxes and charges with Air France if booked LHR-DXB with a connection in Paris
  • £535 return taxes and charges with British Airways on an Avios redemption

If you live outside the M25, the KLM option looks very attractive. Flights to Amsterdam are easily available and you are paying just £254 in taxes on the long haul leg.

Let’s compare Virgin Points vs Avios on other routes

Here are some other examples comparing the number of Virgin Points required vs the number of Avios. I haven’t run the taxes numbers for simplicity:

Mauritius (Zone 5) – substantially better with Virgin vs using Avios:

  • 122,000 Virgin Points off-peak vs 150,000 Avios off-peak
  • 142,000 Virgin Points peak vs 180,000 Avios miles peak

Jamaica (Zone 6) – substantially better with Virgin vs using Avios:

  • 97,000 Virgin Points off-peak vs 125,000 Avios off-peak
  • 117,000 Virgin Points peak vs 150,000 Avios miles peak

Johannesburg (Zone 5) – better with Virgin vs using Avios:

  • 122,000 Virgin Points off-peak vs 125,000 Avios off-peak
  • 142,000 Virgin Points peak vs 150,000 Avios miles peak

New York (Zone 6) – better with Virgin vs using Avios:

  • 97,000 Virgin Points off-peak vs 100,000 Avios off-peak
  • 117,000 Virgin Points peak vs 120,000 Avios miles peak
redeeming Virgin Flying Club points on Air France and KLM

Buenos Aires (Zone 8) – equal or better with Virgin vs using Avios:

  • 175,000 Virgin Points off-peak vs 175,000 Avios off-peak
  • 195,000 Virgin Points peak vs 210,000 Avios miles peak

San Francisco (Zone 7) – worse with Virgin vs using Avios:

  • 155,000 Virgin Points off-peak vs 125,000 Avios off-peak
  • 175,000 Virgin Points peak vs 150,000 Avios miles peak

Rio (Zone 8) – worse with Virgin vs using Avios:

  • 175,000 Virgin Points off-peak vs 150,000 Avios off-peak
  • 195,000 Virgin Points peak vs 180,000 Avios miles peak

Singapore (Zone 9) – worse with Virgin vs using Avios:

  • 224,000 Virgin Points off-peak vs 175,000 Avios off-peak
  • 244,000 Virgin Points peak vs 210,000 Avios miles peak

Tokyo (Zone 9) – substantially worse with Virgin vs using Avios:

  • 224,000 Virgin Points off-peak vs 150,000 Avios off-peak
  • 244,000 Virgin Points peak vs 180,000 Avios miles peak

Note that redemptions to Tokyo do not seem to be bookable in practice. Virgin cannot bring up dates with availability and SeatSpy does not show any KLM or Air France award space to the city, in any class. In any event, booking with Virgin partner ANA requires far fewer points.

A few thoughts ….

You can check Avios pricing for ALL British Airways routes in this article.

There are clearly variations by route.  Some are cheaper than Avios, some are virtually the same, some are noticeably more expensive.  Over time we will learn where the sweet spots are.

Taxes are a different story.  There are ALWAYS savings to be made if you go via Amsterdam and book your connection separately.  (KLM should check your baggage through if both legs are with them.)  The savings are smaller if you book a through-ticket from the UK and pay long haul Air Passenger Duty but KLM has a better business class product than BA Club World.

To add to the confusion, Air France still has sloping business class seats on many aircraft which are WORSE than BA Club World.  Air France also has higher taxes than KLM.

BA Club Suite is better than BA Club World but you can question whether the overall food and seat package is better than Air France (on the right plane) or KLM ……

In general – and I stress this is a generalisation – it seems that KLM has more to offer than Air France:

  • more UK departure airports than Air France
  • lower taxes than Air France
  • a better Business Class product overall (given that Air France is not 100% lie flat)

It is still early days, however, since covid has restricted your ability to book these redemptions since virtually the day in February 2020 when they were launched.

For more information, look at:

Comments (29)

  • Mikeact says:

    Just wondering if there is any merit in doing a private exchange between interested parties….honesty has to come into it but some long haul savings between Virgin and Avios could work out. A few years back I had to get out to Vancouver urgently…using miles/points proved impossible, but I had been given the name of somebody who could help…he was happy to get me a Lufthansa Business Class flight and in return I got him a long haul Avios flight out to the far east somewhere. We are still in contact.

    • ChrisC says:

      If I remember correctly this sort of thing is against the rules of the respective miles programmes and if discovered can lead to having accounts closed down with loss of miles and status.

  • Gael says:

    Some of us do live/travel Zone 10. It would be great to have a comparison between Zone 1 and 10

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