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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
This is OFF PEAK each-way pricing. You must add 10,000 points each-way for peak dates. Connecting flights are included.
This is OFF PEAK each-way pricing. You must add 10,000 points each-way for peak dates. Connecting flights are included.
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
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 ….
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:
How to earn Virgin Points from UK credit cards (December 2022)
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, the Reward+ card has a bonus of 15,000 Virgin Points):
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 20,000 Membership Rewards points, which convert into 20,000 Virgin Points.
The Platinum Card from American Express comes with 30,000 Membership Rewards points, which convert into 30,000 Virgin Points.
Small business owners should consider the two American Express Business cards. Points convert at 1:1 into 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.)