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

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This is your complete guide to earning Virgin Flying Club tier points from flights 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.

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

Back in August, I published the first part of this article. Click here for your complete guide to redeeming Virgin Points on Air France and KLM.

This sister article was delayed because, despite the partnership starting in February 2020, Virgin Atlantic had never published the list of how many tier points you earn when flying with Air France and KLM.

Finally, it has appeared. Details are below, but you can also find the Air France tier point earning chart on this page of the Virgin Atlantic website and the KLM tier point earning chart on this page.

You don’t 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 each year to earn or retain status.  It cannot be earned purely from tier points earned on 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.

Earning Virgin Atlantic tier points on Air France KLM

Before we go on ….

The reverse situation is also true.  You can now credit your Virgin Atlantic flights to Flying Blue, the Air France and KLM frequent flyer programme.  You could 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 the SkyTeam alliance.  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.
Earn Virgin Flying Club tier points on Air France KLM

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

In 2022, tier points requirements will be dropped. From 1st April 2022 to 31st March 2023, you will only need 300 tier points to achieve Silver and 800 tier points to become Gold.

How does the Virgin Atlantic tier point system work?

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

Virgin Atlantic and British Airways 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 2021 to 18th February 2022) 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.

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 (G, Z) – 100 tier points each way
  • Upper Class (J, C, D, I) – 200 tier points each way
  • Premium (H, K, P) – 50 tier points each way
  • Premium (W, S) – 100 tier points each way
  • Economy Delight (V) – 50 tier points each way
  • Economy Classic (A, E, Q, X, N, O) – 25-50 tier points each way depending on sub-class
  • Economy Light (T) – 25 tier points each way

Renewing Gold would require as few as five 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.

Earn Virgin Atlantic tier points on Air France

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

The tier point earning chart is here on the Virgin Atlantic website for Air France and here for KLM and I have copied it below. Note that the numbers are different if you are flying on a Virgin Atlantic codeshare flight (ie your ticket has a VS flight number but your flight is operated by Air France or KLM).

Earning Virgin Flying Club tier points with Air France

Here is the table (click to enlarge):

You earn NOTHING if your flight is booked into A, X or O.  Discounted economy sale fares may well fall into these categories.

Earning Virgin Atlantic tier points on KLM

Earning Virgin Flying Club tier points with KLM

Here is the table (click to enlarge):

Earning Virgin Flying Club tier points when flying KLM

You earn NOTHING if your flight is booked into X or O.  Discounted economy sale fares may well fall into these categories.

Virgin Flying Club awards tier points based on the operating carrier and not the marketing carrier.  This means, for example, that if you booked an Air France codeshare flight (AF flight number but operated by another airline) it would not earn anything in Virgin Flying Club.

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

Here are a few thoughts about the tier point tables

Here are a few things that jumped out at me:

  • Air France First Class (La Premiere) is not treated any more generously than flexible Business Class, although not that many people fly it – it is far more exclusive than BA First Class and rarely discounted
  • the 1,751 mile cut-off for maximum tier points is interesting, because British Airways Executive Club has a 2,000 mile cut-off. There will be some routes which only earn 80 BA tier points way in Club Europe on British Airways but would earn 200 Virgin Atlantic tier points each way on KLM or Air France.
  • on paper it is substantially easier to earn status with Virgin Atlantic than with British Airways – but you are not comparing apples with apples

How do Virgin Atlantic status benefits compare with British Airways?

Let’s look at the latter point in more detail.

Silver status on Virgin Atlantic would require one fully flexible round-trip long-haul Business Class flight on Air France or KLM, or indeed Virgin Atlantic itself. 200 + 200 = 400 tier points which is all you need.

On British Airways, you earn 140 tier points for a long haul flexible Business Class flight, and Silver requires 600. This means you need to take 2.5 return flights.

However, BA Silver status is FAR more valuable. It gives you lounge access across the entire oneworld alliance. Virgin Flying Club Silver doesn’t even get you lounge access with Virgin Atlantic.

It is more accurate to compare Virgin Flying Club Gold status with British Airways Executive Club Silver status, as both trigger lounge access.

In such a scenario Virgin Atlantic no longer looks like a bargain:

  • British Airways Silver (600 tier points) requires 5 one-way flexible or inflexible flights in long-haul Business Class
  • Virgin Flying Club Gold (1,000 tier points) requires 5 one-way flexible flights or – more realistically for most people – 10 one-way inflexible flights in long-haul Business Class

Conclusion

It is good to finally get to the bottom of tier point earning in Virgin Flying Club from Air France and KLM.

It should be especially useful for readers outside the M25, for whom flying long-haul on KLM via a transfer in Amsterdam is easier than flying via London.

Whether it is worth switching from Flying Blue to Virgin Flying Club is totally down to your flying patterns (travel class and routes) and how much value you place on being able to earn extra points from your day-to-day shopping.


How to earn Virgin Points from UK credit cards

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):

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

15,000 points bonus and 1.5 points for every £1 you spend Read our full review

Virgin Atlantic Reward Mastercard

A generous earning rate for a free card at 0.75 points per £1 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 20,000 Membership Rewards points, which convert into 20,000 Virgin Points.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & four airport lounge passes Read our full review

The Platinum Card from American Express comes with 30,000 Membership Rewards points, which convert into 30,000 Virgin Points.

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and unbeatable travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Small business owners should consider the two American Express Business cards. Points convert at 1:1 into Virgin Points.

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and a £200 Amex Travel credit every year Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year 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 (27)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Oh! Matron! says:

    It is more accurate to compare Virgin Flying Club Gold status with British Airways Executive Club Silver status, as both trigger lounge access

    I think that’s fair, but not when you compare lounges… the exclusivity you get in vs lounges is much better than ba. galleries is like Waitrose on a Sunday afternoon; people walking around in a daze like they’ve had frontal lobotomies. To get the similar experience with ba as you do vs, you have to be in the 1st lounge, which requires emerald.

    • SaveECRewards says:

      But to use VS lounges you have to fly their limited route network. Even though AF and KLM are currently in T3 you can’t use the VS lounge when flying them. As Virgin has no F product you get all the good stuff (Clubhouse, UC wing check-in) on a business class ticket so if you earn status due to business class travel gold gets you nothing extra, whereas in business on BA gold status gets you a better lounge than the ticket provides.

      I’m more likely to fly economy on a short haul as long haul the comfort is more important and I also want tier points so getting lounge access to flights to Newcastle is more important to me.

      • Michael says:

        It’s really not comparing apples with apples.

        Virgin treat their gold card holders much better than BA do their silvers. I’ve hAd flights held for me and staff come looking for me on delayed connections from other carriers at LHR. I’ve also been given gifts on flights (ie. Champagne) and I’ve been allowed to access the Clubhouse when not flying VS (like BA used to allow for their Golds: “open doors”).

        As a silver on BA this weekend I was left to fend for myself in BA’s Sunday afternoon wave of cancellations and given frankly misleading information by BA staff. At one stage I was tempted to leave the Galleries Club lounge to go to an airport restaurant as it was a complete zoo and social distancing was very difficult. I would have gone to Plaza Premium but it was closed at 5.30.

        For me the main benefit of BA silver is free seating but other airlines do that as a matter of course. It’s also not helpful when your BA flight is cancelled and you end up in 19C and 19D having previously held 1A and 1C!

  • SaveECRewards says:

    Looking at the benefits of VS Gold, the only one I can think of that needs BA Gold level is arrivals lounge access, all other benefits are reachable on the BA silver tier.

    Only oneworld have a tier like Emerald, top tier SkyTeam and Star Alliance match closer to BA silver (OW sapphire).

  • Karugaba job says:

    KLM France has refused to refund my money for the ticket i bought later cancelled from edreams known internet fraudster

    • Mikeact says:

      You need to do something about it…chargeback to your credit card for starters.

  • Littlefish says:

    Finally! At least now there is something relatively clear to refer to if/when points don’t post properly. Great.
    Now …. could you HfP influencers 🙂 suggest Virgin Flying Club get on and fix points/tier points awarding when ticketed with Cash booking + points upgrade; or Cash or Points booking with a Credit Card voucher upgrade. I don’t recall these tickets on Virgin stock via own call centre posting correctly even once!!!
    There is a decent Rewards scheme buried in VFC, with plusses and minuses over BAEC, if only most of it actually worked (and as per the BA article this morning, freed up the Call Centres to deal with a more manageable workload).

  • Magic Mike says:

    Do we think this earning is per segment or not?

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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