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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Flying Club tier points with KLM
Here is the table (click to enlarge):
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.
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
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 (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.)