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Yes, you can redeem Virgin Points for Air France / KLM flights if the website says the seats have gone

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It is now over two years since Virgin Atlantic added Air France and KLM as redemption partners, following the launch of the expanded transatlantic joint venture with Delta Air Lines.

In theory, being able to book Air France and KLM flights with Virgin Points was a massive development.

Not only do the two airlines fly to many, many places not served by Virgin Atlantic, but the ability to make your own way to Paris or Amsterdam to start your trip meant that you could hugely reduce the taxes and surcharges required.

Virgin Points redemptions on KLM and Air France

Of course, it didn’t work out like that.

The Virgin Atlantic reward booking website is a mess.

The inabilty to recognise most airports when you type in their name is part of the problem (you have to click into a list of global airports, listed alphabetically).

The real issue, however, is that Air France and KLM redemptions stubbornly refuse to ticket.

I had never, ever, managed to get an Air France or KLM ticket successfully booked online despite multiple attempts over the last two years. I actually thought that it was impossible, although a couple of readers claimed to have done it.

This is what you would get, after going through the booking process:

…. a message saying ‘Sorry, there are no longer seats available on your chosen flight’.

This is not a case of ‘phantom availability’

I initially assumed that we were dealing with fake availability, and that the Virgin Atlantic website was showing you seats which were not actually bookable.

Having dug into the situation a bit, it turns out that this is not true.

If you get this message (which is 90%+ certain when trying to book Air France or KLM redemptions), the seats ARE available. You simply have to call to book them.

Of course, calling Virgin Atlantic has not exactly been easy for the last two years, and for all practical purposes your ability to speak to someone and make a booking was close to nil.

The good news is that the Virgin Atlantic call centre now seems to be on top of its backlog. They have even been able to cut opening hours, with the call centre now closing at 8pm instead of 10pm as it was during covid.

Air France 777 business class

The recorded message you get when you call warns of 30-60 minute delays depending on when you ring. In reality, you should get through in under 5 minutes at the moment.

I called up yesterday to try to book the seats which – when I tried to book online – threw up the message I screenshotted above.

The agent was able to quickly book what I needed, and I’ve got a bargain – 3 x business class seats to Dubai (one way) in October half term for 50,000 Virgin Points + £203 each. This is routed Paris to Dubai on Air France, on the Boeing 777 seat pictured above and which I reviewed here.

I need to get to Paris with the kids, of course, but with a 1.45pm departure that won’t be a struggle and it won’t be expensive either. We may even go the day before on the train and see a bit of Paris. My four return flights – my wife is travelling down later due to work commitments – are booked using British Airways On Business points which were about to expire.

So … if you had given up on booking Air France or KLM redemptions with Virgin Points because you were getting an (incorrect) message like the one above saying that the seats don’t actually exist, call up.

PS. Do NOT call Virgin Atlantic if SeatSpy shows Air France or KLM reward availability but the Virgin Atlantic website does not show it. Virgin does not have access to all Air France / KLM reward seats because Flying Blue using a revenue-based redemption model. Only seats priced at the lowest level are released to Virgin Atlantic or SkyTeam partners. For my Dubai seats, for example, Virgin Atlantic could book business class seats showing over at Flying Blue at 55,000 miles but not those priced at 150,000 miles.


How to earn Virgin Points from UK credit cards

How to earn Virgin Points from UK credit cards (August 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 Rewards Plus credit card

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

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

Virgin Rewards credit card

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 Amex Gold

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & two 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.

EDIT: Until 25th October 2022, there is an exceptionally generous sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card. You will receive 60,000 Membership Rewards points – double the usual amount – and £200 to spend at Amex Travel. You need to spend £6,000 within six months to earn the bonus.

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

60,000 points, £200 travel credit and an unbeatable set of 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.

Amex Platinum Business American Express

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and a long list of travel benefits 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 (52)

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

  • Mark Wilson says:

    I had exactly the same experience as described above.
    Got through to the call centre quickly, and secured 5 return business class seats on KLM from Amsterdam to Curacao.
    Total cost 400,000 miles return + £360 each in tax. Complete bargain when the cash price was £11,600 for the 5 of us.

  • Magic Mike says:

    This may have changed, but the issue used to definitely be phantom availability, and phoning VS didn’t help – agents were also not able to book seats that were showing on the website but wouldn’t go through the payment stage.

    I successfully booked reward flights to South America on AF through the VS website back in 2020, although they subsequently got Covid-cancelled. Searching for one way availability before piecing together a full itinerary helped, but it was definitely an exercise in frustration.

    • Blair Waldorf Salad says:

      This is a great change but like you, onky 3 weeks ago I had them on the phone telling me if I got that message then there was no AF availability.

  • roger says:

    Any news on VS direct service from LHR to DXB?

    • Rob says:

      I asked Shai about this recently and he is adamant it isn’t coming back.

      • Catalan says:

        He prefers to use that aircraft on the equally low yield TLV route.

      • Jonathan says:

        There’s too much competition on that route, with Emirates forcing all other airlines to sell seats at crazy low prices, because of how many flights they offer.

        There’s no point in VS keeping away from a route that won’t make any money !

        • Rob says:

          The problem is that you either a) have to fly back at 2am which is about as popular as a bag of sick when BA, Emirates and Etihad have day flights or b) you leave a $500m aircraft sitting around earning nothing for 8 hours.

          • pigeon says:

            When the VS flight last operated to DXB it was a 10pm (?) departure ex-LHR, overnight to DXB, and then a day flight back to the UK. I liked the timings, but flying a competitor meant more choice.

          • Jonathan says:

            I don’t like flights that arrive or leave too early in morning, I can’t figure out VS have flight 453 arriving so early in morning, you’d be able to get out of the airport and watch the sunrise on a long day, and the return flight (454), leaving at just after 7am, who wants to turn up at the airport at 4-5am ?!?

            It’s different matter entirely if there’s no other options available, but there’s plenty of competition pretty much wherever VS go

  • Gtellez says:

    I booked two different KLM flights with virgin points through the app last week with almost no problems. I booked the flights for my wife and son from NCL to Amsterdam, then tried to book mine (a bit different dates), and couldn’t. I tried the next day and was able to do it without problems. I guess that it was luck after reading this article. I got a real bargain, as flights cost £200+ in basic economy vs 8k points plus £65 with luggage included.

  • Evan says:

    Dubai again. Yawn.

    • Rob says:

      We have family down there. It’s not really a holiday.

      • John T says:

        Rob what are some fun things to do in Dubai for someone who has been there many times already?

        • Rob says:

          We just hang out in the resort when not with family. Works fine!

          We’re also doing a few days at Al Maha in the desert this year as my lad is now old enough.

  • Blair Waldorf Salad says:

    Rob, flights sorted but what about hotel? October half term seems to be a shoulder season period in Dubai; the prices really rocket once November hits

    • Brian says:

      Probably even more so during the World Cup as Qatar doesn’t have anywhere enough hotels for the expected number of visitors so some will stay in Dubai. Shambles of a (corrupt obvs) decision awarding it to them

    • Rob says:

      Dubai is oddly cheap this October based on my digging – lack of Russians taking its toll.

      • qrfan says:

        Yes, because they live there now! Russian participation in the UAE property market is up dramatically. Average spend in the uae malls at near record levels. They don’t need hotels or flights any more I agree, but not because they aren’t going.

        • Rob says:

          You can get good deals if you have a Dubai property – lots of sanctioned Russians looking to illegally swap UK property for Dubai property but with the value 3-4 times in your favour.

      • Tomgold says:

        Interestingly, at my recent trip to Abu Dhabi, a (Hilton Double Tree) hotel staffer told me that the lack of Russians was the reason the place was deserted

  • Jan M says:

    Wonder if they fixed the Berlin airport code yet (stuck on the old TXL instead of BER 🙄) and whether customer service can override that error.

  • inizii says:

    Have booked Dublin Paris (AF) twice , Belfast Amsterdam (KLM) and even a Dublin Gdańsk (connecting in AMS) on website successfully. A few glitches but very good use of points👍🏻

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