Redeem Virgin Atlantic Miles for KLM or AirFrance Flights

Advertiser disclosure: The Miles Genie has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products.  The Miles Genie and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Editorial disclosure: Opinions, reviews, analyses, and recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed, or approved by any of these entities.

AirFrance and KLM were recently added as Virgin Atlantic Flying Club partners. This means that you can now redeem Virgin Atlantic miles for flights operated by AirFrance or KLM.

Booking AirFrance or KLM operated flights with Virgin Atlantic miles may require less miles than what AirFrance/KLM Flying Blue requires for their own flights.

Virgin Atlantic is based in the UK, but their frequent flyer program is good for flights all over the world!  Virgin Atlantic Flying Club is an important program to keep in mind because you can transfer both of my favorite currencies, Chase Ultimate Rewards and American Express Membership Rewards, to Flying Club.

Virgin Atlantic is not in any of the 3 major airline alliances in the world.  There are a few non-alliance partners, though.  This post will focus on KLM and AirFrance, but here are Virgin Atlantic Flying Club’s other redemption partner airlines:

You can earn Virgin Atlantic miles on SAS, but you cannot redeem VA miles for SAS operated flights.

Virgin Atlantic redemption partners 2020

Earning Virgin Atlantic miles is easy

The best credit card rewards points are bank points that transfer to airline and hotel programs. You can transfer points from these programs to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club at a 1:1 ratio

You can book at least 2 roundtrip tickets to Europe with the welcome bonus of just one credit card!  

The Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card is the first card I suggest for almost anyone, no matter what your travel goals are.  At the very least, the welcome bonus of 60,000 is worth $750 if redeemed through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal.  But you can potentially get even more value out of those points by using transfer partners such as Virgin Atlantic!

You can book 2 roundtrip tickets from the US to Europe on AirFrance or KLM for as low as 48,000 points by transferring them to Virgin Atlantic. I’ll discuss the fine print in this post.

Chase Sapphire Preferred 2019

This card is also great for everyday spending as it earns 2 points per dollar on travel and dining spend. To earn the bonus of 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points, you must spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. The annual fee is reasonable at $95.

Redeeming Virgin Atlantic miles to book AirFrance or KLM flights is subject to availability

Using Virgin Atlantic miles to book AirFrance or KLM flights can be a great value, but never transfer any points to Virgin Atlantic without first checking for availability.

  • Most transfers are instant, so there is no need to transfer ahead
  • Once you transfer your points to an airline partner, you’re subject to that airline’s award ticket policies and pricing. In other words, your Amex MR or Chase UR points become Virgin Atlantic miles.
  • You cannot transfer those miles back to Chase Ultimate Rewards or American Express Membership Rewards
Never transfer your points until you have confirmed that the ticket or tickets you’re trying to book are available for your date and destination.

Very important: KLM and AirFrance have a combined loyalty program called Flying Blue. I know, Flying Club and Flying Blue. It’s easy to mix up. I’ll try to type out “AirFrance/KLM Flying Blue” or “Virgin Atlantic Flying Club” rather than just Flying Club or Flying Blue.

Also important: You can actually transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards and Amex Membership Rewards (and Citi ThankYou Rewards and miles from the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card) directly to AirFrance/KLM Flying Blue. But I’ll explain why Virgin Atlantic is sometimes a better way to book flights operated by AirFrance and KLM.

virgin atlantic for airfrance flights

The best way to check for availability is to search Virgin Atlantic’s website

You can create a free Virgin Atlantic Flying Blue account to search.

KLM and AirFrance may make more seats available for KLM/AirFrance Flying Blue awards than they do for partner airline bookings.

In other words, if you use the website of KLM or AirFrance to search, you may see a seat available to book with KLM/AirFrance miles. That seat may not be available to book with Virgin Atlantic miles, though.

Award ticket pricing

The amount of points or miles you will need to redeem to book an award flight is determined by the program with which you are booking.

If you use Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles to book an AirFrance or KLM flight, the amount of points you will need is determined by Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, not KLM/AirFrance’s program, Flying Blue. This is because you’re using Virgin Atlantic’s loyalty program, Flying Blue to book, not KLM/AirFrance’s program.

Most airline award ticket pricing models fall into one of 4 categories

  1. Region/Zone based 
  2. Distance-based
  3. Fare-based
  4. Dynamic pricing

Click here for more details about the different types of award ticket pricing, including advantages and disadvantages of each.

The amount of Virgin Atlantic miles required for a Virgin Atlantic operated flight is going to be different than the amount of miles required for partner operated flights. Virgin Atlantic Flying Club has a different redemption chart for each airline partner.

Although KLM and AirFrance have separate charts on Virgin Atlantic’s website, they are exactly the same for economy and business class. The only difference is that KLM has no premium economy.

Long haul vs. short haul

When you use Flying Club miles to book short-haul flights operated by KLM or AirFrance, the redemption price is calculated based on distance. This is mostly going to be intra-Europe routes.

For long-haul flights, the redemption price is zone-based. This means that a flight between any city within Zone X and any city within Zone Y requires a designated amount.

Peak vs. off-peak

There are peak and off peak (also called standard) dates for most routes.

Standard (off-peak) season travel dates:

  • 6 January 2020 – 2 April 2020
  • 22 April 2020 – 19 June 2020
  • 7 September 2020 – 11 December 2020
  • 6 January 2021 – 31 March 2021

Peak season travel dates:

  • 3 April 2020 – 21 April 2020
  • 20 June 2020 – 6 September 2020
  • 12 December 2020 – 5 January 2021
Change/cancellation fees on award tickets booked with Virgin Atlantic miles

If you need to change dates, class of service, your route, or if you need to cancel an award booking, the fee is $50.

Fuel Surcharges

You will have to pay fuel surcharges when redeeming Virgin Atlantic miles for flights operated by AirFrance or KLM. This may or may not be a deal breaker. It really just depends on the paid fare and what other options you have for any given route.

I actually have a whole post written about whether or not it makes sense to redeem miles if you have to pay high fuel surcharges. Click here to read the post.  

Short haul flights operated by AirFrance or KLM

Virgin Atlantic miles required for one-way flights operated by Air France or KLM:

Redeem Virgin Atlantic miles for KLM or AirFrance flights
How do these prices compare to other programs?

Another distance based program in Europe is British Airways. Just to give you an idea of how Virgin Atlantic’s chart stacks up to British Airways, here is British Airways Executive Club’s chart for flights operated by British Airways or Iberia.

To be clear, you cannot use British Airways Avios to book KLM and Air France flights. I’m just using British Airways to compare intra Europe award flight pricing.

You can see British Airways and Iberia’s full award charts here.

  • Less than 600 miles (e.g. London to Paris) is very similar.
  • 601-1249 miles (e.g. Amsterdam to Rome) is more with Virgin Atlantic.
  • 1250-1749 (e.g. Paris to Athens) is also more with Virgin Atlantic.

The real value in this new partnership is going to be on long-haul flights.

The sweet spots for Virgin Atlantic redemptions on flights operated by AirFrance or KLM are going to be long haul flights

Since most of TMG’s audience is US based, I’m going to focus on US-Europe routes. But AirFrance and KLM serve several destinations around the world. I’ll do another post when I get a chance to look into some other valuable routes.

Nonstop AirFrance or KLM routes between the US and Europe are going to be US-Paris (Air France) or US-Amsterdam (KLM). But even if neither Paris nor Amsterdam are your destination, you can connect to several European cities.

The best part is that connecting flights do not add to the redemption price. This is not always the case. For example, if you use Virgin Atlantic miles to book a flight operated by Delta, a connecting flight would require more miles.

Long haul charts

All redemption prices below are for one-way flights. Roundtrip is double.

Virgin Atlantic miles required for one way economy flights operated by AirFrance or KLM

Economy off-peak
flying blue klm flights off peak
  • Zone 1 (Western and Central Europe)
  • Zone 2 (Eastern Europe and North Africa)
  • Zone 3 (Middle East and Russia)
  • Zone 4 (Central Africa)
  • Zone 5 (Southern Africa, Indian Ocean and Indian Subcontinent)
  • Zone 6 (East Coast North America & Caribbean)
  • Zone 7 (West & Central North America and Central America)
  • Zone 8 (South America)
  • Zone 9 (Far Eastern Asia and Eastern Russia)
  • Zone 10 (Oceania)
Economy Peak
flying club klm flights peak
Region Definitions for AirFrance or KLM operated flights booked with Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles

Zone 1 (Western and Central Europe) includes:
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) includes:
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) includes:
Saudi Arabia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Central Russia, Egypt, UAE, Georgia, Iraq, Iran, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kirghizstan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Syria, Qatar, Uzbekistan and Djibouti.

Central Russia to include the following Federal Districts – Urais Federal District and Siberian Federal District.

Zone 4 (Central Africa) includes:
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) includes:
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 America & Caribbean) includes:
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) includes:
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) includes:
Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela, Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay and Uruguay.

Zone 9 (Far Eastern Asia and Eastern Russia) includes:
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) includes:
Australia, Fiji, Guam, Marianas Islands, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, New Zealand, Palau Islands, Vanuatu, Wallis and Futuna, New Caledonia and French Polynesia.

Virgin Atlantic miles required for one way premium economy flights operated by AirFrance (premium economy is not available on KLM operated flights)

Premium economy off-peak

flying blue klm flights off peak
  • Zone 1 (Western and Central Europe)
  • Zone 2 (Eastern Europe and North Africa)
  • Zone 3 (Middle East and Russia)
  • Zone 4 (Central Africa)
  • Zone 5 (Southern Africa, Indian Ocean and Indian Subcontinent)
  • Zone 6 (East Coast North America & Caribbean)
  • Zone 7 (West & Central North America and Central America)
  • Zone 8 (South America)
  • Zone 9 (Far Eastern Asia and Eastern Russia)
  • Zone 10 (Oceania)

Premium economy peak

flying blue klm flights off peak

Virgin Atlantic miles required for one way business class flights operated by AirFrance or KLM

Business class off-peak

airfrance flights off peak virgin miles
  • Zone 1 (Western and Central Europe)
  • Zone 2 (Eastern Europe and North Africa)
  • Zone 3 (Middle East and Russia)
  • Zone 4 (Central Africa)
  • Zone 5 (Southern Africa, Indian Ocean and Indian Subcontinent)
  • Zone 6 (East Coast North America & Caribbean)
  • Zone 7 (West & Central North America and Central America)
  • Zone 8 (South America)
  • Zone 9 (Far Eastern Asia and Eastern Russia)
  • Zone 10 (Oceania)

Business class peak

virgin atlantic airfrance flights off peak
how to book europe flights with chase ultimate rewards points
Paris

Fly between the US and Europe for a fraction of what other programs would require

Remember, these redemption prices are subject to availability.

I’m going to focus on Air France and KLM economy seats booked booked with Virgin Atlantic miles. For US-Europe, there are better ways to book business class seats. It seems that most of y’all are more interested in economy flights anyway.

DFW to Vienna operated by Air France

This route on Air France would require a connection in Paris. But since connections do not add to the cost, we just need to figure out the zone of departure and the zone of arrival and then refer to the chart. DFW would be zone 7 (central North America) and Vienna would be zone 1 (western and central Europe).

According to the chart, zone 1 to zone 7 requires 15,000 miles each way in economy for off-peak dates. The dates I am using for this example are off peak. For peak dates, the amount increases to 25,000 miles each way.

If you’re departing from an Eastern US airport, the amount required would be even less! Zone 1 to Zone 6 is only 12,000 each way in economy on off peak dates.

Dallas to Europe is as low as 30,000 miles roundtrip

An AirFrance economy seat on a DFW to Vienna itinerary with a connection in Paris requires 30,000 Virgin Atlantic miles roundtrip. Of course, there is a catch, though.

virgin atlantic fuel surcharges

The issue is the fuel surcharges. Fuel surcharges are just over $400, but here is another way to look at it:

No one likes paying fuel surcharges, but if you think of the redemption as more of a cash and points type redemption, it doesn’t seem so bad when redemption costs are low. As you’ll see below, 50-60k points/miles or more roundtrip is typical for a US-Europe economy seat.

I always suggest looking at your other options for booking if you have flexible points such as Chase Ultimate Rewards or Amex Membership Rewards, too.

Look at your alternatives using Chase Ultimate Rewards points or Amex Membership Rewards points:

DFW-Vienna on Air France booked with Air France Flying Blue miles:

You can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points or American Express Membership Rewards points directly to the program of AirFrance (Flying Blue). But Flying Blue has a different pricing system and redeeming Flying Blue miles for this route would require more than twice as many miles.

redeem virgin atlantic for air france flight

This is the EXACT same flight as the Virgin example above.

But booking it with AirFrance miles would require 70,500 miles plus ~$265 USD in fees. The fees are better than Virgin Atlantic but the amount of points required is more than double.

The other option is to use Chase or Amex points as cash:

If you search for fares using google flights, prices are at least $1040 for DFW to Vienna on this date. If the fare is $1040, you would need:

~104,000 Amex points (Amex points are worth 1 cent per point when you redeem them for flights at amextravel.com)

For more info about redeeming Amex Membership Rewards points at amextravel.com, click here.

or

~83,200 Chase Ultimate Rewards points if you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred card or Chase Ink Business Preferred card (UR points are worth 1.25 cents per point if you have either of these cards and redeem the points through the Ultimate Rewards portal)

or

~69,300 Chase Ultimate Rewards points if you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve card (Ultimate Rewards points are worth 1.50 cent per point with this card if you redeem points through the Ultimate Rewards portal)

For more info about redeeming Chase Ultimate Rewards points at Ultimaterewards.com, click here.

To summarize, here are the options:

You can also look at other Chase and Amex transfer partners that can book other airlines. I’m only considering the options for Air France flights here.

Chase Ultimate Rewards points:

  • Pay $1040
  • Redeem through. the redemption portal for ~69,300 or ~83,200 points and no fees, depending on which card you have.
  • Transfer Ultimate Rewards points to AirFrance/KLM Flying Blue. Total cost: 70,500 miles plus $265
  • Transfer Ultimate Rewards points to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club. Total cost: 30,000 miles plus $412

American Express Membership Rewards points

  • Pay $1040
  • Redeem through amextravel.com for ~104,000 points and no fees
  • Transfer Membership Rewards points to AirFrance/KLM Flying Blue. Total cost: 70,500 miles plus $265
  • Transfer Membership Rewards points to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club. Total cost: 30,000 miles plus $412

Even with high fuel surcharges, redeeming Virgin Atlantic miles for this route seems to be your best option in this case. But it’s always good to check your other options when you have a flexible currency such as Chase Ultimate Rewards or Amex Membership Rewards.

DFW to Paris on Air France (nonstop)

paris with amex points

AirFrance has a nonstop DFW-Paris route. DFW would be zone 7 (central North America) and Paris would be zone 1 (western and central Europe).

Zone 1 to zone 7 requires 15,000 miles each way in economy for off-peak dates. For peak dates, the amount increases to 25,000 miles each way.

DFW to Paris requires 30,000 Virgin Atlantic miles roundtrip for an economy off peak award seat.

redeem chase ultimate rewards europe flights
paris flights with virgin atlantic
redeem amex points europe flihgts

Again, fuel surcharges are high. If you search for fares using google flights, prices are around $1,000 for nonstop DFW to Paris on this date. I’d rather redeem 30k points and pay $382 than save my points and pay $1,000. But again, I’ll show some other options.

Alternatives using Chase Ultimate Rewards points or Amex Membership Rewards points:

DFW-Paris on Air France booked with Air France Flying Blue miles:

51,000 miles plus ~$233 USD in fees. The fees are better but the amount of points required is significantly higher.

Using Chase or Amex points as cash:

If the fare is $1000, you would need:

~100,000 Amex points (Amex points are worth 1 cent per point when you redeem them for flights at amextravel.com)

For more info about redeeming Amex Membership Rewards points at amextravel.com, click here.

or

~80,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points if you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred card or Chase Ink Business Preferred card (UR points are worth 1.25 cents per point if you have either of these cards and redeem the points through the Ultimate Rewards portal)

or

~66,700 Chase Ultimate Rewards points if you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve card (Ultimate Rewards points are worth 1.50 cent per point with this card if you redeem points through the Ultimate Rewards portal)

For more info about redeeming Chase Ultimate Rewards points at Ultimaterewards.com, click here.

To summarize, here are the options:

Chase Ultimate Rewards points:

  • Pay $1,000, save your points
  • Redeem through. the redemption portal for ~66,700 or ~80,000 points and no fees, depending on which card you have.
  • Transfer Ultimate Rewards points to AirFrance/KLM Flying Blue. Total cost: 51,000 miles plus $233
  • Transfer Ultimate Rewards points to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club. Total cost: 30,000 miles plus $382

American Express Membership Rewards points

  • Pay $1,000, save your points
  • Redeem through amextravel.com for ~100,000 points and no fees
  • Transfer Membership Rewards points to AirFrance/KLM Flying Blue. Total cost: 51,000 miles plus $233
  • Transfer Membership Rewards points to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club. Total cost: 30,000 miles plus $382

Atlanta to Amsterdam operated by KLM

klm flights with chase ultimate rewards points

KLM has a nonstop ATL-AMS route. ATL would be zone 6 (eastern North America) and AMS would be zone 1 (western and central Europe).

Zone 1 to zone 6 requires 12,000 miles each way in economy for off-peak dates. For peak dates, the amount increases to 22,000 miles each way.

Atlanta to Amsterdam requires 24,000 Virgin Atlantic miles roundtrip for an economy off peak award seat on a KLM itinerary.

how. tobook europe with amex
transfer chase ultimate rewards to virgin
europe flights with membership rewards

Fuel surcharges are also high when redeeming Virgin Atlantic miles for a KLM operated flight. If you search for fares using google flights, prices are around $1,000 for nonstop Atlanta to Amsterdam on this date.

Alternatives using Chase Ultimate Rewards points or Amex Membership Rewards points:

Atlanta to Amsterdam on KLM booked with Air France/KLM Flying Blue miles:

58,000 miles plus ~$165 USD in fees. Fuel surcharges are more reasonable when you redeem AirFrance/KLM FlyingBlue miles for flights operated by KLM. The fees are better but the amount of points required is significantly higher (more than double) than what Virgin Atlantic requires.

virgin atlantic miles for europe

If you search for fares using google flights, prices are around $1,100 for nonstop on this date. The lowest fare is $800, but it has a connecting flight.

24,000 miles for a ticket that has a paid fare of $1,100 or even $800 is a great deal, even if it means paying fuel surcharges.

Final thoughts

It’s always nice to have more redemption options. Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles may not always be the best way to book flights operated by KLM or AirFrance, but it’s a good idea to look at all of your options.

Transatlantic flights are notorious for fuel surcharges when booked with certain airlines. No one likes paying fuel surcharges, but if you think of the redemption as more of a cash and points type redemption, it doesn’t seem so bad when redemption costs are low.

You cannot get around fuel surcharges when you use Virgin Atlantic miles to book flights to Europe operated by KLM, AirFrance, or Virgin Atlantic.  You can get around them by using Virgin Atlantic miles to book Delta flights, but you’re probably going to spend more miles.  

For more ways to get to Europe, check out the post about using Ultimate Rewards transfer partners for Europe flights.

Earn your first 60,000 transferable Chase Ultimate Rewards points

Chase Sapphire Preferred

Chase Sapphire Preferred 2019 Best credit card offers

Current offer: Earn 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months. The annual fee is $95. Earn 2 points per dollar on travel and dining, and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases.

Virgin Atlantic award flights to Europe on Delta operated flights

Advertiser disclosure: The Miles Genie has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products.  The Miles Genie and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.

Comments below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. The comments have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Want to save money on travel?

Subscribe now to receive the latest tips and tricks straight to your inbox (for free!)

Success

Scroll to Top
%d bloggers like this: