Book Air France & KLM with Virgin Atlantic Miles

21

Your Virgin Atlantic miles just became more valuable.  Thanks to Virgin Atlantic’s new partnership with Air France and KLM, it’s now possible to book Air France and KLM flights with Virgin Atlantic miles.  This is great news because it dramatically increases options for flying between the US and Europe, within Europe, and between Europe and many other destinations.

Awards for flying Air France and KLM can be booked on Virgin Atlantic’s website.  You can even book Air France Premium Economy online, and I found that those awards were wide open on the routes I checked.  More on this below.

Virgin Atlantic has reasonable award rates and their miles are incredibly easy to get. In fact, you might already have access to Virgin Atlantic miles indirectly: Amex Membership RewardsCiti ThankYou Rewards, and Chase Ultimate Rewards all transfer 1 to 1 to Virgin Atlantic.  And both Amex and Citi are known to occasionally offer transfer bonuses so that you’ll get more than 1 Virgin Atlantic mile for each point transferred.  See our Current Transfer Bonuses page for up-to-date information about which transfer bonuses are currently available and which ones have been available in the past.

Another great way to earn miles is with the Virgin Atlantic credit card which earns 1.5 miles per dollar for all spend in addition to incentives for high spend.  For an in-depth analysis of this card, see: Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard Deep Dive: Maximize Earnings and Status.

Virgin Atlantic also has low award change and cancellation fees. Virgin Atlantic charges only $50 per passenger.  Even better, on awards that incur less than $50 in taxes and fees to book, you’ll lose those fees, but you won’t have to pay $50 to cancel and get your miles back.

What about Delta?

As has long been the case, you can still use Virgin Atlantic miles to book Delta award flights.  But the award prices for using Virgin Atlantic miles to fly Delta are different than the award prices for flying Air France or KLM.  In some cases it’s cheaper to fly Delta, but in other cases it’s cheaper to fly Air France or KLM.  For details about using Virgin Atlantic miles to fly Delta, see: How to book Delta flights with Virgin Atlantic miles.

You can also use Delta SkyMiles to fly Virgin Atlantic, Air France, or KLM.  Delta doesn’t publish an award chart, so I recommend searching for these awards via Delta.com to find pricing for the dates you intend to travel.

Step by Step Guide to Booking Online

Here’s how to book Air France, KLM, and Delta flights online with Virgin Atlantic miles:

Enter your search criteria

Browse to virginatlantic.com and enter your origin and destination airports; select “round trip” or “one way” (I recommend booking one-way awards); select your travel dates, and the number of passengers.

Set advanced search criteria

Click the “Advanced search” link, then select “Miles” under “How Are You Looking To Pay?”  Then choose whether to search for Economy, Premium, or Upper Class seats.  At the time of this writing, you can book Air France Premium Economy with Virgin Atlantic miles, but not with Delta or KLM.  With any of the three airlines, you can book economy or business class (Upper Class).

Find available award days

Not all flights and seats are available to partners, so there may be days with no seats available at all.  Or, if you’re lucky, you may find the exact flights you need.  Most often you’ll find a week long calendar view:

Switch to 5-week view

If your initial search doesn’t reveal useful results, switch to the full 5 week calendar view.  Click “Calendar view” from the one-week result screen, to get to something like this:

If needed, use the filter drop-down to filter to only direct flights.

Select and book your flight

Once you find a date that has award availability, click the link within that date to see available flights.  Here’s an example showing Air France flights from Atlanta to Paris:

Dealing with online bugs and limitations

Pay with Miles is grayed out

If the website only lets you choose “Pay with card” and not “Pay with miles,” the workaround is to temporarily changing the flight destination to London (LHR).  It will then be possible to select “Pay with miles”.  Then change the destination back to the one you want.  Note that other settings may have to be re-established as well (such as the number of weeks to search).

Destination doesn’t auto-complete

This problem used to happen regularly, but it seems to be mostly fixed.  Still, if you type in your destination city and the text box doesn’t auto-complete, you have two options:

  1. Type the destination into the departure airport text box and then copy and paste it into the destination box.
  2. Use the map icon to find your destination from a drop-down list.

Airport not found

Many foreign airports aren’t loaded into the Virgin Atlantic system. If you want to book flights to one of these airports, it can’t be done online.  You’ll have to contact Virgin Atlantic to book those flights.

Contact Virgin Atlantic to confirm and book

If you can’t find complete your booking online, you’ll have to contact Virgin Atlantic.  Below you’ll find Virgin Atlantic Flying Club’s contact information.  Please note that you can text them if you prefer not to call:

Comparison to Air France award prices

Air France Flying Blue miles are arguably even easier to get than Virgin Atlantic miles.  In addition to transferring one to one from Amex, Chase, and Citi (as does Virgin Atlantic), Air France miles can be transferred from Capital One at a ratio of 1,000 Capital One “miles” to 750 Air France miles.  And Air France award change fees are just as low as Virgin Atlantic’s (about $50).  So how do the Air France award prices compare to Virgin Atlantic’s?

Air France doesn’t publish award charts so it’s hard to compare apples to apples.  Instead I picked a route to compare…

Single Route Comparison (Air France vs Virgin Atlantic miles)

Virgin Atlantic Award Prices flying Air France, Paris to Washington DC

I converted award fees priced in Euros to US Dollars:

  • Economy: 22K + $197
  • Premium Economy: 34K + $197
  • Business Class: 58.5K + $386

Air France Award Prices flying Air France, Paris to Washington DC

  • Economy: 27.5K + $152
  • Premium Economy: 53.5K + $218
  • Business Class: 55K + $354

Conclusions from this one example:

  • Economy pricing is similar.  Virgin Atlantic charges slightly fewer miles but also a bit more in fees.
  • Premium economy is far cheaper with Virgin Atlantic miles
  • Business Class pricing is roughly the same, but Air France is slightly cheaper

Thoughts about Air France vs Virgin Atlantic award bookings

From the one example shown above, it appears that Virgin Atlantic offers much cheaper Premium Economy awards.  That said, Air France’s award prices fluctuate based on unknown factors.  One interesting thing I’ve seen with Air France, is that it is often cheaper to fly farther.  For example, it may be cheaper to fly from Rome to Washington DC via Paris than to fly non-stop from Paris.

In general, I recommend always comparing award prices and fees through both programs before you transfer points into either program.

Award Charts

You can find Virgin Atlantic Flying Club partner information here.  The partners listed as “Earn and Spend” are those where you can use Virgin Atlantic miles to book awards on the partner airline.

Standard vs Peak

Virgin Atlantic offers different award prices depending on whether you fly during standard or peak dates.  Here are the current dates for each for Air France and KLM flights:

Connections Don’t Increase the Price

This is special.  When using Virgin Atlantic miles with Virgin’s own flights or with most other partners (including Delta), the award price is calculated for each leg of the journey and then added up.  For example, if flying Delta from New York to Los Angeles, with a layover in Detroit, the economy one-way award price would be 25,000 miles: 12,500 miles to fly NYC to Detroit plus 12,500 miles to fly Detroit to LA.

When flying Air France or KLM, however, the award pricing will be based on the origin and destination without respect to any layovers.  So, theoretically, you should be able to fly Atlanta to Paris to Rome for the same price that it costs to fly Atlanta to Paris alone (since Paris and Rome are in the same award zone)

Short Haul

When flying Air France or KLM within Europe, the following short haul pricing applies.  It’s great to see that you can fly one-way for as few as 4,000 miles (4,500 Peak):

Award Zones

Flights that don’t qualify for short haul pricing are priced based on zone to zone award prices.  Virgin Atlantic defines the following award zones for Air France and KLM flights:

  • Zone 1 (Western and Central Europe) includes:
    UK, Germany, 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.

North & Central America to/from Europe

Virgin Atlantic’s award charts for Air France and KLM are extensive.  For those looking to fly between North or Central America and Europe, I pulled out the relevant award prices.  Note that you can book Premium Economy on Air France flights, but not KLM.

The following are one-way prices:

Complete award charts can be found towards the end of this post.

Award Taxes & Fees

Fuel surcharges are imposed along with other standard fees (such as airport departure fees).  Fortunately, these fees are far lower than what Virgin Atlantic charges for flights to and from London.  Compared to using Virgin Atlantic miles to fly Delta, the news is mixed.  Flying Delta from the US to Europe (other than London) costs only $5.60 in fees with Virgin Atlantic, but flying in the other direction results in fees similar to what you’ll find with flying Air France or KLM.  As a result, the ideal path in many cases is to use Virgin Atlantic miles to fly to Europe on Delta and to return on whatever is available: Delta, KLM, or Air France.

Through a number of award searches I found the following fees between the US and Europe.  Note the the actual fees will vary depending upon the route you fly.  Also note that I’ve estimated some of the fees based on current Euro to US Dollar exchange rates…

Here are a few award results showing these fees:

Above you can see that business class (Upper Class) flights from Boston to Europe incur far lower fees on KLM flights than on Virgin Atlantic flights (which transition through London). Also evident is the very low fees when using Virgin Atlantic miles to fly Delta from the US to Europe (this is not true for flights to London though).
This award search result for flying Air France shows that flights from Europe to the US East zone incur the same fees for economy and premium economy. Fees for flying business class are twice as much.
This award search result for flying Air France shows that flights from the US East zone to Europe incur the same fees for economy and premium economy. Fees for flying business class are twice as much.

Complete Zone Based Award Charts

The following are the complete zone based award prices for using Virgin Atlantic miles to fly Air France and KLM.  All prices are one-way.  Note that Premium Economy awards are not available on KLM.

 

Email:*
Please enter all required fields Click to hide
Correct invalid entries Click to hide

21
Leave a Reply

avatar
11 Comment threads
10 Thread replies
13 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
12 Comment authors
Greg The Frequent MilerJoshCarolgavinParts Unknown Recent comment authors

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

  Subscribe  
Notify of
Jim
Guest
Jim

Excellent info, thanks for the post! Do you know if these awards show up yet in Juicy Miles, Award Nexus, Expert Flyer, etc?

Marty Bloom
Guest
Marty Bloom

Great & very useful information.

Zack Wojo
Guest
Zack Wojo

Another great benefit of this is the ability to add a connection with no worry about connection time/positioning to a Delta redemption across the Atlantic.

Maybe niche but I live near Indianapolis and our only European route is to CDG on Delta. I can now book 1 award to go to almost anywhere in Europe for cheaper and more convenient then a lot of Star Alliance or Oneworld awards that always need a domestic connection for me.

Zack Wojo
Guest
Zack Wojo

I checked online and I can book IND to MUN with a connection in CDG and it adds the short haul AF fare to single award.

1 caveat is it only adds business class seat online. I’m sure you could call in and get economy ticket for short leg at cheaper price. Gets me an extra day in actual destination because I dont have to overnight in Paris (first world problems having to spend an extra day in Paris I know but want to maximize vacation days)

Parts Unknown
Guest
Parts Unknown

The Virgin Atlantic online search has had more destinations added to it as well. For example, I’ve been looking at a Delta ATL to EZE flight, Argentina was never an option in online searches before with VA’s website (you had to use KLM to search & then call in to VA), now it’s there.

gavin
Guest
gavin

It’s a shame the Virgin website is so awful to find awards on

CaveDweller
Guest
CaveDweller

Just remember before u book the French love to go on strike . Almost cost me a bundle.
CHEERs

JohnnieD
Guest
JohnnieD

That YQ is a real ouch……

Earl
Guest
Earl

And is downplayed. The YQ is what kills all of these. Of course, bloggers gotta push credit cards…

trackback

[…] Virgin Atlantic Miles Just Got More Valuable!:  Virgin Atlantic just partnered with Air France and KLM.  What does that mean? Virgin Atlantic has good award rates and this opens up more options for award flights to Europe. […]

Kons
Guest
Kons

I thought I stumbled on a great deal using Virgin Atlantic miles: OPO – MSP, 15K+EUR43 in economy, two legs on KLM via AMS. Unfortunately errored out during booking.

kons
Guest
kons

I did a little more digging. This flight is available at 33.5K + $120 on Flying Blue – not the cheapest level on the calendar. It is however available on Delta at 25K + EUR169 and is the cheapest option on Delta calendar. So this brings up a few questions:
1. Why is it cheapest option on delta.com if it’s not the cheapest at KLM (both legs are KLM)?
2. If Virgin Atlantic finds this flight in Delta inventory – why is the mileage lower than Delta’s and lower than Virgin Atlantic’s own normal saver mileage from Europe to NA?
3. Why is Virgin Atlantic displayed surcharges are different from Delta’s?

trackback

[…] Book Air France & KLM with Virgin Atlantic Miles […]

Carol
Guest
Carol

I like Air France Premium Economy, however I have never been able to find any dates/times on which I can fly it SFO-FCO using Virgin Atlantic miles. Is it because it is a popular routing? I can always find it using UR/AF points at 72,000 ow.

trackback

[…] on Delta.  My bet is that those award prices won’t change materially any time soon.  Plus, Virgin Atlantic recently added the ability to use miles on Air France and KLM.  I found that Air France Premium Economy awards can be booked very cheaply with Virgin Atlantic […]

Josh
Guest
Josh

So what zone is Germany in? It’s not listed in any of the above zones that you provided. I’m seeing some weird pricing for 16k one way from the east coast