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How to redeem Virgin Points on SkyTeam flights (Virgin Redemption University #4)

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How do you book flights on SkyTeam alliance members using Virgin Points?

This article is Part 4 of our new ‘Virgin Redemption University’ series to run alongside our existing ‘Avios Redemption University’ – which itself will get a much-needed update next month.

If you want to earn more Virgin Points, our review of the Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard credit card is here (15,000 bonus points) and our review of the free Virgin Atlantic Reward Mastercard credit card is here.

Redeeming Virgin Points on Skyteam airlines

Here are the other 12 articles in the series:

This article should give you a good introduction to what you need to know to make a redemption booking with Virgin Points on a SkyTeam partner.

Which airlines can be booked online and which must be booked by telephone?

The Virgin Atlantic IT system is not fully up to speed with SkyTeam redemptions, and most require you to book by telephone.

If you are reading this article after its original publication date (August 2023), you can check what airlines are currently bookable online by:

  • visiting this partner page of the Virgin Atlantic website
  • clicking on the logo of the relevant airline to go to their specific partner page
  • scrolling down to the ‘Spending Virgin Points’ box – it will either say ‘book direct’ (ie online) or ‘get in touch with our Flying Club team’ (ie call)

Which SkyTeam airlines must be booked BY TELEPHONE with Virgin Points?

  • Aerolíneas Argentinas
  • Aeromexico
  • Air Europa
  • China Airlines
  • Czech Airlines
  • Garuda Indonesia
  • Kenya Airways
  • Vietnam Airlines (Business Class review here)
  • Xiamen Air

Which SkyTeam airlines can be booked ONLINE with Virgin Points?

It’s not a huge list unfortunately:

  • Air France
  • Delta Air Lines
  • ITA Airways
  • KLM
  • Korean Air
  • Middle East Airlines

The process for booking these six airlines online is the same as it is to book Virgin Atlantic redemption flights.

Fundamentally, it is as simple as going to Virgin Atlantic’s homepage, entering your destination and dates you want to fly and selecting ‘Points’, an option which is hidden under the ‘Advanced’ button. Sadly the Virgin Atlantic website is very buggy when it comes to SkyTeam as I will explain below.

Which SkyTeam airlines cannot be booked with Virgin Points?

China Eastern is the only SkyTeam partner which cannot be booked at all with Virgin Points at this time. It is on the way, I believe.

How to spend Virgin Points on SkyTeam flights

What elite benefits do you get on SkyTeam airlines?

This article looks at the SkyTeam benefits you get if you are Virgin Flying Club Gold.

This article looks at the SkyTeam benefits you get if you are Virgin Flying Club Silver.

How many Virgin Points will I need for a SkyTeam redemption?

The redemption charts – yes, plural, because Air France KLM and Delta each use a different chart to the other SkyTeam airlines – are in this article which was Part 2 of this series.

Here are the basic rules when booking SkyTeam redemptions with Virgin Points:

  • the pricing charts are for a sector – if you need to connect, each flight will be priced separately based on the distance of each leg. Pricing is NOT based on the total distance flown.
  • the pricing charts are one-way – for a return flight, you do NOT add up the total distance and price from that. Each flight must be priced individually based on its own distance.
  • First Class redemptions are not possible on those airlines which offer it
  • you can mix different partners on the same booking online but the call centre agents are encouraged to book each carrier separately to make changes easier to process. I am assuming that you can still interline baggage even though your connecting flight wil be on a separate ticket – SkyTeam is more flexible than oneworld.
  • for those carriers where you can book online, the Virgin Atlantic website is not able to show all possible permutations of connecting flights but, if you can see a flight combination via the reward booking website of any SkyTeam carrier, the Virgin Atlantic call centre should be able to book it. The exceptions are Air France, KLM and Delta – their websites offer more seats for their own members on their own flights than are offered to partners like Virgin Atlantic.
  • you cannot use Virgin Atlantic credit card 2-4-1 or upgrade vouchers on SkyTeam partners, only on Virgin Atlantic itself
Redeeming Virgin Points on Skyteam airlines

How much are taxes and charges?

How long is a piece of string? Because few carriers are bookable online at this point, it isn’t easy to give a comprehensive guide.

In general, you will get a better deal if you start outside the UK. This is partly to do with avoiding long haul UK Air Passenger Duty, and partly because Virgin Atlantic itself does not add surcharges.

Let’s take Frankfurt to Beirut on Middle East Airlines, which is bookable online. Business Class is 70,000 points plus just €126 in taxes, return.

Frankfurt to Seoul on Korean Air, in Economy, is 62,000 points plus just €127 in taxes, return.

Delta Air Lines has exceptionally good deals on flights from the US into Europe – but NOT to the UK. A one way Economy flight from Atlanta to Frankfurt, for example, is 30,000 Virgin Points plus a silly $6 in taxes. Business Class would also be $6 to Europe, but Delta opens very little award availability to partners.

Air France and KLM are most likely to be your partners

Despite the scale of the SkyTeam alliance, the reality is that – for most UK-based HfP readers – the most common partner redemption will be a hop over to Paris or Amsterdam for a connection to Air France or KLM.

Air France and KLM have excellent connections from most UK regional airports, although if you want to save Air Passenger Duty then you may want to buy two separate tickets.

Here is a review of Air France Business Class which I wrote last year. I took my own advice and took the Eurostar to Paris to save on taxes, investing the savings in a 24 hour break before connecting. A KLM review is on our ‘to do’ list ….

Here are some off-peak examples (add 20,000 Virgin Points return for peak dates):

  • Air France, Paris to Abu Dhabi in Business Class, return – 100,000 points + €389
  • KLM, Amsterdam to Dubai in Business Class, return – 100,000 points + €336
  • Air France, Paris to Bangkok in Business Class, return – 224,000 points + €588
  • KLM, Amsterdam to Tokyo in Business Class, return – 224,000 points + €516

One quirk is Curacao, which appears to benefit from lower taxes due to its territorial status. A return Business Class flight from Amsterdam on KLM is 97,000 Virgin Points + €140:

Redeeming Virgin Points on Skyteam airlines

Why is the Virgin Atlantic website so buggy?

You WILL be asking this question, don’t worry.

It’s hard to understand how it could be so bad at booking partner rewards but it is.

Let’s ignore the fact that the majority of SkyTeam awards can’t be booked online at all …..

Here are some common problems you will face:

  • the website won’t find your airport when you type in the name (highly likely if its not a direct Virgin Atlantic route) – you need to click the ‘Alphabetical’ button in the search box and scroll through the list of every global airport
  • it may refuse to let you search for Virgin Points seats for no good reason. Here’s an example with the ‘Points’ option greyed out (Amsterdam to Curacao) – but if I toggled the search to look for Curacao to Amsterdam I COULD select ‘Points’. The joke is that I can’t book a ‘money’ ticket either because it’s a KLM route which isn’t part of any Virgin Atlantic codeshare.
Redeeming Virgin Points on Skyteam airlines
  • if you can select flights and get to the payment page, you are likely to be met by this message when you hit ‘pay – it is a lie and the call centre will happily book the seats you found if you ring:
Redeeming Virgin Points on Skyteam airlines

I have NEVER been able to get an Air France or KLM long haul Business Class redemption to ticket. My last failure was just two weeks ago. I did get a KLM flight between London to Amsterdam to ticket online once.

Can you cancel Virgin Points redemptions on SkyTeam partners?

Yes. It is the same rule as for bookings on Virgin Atlantic itself – £30 per person cancellation fee with all points and taxes refunded.

I’m not sure if the ‘no fee’ 24 hour cooling off period applies to Virgin Points redemptions on SkyTeam or not.

I hope this article gave you an introduction on how to use your Virgin Points with SkyTeam partners. In the next part we will look at using your points on non-SkyTeam partners such as Japanese airline ANA.

How to earn Virgin Points from UK credit cards

How to earn Virgin Points from UK credit cards (January 2024)

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 bonus points 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 40,000 Membership Rewards points, which convert into 40,000 Virgin Points.

The Platinum Card from American Express

40,000 bonus points and a huge range of valuable 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 bonus and an annual £200 Amex Travel credit 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 (39)

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

  • MC says:

    It’s almost as if VA’s website is so bad for redemption bookings to deliberately discourage you from redeeming your points 🤔 Let’s face it, if it was much easier, then we’d all be redeeming more points or finding the best value redemptions on partner flights.

    (Although I appreciate if they have a priority list of new website functionality and improvements, the business case for improving redemption bookings probably continues to be pushed to the bottom of the list)

  • Tom says:

    The website is horrendous but I did manage to get Houston to London via Paris in AirFrance in business to book online. It took hours longer than it should’ve trying all the US airports in the vicinity before finally finding the availability.
    A bargain compared to Virgin on similar routes.

  • Hamish says:

    Managed to find Paris to Vancouver with Air France for 135K miles and 250 euros one way in business direct.

  • Sundar says:

    Are there charges for booking on phone versus on the website ?
    If so, is it better to do a search with Seatspy(once it becomes available for some of these partners) and do over the phone ?

  • sam5035 says:

    if I want to book via phone call, do I need to first find the flight on Virgin Atlantic website? or do I check the partner website?

    • Rob says:

      If the airline can be booked online then you need to find the seat online on Virgin, try to book it (90% likelihood of failure) and then you call.

      If its on the ‘only by phone’ list then you need to use the website of another SkyTeam airline to look up seats and then call Virgin. Obviously you could just call them on spec but you’d be there for hours. However, do NOT look at for Delta seats or Flying Blue for AF/KLM seats as they offer more availability to their own members and Virgin can’t access it. Any Korean seats (for eg) you found on Delta or Flying Blue could be booked by Virgin.

  • Lewis says:

    When it won’t allow you to search routes with points if you change the search to multi city then back to one way/return the points option becomes available. Or if you use the app there’s no issue searching with points.

    I managed to book a one way business YVR-BHD via AMS on KLM using points on the Virgin site. Taxes were reasonable at around £225pp. I tried booking as soon as they were released but had issues, it turns out because the second leg was on the following day. It would show up when searching but was not bookable for another day, I’ve had a similar issue with BA too with the second leg being the next day.

  • Charlieface says:

    Seems the pricing on KLM is not by sector but by zone?
    I just priced up YUL-AMS-MAN for 12k, which is the same as just YUL-AMS.

    • Rhys says:

      Yep, believe so

      • Charlieface says:

        Then why have you just written:
        *the pricing charts are for a sector – if you need to connect, each flight will be priced separately based on the distance of each leg. Pricing is NOT based on the total distance flown.*

        Neither of those are true for AF or KL, it’s zonal, which makes it much more worthwhile.

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

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