Air France A380 First Class Award Trip Report?

Over the weekend I asked y’all whether you’d like to read a British Airways A380 first class trip report. A while back I had locked in a British Airways A380 first class award seat, which I hadn’t fully decided whether to actually fly or not. British Airways A380 first class award seats can be tough to come by, so when I saw the space I figured I might as well lock it in using British Airways Avios, since I can always cancel it for free (I’m a BA Gold).

A vast majority of you told me to take the trip, stopping in Germany for a couple of nights for the Christmas Markets. I can’t not listen to you guys, so now I’m just trying to decide how to get to Germany.

My friend sjs commented the following on the post:

Why not? And do AF F on the way back. Did it for 125k points last week…a rip, but nothing else was available. Was pleasantly surprised – I liked it more than I like Lufthansa. That doesn’t say a whole lot, since I really dislike Lufthansa, but it was a surprisingly pleasant experience compared to what I remembered (obviously doesn’t compare to CX/SQ).

Is it a crazy idea? You guys tell me.

I am trying to knock out every airline’s A380 first class product, and with travel I have booked, Air France is the only one I’m scheduled not to fly. Air France does have a pretty nice looking first class lounge in Paris with spa treatments and a restaurant serving multiple course meals, and they even drive you to your connecting flight, much like Lufthansa. While their first class hard product on the A380 is probably the most underwhelming of any airline, it would certainly be interesting to try it, if nothing else.

But the thing is that Air France is one of the most extreme airlines when it comes to releasing first class award space, as they only release it at the standard level. So a one-way award between the US and Europe costs 125,000 FlyingBlue miles plus fuel surcharges, which is kind of ridiculous.

That being said, the good thing about them only having standard awards is that you have near last seat availability on flights. As long as there’s “F” space available you can redeem your FlyingBlue miles for it.

Air-France-First-Class-Award

While it sounds is expensive, under United’s new devalued award chart they’re charging 110,00 miles for one-way first class between the US and Europe on partner airlines, and that’s for saver award space. And the only partner airline they have which releases first class award space is Lufthansa, and that’s at most 15 days out.

So, do I “take one for the team” and check out Air France’s A380 first class and Paris lounge, or do I take one of the (much) more economical options for getting to Europe on miles? What would you do, wise friends?

Air-France-First-Class
Air France A380 first class

Comments

  1. @ Ralph — Are you sure that’s still the case? My friend that informed me of this just booked one and isn’t an Air France elite, apparently.

  2. Well, if you want to fly 1st in every A380 you have to either burn some FlyingBlue miles now or later. Or pay cash. So, go for it if you want to hit your goal.

  3. I always heard you had to be a AF elite to book La Premiere as well… But if you can book it, I would love a review of the product, especially their ground services!

  4. That’s an A380 first class product? Looks sparse and sad 🙁 I’d say skip it and fly something more exotic.

  5. I was under the same impression as Ralph – Flex awards for first class were only available to elites since FB destroyed the program back in 2009 or so.

    That said, AF’s first class lounge at CDG is fantastic, and the first class seats are great for sleeping. Everything else about AF and AF first is not so great…

  6. I think a report in the new AZ J class flat-bed would be more worthwhile. Especially since that’s a product that the majority of us would actually consider spending our miles on. AF F is so exorbitantly priced I don’t in good conscience you should be recommending it. Either that or burn some of your AA miles of TN’s new J on their CDG-LAX route since that’s another carrier that tons of people want to fly to the South Pacific and yet documentation on it is sparse.

  7. Lucky – You might want to wait until the end of next year as Air France is slated to release their “new” La Premiere offering in April next year. Hopefully that will be a much better hard product than the one they are offering at present. Just a thought!

  8. I’m all for it if you think your readers will benefit from it. I’ll even throw in 1,000 miles to help you 😉

    But I am with Mac as personally the AZ J class seat is something I would more likely try in the future.

  9. Having flown AF first on the RGN fare, my advice would be to save your points.

    That being said, I’d enjoy reading your perspective.

  10. was this cabin designed in north korea? truly fugly.

    just save your amex points and wait for a mistake fare on AF A380.

  11. Pretty sure you need to be FlyingBlue elite to redeem for F. The AF website never showed me redemption availability in F before I became Silver. Haven’t redeemed miles for it yet, but I received a paid upgrade offer recently on IAH-CDG (77W), and decided to give AF F a try. I was seriously impressed, as the food and service were superior to Lufthansa. The seat may not be a fully-enclosed suite, but it is really comfortable. There were only two of us in the F cabin on my flight, so the FA’s let us dine/watch movies in our assigned seats, and made up our beds on the opposite side of the cabin in empty seats. I slept very soundly. IMHO, the seat is as comfortable for sleeping as UA, CA, and KE F (all of which I think offer a great hard-product).

    AF’s F lounge at CDG is also really nice (though not quite as swanky as the FCT, IMHO). Private transfer to my CDG-AMS flight in a Peugeot was a pretty novel experience.

  12. Those seats look exactly like the (old) F seats that were on OZ’s 747, which I flew back on from ICN last week. So Ben, I believe you’ve flown on those seats before. So aside from the hard product, it would definitely be interesting to hear about the AF soft product including lounge and service. I know you were not that impressed with the Concorde Room at LHR, but I have to say the one at JFK wasn’t too bad (not comparable to LH F terminal or lounge) but probably one of the best lounges in the US. Also, it would be interesting to see how the new OW lounge at the new Int’l terminal at LAX operates. I guess in summary, I want it all. But then again, I just flew around the world in 5 days, and have appreciated my time at home too (so has my job).

  13. I would say wait and do not spend your miles if the product is being offered at a very high cost / not discounted.

    I enjoy reading about getting the most of your miles. And spending large amounts just for the sake of it in your position, I would not recommend. If you were an old couple with one last wish to fly F…sure. But you’ll have other opportunities.

    Also, consider the comment that the AF F product will be revamped. Maybe (I wish), they’ll do a proper upgrade to a standard comparable with other top airlines.

    My vote, NO. Find a good value fare.

  14. That’s the AF 1st class seat? I just LOL’d. Do it, if it meets your goal…but hopefully the ground services makes up where that seat is painfully lacking.

  15. This is not even a question.

    You have a voracious, insatiable reader base which always demands MORE MORE MORE

    AND

    You want to try every A380 F product

    AND

    You give off the impression of having tons of points sitting around. Seriously, you flew SEA-ORD through, what, Paris and Taipei?

    Do it.

  16. Are there any Star products you want to fly and haven’t flown yet that you want to get to before UA’s devaluation? SAS maybe?

  17. @ Bgriff — Star products I’d most like to try are Asiana’s new first class and Air China’s new first class. To Europe there aren’t really any business class products I’d like to try. SAS’ business class is pretty lackluster with angled seats, so thinking I’m best off avoiding that if possible.

  18. @ Pablo — 162,500 miles is the new rate, but through the end of the year you can call and request the pre-devaluation rate, which is 125,000 miles.

  19. I’m a sucker…after seeing the video (witch it’s far from reality I’m sure)I’m dying to see a trip report of Air France’s La Premiere. Go for it, Lucky!

  20. Hey Lucky,
    Do you know that with Korean Air Skymiles, it’s only 100,000 miles to grab a roundtrip btw North America and Europe in Skyteam partner first class seats?
    And I heard that you do not have to be AF’s elite menber to get first class award space anymore.

  21. I love reading your trip reports, but that cabin looks TERRIBLE. Compared to other first cabins, and even to a lot of Biz cabins. Save the points.

  22. @ Ridahh — While you no longer have to be a Flying Blue elite member to book Air France first class, my understanding is that they don’t release this space to partner airlines unfortunately. So it’s not bookable via SkyPass.

  23. that’s a major snooze button, and it’s even worse considering how many loops and hoops you need to jump just to access it by award

    if you have to go through such an effort to do a trip report, at least go for something more exotic like KE F or LX F

    AF F from their A80 looks like a relic from a bygone era

  24. La Première – S’il vous plait. Boy I wish I am still single. If you have to fork out 125,000 FB miles, would it make sense to fly CDG – LAX on A380 to experience that product a little bit longer?

  25. Air France is REALLY not known for service. That’s both the airline and French culture in general. So don’t except on board / ground experience to make up for the crappy hard product – it won’t.

    Were it not for you wanting to check off every 380 airline, I’d say avoid it.

    But if you want to check it out and you don’t have an immediate better use for the miles, then go for it. I’d be interested in the trip report as they are so rare.

    I would take it to LAX instead of JFK. Not only longer flight, but probably a more senior crew which hopefully improves your experience slightly. I once flew CDG-JFK on AF 380, the flight time was 6h25m. Great winds that day!

  26. Go for it. Would rather see this than another BA first class report. Granted, AF’s seat looks even more like a business class seat than BAs, so should be interesting (especially to see how the food and service are).

  27. I do not fly AF nor do I allow anyone in my family to do the same. I have read quite a few BEA post-incident reports and my impression is that their pilot training and safety culture are sufficiently lacking to put them on my personal blacklist.

    These are my opinions, but after your RJ scare I suggest you don’t book AF without thoroughly investigating this aspect of their operations.

  28. AF’s La Premiere ground service at CDG is WAY better than LH’s first class at FRA. We had a 50min connection at CDG and they drove us to the lounge, ushered us to order breakfast (Alain Ducasse kitchen is amazing) and then drove us to the plane. The same agent was with us from the time we landed and she walked us to our seats on the CDG-NCE flight and waited in the cabin for 10 minutes with us to confirm our baggage was loaded on the flight. She must have called the baggage team 20 times to make sure (and we did not ask for this).

  29. That video was pretty underwhelming. If they revamp the F cabin as some have suggested, I’d wait for the upgraded product.

    Also anyone noticed how the other passenger woman is also present almost everywhere the guy is but they never talk to each other? Anyone else find that kind of creepy? Is that meant to be some sort of innuendo about ‘extra services?’
    Also weird are the scenes where they’re both sitting in the ticketing desk and, when the attendant escorts him to the restaurant, she magically manages to time-travel ahead of him and be already seated and eating by the time he gets there! Air France La Premiere: ‘Service’ so good it’s able to break the space-time continuum?

  30. I recently flew AF on the A380 in Business Class and was also very pleasantly surprised. Service was impeccable and the food was excellent. Beats Lufthansa easily.

  31. I’d do it so you can say you did tit, but only for that reason especially if they are upgrading next year – better to wait until then. I concur with Matt – do AZ – more relevant and interesting to your readers.

  32. Business on the A380 is lacking with their flat angled product. I flew it from CDG-JNB. Although the US departure lounges at CDG for my CDG-IAH are really nice with a relaxing spa treatment prior to departure.

  33. My vote is yes!! Scratch AF off the list, but I’m so eager to read your CZ First Class report!! I’m loving the variety of airlines you’re flying with at the moment!!

  34. Slightly OT, but mentioned in the comments. What are the fuel surcharges on an AZ award, BOS/JFK-FCO? I’m talking redeemed on AZ, not a FlyingBlue partner award. Any idea? I can’t find this info anywhere and the AZ agents were no help.

  35. I’d say go for it now since if Air France is only revealing the new first class product next year, how much longer will it be before it’s even put into the 380?

    I’d also like to see an Alitalia review later on… and possibly Air Europa as well.

    Glad to hear you have the China Southern/Korean Air 380 trips booked. All the way to Australia or just to Asia?

  36. Yes please! Would love to read your review of AF F. Can you also please tell us how to book one? I’m guessing you transferred 125,000 amex membership rewards to your flying blue acct? Or to a friend whose FB acct is elite? Or is it possible to book AF F from a non-elite acct? I think there mat be a lot of confusion about this. I am very excited for you!

  37. @ Joey — It was an adventure, but in the end had no problem ticketing the award out of a none-elite account. That story will be coming shortly. 🙂

  38. @ Ed — The fuel surcharges are the same they’d be on a revenue ticket. So for business class we’re talking ~$400 one-way or ~$800 roundtrip.

  39. I think a BA/AF combo would be an interesting read, particularly if you are making a connection through CDG. They have been working on upgrading the terminal experience for years. Last time I flew through there a couple of times in mid/late 2012 and it seemed easier, like they finally reached a milestone. They had just opened the new satellite gates w/new lounge and were starting to concentrate all their flights in 2E, 2F, and 2G. It wasn’t quite finished – there were some mild detours and drywall still being hung, but looked promising. Just think, you could compare the transfer experience for the flag carriers at Heathrow and CDG in one trip report (first and second busiest airports in Europe, respectively).

  40. I guess you already got the ticket but I wanted to comment that Air France needs a better marketing team — this video isn’t very enticing and they kind of skip over more interesting aspects and instead show more service on a place which is pretty standard everywhere.

    P.S. More airlines need to drive first-class passengers to the plane (at least in their home airports). I’m looking at you LX 😉

  41. Where do you see if first class is available? I am trying to search on Flyingblue and getting: There is no seat available in La Première for your request; we propose Business

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *