Air France First Class Lounge Paris

Hello from Frankfurt! After an amazing ground experience in Los Angeles and great flight from Los Angeles to Paris on the Air France A380, I was quite looking forward to experiencing Air France’s first class lounge in Paris.

There are some great airline lounges I’ve visited in my life. I’d say the three best are the Emirates A380 First Class Lounge in Dubai, Lufthansa First Class Terminal in Frankfurt, and Thai Airways First Class Lounge & Spa in Bangkok. I’ve visited some other great lounges that I consider to be just a tier below those, like the Etihad First Class Lounge Abu Dhabi, Qantas First Class Lounge Melbourne, Qatar Airways First Class Lounge Doha, Singapore Airlines Private Room Singapore, Cathay Pacific First Class Lounge Hong Kong, Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse London, etc.

I had heard good things about the Air France first class lounge in Paris before, though I don’t think anything could prepare me for just how great the lounge it. I don’t want to go so far as to say that it’s the “world’s best lounge,” because I think when we’re talking about the top few lounges in the world they all have their pros and cons and it’s really a function of personal preference. Similarly, there are some top first class products in the world, but I don’t think there’s a single airline that’s the best.

That being said, I can hands down say that I’ve never been treated as well (by anyone!) as at the Air France first class lounge in Paris. Previously I thought the Lufthansa ground experience in Frankfurt was seamless. They have a thing or two to learn from Air France.

The lounge experience started aboard the aircraft. When we landed in Paris the lovely flight attendant asked me to stay at my seat, as the escort would fetch me to bring me to the lounge. As soon as the door of the aircraft opened an agent addressed me by name, introduced herself, and told me she’d be escorting me to the first class lounge. She took me down an elevator to a waiting car, where she drove me straight to the first class lounge.

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The first class lounge has a dedicated security checkpoint, much like the Lufthansa First Class Terminal, and I was through within a minute. Then I was brought up the elevator straight to the lounge. It was less than five minutes from the time I exited the aircraft to the time I entered the lounge. I didn’t even have to enter the terminal of Charles De Gaulle, which is possibly my least favorite airport in the world.

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As we were in the elevator the agent asked if it was my first time in the lounge. I said it was, adding that I usually fly Lufthansa and that they have a similar concept. With a smirk on her face she said “well when you leave I can’t wait to hear what you think about our lounge.”

When we got into the lounge she insisted on giving me a thorough tour of the lounge. She introduced me to the waiter and massage therapist, and asked when I would like my complimentary spa treatment.

The lounge itself is gorgeous, with plenty of seating, a restaurant area, an area with day beds, showers, a “red” bar, and a spa. I’ll cover the actual facilities in much greater detail with the trip report I’ll be writing.

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But what really stood out to me was the service. I took a seat on one of the super comfortable lounge chairs, and no fewer than three agents came by to introduce themselves, welcome me to the lounge (having heard it’s my first time), and insisting I let them know if I need anything at all. They were indescribably genuine and hospitable.

Eventually I headed to the restaurant for a meal. The restaurant is catered by Alain Ducasse, with a three course a la carte menu.

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The food was simply — I can’t believe I’m using this word — divine. For example, the soup was served “deconstructed,” or whatever it’s called, whereby when it’s served to you the waiter brought you a bowl with the ingredients and then poured the “liquid” over it.

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Even the waiter was overly professional. For example, I was working on my laptop during the meal, and he noticed I kept placing my laptop on the other side of the table when the courses were served. He proactively carried a side table from another part of the lounge to place next to me, so I wouldn’t have to move my laptop. Simply amazing.

The restaurant even has over a dozen types of water to choose from, which is totally the way to my heart.

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After lunch I went back to the lounging area again, and at this point the lounge manager came by to introduce herself, again having heard that it’s my first time in the lounge. I was even given a gift since it was my first time, which was a cute little USB card in a red leather case.

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At around 3PM an agent came up to me and said “Mr. Schlappig, we haven’t met yet, but I’m Dominique and I have the pleasure on escorting you to your flight to Frankfurt. No rush, but whenever it’s convenient for you I will take you to your plane.”

I packed up my stuff, and before I could leave just about all the lounge staff addressed me by name, wished me a pleasant journey, and said they hoped to see me again. We took the elevator to the lower level, where Dominique drove me to my connecting flight. When we got to the door of the plane she introduced me to the purser — “I’d like to introduce you to Mr. Schlappig, please make sure you take good care of him.”

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The Air France first class lounge in Paris is unarguably one of the top first class lounges in the world. I found the experience to be more refined and professional than what I’ve experienced with any other airline. For example, Lufthansa has a seamless ground experience if you’re departing in first class, but if you have a connection you have to make your own way to the lounge. Beyond that, the staff in the lounge were honestly the most genuinely friendly, attentive, and polished airline employees I’ve ever interacted with.

Perhaps most exciting of all, though, was being able to skip the terminal at Charles De Gaulle Airport altogether. It’s the biggest clusterf*#$ of an airport in the world (maybe along with Heathrow), and it was the first time it was a pleasure connecting there.

When I booked this award for 125,000 FlyingBlue miles one-way I figured it would be a bit of a waste, but I was wrong. The experience was phenomenal, and for anyone else that has tried all the (other) best products in the world, I’d highly recommend giving Air France a shot as well. The Air France inflight experience is impressive (though not quite among the best in the world due to the hard product, in my opinion), while the ground experience is nothing short of industry leading.

I feel kind of sad, to be honest. I always leave the Lufthansa First Class Terminal with a “till next time” approach, since I know I’ll be back. When I left the Air France first class lounge yesterday I almost wanted to cry, because I felt like I was saying bye to good friends for the last time ever.

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I’m almost tempted to book another Air France FlyingBlue first class award before December 31, so I can lock in the old rate (the cost between the US and Europe is going from 125,000 miles one-way to 162,500 miles one-way). And if you’ve tried most of the world’s best products but not Air France and have a ton of Membership Rewards points, I’d suggest doing the same.

Kudos Air France, you really, really, really impressed me.

Comments

  1. I’ve been reading your reports about your AF F experience with pleasure Ben! I’d have to say that they have improved their service tremendously, if I read all this. Back in the day I had to opportunity to fly KLM WBC, and AF la premiere.. and I was always disappointed with the AF service. I always felt better treated in KLM’s wbc than AF’s la premiere.

    However, they have seemed to have learned their lesson and if I had enough FB miles I would definitely try la premiere again, but with the latest devaluation and higher tier requirements FB lost me… a pity now it seems… Would you consider flying AF first on a paid fare, or isn’t worth the extra bucks?

    I don’t any Amex card, so transferring miles ain’t an option 😉

  2. I’m so excited just reading this post! Reminds me of the movie View from the Top when Gwyneth Paltrow dreams of Paris. First Class. International. lmao. Looking forward to reading your TR.

  3. @ Jim — Air France does have among the highest paid first class fares of any airline I’ve seen, and I couldn’t imagine ever paying that much. Maybe if I were a billionaire…

  4. @ AC — Yep, they have complimentary 30 minute treatments, though mine lasted about 45 minutes. They also have longer treatments available, which were as expensive as you’d expect at a first class lounge in Paris.

  5. Ben,

    Your experience pleases me no end, not only because I’m a Francophile, which I unabashedly admit, but because when all of the efforts to create exceptionally fine hospitality in a service industry coalesce to the level you describe, the all too rare result is sublime.

    Air France was one of the first airlines to hire a team of psychologists to work directly with all levels of their service staff and be available to them for counsel 24/7. I assume they still do this.

    One might expect this level of service from the Samaya resorts , but to receive it from an airline is truly a remarkable accomplishment.

  6. I dont think you have ever flown any asian or middle eastern airlines at all. The air france first class lounge is pathetic when you compare it to the etihad or emirates lounges..and so is Af’s inflight experience pathetic. I find lufthansa to be a far superior service. Ive been living in Paris for 3years and travel extesively between Asia and Europe. American and European arlines are very bad service compared to asian and middle east airlines. Even the turkish airlines longe at istanbul is much better than Air France’s plastic cheap lounge.

  7. Are there any cheaper routes that you could book to experience the lounge again? As much as I’d like to check out their F product on the a380, I’m more tempted by their lounge now

  8. @ Globetrotter2014 — You got me, I’ve never flown any Asian or Middle Eastern airline at all. One day I hope to try the first class products offered by Cathay Pacific, Malaysia, Singapore, ANA, Asiana, Thai, Qatar, Emirates, and Etihad. Oh wait…

  9. Wow! So glad to learn you had such an Uh-Mazing experience on AF F! do you know how much they charge for one-way F, according to the old standard? I am tempted to give it a try!

    Thanks!

  10. Looks awesome.
    I still don’t know if the nice lounge and great service is worth the mediocre hard product…

    It’s funny though, AF is possibly the worst airline for Business/Economy, but in First there’s pretty good.
    (Food in economy is really disgusting, service is just meh and the seats are horrible)

  11. Wonderful trip report so far. Apart from the seat, every looks amazing. Yet, I can’t help be a little cynical, wondering if AF caught wind of your pre-flight posts and were *ready* for you… knowing your AF experience was going to be written up on your blog. FWIW

  12. @Globetrotter2014 – It’s a very personal call as to whether you prefer the Asian, Middle Eastern or European style of First. My preference is for the European which is generally more understated but refined. I don’t need the gold trim and over the top opulence of the Middle Eastern carriers and prefer the formal but often caring service of the Europeans to the likes of Cathay and Thai.

  13. I have been barking up this tree for a long time, glad you agree. I have flown AF first a handful of times, and the ground transport in Paris along with the first class lounge are the best I have ever experienced, and I have experienced all of the same ones you have. The food in flight is second only to Swiss first in my opinion. As for the seat, not amazing, but not bad either.

  14. There’s a particularly hostile, borderline stupid comment (to spare the writer any embarrassment, let’s just call it “Comment 14”) regarding lounges upstream, and I’m not sure why that garbage was written.

    For anyone who has experienced the AF first lounge in CDG, it has very likely been an outstanding visit.

    Where I hope you’re right, Ben, and I’m not sure you are (We’ll need to get/read more first-hand experiences) is the quality of the service in the first cabins at AF. To me it has run from lousy to acceptable, which isn’t good enough considering the prices I’ve been paying (particularly when paying with USD vs. points).

    So hopefully some of the posters on this thread will take the leap and try it out and let us know what they think of the service; to be honest, I didn’t mind the seat for sleeping. If they can get the ground experience (check!) and the in-flight service levels right (always, not just on your one flight), then I would go back to them in a heartbeat. To be honest I care much less about the hardware (I was probably one of the few who didn’t hate LH’s delay in upgrading their first cabins, because they really have had (the majority of) ground and in-flight service at very high levels for years). But like I said, I hope you’re right about AF, as I don’t like writing off one of the few carriers still offering first class.

  15. I noticed you didn’t comment on the wine. Shall I assume you weren’t that impressed or will that be covered later.

  16. @ beachfan — Sorry to disappoint, but I didn’t drink in the lounge. The waiter was EXTREMELY disappointed by this, as he asked my four times whether I was *sure* I didn’t want any wine.

  17. I think occasionally Flying Blue includes La Premiere in some of their promo awards (25-50% off), although that doesn’t seem to be the case in any of their current ones. Worth keeping an eye out!

  18. @ Michael — When I first got there, there were maybe a handful of other passengers. During the peak there were maybe a dozen other passengers, and when I left I was the only person in the lounge.

  19. @ Roger Stanley — I have to strongly disagree with you there. While the Turkish lounge is huge and physically nice, it’s consistently overcrowded. Also, while the food is amazing for a business class lounge it’s in no way comparable to what Air France offers in this lounge.

  20. Glad you had a good trip Ben. Sounds like it was a good use of miles. As you always write, miles depreciate. I remember booking an Emirates F trip using UA miles when that was the only game in town. Even though it was a lot of miles at the time, glad i did it.

  21. Nice review, one rarely sees a good review of AF La Premiere and I am looking forward to the review of the flight.

    One thing (not completely related) which always surprises me is that you rate TG F lounge as one of your top lounges? Why is that? Sure, the buggy transfer is nice and the massage a good touch (but somewhat expected in the land of massages 0- besides, AF, QF, EY all provvide some sort of treatment, albeit maybe a bit shorter). However, the TG physical lounge is not inmpressive IMHO and neither is the food selection compared to QF, EK and by the looks of it AF.

  22. @ KG — I LOVE the semi-private living rooms in the Thai lounge, find the service to be incredibly attentive, the spa is the best airport spa in the world, and while I agree the food isn’t especially refined/high quality, it is delicious and the selection is varied.

  23. I visited Air France business class lounges on 2 transits through Paris last month flying the A380 business class on AF. What a world of difference between Business class and First Class. The business class lounges were nice (with showers!) but they seem so pedestrian compared to the First Class lounge experience.

  24. I think unless you have been there one never knows.

    I always thought LH bz was an acceptable product to be in for long distances in the 90s and 00s. BA was better (at the time) and BA F was great.

    Until we started splurging after TIB, LH F never seemed worth the extra 40k to Asia. Once we had been there and done that, we knew the difference.

    I do not doubt Lucky’s experience, but I have had dozens of bz class trips on AF on the old planes and on the A 380 and it has never been close to this good.

  25. Will be flying through CDG and spending some time in the F lounge next Saturday, can’t wait! Thanks for the great report!

  26. A great 380 review … is the AF program the only one that can redeem points for AF First? Sadly, they are not a partner of AX in Canada …

  27. Just do it! I’m impressed with what they’ve done with their AF Lounges too. You should book another flight before the devaluation occurs!

  28. Lucky,

    If you are connecting at CDG, flying in on another airline but flying out on AF FC, will they still send someone to pick you up?

  29. @ wwk5d — I have no firsthand experience, though my guess is that they’ll only pick you up from your connecting flight if you’re coming in on Air France.

  30. Lucky,

    was pleasantly surprised to read that AF now has a good inflight F service, including caviar service. Was always refusing to fly them for this reason and stuck with *A.

    If you just want the lounge access (ok its not cheap) and have a longhaul business flight with no First class service AF will sell you access for 300 Euros (from memory).

    I guess now I have two more F class products to try, AF and the new Garuda F which also looks amazing!

  31. Speaking of gifts…just arrived on LH FRA-IAD. Was given a tastefully designed nutcracker on board as a Christmas gift. It came in a nice box labeled “Lufthansa First Class” and it weighs five pounds!

  32. Do you know if a Sky Team “same day” first class boarding pass will grant me access or is this a AF First only access?

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