You Can Now Buy Access To The World’s Best First Class Lounge

There are some truly incredible first class lounges in the world. These are lounges which offer restaurant-quality meals, spas, escorts every step of the way, etc.

They don’t belong to US airlines (though there are some great lounges in the US), and they certainly don’t sell memberships. So in many cases you can only access them with top tier elite status or by flying international first class on that carrier.

The world’s best first class lounges

If you ask me, the world’s top five first class lounges include the following (in no particular order):

On one hand I don’t want to claim that one of the above experiences is “hands down” the best, since I think it’s very much a function of where you’re originating (are you starting travel at the hub airport or connecting, etc.), and what you’re looking for.

That being said, I think the Air France First Class Lounge Paris is the most well rounded and refined first class lounge in the world.

Air-France-First-Class-Lounge-Paris

What makes it so good?

  • You get escorted every step of the way, regardless of whether you’re originating in Paris or connecting; you’re picked up and driven to your connecting flight on the tarmac in a private car
  • The lounge has a spa with complimentary treatments
  • The lounge catering is inspired by Michelin Star chef Alain Ducasse; the catering is simply in a league of its own as far as airports go (I still remember the pan-seared scallops I had, which were incredible)
  • The service is so attentive, as you’re constantly checked on to see if you’d like anything else to eat, drink, etc.; the staff working there almost seem to have a vested interest in making sure you have a great time; while many lounges do that in theory, I’ve never seen it executed as well as at the Air France First Class Lounge Paris

Air-France-First-Class-Lounge-Paris-2

Air-France-First-Class-Lounge-Paris-3

Anyway, the bad news is that Air France first class is one of the most expensive cabins in the world to book on miles. That’s because they limit first class awards to elite members in their own program, and those members can only redeem for first class at the “flex” level. So that means there’s plenty of availability, but you’ll pay dearly for such an award — a one-way first class award between the US and Europe will cost you 162,500 miles, for example.

Air-France-First-Class-1

Buy access to the Air France First Class Lounge

Here’s some good news. It appears that you no longer have to fly Air France first class to access the Air France First Class Lounge Paris.

Longhaul Air France business class passengers can now purchase La Premiere (first class) ground services in Paris. You can pay either just for the arrivals service, or otherwise for the departure/connecting service. The pricing is as follows:

  • 150EUR or 20,000 Flying Blue miles for arrival services
  • 300EUR or 40,000 Flying Blue miles for departure or connecting flight services

To be eligible, you must be flying Air France longhaul business class (it has to be a flight on Air France metal with an Air France flight number).

Air-France-First-Class-Lounge-Paris-4

The services you receive are the “full” standard first class ones, which include the following:

For passengers departing Paris:

  • Exclusive reception at a dedicated meeting point at Terminal 2E, Gate 14 for all departure terminals
  • Personalized escort throughout the airport
  • Special services (porter, fast-track security checkpoints)
  • Access to a dedicated check-in area
  • Access to the Air France La Première lounge
  • Boarding by car to the aircraft
  • Meeting the flight crew upon entry into the aircraft

For passengers connecting in Paris:

  • Reception upon arrival at Paris-Charles de Gaulle 2
  • Personalized escort throughout the airport
  • Exclusive itinerary through the airport
  • Access to the Air France La Première lounge
  • Boarding by car to the aircraft for your connecting flight
  • Meeting the flight crew upon entry into the aircraft

For passengers arriving in Paris:

  • Reception at the aircraft door
  • Escort to the baggage area

Air-France-First-Class-Lounge-Paris-5

You can reserve the La Premiere ground services by calling the following number: + 33 (0) 1 57 02 16 24

Bottom line

300EUR is a lot of money, but I actually think it’s a reasonably good deal if:

  • You’re traveling on a special occasion (this would make it really special)
  • You’re someone who is obsessed with seeing all the best lounges out there
  • You have a really long layover

In other words, it’s not something I’d recommend doing with a 90 minute connection every single time, but if you’re into this kind of stuff, I’d seriously consider spending 300EUR for the experience.

Between the spa treatment, top restaurant quality meals, amazing drink selection, personalized service, and door-to-door escorts, it’s a good value. Also keep in mind that Charles De Gaulle is one of the most dysfunctional airports in the world, so using this service could potentially save you a lot of time.

Would you pay 300EUR to experience the Air France First Class Lounge Paris?

(Tip of the hat to @joe_mc_d)

Comments

  1. Didn’t you mean “Air France Business Class Passengers Can Now Buy Access To The World’s Best First Class Lounge”? 😉

    All kidding aside, it seems like a good value for departing and connecting passengers. For arriving passengers…not so sure it’d be worth the 150 EUR just to be escorted to the baggage area.

  2. 300 Euro for essentially a decent Michelin star “inspired” airport meal and a spa treatment is insane.

  3. I’m not sure I see the value especially since you already have access to the business class lounge (being a business class passenger). But hey, I guess that it can make sense for some people and it will give extra money to Air France, so why not!

    You don’t want to make it too easy to buy since it will remove the exclusivity of the lounge.

  4. After having flown in La Premiere to/through Paris a few times in the past year, I very much agree with @Lucky that 150EUR/300EUR is worth the price for AF first class ground services. The personalized escort through the airport (which can be very challenging to navigate for first-timers and/or non French speakers) would be enough reason to purchase these services. After all, if you’re going to spring for paid business class, you’re either relatively affluent or have saved up for a special occasion. Either way, go the extra mile and pay for the ground services to ensure a smooth and enjoyable transit.

    On the flip side, as a La Premiere passenger I can’t help but wonder how crowded the lounge may become as a result of this new offering. One of the primary reasons I enjoy AF First is that it’s an intimate experience, both in the air and on the ground. I hope the lounge experience won’t suffer as a result of this new service. I think a better solution would have been to offer a version of “La Premiere light” for a fee to business class passengers whereby they could pay for the private car service & escort but were excluded from the La Premiere lounge (obviously they’d still have access to the business class lounge).

    In any case, this is a pretty nice development for business class passengers and is a nice complement to Air France’s “Best & Beyond” initiative.

  5. I probably missed it above but is that 300eur per person or per reservation? I think i’d do it it was me and +1, but probably not if i was by myself.

  6. It looks like it’s only on paid reservations, is that correct? I have an upcoming surprise award ticket booked through delta in J for my mother and would consider doing this.

  7. @Shaun, it says those are the prices per passenger.

    I heard about this option being offered in fall 2014 though it may have already been possible even before then.

    Sadly, Flying Blue recently had a devaluation on its flex prices. At the moment, if you go online to the Flying Blue website, the cost of one-way CDG-LAX in La Premiere is 200,000 miles plus fuel surcharge/taxes! However, if you call the FB centre, you have until August 31st, 2015 to get the old price of 162,500 miles. I really hope the other carriers won’t start charging 200k one-way in longhaul first class!

  8. I’d argue that a traveling couple who has 600 EUR lying around to drop on a lounge visit isn’t flying business class to begin with. If the layover is long enough, I’d much rather spend the same amount on a 5-star hotel near the airport. Good to know, but no lounge visit is worth 300 EUR to me.

  9. Are the food free? For example, I looked at the Qantas First Class Sydney post and you have a lot of dishes pictured. Are they free or you have to pay for it?

  10. What Champagne do they serve in the La Premiere lounge? If it is really amazing Champagne, I would consider it

  11. Hmm… Doesn’t this mean that if you are traveling together with someone AND pay with miles, it’s the same price? Or do they mean that I can pay for two people using my miles? “Payment may also be made with Flying Blue Miles. Customers paying with Miles can request, if desired, a person to accompany him or her in the same cabin on the same flight.”

    Anyhow, it’d be awesome if this were possible on award tickets!

  12. Just to repeat someone else’s question: this is valid on award bookings, right? If I could find saver space then maaaaybe I’ll rationalize the $300 as an alternative to spending extra miles on a First Class award on an inferior airline with no F lounge in Paris (here’s lookin’ at you, OneWorld)

  13. If this service was available at Zurich and it was available two month ago, I would like to pay 600€ for it.

  14. This opportunity is already proposed for more than 3 years now.
    So nothing new really.

    However there is a caveat if I understand well the proposal on the AF side.

    You must be offered that opportunity from Air France via an e-mail for example.

    You cannot, in theory, phone Air France or Flying Blue or present yourself at the lounge and ask to enter with paying 300 euros.

  15. @ Bob —

    It seems like in addition to the email from AF, you can call their number in France and reserve it.

    3.3. This Option can be reserved by calling the following number: + 33 (0) 1 57 02 16 24 (24/7, cost of a local call if dialed in France).

    Customers will receive an e-mail presenting the Option:
    between 5 and 15 days prior to departure for tickets booked with Air France at least 7 days prior to departure,
    30 hours before departure for tickets booked with Air France between 1 and 7 days prior to departure and for all tickets purchased through a travel agency.
    Customers will then receive a trip summary including the Option, which they must show to the La Première teams at the Paris-Charles de Gaulle airport.

  16. I tried today to purcahse La Premiére ground services at CDG for an upcoming trip. The Air France agent with whom I spoke, who was extremely nice and helpful, informed me that you can only purchase if you are a biz class passenger flying on an aircraft that has no first class cabin.

  17. Interesting. My wife and I are traveling DTW-FCO through CDG. We have an 8 hour layover to see the city a bit.
    We are flying on a 3 class plane: economy, premium economy and business.
    This sounds like a perfect opportunity to try the lounge. I’ve been upgraded on other flights from business to first, but I didn’t get the lounge access.
    The only caveat here is that we’re flying AF metal with Delta award points. I’ll look into it further, but does anyone know if it’s possible.

  18. TL:DR version – Save your money, definitely not the worlds best first class lounge!

    For those curious: Took 3 cabin economy, premium economy, and business class plane booked with Skymiles.

    Took my mother on a special trip to Paris to celebrate her birthday. Obviously 600 euros for two people is not an insignificant amount but as this was her first time outside the country, I wanted to make the trip very special for her so with the help of the Park Hyatt Vendome, was able to book it. Below is my feedback on definite first world over the top problems but figured I’d share if anyone comes across this post and is considering buying access.

    Upon arrival at CDG, I headed to the designated area and was met by a very friendly agent who looked a little bit confused at first when showing her my vouchers I had received in an email from Air France, but after explaining what they were she left with our passports and came back 5 minutes later saying we were good to go. The same agent quickly whisked us through CDG and security to the lounge.

    After a quick tour of the lounge, a new agent came up to us and introduced herself. She asked if we would like a massage and then said if she can find time to squeeze us in, she would. At this point I was pretty excited; if Ben considers it the worlds best first class lounge, it must really be good. I did find it odd that she went out of her way to mention that it might be hard to book a massage since the lounge had 1 other passenger in it and we had 3 hours to go before boarding. Anyways, she came back a few moments later and said we were good to go at 3:15.

    We were then asked if we were hungry so we grabbed and seat and placed our order with the server. The food came out promptly and was amazing, but this is where things started to go downhill. After delivering the food, we never once saw the server again, never came to see how we were doing or if we needed anything. I had to proactively flag down a worker to go find our server, but she was no where to be found. Perhaps her shift ended or was on a smoke break, but either way, definitely not to the level of service Lucky received.

    By this time it was about 2:30 when the massage therapist came by and said she was ready. My mother and I looked confused because it was definitely not 3:15, but clearly we weren’t getting any more food or beverages outside of going behind the bar and serving ourselves so we picked who would go first and went to get our massages.

    After what felt liked a very good but rushed massage(clocked in at 24 minutes), I went to go take a quick shower. At this point boarding was about to begin so an agent came over to see if we would like to board. We were taken to the elevator at which point I asked if we were going to be driven, and the agent laughed and said no. I showed her the email from Air France saying it’s one of the benefits, but to no avail she wouldn’t budge. Now was a ride to the plane actually necessary, heck no, but if it’s a published benefit and I’m paying for it, I’m a lazy Amurrican, I want my ride damn it!

    We were escorted to the gate and directed to our seats, didn’t meet the flight crew either unless that meant the flight attendant assigned to our area.

    Overall, I was extremely disappointed in the experience, it definitely wasn’t worth the money and definitely was not the best first class lounge in the world, I would definitely pick LH or Thai over this. The hard product and amenities were great, it was the soft product that I found lacking. Now, perhaps it was because I purchased my way into the lounge and wasn’t a true first class customer, or perhaps I’m not a famed blogger, I’m not really sure.

    Rant over. Luckily Festivus is coming up because I will for sure be following up with Air France to air my grievances

  19. @John – it sounds like AF really under-delivered for you – sorry to hear it (especially given that you were intentionally trying to make a memorable trip for you and your mother). Having flown AF F several times, I have nothing but positive things to say about their ground/lounge experience. Maybe because I was a paid F passenger, but I doubt it (how would all lounge employees know the difference between a paid F pax vs. a biz pax with purchased ground service option). The only two explainable points to your experience are:

    1. I think the massage treatments are 30 minutes from end-to-end (including the time it takes to walk and greet you, until the time the next client is greeted). So 24 minutes for the actual treatment sounds about right.

    2. While I’m usually driven to/from the plane, I’ve also been walked from time to time. I think it all depends on your specific arrival/departure gate in relation to the location of the lounge.

    Your other issues are totally warranted; especially the food server concern. Our server on our last trip through this lounge completely blew me away. During our return trip through the lounge, he remembered my and my husband’s drink orders from our arrival more than THREE WEEKS EARLIER! How he was able to do that boggles my mind!

    You may want to email AF and share your experience on the service. They may (partially) refund your fee, credit miles into your account, etc. At the very least it’ll be good feedback for them to hear.

  20. I paid for this service a few weeks ago on a PTY-CDG-FLR itinerary (booked with AZ miles) and it was well worth it. Was picked up with a BMW taken to the lounge with security and immigration formalities taken care of, got a 30 min spa treatment (which was fine, nothing amazing), food and service was phenomenal as the lounge was mostly empty. Was also taken in a BMW to my connecting flight. All in all the only way to transfer CDG!

    On the way back I didn’t purchase the service and it was quite a hike between gates, the business class lounge was mobbed and food wasn’t too good.

  21. Does the buisness ticket have to be revenue or will award tickets provide eligibility to purchase this service?

  22. @lucky , As part of my 50th I would like to try this but having troubles mtg the requirements of J class only onboard. Need to fly towards Oz, is there a simple way to find which routes offer J only l/haul ?

  23. Got a flight planned oct27th from paris to LA business on way out and first on my way back. The plane on the way out does not have first class. Phoned to the number mentioned here used 40000 AF miles and will get access to first lounge And services… can t wait… but it works as described… thanks as would not have rhought to be possible withoutv his article.

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