I Just Bought Access To Air France’s First Class Lounge

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As I wrote about a few days ago, I just booked my next big trip to sample some new airline products, including the new business class products on Air France, Iberia, LAN, and Oman Air. I’m especially excited about Oman Air, as it’s an airline I’ve always been intrigued by. The great business class fare I found on Oman Air is the motivation behind the trip — the flights on Iberia and LAN to Frankfurt, and flights on Air France from Frankfurt, are primarily for positioning.

Still, I’m very excited to try Air France’s new business class product, which I’ve heard great things about. It features a reverse herringbone seat, which is my favorite kind of business class seat out there.

Air-France-New-Business-Class
Air France’s new business class product

Reader KK had left the following comment on the post a few days ago:

I vote for reviewing the paid AF first class ground service and lounge. I know you’ve reviewed this before but it’d be great to get an update and see what its like now. You would also be in a unique position to tell if there is any difference in between a first class passenger and a business class passenger using the service.

It’s something I hadn’t initially considered. As far as I’m concerned, the Air France first class lounge in Paris is the best first class ground experience in the world. It’s truly seamless, and offers an incredible experience, including being picked up and driven to your plane in a private car, an amazing restaurant, spa treatments, and incredible service.

Air-France-First-Class-Lounge-Paris-5
Air France La Premiere ground service in Paris

It’s really tough to redeem miles for Air France first class, given that they only let elite members in the FlyingBlue program redeem for it, and you have to book that award at the “standard” level, so it’s costly. But the good news is that there’s another way to access Air France’s first class lounge in Paris.

I’ve written in the past about how you can buy access to the Air France first class ground experience for 300EUR, assuming the following conditions are met:

  • You’re flying on a longhaul Air France flight in business class
  • The flight is operated by a plane without a first class cabin
  • Your ticket is issued by Air France, regardless of whether it’s a revenue or award ticket (in other words, an award ticket booked through FlyingBlue qualifies, while an award ticket booked through Alaska Mileage Plan, Delta SkyMiles, etc., wouldn’t); fortunately my ticket was booked through FlyingBlue, given that I transferred points earned on my Citi Prestige® Card for the redemption
  • There are capacity controls, so during periods of high demand they may not sell access to the lounge

Air-France-First-Class-Lounge-Paris
Air France first class lounge Paris

300EUR isn’t cheap by any stretch of the imagination. But I was able to plan a long layover in Paris, and think it would be really fun to review this experience as a business class passenger. Why am I doing it?

  • I’m curious if the Air France first class ground experience is different if you’re a business class passenger paying for access
  • The USD is quite strong, so for someone paying in USD, it’s not going to get much cheaper than this
  • You really are paying for quality — while it’s expensive, at least you’re getting a top notch product; I’d rather pay a lot for something fantastic, than pay $50 for cubed cheese in an Admirals Club

Air-France-First-Class-Lounge-Paris-2
Dining in the Air France first class lounge Paris

To book the La Premiere ground service in Paris I phoned up Air France’s first class hotline at + 33 (0) 1 57 02 16 24, where the phone was immediately answered — I didn’t have to go through a prompt or anything. The agent was extremely friendly, and after providing my record locator and stating what I wanted, he placed me on hold for a moment.

He confirmed they had availability for booking the service, so I gave him my credit card number to process the purchase (I used the Citi Prestige® Card, so I’d earn triple points for the purchase, as it qualifies as airfare). The whole process was painless — it took less than five minutes, and right after getting off the phone I received an email confirmation from Air France with a receipt.

La-Premiere-Service

Bottom line

While it’s not cheap, Air France is unique in allowing select passengers to purchase access to their first class lounge. I’m curious to see what the experience is like as a business class passenger paying for access, rather than as an “actual” first class customer. I’m also happy to see that the process of reserving La Premiere ground services is super easy.

Am I crazy for paying to access the Air France first class lounge? Has anyone done this before?

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Comments

  1. Good idea, but it is a shame you will not be reviewing business class lounges at CDG, which could be useful for readers, while we already have a review of the First lounge, and it is substantially harder to access with their award booking restrictions.

    I agreed with the other commenter on the original post who thought you should review the business class lounges, and try out AF’s new first product, which you haven’t yet, and then get a second review of the lounge. I guess you do get the paying business customer perspective here, but it’s unlikely you’ll go to a business lounge if you ever do try out the new F.

  2. AF lounges in CDG (accessible to SkyTeam elite plus flying in international economy) are great. They serve macarons. Enough said.

  3. You’re not crazy for buying lounge access; the lounge, food, and service are fantastic.

    You’re crazy for flying AF metal! 🙂

  4. As a travel blogger, you are not crazy at all to do this. But anyone else would be stark raving mad. If much rather take my 300 EUR to an actual Alain Ducasse’s restaurant.

  5. @ Rob — I’m not flying CDG-LAX. There was no availability anyway, so this was just the icing on the cake.

  6. Crazy? Heck, no. I would be doing the same thing if I were in your shoes. I mean, after all, it is 100% tax-deductible for you, isn’t it? Anyway, I agree with previous comments that it’s a nice change to see more business class reviews (vs. F) as that’s what most of us are probably going to be using our points on since F awards are getting more difficult and expensive to book.

  7. It might be crazy for anyone else but not you, Lucky! It is your job to review travel products and services for us, looking forward to read about the experience!

  8. 100% tax deductible and a fully documented reasoning for the IRS via this blog post.

    Plus triple points on the spend – Fucking Awesome!

    I’d do the same!

  9. @ No Name — Awesome, thanks for the heads up! Sure wish I could upgrade to first class on that one segment. Any clue if they do paid upgrades day of departure?

  10. I think this is more than just First Class Lounge access you paid for, it is F class ground services. (and for many airlines, like CX and SQ – it is non-existent)

    So 300 EUR will get you a limo car upon arrival at CDG, and express escort, and another limo for departure from CDG, plus use of F class lounge?

    If that is the case, it can be interesting value, depending on how it is executed.

    I wonder how will this show up on the boarding pass. Let us know!

  11. I’m also wondering if a couple flying J together would get access for a single $300 Euro payment.

  12. I’m disappointed that you will not be reviewing the Business lounge too. I actually think the whole “I’m trying First services as a Business paying customer” is an excuse! But saying that, I’m glad that you listened to everyone last year who asked for you to review more J products and the recent reviews have been great. Can’t you you still stick your nose into the J lounge and take a few snaps?! 😉

  13. @Lucky

    Don’t think so, but this was in 2012.

    “Hi we do not offer upgrades at the airport for a price (only if the customers wants to re price their ticket). If you need further assistance please mail us at social.media@omanair.com. Thank you”

    http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/other-middle-eastern-african-airlines/1379113-oman-air-upgrades-airport.html

    That said they only started offering upgrade for miles at the gate in MCT in late 2014 so I might be worth to send them an e-mail to the address above just find out for certain? Maybe they have changed their policies since 2012.

    http://www.businesstraveller.com/news/101014/oman-air-loyalty-members-to-buy-upgrades-at-che
    http://sindbad.omanair.com/en/spend-miles/flight-rewards-and-upgrades

    Damn shame that the R fare are not eligible for upgrade to F, BKK-MCT would be only 20K miles. They sell that for $500 if my math is correct. 2.5 USD cent per mile, max 20K miles purchase a year.
    http://sindbad.omanair.com/en/terms-conditions#purchasing-miles

  14. AF First Class is great, but Lufthansa’s at Frankfurt and Munich are better. It has everything you’d expected and an immigration officer inside to take care of your passport. No need to go near security check point at all.

  15. So, honest question, not by any means an attack on any of you writers, but due to the nature of your blog (reviewing airlines/ airline products), are all of your expenses like this lounge access, or even premium airline tickets written off as business expenses? Because that is pretty sweet.

  16. I agree with Bill…great exchange rate, earn points and most importantly tax deductible for you. Well worth the cost!

  17. I think this is an interesting idea, although I agree with others in their disappointment that you aren’t reviewing the Air France Business Class lounges. I can’t imagine the experience is going to be that much different as a J passenger than as an F passenger.

    I get it though, since the F ground experience does sound amazing given your previous review and CDG is such a nightmare. Also, I imagine there might be some people willing to take AF up on this offer if they are eligible.

  18. I wish you would have reviewed the business class lounge… Most of the business class passengers will access the business class lounge and not the first class lounge, so it would have been great for them to get a review of the whole package they will get when flying AF’s business class! Oh well, another time I guess!

  19. Lucky

    The business Class lounges are much better than LH and BA
    Note that I do not include any US airline lounge for comparison

    In 2009-10, AF had a TON of space from IAD to CDG on the A380 (seats were angled but plentiful)
    The older parts of the airport had small lounges that were at ground level – cool to see the real functioning of the airport. The food was tasty and had choice.
    The newer lounges were much bigger, with nice showers and wine.
    They also seemed a lot less crowded and better than the LH business class and senator lounges

  20. Another vote for the business class lounge. If I had enough money to consider paying for 300 euros for lounge access I wouldn’t be spending my time on miles and points blogs…I would just pay for everything!

  21. Tax Deductible:

    Wise up folks. Assuming a 33% tax bracket, he still had to pay EU200 out of pocket.

    Not saying it was still not a bad decision, but stop with the write off/deductible stuff.

  22. To those lamenting no business class lounge review, remember that Lucky plans to fly the Aeromexico 787 later this year, that goes to CDG or LHR. If flying from the US take a quick connect to Britain or Ireland on AF and he can review the AF lounges just fine.

    That review is coming, be patient.

  23. I was flying AF J and purchased it, was completely underwhelmed with the service, was pretty much non existent. I described my experience on your previous post about this. Not usually in the *he must be a blogger camp*, but my experience was such a huge contrast, I can’t really think of a valid reason for the variation.

  24. @ No Name: Ah, sorry, you already put that link ! Quick questions: when I book a Gulf Air award ticket, Gulf Air program allows me to top-up miles (sort of miles & cash) if I am short of certain amount of miles. Does Oman air allows the same thing?

  25. AF J lounges at CDG are good. I did the 2E – K gates lounge and 2E – M gates lounge last week. M has more light and views for sure. M also has lots of different types of seating, working, eating relaxing areas. The food spread is good in both and neither was very crowded.

    I’m sure you can find plenty of other reviews online of these lounges.

  26. I’ve noticed as you’ve gotten wealthier you’ve grown more able to justify/rationalize things that are more expensive.

  27. @Jessie

    Sorry can’t find anything about Top-up miles on Oman Air except the 20K miles a year you can buy.

    On Top-up miles with Gulf Air do you mean this? Or am I missing something as usual?
    https://www.gulfair.com/miles-and-points/buy-and-transfer-miles

    Not sure if it will help you, but Oman Air is a Egyptian Amex transfer partner.
    http://sindbad.omanair.com/en/partners/american-express

    @Lucky
    First segment flown and credited to Sindbad miles earn double mileage.
    http://sindbad.omanair.com/en/your-offers/first-flight-bonus

    Assuming the double miles are on base mileage and Gold bonus is also on base mileage FRA-MCT now earns 12135 miles plus 6354 miles MCT-BKK and you got 18489 miles. Crediting FRA-MCT-BKK-MCT-FRA to Sindbad miles will earn 32124 redeemable miles and 24240 tiermiles.

    I wonder if they will be giving those that match to Gold the business class upgrade vouchers? And if they work on per segment, one way or R/T flights?
    http://sindbad.omanair.com/en/benefits/sindbad-gold-membership

  28. From the AF following conditions website that you posted above Lucky;

    “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. ”

    Does this mean if paying with miles the 40K cost will cover 2 persons. Using miles for this still seems a horrible waste, but it might be an option for some.

  29. @stvr,

    Isn’t that true of most people? The more you have, the more the little things make a difference and are less expensive in relation to the whole of your wealth.

  30. Can you imagine getting the kind of service Ben reveived from AF in the States? Not no but hell no.I am not a frequent flyer but I have become very savvy about flying from reading Ben’s Blog and everyone else’s comments. My goal now is to one day fly Emirates or Etihad FC

  31. There are plenty of reviews of AF business lounges at CDG. They’re nothing special, but they are pleasant. If you’re hungry they do offer decent food that is readily replenished. The self-serve bars are functional, but on the small side. The staff are very friendly. Meh. Certainly better than sitting next to the gate. Also, they don’t have a smoking room inside the lounge (which is odd)–instead you have to use the ones in the terminal. KLM has huge smoking rooms in the middle of their lounges, but I understand that this isn’t a positive thing for some/most.

  32. Hello Everyone… As a mega AF flyer Plat Elite Plus (in Bus,Premium,Eco) for so many years (until I had enough of so many broken promises), I feel like I know CDG like the back of my hand. As for the Lounges there, the variation, in both quality and extent of services, is of an enormous variation!

    The majority of Business / FF lounges (all known as “Les Salons Air France”) will show a rather good selection of general services and food, etc. But there are three extreme differences as follows:

    1) The original (and still remaining) “Arrivals Lounge”, located in Terminal-2C, is a disaster, left over from more than 10 years ago, when that was where long haul flights actually arrived. True, this lounge (open in the mornings) has showers, pressing (if their iron is working), and something cold for breakfast. But the fact that you must walk by foot across the entire gigantic airport, and lose almost half an hour just to get there, makes it an almost ridiculous proposition! AF should be embarrassed by this foolishness; but we AF FF’s know that they don’t put a new Arrival’s Lounge in the newer terminals, because then it would become popular (and thus also known as costly!).

    2) The next, even more embarrassing disaster is the FF Lounge in Terminal-2G (pronounced 2-“jay” in French), which is the “commuter terminal” for so many AF regional European flights. Especially during early hours (the worst being Monday mornings), this little “box” is not even big enough to hold a plate of butter for morning croissants! The atmosphere there can feel like an offensively overcrowded Doctor’s Clinic waiting room! So AF occasionally apologizes for the mess of this situation; but even after all of the years, they have done absolutely nothing yet to expand or improve the area correctly. Shameful.

    3) Yet now finally some good news: Within terminal 2E, there are actually three different departure zones, each one with their own general lounge. But occasionally, when you are lucky enough that your Gate shall be in Zone “M”, and you have either Business / FF Lounge access, you are in for a treat. The “M” lounge is large, yet also “an oasis of calm”. In addition, the food services and selection (especially at Breakfast)… before long flights back to the USA, is an absolute pleasure! Fresh eggs, delicious crepes, fresh fruits and matched cheeses, wonderful little desserts (including “Parisian Macarons”) all abound… and you then hope that your next flight might be from that zone again!

    Sorry to be a bit lengthy… but it seems that a few people wanted a more detailed lowdown on the true Business / FF lounge situation there at CDG.

    PS: Hello from Paris, where I’m working this week…. though I must say that in early 2015 I finally switched to AA and OneWorld (EXP/AP)

  33. I just wanted to say I just booked and paid for lounge access on a delta ticketed AF award flight. So it seems it doesn’t matter who ticketed the flight provided it’s on air France metal. And I don’t have status.

  34. There appears to be another option to get in, but I’m not sure how it works. “”Long-Haul Flights”: long-haul flights with an Air France flight number and provided by Air France or Delta Air Lines that do not feature a La Première cabin, or flights to Moscow and Tel Aviv provided by Air France and offering the Option.”

    I’m not sure if that means that if one is connectign from Moscow or Tel Aviv that they can purchase lounge access even if their flight to the US has La Premiere, but I have a four hour layover from TLV-CDG/CDG-JFK so I’d be interested…. Does anyone know?

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