3 First Class Fares That *Almost* Tempt Me…

As you guys know, my goal this year has been to review as many new airlines in premium cabins as possible, and I’ve found it to be immensely enjoyable. I’ve tried even more new products than I was hoping to, so a few weeks back I shared an additional list of 13 more airlines I want to review in the coming months.

I’ve shared the details of my upcoming trips, and as you may have noticed, my emphasis this year has been on business class products rather than first class products. That’s for a couple of reasons:

  • With recent award chart devaluations, first class awards are in many cases now disproportionately expensive, while the cost of business class awards is still reasonable, so the “sweet spot” for redemptions is starting to shift
  • For most business travelers, business class reviews are more useful than first class reviews, since most people can’t justify booking first class

Fortunately I’ve been lucky enough to review most of the world’s best first class products, including Emirates first classEtihad first class, Cathay Pacific first classJapan Airlines first class, etc. However, there are three first class products that miles can’t efficiently be redeemed for that I still really want to fly.

With that in mind, I’ve searched for the best value first class fares I could find on these airlines, all of which are still a lot of cash, though represent a significant discount off the $20,000+ price tag you’ll often find for first class tickets.

I wish there were a way to find fares just a bit cheaper on them, in which case I’d review them in a heartbeat. But I figured it would still be fun to look at the three airlines, along with the fares I found. Here they are, in no particular order:

Garuda Indonesia first class fare from Sydney to London

Garuda Indonesia first class is probably the single first class product I most want to try.

DCIM100GOPROGOPR0048.
Picture courtesy of @thekelly.d

While you can technically redeem miles for their first class product through their own frequent flyer program, the pricing is very steep. So unfortunately looking for a discounted first class fare seems like the best option.

The best value fare I can find is from Australia to London via Jakarta and Singapore, with the last two segments being in first class. Here’s an example of such a fare:

first-class-fare-1

In theory the other option is to find a decent business class fare and then bid on an upgrade, which seems likely to be successful. However, Garuda’s most discounted business class fare buckets aren’t eligible for paid upgrades, so I’d need to book a “D” class fare to be eligible, and I’m not finding those much cheaper than discounted first class tickets.

Air France first class fare from London to Hong Kong

I’ve had the opportunity to try Air France’s old first class product and really enjoyed it, though I’d love to try Air France’s new first class product.

Air-France-First-Business-Class-43

The best value longhaul first class fare I can find on them is between London and Hong Kong, which prices out at just under ~$4,500 roundtrip:

first-class-fare-2

Given how many routes they have with first class, I’m shocked I can’t find an all around better value…

Oman Air first class fare from London to Muscat

I flew Oman Air business class earlier in the year and really enjoyed my experience. Oman Air is such a neat airline. Rather bizarrely, they also have a first class cabin on select A330 aircraft, which they’re slowly phasing out.

What’s strange is that their first class product looks almost identical to their old business class, except it has a couch/seating area in the middle of the cabin, and a privacy shield.

Oman-Air-A330-Business-Class - 1
Oman Air’s “old” business class cabin

The best Oman Air first class fare I can find is between London and Muscat, as follows:

first-class-fare-3

Ultimately that’s decent for a paid first class fare, but at the same time given how cheap their business class fares are, I couldn’t imagine paying that when it’s only marginally better.

But I’m still fascinated by Oman Air’s first class product…

Bottom line

The above are the three first class products that can’t easily be booked with miles that fascinate me the most, all for different reasons. I’m actually hoping to fly Air France and Garuda Indonesia first class at some point, since I think these are among the two best first class products in the world, and I haven’t flown the most recent versions of them.

Oman Air first class interests me, though at the same time I can’t imagine it’s worth paying that amount to fly a product that’s likely only marginally better than their business class, especially since it’s slowly being phased out.

If anyone knows of better cheaper/ways to try any of the above products, I’m of course all ears!

Thanks for indulging me with these posts. I know sometimes the blog can feel a bit stream of consciousness, but often sharing my general thoughts out loud leads to some great ideas thanks to the comments you guys leave. Also, hopefully once in a while me sharing my thought process is useful…

About lucky

Ben Schlappig (aka Lucky) is a travel consultant, blogger, and avid points collector. He travels about 400,000 miles a year, primarily using miles and points to fund his first class experiences. He chronicles his adventures, along with industry news, here at One Mile At A Time.

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Comments

  1. Do it do it do it do it do it! How fun. If you do the AF one with the 2 day layover in Paris, you can like do a whole paid series. You can try out the Mandarin for a night and then try the Ritz or something since it just reopened! 🙂 The Mandarin in Paris is…….very nice. 🙂

  2. @ Ben — I do think you should wait for some better opportunity to come along (new mileage partnership, mistake fare, Donald Trump getting elected President…). That is what makes this game fun, remember?

    in the meantime, let the haters begin….

  3. Why don’t you transfer a boatload of Amex points to flyingblue like you did last time you flew AF in F? Maybe the value isn’t that good? And if you were to take advantage of the Garuda fare could you tack Virgin Australia onto one end and Aer Lingus on the other.

  4. Nrt to DPS has a first class available round trip for under 3k. But I don’t think it has the full experience, but it is something to keep in mind.

  5. Yes, you are rich now – if this blog grows then you’ll look back and think why you ever slummed it in business class (same as right now you won’t even think about taking an economy flight).

    Would’ve been better if you stayed focus on points.

  6. Who London is on sale (probably because of Brexit). Fly Virgin Australia new Business class from LAX-SYD then Garuda Indonesia to London-H. After that fly Air France, then from HNK-BWN-DXB on Royal Brunei Airlines. Then on to Muscat. Muscat to London. From London to Los Angeles on Virgin Atlantic New 787-9.

  7. Also, also it’d be cool to see a review of the new KLM cabin on the 787-9. They fly one from SFO. In Feb when I’m looking at tickets they were reasonably priced around $3500 I think. It’s a lot of money, but it’d be a nice review to read!

  8. I’m not sure what the one way fares are between LHR-HKG, but if they are good, you could easily pair AF and Garuda, and I doubt it would be hard finding a creative way between HKG and SYD XD. For example HKG-BKK on Kenya Airways, BKK-BWN-MEL on Royal Brunei (with latter leg on 787) and MEL-SYD on another airline. It would be a crazy trip but it’d be very entertaining reading LHR-HKG-BKK-BWN-MEL-SYD-CGK-SIN-LHR 😉

  9. Lucky, I love your blog and I respect the fact you don’t delete these awful troll comments. There are perhaps a handful of very jealous people who clearly have nothing better to do. Please keep doing what you do and don’t let these people get you down.

  10. I guess Brexiters who are still in denial that leaving the EU is good now can finally wake up their senses and realise how their uneducated, selfish, stupid and childish moment of voting Leave is starting to hurt the economy, in particular the airline industry?

  11. There are some serious rumblings that Garuda’s first class is no longer so spectacularly grand. I would personally love to read Ben’s impressions of it.

  12. @ Lucky – For someone who is a points multi millionaire, why not spend 190k Thank You points on Garuda F CGK-LHR route? Based on your evaluation, that’s about U$ 3230, but it’s better to spend a lot of miles than money, isn’t it?
    On Air France is the same, even though you must have status there. I’m pretty sure you could find someone with status willing to trade close to 200k Flying Blue points. You could book St Regis stays or flights on Singapore F in exchange. Would there be any problem with this?

  13. If you credit your OmanAir business class flights to Sindbad miles and buy miles (20,000 miles for $500) each year for the next 3 years, you’d easily get at least 68,000 sindbad miles, which is the cost of a one-way first class ticket LHR-MCT. I know it’s $1500 plus whatever the cost of the J flights but it’s still a way to redeem miles for it. I’m not sure if Sindbad award flights have fuel surcharges.
    As for AF La Premiere, that’s a great price. The cheapest I’ve seen the past 2 years was $4000 r/t but it was during a sale. I’m not 100% sure but I believe Air France flies both A380 and 777 on the CDG-HKG route depending on the day. So perhaps you can do another review of the A380 La Premiere in addition to the new La Premiere on 777!
    Good luck! Looking forward to reading your trip reports on these cabins!

  14. Do it. You have done well for yourself and don’t have kids.

    This is chump change for you.

    Remember the green Matrix

  15. @Garrett

    The KLM 787-9 from SFO is a good flight in business class, but not my favorite to Europe. Took the flight a few weeks back. Happy to answer any specific questions.

  16. I am an Indonesian living in Sydney, I sincerely hope that you get to try Garuda Indonesia first class, as I normally flew in economy and the service is outstanding as well as the food…. I can’t imagine what it will be like in first class – if you intend to spend a night or two in Jakarta, stay in Hotel Indonesia Kempinski. This is a historic hotel in the middle of the city.

  17. Not sure if you’ll answer this, but I’m curious how you view these potential costs given the reviews are the lifeblood of your business? Surely there’s a reasonable way to justify an ROI?

  18. We’ve seen the transit experience in CDG, how about if you’re originating your travel? I betcha that experience is fucking killer! Also Garuda is amazing and we all want to read it, I’m personally excited to read about that.

  19. @Lucky, are you able to depart from LHR then onto Indonesia? Something like LHR-CGK-YOG prices about $2,800 o/w on GF (https://goo.gl/flights/xqoF). It’s cheaper and has short 2-hr layover in CGK. While in Yogyakarta, you may want to visit WH sites of Borobudur and Prambanan temples just outside of the city.

  20. I suggest don’t try Oman Air First Class for now, and they’re not totally phasing it out. They will be taking delivery of 787-9s later this year or early next year, which will feature 8 First Class seats. I could imagine they will be better than their B/E Aerospace Apex Suite business class, perhaps they’ll be suite-type just like in Etihad’s 787-9s.

  21. So you’re a millionaire in cash terms (that’s what you allowed to be published in your Rolling Stone article) and you’re being jewish over some cheap F fares. Just book them.

  22. I flew AF in their new 777 f only recently (also did Swiss 777 f and Lufthansa 748 f on same trip) and I’d rate it as probably #1 in sheer quality of overall experience so I’d suggest it should be your #1 priority.

  23. Do those Air France flights entitle you to use the CDG lounge both ways? Outbound, you’ll be departing in F, but on the return you’re connecting from F to J. Seems perverse to deny access that direction, but the French are known for bureaucratic perversion.

  24. Correct me if I’m wrong but Abu Dhabi to Amsterdam in Garuda First used to be 45k Thank You points one way – however it seems to have disappeared from the Garuda miles calculator although the flight still exists

  25. I apologize if I posted this before…

    @Lucky, you can also do LHR-CGK-YOG o/w for $2,800. You may be interested to visit Borobudur and Prambanan temples while you’re there.

  26. As someone who frequently pays for first, Air France I find best deals to be to the (ex) colonies so maybe CDG to Tokyo (Narieta ?) then Nouméa, Fare to Nouméa. With Garuda check Amsterdam as the destination. Then as you remind us about the 4 C’s you can also purchase RTW tickets from these departure points I.e. Oneworld, Star etc..

  27. @ El Plauzo — Hmmm, intrigued. To clarify, that’s one-way or roundtrip? based on the price I assumed one-way, but you mention a date range, so not sure if it’s actually roundtrip. Can’t seem to replicate it myself. Thanks!

  28. Actually Oman Air are not exactly phasing out their first class yet, its just on select A330-300s. They will be introducing a new product on their 787-9s once they are delivered.

  29. @ Hugh B — Nowadays they only allow FlyingBlue elite members to redeem for first class, even at the exorbitant cost. So no practical way for me to do that.

  30. @ Andrew — Indeed a pretty good fare, though trying to take a “go big or go home” approach. Figure if I’m going to fly it I want to try the Jakarta ground experience as well.

  31. @ Carlos — I actually don’t have 190K+ Citi ThankYou points, as my points are too diversified and I’ve been redeeming those points lately. But as you said, the value of that is still $3K+, so still hoping there’s a cheaper way to do a paid ticket on it.

  32. @ Singularity — Hadn’t realized the 787-9 will have first class. Definitely waiting on Oman Air then, and will make a point of trying it then!

  33. @ Owen — Yep, as long as you’re connecting to Air France first class same day you can use the lounge, even if your outbound flight is in business class.

  34. Air France’s safety video is reason enough to fly them, whatever class it is. Their new F is simply the icing on the cake!!!

  35. @Ben
    It is one-way. It is still there – if you visit the german Kayak: “Nur Hinflug”, CEI->AMS; the date range was only for you to find it more easily, it works also with other dates. The travel agency is Seat24. Unfortunately only CGK-AMS is in First, the rest in economy – sorry i didn’t check that before.

  36. I just flew back to JFK from Paris on Air France – in W, not F 🙂 – , and for whatever reason the FAs made some people (including me) exit the plane through La Premiere and it looks GORGEOUS, better than on the pictures I’ve seen. I’m probably never gonna be able to fly it since I don’t have the kind of money that it requires, so I hope you can try it for us :). Looking forward to seeing your report!

  37. I have been following your Oman Air posts with interests, because I’m planning on booking a business class round trip from Munich to Bangkok. Based on your review, I’m looking forward to the bujsiness class experience. I’m also planning a 3-day layover in Muscat – staying at the Al Bustan Ritz-Carlton. Oman intrigues me and I’m sure Muscat is well worth the visit. Oman Air recently offered an incredible business class fare of EUR 1,771.00 round trip, layover included. That is a very competitive price..

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