Fantastic Air France First Class Fares From The US To Europe!

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The timing of this is funny, since I’ll be publishing my review of Air France’s new 777-300ER La Premiere product tomorrow (hint: it’s one of the best first classes in the world).

Not only is it a great product, but unfortunately it’s very tough to snag a seat in it. There’s no way to redeem partner airline miles for the product, and the only way to redeem Air France-KLM FlyingBlue miles is if you’re an elite member in the program, and if you’re willing to book the “flex award.” That’s 200,000 FlyingBlue miles one-way in first class between the US and Europe. I value Membership Rewards points at ~1.7 cents each, so the real “cost” of such a redemption is ~$3,400, not including taxes and carrier imposed surcharges. Ouch.

Well, zoqfotpik shares on FlyerTalk some incredible Air France first class fares that are presently available from the US to Spain (zoqfotpik rocks — he also shared the amazing Easter Island LATAM business class fare yesterday, which I booked).

The good Air France fares seem to be available out of several US cities to several cities in Spain. There’s wide open availability, there’s a 90 day advance purchase requirement, and a Sunday night minimum stay, but it looks like otherwise it’s available through the end of the schedule. As usual, you’re best off using either Google Flights or ITA Matrix to search.

The absolutely best fare seems to be from Boston to Bilbao, and it’s under $3,100 roundtrip:

Meanwhile New York to Barcelona is available for ~$3,400:

Los Angeles to Barcelona is available for ~$4,260 roundtrip, which is about the best paid first class fare I’ve seen on Air France out of LAX:

A similar fare is available out of San Francisco:

You might be able to get an even cheaper price if you have The Platinum Card® from American Express or The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN and call to book through the International Airline Program.

They seem to offer a discount off all premium cabin fares on Air France, so the savings could be significant. On top of that, if you pay for the ticket with The Platinum Card® from American Express you’ll earn 5x points, which I value at a further ~8% return.

If you do take advantage of this fare:

In absolute terms these fares are still a lot of cash, but Air France’s first class product is one of the best in the world, and this is a product that’s otherwise very difficult to book. I don’t remember the last time I’ve seen first class fares out of the US this low on Air France. So if you have the cash and have been wanting to try Air France first class, this is a great opportunity to do so.

Anyone considering taking advantage of one of these great Air France first class fares?

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Comments

  1. Hey Ben, I’ve always wondered this. When you look up flights on ITA matrix it gives you the prices. When all the flights on the itinerary are on the same airline, i go right to the airline’s website and find the deal and done! But in your case above, there are flights operated by delta. Now I know there’s a flight above with the Air France logo but is operated by delta, I still go to Air France’s site. But in the case that there is a delta logo next to one of the flights and the rest are AFR, how do you book them?

  2. Hi Lucky,

    Thanks for posting… this is awesome! What would you consider more important? A long layover or the B777 instead of A380? Coming back from Madrid to SFO, I’d have a 90 minute layover and get on the 777… or an overnight layover (spend time with a friend in Paris) and fly home the next morning on the 380. (I can easily book the 777 with a long layover on the outbound).

    Thanks again! -Matt

  3. @ Matt — Toughie. I’d say do the long layover on the way out, and then on the return do the 777 with the short layover. Or will it let you book an afternoon flight from MAD to CDG, and then the 777 from CDG to SFO the following morning, so it’s still less than 24 hours?

  4. @ RD — It’s a great question. When multiple airlines are involved it’s sometimes easier to use an OTA like Orbitz. However, in the case of codeshares like this, generally either airline should be able to book it directly as well. I usually book with the airline for which most segments are coded. So even though the first flight shows a Delta code, I suspect it would also ticket on Air France’s website.

  5. Could you also pay with points using the Amex Platinum Biz and get 50% back AND 5x? And/or can you use pay with points on the discounted fare you referenced?

  6. I still have 50% American Express Platinum rebate so for 170,000 MR points (5% of my total) is a steal! Now to pick the time to go 🙂

  7. @Lucky: good call…. looks like I can do that. The 777 schedule to/from SFO is a little wonky. AF84 isn’t available on Sunday’s. And the MAD-CDG flight is afternoon only on Saturday. During the week the late flight is really late at 8pm. First world problems.

    Now are ALL of the 777’s renovated with the new product? I thought AF had an old product on the SFO route?

  8. @Flyerdad, yes, but only if you got your business platinum card within the past 12 months and your 50% rebate is valid.

  9. @W, from the US to CDG, AF First normally costs around 6k up to twice the amount. So at this price, 3k is considered a bargain.

  10. @Matt From what I can see, it’s operated by a 777 without a La Première cabin. It’s an older one from what I can see. 3 Class, with angle flats in Business.

    Most 777s have been retrofitted with the new product, such as now that CDG-PTY flight has the new 777 Product (and is a promo award for this month).

    The A330s are to be retrofitted next, and the A380s will follow suit in 2019 I believe! As far as I know, only the new 77W has La Première, and only the A380 has the old F Product. The 772s and the rest do not have F. So AF currently has no F product to SFO from my knowledge, but yes to LAX, and it is indeed very good!

    I believe that there are only a handful of 777s left to retrofit so shouldn’t be long until they’re all done. Also, if you look at the AF website, on AF operated long hauls, it will tell you which aircraft is operating the flight. If you see a B777 or A380, you’re getting the old product. If you see a “Design By [followed by the AF logo]”, then for now at least, you’re getting a new 777 that has been retrofitted, and you can see if it has La Première if it either shows availability or you click on the “Design By” button where it shows the operating aircraft. If the aircraft says ‘Design By [Wifi symbol]” then it is operated by an AF 787-9, since it’s the only AF aircraft to feature it currently! It’s also flying CDG to LHR (better than Intra-Europe but expensive)!!

    I digress…

    Sorry if this is too long and TMI, but hope it helps!!

  11. The 50% rebate is a killer app, I can literally fly anywhere any day for reasonable amounts of MR. Which are super easy to accumulate, 50-100K at a time. Will seriously miss it next year.

  12. WOW!! Thank you for this post! I completely agree La Premiere is fantastic – and I’ve only tried the A380, so I’m super excited to try the new 777-300ER.

    Just booked tickets from San Francisco to Barcelona over thanksgiving and booking via AMEX saved me an additional 400$!

    Best deal in a LONG time 🙂

  13. @Pranav:

    Not too long at all… that is great info! And yeah, looks like the retrofitted 777s are flying to SFO. I see the “Design By +” notation on all the flights. Thanks for all those details!

  14. @Matt

    Indeed! I’ve just checked! Currently the A380s (AF84) (10:10am) CDG.dep and 777 (AF82) (3:35pm) CDG dep. are doing the SFO run and that changes later to the 77W on the AF84, as the sesasonal operations change. For some reason, I can’t see the AF82/82 on the system!

    Also, from what I’m seeing, the route is being operated by either a 772 or a 77W. I.e. Today’s flight was 77W and yesterday was a 772, but I’m sure that issue won’t be present when the 2x goes down to daily on a single 777-300ER. Also, only the 77W features the new F while the new 772s are Y,W and J only!

    I also do notice that A380 pricing seems to be substantially cheaper than 77W pricing! Even AF know how desirable their new product is!

    Which dates did you look for if you don’t mind me asking?

    And you’re welcome, I’m happy to be of use!!

  15. Thank you bro!

    I know this may not be the best use of em – but spent slightly north of 230K UR for JFK-BCN through the portal.

    Was saving 200K for AF La Premiere anyways but this is roundtrip! Phenomenal so jumped on it!

    Anyone experienced making amendments to their itinerary booked in F? I’m on the A380 on the way back but would love to change to the 77W if/when they open it up.

    Thanks.

  16. Sweet mother of god. How do you have 3.4 million MR points lukas?

    That’s at least USD34000 sitting right there.

  17. @james McLaren – what dates did you book? When I called Amex on the same route, they didn’t show any discount on the dates I was looking at.

  18. The 777-200 does not have a first class cabin, nor does the 787-900. If you’re flying on AF La Premiere, it’s either a 777-300 (77W), or a A380.

    The SFO routes used to have A380 and 772, but for 772 they wouldn’t sell F, and it looks like the A380 gets replaced by 77W in early November. Which is great because that guarantees their new J seats, which look fantastic, and some great F fares ex-SFO.

  19. @Pranav: I was looking for next spring. My travel this year is already booked and I have a week in Mexico in February.

    From what I can tell, SFO gets a 77W for the single daily flight in winter and early spring. Then when it switches to 2/day flights (March 25th I think?), SFO gets the 380 and a 772.

    That mid-March time-frame works for my own calendar. Just need to be okay visiting Madrid when it’s a bit cooler. Again… #FirstWorldProblems

  20. Hah, I noticed those fares a few days ago actually and was wondering if I should go ahead and book it, but now that the cat is out of the bag, I guess I should :).

    I was actually looking at JFK to LHR, which is at $3541 November and December (at least). Pretty convenient since I have to be in the North of France and I can just catch a Eurostar to Lille and same on the way back.

  21. Any way to search on ITA with just a plane type so I can choose B777? Trying to leave from JFK but it’s mostly A380 🙁

  22. @Matt

    22nd – 26th Nov. well when I called initially there was no discount but I put on hold. When I called back to confirm i changed the connecting flight to BCN and they said there was a special AMEX fare and went down to 3800$

  23. @Matt

    Ahh… a good time to travel! Looks like you’re all prepped!! Madrid is relatively cool then and I think it’s just before the big influx of European tourists!

    That’s it! It’ll be the same scheduling as is now, but sadly the A380s will still have the old product
    🙁 Still though, all the 777s will feature the latest products by then hopefully. You also might have luck snagging an F seat on a 777 in the Summer, since AF rotate their aircraft, from the 772 and 77W, or I’m not sure if they’re just doing it now. I had a look at their tail numbers and it does look like the 77W and 772 are currently operating the AF82. But I do think it might be an older 77W (If you look now) since all the new ones are currently 4 class and AF isn’t showing F on that flight, so either new J, W and Y on the 772 or the old ones on the 77W! (for now)

    I think it’s safer to stick with the winter schedule, then you’re guaranteed the new F!

  24. @Lukas

    Try looking through timings, then you can associate that with the aircraft. For the JFK-CDG, you have 3 first class options from what I can tell. There’s 2 A380s and 1 77W. Departing JFK at 16:20 will get you the 77W, on AF23. Departing at 18:40 and 21:50, on AF7 and AF11 respectively, will get you the A380. This is for the summer schedule.

    The winter AF23, departing at 16:25 is also a 77W, the 18:40 AF7 will remain as an A380 but there is another 77W, which replaces the 21:50 A380 in the summer, with the 21:30 77W, on the AF11.

    Hope this helps!!

  25. @Lukas

    Try looking through timings, then you can associate that with the aircraft. For the JFK-CDG, you have 3 first class options from what I can tell. There’s 2 A380s and 1 77W. Departing JFK at 16:20 will get you the 77W, on AF23. Departing at 18:40 and 21:50, on AF7 and AF11 respectively, will get you the A380. This is for the summer schedule.

    The winter AF23, departing at 16:25 is also a 77W, the 18:40 AF7 will remain as an A380 but there is another 77W, which replaces the 21:50 A380 in the summer, with the 21:30 77W, on the AF11.

    Everything else only has J as the highest cabin. They’ve even got an older A330 and 777 on that route!

    Hope this helps!!

  26. @Pranav, thanks! Booked both legs on 77W 😀 Using insider fare it only cost me 318,000 miles with 50% of them rebated back through American Express Business Platinum and 9,000 points back from booking it on AMEX Premier Rewards gold means that I’ll pay just 150,000 AMEX MR points for this AMAZING trip in May. CAN’T WAIT!!! Maybe I’ll book one more, it’s hard to go wrong for this price 🙂

  27. FYI, this deal also kind of works to HEL, though you’re on Finnair metal from CDG-HEL.

    Just booked LAX-BCN on the 77W, BCN-JFK on the A380 for next April, long layover on the way over, short one on the way back. $3,800 and change. Let the fun begin explaining this one to my wife. 🙂

  28. @Lukas, you can search the aircraft type on ITA. You can omit the a380 on your ITA search by typing ” -aircraft t:380 ” in the advance routing field.

  29. @Lukas, wow! Bargain! Trust me, you’ll love it!! How long are your layovers in Paris? At that price I certainly would be tempted to book another! Also, you’re able to credit the miles earned on the flights? You know, after a second trip you’ll probably want a third, and you could transfer to FB if you wanted? This flight will easily get you past FB Silver and not too far from FB Gold (a second trip would easily get you to gold and quite close to Platinum), so you’re already eligible to redeem for a third trip? 😉 That’s presuming you don’t have status with Delta 😉 With Delta, you’ll have 60% of the distance as MQDs, 300% Mileage credit and 200% MQMs I believe too!

  30. Hi! My wife and I are looking to take advantage of this deal! Another couple is interested in it as well. Do u think that all four of us could grab this fair on the same flight without the price going up? thank u!

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