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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.