Reader Blake asked the following question in the “Ask Lucky” forum:
Can you redeem Flying Blue points for Air France first class or is this restricted to elite members?
As long time readers know, I flew Air France A380 first class a couple of years ago between Los Angeles and Paris.
Their product really impressed me, in particular the ground experience in Paris, at Charles de Gaulle, which might just be the best first class ground experience in the world.
The problem is that Air France first class is one of the toughest products in the world to book on miles. So how did I do it?
Air France changed their award chart in June 2013
Air France changed their award chart in June 2013, whereby the cost for many redemptions changed significantly. Air France doesn’t offer any saver level first class awards.
Instead all first class awards can only be booked at the “Flex” level, which has last seat availability. In other words, if there’s a seat available for sale you can also redeem miles for it. And it’s priced accordingly.
Before the devaluation, a one-way first class award between the US and Europe cost 125,000 FlyingBlue miles, while after the devaluation it cost 162,500 miles. The catch is that first class redemptions were limited to elite FlyingBlue accounts. So if the account out of which the award was booked didn’t belong to an elite member, you couldn’t redeem miles for first class.
How did I book Air France first class?
When the award chart changes were made, there seemed to be a bit of confusion. It seemed at the time as if first class awards were no longer restricted to elite members. So while the cost of awards went up, all members could redeem miles for first class. Or so we thought.
It seemed to very much be a case of “hang up and call again,” but a lot of agents (and supervisors) agreed that you could finally redeem for first class as a non-elite. That’s how I finally managed to book it, though the whole experience was a rigamarole.
Unfortunately it seems like that wasn’t actually the policy, because for subsequent tickets which were booked, Air France went so far as to downgrade non-elite passengers who managed to ticket the awards (which definitely wasn’t legit on their part).
So unfortunately we’re now back to the original rules. Only Air France FlyingBlue elite members can ticket first class awards out of their account (and it’ll cost an arm and a leg).
I’d love to try Air France’s new first class product, though barring some sort of a mistake fare, I doubt that will happen anytime soon, unfortunately.
I guess I’ll have to settle for (maybe) paying for their first class ground experience in Paris, which you can “buy up” to if in business class.
Anyone know of any other creative ways to fly Air France first class?