How to Make the Most of Air France First Class
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Air France flies to about 200 destinations in 91 countries and its first class cabin, La Première, is made up of individual suites offering maximum privacy and luxurious extras. From food to seats to service, Air France’s La Première cabin is a must-try for any premium cabin traveler. Here's how to make the most of it.
What to expect flying first class with Air France
The La Première class is found on most international flights on Air France’s Boeing 777-300s. These planes are equipped with four first-class suites.
But your first-class experience doesn’t begin there. From a personal driver taking you to the airport, La Première Lounge access to a gourmet menu and a cotton bathrobe in your chic suite in the sky, you’re sure to have a memorable experience with Air France service.
Here's what you should expect when flying in an Air France first class international cabin.
Private airport transfer. If you depart from or arrive in Paris, Bordeaux, Lyon, Marseille or Nice, you can request a complimentary airport transfer as long as you’re staying within a 40-kilometer radius. A personal Hertz DriveU will drive you to or from the airport in a premium vehicle. Book your ride up to 24 hours in advance.
Priority check-in. A concierge will escort you to a private check-in lounge, take care of your luggage and check you in for your flight while you wait.
Bag allowance. La Première passengers can check up to three pieces of baggage weighing up to 70 pounds each. You may also bring two pieces of carry-on luggage and a personal item onboard.
La Première Lounge. If you have time before your flight, stop in at the La Première Lounge at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport where you’ll find snacks, cocktails and fine dining. Like in all the best lounges, there are also showers and a spa.
Boarding. If your gate isn’t nearby, you’ll be driven to it in a dedicated La Première vehicle. Air France first class passengers board on their own jet bridge.
Suites. When flying Air France’s Boeing 777-300ER, you’ll find four closed suites configured in a 1-2-1 layout all in one row, so everyone has aisle access. Each seat is 78 inches long and 30 inches wide, and you can turn it into a lie-flat bed with a memory foam mattress, pillow and duvet.
In-flight meal service. Air France serves gourmet meal courses and the menu consisting of original recipes is renewed every four months. It goes without saying that you’ll also be offered Champagne with your meal, as well as signature cocktails.
Amenity kits. The Air France amenity kits contain four Carita Beauty products: moisturizing cream, antifatigue eye patch, hand cream and lip balm. You’ll also find a cotton bathrobe, a pair of slippers and a pair of socks.
» Learn more: Should I get an airline credit card?
How to book a first-class ticket with Air France
If you’re looking to burn Air France-KLM Flying Blue miles on a La Première seat on a Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, it won’t be easy.
Not only does the airline not release any first-class space to partner programs, but it also limits its own program members when booking Air France first class with miles. Only Flying Blue Gold and Platinum members are able to redeem miles for an award seat in the La Première cabin.
If that’s not difficult enough, the redemption rates are available at Flex levels only, which means that there aren’t low-level or saver redemption rates on these tickets. A one-way ticket between New York and Paris will set you back 220,000 Flying Blue miles plus taxes.
To bring this rate down, you can take advantage of an occasional point transfer bonus. Flexible rewards programs, such as American Express Membership Rewards and Citi ThankYou Points, sometimes run promotions during which you can get a 25% to 40% bonus on a point transfer. Let’s say you see a 30% bonus, which means that every 100,000 points transferred result in 130,000 miles in your account.
Of course, you can buy a ticket the old-fashioned way — with money. Unfortunately, booking Air France first class with cash is cost-prohibitive for most of us.
You can wait for a sale, but those can be hard to come by on this particular class of service.
» Learn more: A points collector’s guide to Air France-KLM
Ways to get good value
If you manage to book a La Première flight, you’ll want to get as much value as possible out of the experience.
Arrive at the airport early to enjoy the lounge
Flying out of Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport? Arrive a few hours early to enjoy all that the La Première Lounge has to offer. Wine and dine, enjoy the spa services or take a shower at the exclusive airport lounge before your flight or during a layover.
» Learn more: Credit cards with airport lounge access
Take advantage of the pick-up service
If flying to or from Paris, Bordeaux, Lyon, Marseille or Nice, use the airport transfer service at no extra cost to you to eliminate the hassles of taking public transportation or taxis.
Use a transfer bonus for a one-way flight
If you’re a Flying Blue Gold or Platinum member and want to experience a flight in La Première at least once in your life, wait for a transfer bonus with either American Express Membership Rewards or Citi ThankYou Points. Chase Ultimate Rewards® points can be transferred to Air France-KLM Flying Blue too, but the rewards program doesn’t run many transfer promotions.
Additionally, because redemption rates are so high, consider booking a one-way ticket in Air France first class and the return in business or economy, or vice versa. You get to try the cabin without having to shell out hundreds of thousands of points for a round-trip journey.
» Learn more: The best AmEx transfer partners — and ones to avoid
The bottom line
If you read an Air France first class review, you’ll see there’s a lot to love about La Première. Everything from the pre-departure experience to the in-flight service is sure to wow even the most seasoned premium-cabin traveler. It’s too bad that Air France makes La Première so difficult to book with miles even for its own loyalty program members.
How to maximize your rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2023, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card