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Business class is great if you can afford it, but economy class offers the best quality-to-price ratio when it comes to intercontinental travel with affordable tickets, decent meal options and often free entertainment.
For anyone looking to fly to Europe and beyond, Air France can be a great carrier option. Nonstop service to Paris is available from several U.S. cities and you can search the Air France website for nearby airports to find the best options for you. Additionally, domestic connections on SkyTeam partner Delta Air Lines can help you get to Europe from most U.S. states.
Here’s an overview of what you get when flying internationally in Air France economy-class, including the baggage allowance, in-flight service, including food.
About the ticket classes on Air France
Air France operates flights with economy cabin, premium economy cabin, business class and La Première class, aka first class.
Economy class is further divided into Light, Standard and Flex.
Economy Light is an Air France basic economy fare that doesn’t include much besides one carry-on bag, a seat selection at check-in and a mileage earning opportunity. These tickets are nonrefundable and don't allow changes.
Economy Standard fares include one piece of checked baggage and an option to change your ticket. While it’s nonrefundable, it can be changed for a fee plus any fare difference.
Economy Flex is the most flexible of the Air France economy fares. You can change the Economy Flex ticket with no fees (you still have to pay the fare difference) to another date or a different flight on the same date. Economy Flex tickets are also refundable.
With this fare, you also get a choice of seat closer to the front of the aircraft and SkyPriority perks at the airport, such as a designated check-in area and priority boarding.
What to expect flying economy with Air France
When you fly in an economy cabin, expect the following service:
Bag allowance: As an economy class (except for the Light fare) passenger on Air France on intercontinental flights, you’re allowed to check one bag weighing up to 50.7 pounds (23 kilograms) for free. Keep in mind that if you purchase a Light fare, the baggage allowance isn’t included in the original purchase, but is available as an add-on up to 30 hours before departure. You’re also allowed to bring one carry-on bag and one personal item onboard.
Economy food: Economy passengers can opt for a cocktail or a glass of Champagne before food service. Then, you have a choice between two lunch or dinner options. Depending on the distance, you might be served a hot meal and later, a snack, during the flight.
Seats: Air France economy class seats typically have 31 inches of pitch, meaning a point on a seat will have 31 inches between the same point of a seat in front of it or behind it. This measurement might vary from aircraft to aircraft. You’ll have the option to pick your seat online or in the app starting 30 hours before your flight.
Premium economy tickets: When flying with Air France internationally, you can book regular economy and premium economy tickets. If you’re traveling in premium economy, your baggage allowance goes up to two checked bags and two pieces of hand baggage in addition to one personal item. You also get 40% more legroom, an electric outlet, a pair of noise-canceling headphones and an adjustable reading lamp.
» Learn more: How to save money on international flights
Ways to get good value
Book with Flying Blue miles
To save money on airfare, use Air France-KLM Flying Blue miles to book economy flights to Europe. Redemption rates aren’t set because of the dynamic pricing structure; nonstop flights to Paris from U.S. cities start at 21,500 to 29,000 miles. Premium economy flights range from 42,500 miles to 57,500 miles per direction.
Flying Blue partners with all of the major transferable point programs, including American Express Membership Rewards, Capital One Venture Miles, Chase Ultimate Rewards® and Citi ThankYou Points, which means you have plenty of options to book an Air France award flight.
Pack your own headphones
Although Air France provides reusable headphones on board, it’s best to bring your own, especially in the current COVID-19 climate.
The airline’s in-flight entertainment offers a list of movies, including new releases, TV shows and music to enjoy while in your seat in the sky. You can even keep your kids occupied as the programming includes children’s movies and shows.
» Learn more: In-flight entertainment: The complete guide
Bring French wine home
Air France offers its international passengers a fair baggage allowance, even in economy class. As a reminder, you can check one bag weighing up to 50 pounds at no cost, as long as you don’t have a Light fare, which means bringing home local wine from France isn’t a problem.
Whether you’re a fan of Champagne, Bordeaux or Burgundy, a small piece of any French wine-making region could make a great souvenir. Check with your destination for possible duties and restrictions; Air France allows flying with alcoholic beverages not exceeding five liters in checked baggage.
The bottom line
If you’re trying to get across the pond or take short intra-Europe flights, Air France economy class won’t blow you away, but it’ll do the job. You’ll be able to check a bag on non-Light bookings, eat a hot meal and have plenty of movies to watch on your journey. Choose from different economy classes and have more flexibility for when you want to pick a seat or change your ticket.
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