New Restrictions On Buying Access To Air France’s La Premiere Lounge

Based on my rankings, Air France offers one of the world’s best first class experiences. When I last ranked the world’s best first class products, Air France’s 777-300ER first class topped the list (though in fairness, Emirates’ new 777-300ER first class and Singapore’s new A380 first class have been introduced since then, so it may be time to revisit that list).

Not only that, but Air France also offers the world’s best first class ground experience at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport, with their spectacular La Premiere Lounge. If you’re connecting in Paris they’ll pick you up from your arriving flight and bring you to the lounge, and then when your connecting flight is ready to depart, you’ll be driven to that plane as well.

The food in the Air France La Premiere Lounge is the best of any lounge I’ve experienced. There’s also a spa, where you can receive a complimentary treatment. Perhaps best of all, the entire experience is performed with such French confidence, which I can’t help but love.

The Air France first class ground experience is available to those traveling in Air France first class, but there has been another cool way to get access to this lounge.

Buying the Air France La Premiere ground experience

For years Air France has sold the first class ground experience, and this is something I took advantage of in early 2016, prior to an Air France business class flight to Toronto.

There are two types of packages you can buy (pricing is per person):

  • 150EUR or 20,000 Flying Blue miles for arrival services
  • 300EUR or 40,000 Flying Blue miles for departure or connecting flight services

Obviously ideally you’d want the departure or connecting service, since the arrival service just gets you a fast track through immigration, and doesn’t get you access to the lounge.

There are some other conditions that have to be met in order to buy access:

  • You must be flying on a longhaul Air France flight in business class
  • The flight must be operated by a plane without a first class cabin
  • Your ticket must be issued by Air France, regardless of whether it’s a revenue or award ticket
  • There are capacity controls, so during periods of high demand they may not sell access to the lounge

New restrictions on buying the La Premiere ground experience

A reader emailed me to say that he tried to buy this service, but was told he wasn’t eligible due to a new restriction requiring one to have flown Air France La Premiere at least once in the past 12 months. That’s not something I had heard of, so I did some digging and reached out to Air France. It appears as if Air France has added new restrictions to buying the La Premiere ground experience.

Specifically, buying the La Premiere ground experience is now limited to those who have flown in Air France La Premiere in the past 12 months. This rule was quietly put in place last December, though even the public page about the offer doesn’t yet list this.

I asked what would happen if you’re a party of two and one person has flown La Premiere in the past year and the other hasn’t. They said that you were eligible, as long as one person in the party has.

There’s one other interesting new change. Based on doing some searching it seems like the following advisory was issued regarding the new policy:

Accès payant au service La Première à Paris-CDG2
L´offre de service La Première à CDG2 est proposée aux clients ayant voyagés au moins une fois en Première au cours des 12 derniers mois ET voyageant en Business sur vol non-équipé en cabine La Première (vol Long-courrier operating AF non-équipé la Première ou operating DL

Here’s how that translates, via Google:

Paying access to La Première service in Paris-CDG2
La Première service offer at CDG2 is offered to customers who have traveled at least once in the first 12 months AND traveling in Business on non-equipped flight in the La Première cabin (long-haul flight operating AF not equipped the first or operating DL

That last part is especially interesting, as it appears that you can now buy access to the La Premiere ground experience when flying in Delta business class out of Paris. The key is that the ticket has to be issued through Air France, though.

Bottom line

300EUR is a lot to spend on lounge access. But you’re paying that money for the world’s best ground experience, and that includes transfers, an amazing meal (or two), a spa treatment, and more. I’d rather spend 300EUR on the La Premiere ground experience than $50 for a day pass to a lounge with cubed cheese and boxed wine.

If you were considering buying the ground experience, it’s worth being aware of these new restrictions. They want to keep the ground experience exclusive and avoid crowding, and they’ve chosen an interesting way to do that. The idea is that they want to offer this to people who would otherwise fly first class, in recognition of the fact that not all of their planes have first class. This isn’t an unreasonable way to limit the crowds, rather than just restricting this to people with certain status, people with tickets in certain business class fare buckets, etc.

Comments

  1. Was the ‘issued by Air France’ restriction also added recently? I’ve purchased this service on a AZ award ticket in the past.

  2. Yeah dude. Time to head back in the skies. All I see are credit card articles. Like there is anyone who doesn’t know this by now.

  3. If you ve flown La oremiere on award ticket tge last 12 montgs does it count or only cash paying tiket.

  4. @ Omar — It should be “business as usual” on that front. Maybe it wasn’t strictly enforced in the past, but the rule has always been that you’re supposed to be traveling on an Air France issued ticket. So if you’re on a ticket issued by another airline, it can’t hurt to call and ask if you can buy it.

  5. My favourite First lounge overcrowded by cheapos von DL or other useless Skyteam rags! Another watering down product.. opening the gates to the mundanes!..let us see how long AF will realize, how stupid this decision was..

  6. Can I ask what you mean by “French confidence”? As someone who’s spent a lot of time in France and speaks French, I’ve never heard French culture or their people described as “confident”.

  7. @ Trey — Maybe I’m not describing it well, but I find that when service in France is good, it’s really good. There’s nothing sheepish about good service in France, but rather I find that it’s provided with confidence you don’t find anywhere else, or at least that’s different than elsewhere. Let me give an example. When you order a meal in the Air France first class lounge the sommelier will come over, and almost rather than asking you what you want, they’ll tell you what you should have with it, because eating and drinking is an art in France, and they almost view there as being a right and wrong way to do it.

    Similarly, when they pick you up from your connecting flight in intra-Europe business class they’ll be waiting at the door and will make everyone else wait until you’ve deplaned in a non-apologetic way.

    I’m not sure if that makes any sense, but that’s part of my perception of good service in France.

  8. @ Lucky

    last comment about the AF service attitude= spot on! These are the aspects/details I love when flying AF Premiere. It is all about how you can give your premium guests the outmost service that they feel pampered and worth every money they have spendbon its product.

  9. It is nice, when flying first class, to have the whole plane lined up waiting for you. Last time I flew Cathay I told the flight attendant I wasn’t ready to go yet and she told me: it’s fine, they’re only business class, they can wait.
    Now about the wine pairings, I’d rather drink Weissbier, just to see the horrified face of the sommelier, it’s priceless.

  10. Lucky I think you’re missing the main thrust which is that this means about 0.1% of your readership could now do this… this new restriction is more of a ban

  11. @ Stvr — Air France recently had some amazing first class fares that a lot of people took advantage of, so I think more than 0.1% of my readership would be eligible.

  12. The only times I can think of ‘overcrowding’ at the La Premiere lounge are during the evening flights to Asia/South Africa or the morning flights to the USA.

  13. 2 things: first, if you’re transiting through cdg, the AF non-Schengen salon is hardly box wine and cube cheese. I mean, it’s not spectacular, but you can have your glass of champagne with snacks and follow it up with a proper entree-plate-salad-cheese-dessert meal accompanied by Chablis, Margaux, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, or other wines that, in the cheapest situations (off brands tankered to another country and bottled for sale in discount supermarkets), will set you back twenty bucks. And, if you’re into boozing, they have great options for digestives (alas, I usually have a long flight ahead of me). Even their Schengen lounge has decent cheeses, and better-than-most meal service. Champagne is served?around 1730-1800. Don’t get me wrong, La Première sounds like a great product, and AF regularly runs sales, especially on their older Skytanic seats. But being stuck in their normal salons is a far better experience than the us cube cheese, box wine, tower of sadness, and plastic forks.

    Second, yeah, if the opportunity arose, I’d try LA 1ere too.

  14. The world’s best first class ground experience*

    *When the locals are not on strike.

  15. @Bubba

    I have a feeling that the box wine and cube cheese is a reference to quite a lot of US lounges.

  16. @Bubba

    US lounges, for the most part, I feel they could be better. European lounges are far better. My personal view. I live in the US. Europe/Wales is my next destination. I’ll be flying into Manchester, UK. I’ve never been there. I wonder how this experience will be. I’m sure there won’t be a box in sight!

  17. Your comments are correct, but your translation missed a few important words: “une fois en Première au cours des 12 derniers mois” which translates as “one time in Premiere in the last 12 months.” I suspect you used Google Translate and it missed a key word here.

  18. @ Ben: I think what you said completely makes sense now. And I would agree with that. The French are certainly in many ways unapologetic (something I quite admire from them, as I come from the part of the US where “bless your heart” is used quite often and not in a good way) and one of the reasons why I studied French in the first place is because they do take food so seriously. It’s like you said – eating and food is an art. There’s a reason why school lunches are actually more than edible, they’re actually delicious. There’s a reason why they have two hour lunch breaks. They are certainly proud of their place in the world, so I can see what you mean by confidence now. I just have never seen it described as such!

  19. But why fly wiyh an airline that is always on strike?????……and does not make a profit.

  20. The French are notoriously arrogant which in polite speak could be called ‘confident’.

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