Air France Marketing Their New Business Class At… Gamers?

Filed Under: Air France

Air France has a fantastic new business class product, consisting of fully flat reverse herringbone seats.


They’re finally adding some “substance” to their already stylish business class, which has great catering, if nothing else.

They’re slowly launching their new 777 business class on more routes, including several routes to Asia.

So Air France has put together an “upgrade challenge” for the new business class launch to Asia, whereby passengers can win instant upgrades at the gate by playing a game.

Here’s a video they put together about the promotion:

My friend Jim forwarded me a link to the video, and pointed out “as a marketer I am intrigued but somewhat confused. If I ran an airline I wouldn’t be targeting economy gamers for business class upgrades–even for the PR.”

Which is a good point. On one hand it’s an interesting way to build awareness for a new business class product, but it’s also a bit puzzling. I’m not sure how I’d feel if I paid for business class and saw people at the gate playing games to fill up the empty seats around me.

What do you think?

  1. I’d feel if I paid for business class and saw people at the gate playing games to fill up the empty seats around me.

    Or regular business travelers whoes employers won’t pay for business class.

  2. Well, Asian leisure passengers are rich and they are happy to pay for business class. Especially for people living in Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, and some of Chinese cities.
    So, what happened is that many since many Asian companies do not allow their employees fly business class, business class passengers are therefore affluent individuals.

  3. Well my kid would be all over this. But I think they are just trying to create buzz, doesn’t seem ideal for reasons such as you bring up.

  4. I don’t think you realize how much disposable income true gamers have. It is brilliant if it is a real gamers experience. They will hemorrhage cash once they get hooked.

  5. sounds to me like a clever marketing promo in limited markets to introduce their new biz class. Not that much different than having a sweepstake… created a bit of buzz… and it seems to be working too, as evidenced by your own reporting… 😉

  6. @ E — To clarify, by “gamers” I don’t mean the people heavily invested in the mileage hobby, but rather the people playing games in the gate area to win an upgrade. Don’t think too much judgment can be made as to their disposable income.

  7. This campaign is more about reaching out to winners’ circle of family and friends. When one gets a free upgrade on a long haul flight, it’s very difficult to keep it to oneself. These days they’ll likely to share it on social media and maybe do a bit of ‘peacocking’ along the way.

    Of course this can backfire if onboard service is below standard or someone didn’t play fair and the plane boards with quite a number of upset passengers 🙂

    Barrier of entry is quite low (anyone would have played a game of some sort on a smartphone), you hardly need to be ‘gamers’ to participate and losing is not such a big deal since it’s done while they’re waiting at the gate anyway. Wouldn’t hurt to try.

  8. @ Arnold — Definitely the new business class, but given the restrictions regarding redeeming for first class on Air France, probably won’t do it anytime soon.

  9. Which airports are being served by the new AF J? Is that Jakarta flight going into AMS and competing against Garuda? Is new J available on the Hong Kong flights?

  10. I flew AF Business class to HND last month, and back to the UK on KLM’s Business via AMS. I made sure the AF flight was operated using the refurbed aircraft at the time of booking but they had a change of aircraft at the last minute which was really annoying. I have to say though, the catering people had been raving about on AF was not all that impressive to me. The old seats were not full flat but surprisingly more comfortable than I thought. However, KLM came through like a dark horse. I had been try to avoid them in the past after one bad experience flying them many moons ago. However, the new J seat was one of, if not the, most comfy seats I’d sat in on an airplane. I had the 1A throne seat in the nose of the 747. The service was great and attentive and the catering was AMAZING! I tried both Japanese and Western options, both were 10/10 perfect. Given the choice in the future, I’d always fly KLM over AF (old seat). I’d be very keen to try AF’s new seat but won’t be expecting wonders with anything else on board to be honest.

  11. I really like the new Air France Business Class, actually reviewed it last month after one of my casino trips.
    LINK :

    Regarding this promotion, well, it’s sort of a “game” anyway to get upgraded on AirFrance/KLM since they are so stingy with releasing the upgrade buckets. I would say it’s more BUZZ than anything else. So, Air France now allows you get an upgrade by playing games, KLM invites you to participate in “virtual” bidding. All I ever want, is AirFrance/KLM to actually release “some” upgrade space 7+ days prior to departure. (OK, I’ll stop complaining, since Delta has been “awesome’ recently with regard to releasing international transatlantic upgrade space 7+ days in advance.)

  12. @John, AF doesn’t have a CGK-AMS flight competing with Garuda, but AF does have a CGK-SIN-CDG flight on its 777.

    @Lucky, I think this is great! I don’t have the stats on this but I think the majority of business class passengers’ fares are paid by their company and as long as they get some quiet time to rest and/or work, I doubt they’d mind gamers filling up the remainder of the seats. BTW, from watching the video, most if not all of those folks are not gamers (I think of gamers as those who play videogames all night after work.) The ones in the video seem to be average passengers who are just vying for a business class seat by participating in a video game competition. I’ll admit I would have thought EVA or ANA or JAL would have done this first before AF.
    I flew Virgin Atlantic once during the holiday season and the gate check-in lady had a competition on who can sing the best holiday song from 5 volunteers. The best one as got a free upgrade to Upper class! That was so cool to see (and no I did not win!) 😉

  13. Mobile gaming is huge in Asia (everywhere really, but especially in Asia) and it looks more like a promotional stunt then a long term “strategy”. I think its cool and a bit different, and is definitely targeting the younger audience who may not pay for Biz class now, but might be inclined to down the line, now that they know the difference.

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