Air France’s “Other” Miami Flight: Awesome Or Awful?

Filed Under: Air France

One of the cool things about living in Miami is the new routes and airlines that it opens up, in particular for travel to Latin America. There are a fascinating array of airlines, to the point that I’m surprised by at least one plane or airline just about every time I pull up to the airport.

Well hello there, Swift Air!

To me one of the most fascinating flights to Miami is operated by Air France. No, I’m not talking about Air France’s flight to Paris, which is operated seasonally by an A380.

An Air France A380, which you may expect to see in Miami

Rather I’m talking about the fascinating island hopper flight that Air France has out of Miami. Many people don’t realize this, but Air France operates a small fleet of Airbus A320s out of the Caribbean, which primarily operate flights to & from French territories.

Air France A320

Air France’s Caribbean division has two US destinations — Miami and Atlanta. One of the flights out of Miami is a direct flight with three stops, and I can’t decide whether it’s awesome or just plane awful-sounding.

Air France operates a 3x weekly flight from Miami to Cayenne, French Guiana, via Port au Prince, Haiti, Pointe-a-Pitre, Guadeloupe, and Fort de France, Martinique.

While the flight “only” covers a total distance of 2,454 miles, the flight takes a total of 9hr25min southbound and 10hr15min northbound.

Air France stays true to their onboard product on this route, which is to say that business class simply consists of economy seats with a blocked middle and better food and drinks.

Air France’s regional business class

Air France’s regional business class catering

I find this flight to be so unique, and am really tempted to take it. The paid business class fares are even quite reasonable, at $576 one-way.

But I keep going back and forth in my head between being fascinated by this route and wanting to book it, and asking myself what the heck is wrong with me that I want to spend 10 hours on a plane configured this uncomfortably.

This flight actually might just be worse than Lufthansa’s Frankfurt to Pune flight on a regionally configured aircraft, since at least that flight is nonstop, and at least that flight has wifi. Heck, it might be a less comfortable way to get to South America than taking American’s 737 MAX 8 to Brazil!

What do you guys think — does spending 10+ hours on an Air France A320 hopping around the Caribbean sound awesome or awful?

  1. I took this flight in economy class roundtrip all the way to Cayenne, then traveled from there overland to Paramaribo, Suriname. It’s one of the most incredible trips I have taken in my life. I visited the ESA space center in Korou, crossed a pirahna-infested river in a dugout canoe, and had my first experience with anti-malaria medications.

    It’s a long day of travel, and there were no meals served on the plane. I got pretty hungry about halfway through. I was able to grab a French baguette sandwich at the Fort De France airport. I also was able to send a postcard from the Port Au Prince airport. For a $5 bribe, the airport worker agreed to mail it. I didn’t expect it’d ever show up, but it did!

    Be careful with checked bags – this flight was one of the only times that I have had one pilfered. Unfortunately I’d forgotten some cash in the bag and it was stolen. There isn’t a wide variety of consumer products available, and what’s there is very expensive (it’s all imported) so bring what you need with you. And by all means, go. Don’t bother going in business class, go in economy class. It’s a great points redemption.

  2. I think it sounds great! You should do it! Maybe use it in conjunction with a PBM-AMS review on Surinam Airways?

  3. Check out the BA routes too. You can technically earn BA Gold by flying your 4 routes via the Caribbean. They are operated by 77W , I think.

    Would love to see a Miami meet up! As the great Will Smith said “Welcome to Miami”

  4. I was looking at this flight last year as an unorthodox way to get to Brazil (you can fly from Cayenne to Belem on Azul) and a fun way to secure Delta status. Air France let me price out a crazy Honolulu-Cayenne itinerary in business class (with HNL-ATL in Delta One) online for an absurdly low fare, but other trips/work priorities/life/sanity meant it never happened.

    I also considered visiting Guadeloupe or Martinique on the AF island hopper but reading reviews and trip reports didn’t exactly entice me. Would love to visit French Guiana…someday

  5. If you want to do it just because, then do it. I’d do it one way. As far as blog content, I don’t think it would provide much value for the masses, other than entertainment.

  6. It’s Cayenne in French Guyana, not Guyana. Big difference 🙂 one is an oversees territory of France, the other its own country.

  7. @TProphet I was looking into doing that exact trip this year. Unfortunately I already have too much planned, so looking at 2020 (and want to add in French Guiana as well). Would love to hear more about it!

  8. Sounds awful to me!

    Not a ton of options though… Norwegian also fly there from PTP

    Also, it’s French Guiana, not Guyana.

  9. Some would also say it’s crazy to run an online business based on spending your leisure time on commercial flights. I’m glad you don’t listen to them, either. Carry on!

  10. @Lucky – Maybe you can take this flight in economy and then take the Azul flight to Belem and take the Azul flight from Belem to FLL in economy in their A320 to complete the roundtrip from hell.

  11. @ Steven – unfortunately, that BA Gold shortcut hasn’t worked for a number of years (since BA massively cut the number of Tier Points awarded for its short fifth freedom flights) – the days of people hopping back between DOH and BAH (route now gone) or GCM to NAS in F just for the TPs are over! Obviously still possible to earn status on the island-hopper flights, but it would take a lot more 60TP flights to get to 1500 than it used to take when they awarded 210…

  12. @Chris – talking strictly about the requirements to be on 4 BA flights to qualify for Gold, still earning a bulk of the miles from partners. As a Miami based traveler who enjoys sunlight, getting onto 4 BA flights a year can be difficult.

  13. are the flights between this islands considered domestic for Flying Blue? There might be opportunity there for gaining XP points if they pay out as international.

  14. @ Steven – sorry – yes, I figured you may have meant that after I clicked “post”. It was (of course) even better in the “old days” – I miss the days of a couple of DOH-BAH returns in F (or any of the Caribbean routes) getting me more than half way to OWE for (comparatively) very little money!

  15. What’s the practical difference between a delayed AA flight that you detest and this one. It’s more fun to go up and down three times?

  16. Right. Stop being such a snob and get your three to four letters on such a flight. Also, how come we havent seen the UA island hopper, terminating in… Guam or Saipan or whatever that is?

  17. Looks like an awesome flight to me!

    While eurobusiness-class isn’t the most competitive product out there to me it’s still pretty okay.
    To me an economy class seat is still comfortable and combined with extra space and a good meal it makes a flight perfectly acceptable so combined with AF’s excellent service and the wonderful destination I wouldn’t hesitate 🙂

    You can also try to fly this leg in economy. I’m sure you’ll survive 😉

  18. Do it!
    Would also love to hear about an island hop on LIAT. They used to offer a pass where you could travel island to island for a few weeks. LIAT stands for Leeward Island Air Travel but everyone knows it for “Luggage In Another Town“. 🙂

  19. Please do it. I’d be curious too what the crew thinks about the route? Is this a route that is considered to be a tough one to get. It’s certainly unique.

  20. I am also MIA based and have been fascinated by this flight. I am considering taking the direct MIA-PTP flight (skipping PAP altogether) that is offered certain weekends in summer, then taking an onward flight to Orly via Air Caraibes on their new A350 business class, which has some excellent rates as well.

  21. I think this might be your most out of touch post yet. Is this worse than an economy seat in red eye? No. Hell, is it worse than any long haul economy seat? It’s a daytime flight, with an empty seat next to you, with plenty of stops to get down and stretch your legs, while being served J class food and wine.

    I mean, we all know you hate flying economy, but this is basically a leisurely premium economy flight. “…this uncomfortably”. FFS man get a grip.

  22. I’m wondering if this route would have a high AF EQP or segment count compared to trying to earn status points via delta codeshares in North America.

  23. Not worth it when you can do the same routes on Norwegian for pennies. Guadeloupe is a great place to relax.

    Try boliviana! It’s an ex-Alitalia 767 business class. Bolivia is fascinating.

    Another flight worth trying would be the Aeromexico into Merida.

  24. I love flying milk run routes!
    Air NZ operated a great one in 1990s with a 767-200 between Honolulu and Auckland via Tonga and Samoa.
    My flights home from Orange County to Sydney in one go were:
    Orange County to LAX on a Beech190 – American eagle i think
    LAX to San Diego on Midwest MD80 for lunch
    San Diego to LAX on Alaskan MD80
    LAX – Honolulu on Air NZ 747-200
    Honolulu via Apia and Tonga to Auckland on Air NZ 767 -200 leaving around 2am
    Auckland- Sydney on Air NZ 767-300
    Over 40 hours door to door.
    Air NZ crews thought i was crazy as they considered the Honolulu – Auckland leg worst on their roster! Kept trying to rebook me LAX – Sydney direct, didn’t think anyone would deliberately book this.
    Give me a multi stop flight any day!

  25. I am on this flight, Monday!
    AF 611 MIA-PAP-PTP in 2A.
    I’ve been eyeing it for years.

    I am receiving +6k MQMs.
    Have also read the MIA-PAP leg is usually full. PTP here I come!

  26. Flying Blue: The first two legs will get you 30 XP in J; the last two, 12. You’d need two r/ts and change to qualify for gold.

    You know, you’re wondering whether to take the euro-mode moving business class at the same time as you’re admitting to becoming an AMR captive at their Miami base, which is ground zero for their 737 MAX rollout. You’re going to be miserable on planes a lot; might as well do it with a glass of champagne and some decent grub.

    Nice work on the battery acid description earlier; I see your palate is evolving.

  27. Martinique, Guadeloupe and French Guiana are not territories, they are overseas departments/regions of France similar to the way that Hawaii is a US state but Puerto Rico is not . That means that not only are they part of France but they are also part of the European Union. Mayotte and Reunion also hold this status.

    All other French overseas possessions have other varying statuses, ranging from overseas collectivities, territories and in New Caledonia’s case almost sovereign nation state status.

  28. Why not make a trip out of it and actually see some of those places? Guadeloupe and Martinique are beautiful places.

  29. Ben you know we love the trip reviews and the more you do and more unusual the better. Go for it as I’d love to follow your trip

  30. How about doing a DIY-Business class to make it more bearable?

    On these Euro-Business-configured ‘planes, legroom is better in Emergency Row in Economy than in Business.
    If you book two seats (two Economy often cheaper than one Business) you can guarantee the seat next to you is free.
    Buy some decent food at the airport (put in a cool-bag with an icepack?)
    And I believe that a distinctive feature of Air France is that they serve champagne even in Economy?

  31. I don’t think they’ll consider this 4 legs.
    Those are only stops, the flight number is the same.
    Probably he’ll be issued only one boarding pass all the way to CAY.

  32. I think Leeza1 is correct and pricing the legs individually comes close to three grand, but it looks like you can book an overnight connection in PTP or FDF for a few bucks more ($603) and this should get you 2×24 XP as a pair of medium legs. It’s the same flight number but operating a day later out of PTP or FDF. That also breaks up the trip a bit.

    Unfortunately the return direction is quite a bit higher (about double).

    The XP calculator appears to confirm 24 points even though the PTP/FDF to CAY leg could possibly be construed as “domestic”

    I’ve still got a pile of FB left over from a crazy match by KLM of my UA balance way back when and would love to burn some off in F with a visit to the lounge in CDG and this trip, once, with some SEA-YVR on DL in J could be a good way to do it.

  33. I flew this flight a couple of years ago, in business class. It was great! The crew was based in PTP. The food kept coming at each stop. The champagne was good. Fantastic views of the Caribbean. I will take it again next year.

  34. @Ben,

    In the same vein, you might consider testing the UA 737 between Honolulu and Guam which stops, I think, 7 times and crosses the date line. At 2 or 3 of the stops, passengers are confined on board because one place is the biological warfare center for the US, Kwajalein or something like that, (window blinds down with guard on board) and at others there simply is no structure able to accomodate a planeload.

    Passengers on then Continental had once a hell week when they had 2 serious mechanicals on the same trip, involving 2 727s, the original and the relief one flown from either Honolulu or Guam. They basically stayed on board for 5 days.

  35. @TProphet. thank you for your post! I’m now seriously considering doing this and flying back from Paramaribo to Amsterdam. Have you done this trip solo? Would really like to learn some more about your itinerary, did you write a blog or something about it?

    Also do you get 5XP in economy for each leg, even if you don’t get off the plane there? That would be an awesome way to score some Flying Blue XP points 🙂

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