Air France Reopens Spectacular La Premiere Lounge

Filed Under: Air France

The world’s best first class lounge has reopened as of today.

Air France first class lounge reopens

During the pandemic we’ve seen airlines close quite a few lounges due to lack of demand. We’re slowly seeing airlines reopen lounges, though that’s happening at different paces around the world.

Only a limited number of airlines have international first class lounges, and these have overwhelmingly been closed during the pandemic, both because the biggest planes have been grounded, and also because business demand has decreased. On that front, there’s some fantastic news.

The Air France La Premiere Lounge at Paris Charles de Gaulle offers my favorite ground experience in the world, and it has reopened as of today, May 4, 2021.

Dining in the Air France La Premiere Lounge

With Air France having retired its entire Airbus A380 fleet, the airline only has first class on select Boeing 777-300ERs. In total there are now 76 first class seats in Air France’s fleet — 19 777s have four first class seats each, and it’s an absolutely incredible product.

Air France’s 777 first class

There’s no airline that has quite as much of a commitment to maintaining the quality of first class as Air France, and this is a clear reflection of that. Even while the La Premiere Lounge was closed, the airline still offered a dedicated space for first class passengers in another lounge, and continued to offer car service.

As a point of comparison, Lufthansa First Class Lounges, as well as the Lufthansa First Class Terminal in Frankfurt, continue to remain closed.

The La Premiere Lounge has even been refreshed

Not only is Air France opening the La Premiere Lounge, but the airline has also taken the opportunity to refresh the interior of the lounge a bit. It looks like the changes aren’t too drastic, but rather just a few cosmetic improvements have been made:

  • There are two daybeds with divider curtains in the relaxation area
  • The bar now has different finishes, and is white and mirrored
  • Bubbles replace the fiber display that was previously in one of the seating areas off to the side of the main room

Bottom line

For the privileged few who are flying La Premiere in the coming months, Air France’s flagship lounge is once again open. This is my favorite lounge in the world. Despite Air France’s greatly reduced first class footprint (due to the A380 retirement) and the general lack of demand for long haul travel, the airline remains committed to this offering, which is awesome.

Anyone visiting the La Premiere Lounge in the coming weeks?

  1. I predict this will be a PR disaster for Air France at some level given the setup of an airline that’s taken massive public bailouts over the last year dumping resources into a money-losing part of the business coupled with the higher levels of climate related concerns about flying in France.

    Why should typical French tax-payers support something that few of them will ever see when the country is struggling at large with COVID related lockdowns? If I were a citizen, I’d be furious. For context, Air France got another $4.7B USD in support from the French government just this month.

  2. It’s just so little capacity.

    And with just 4 F seats, statistics will tell you that you must be much more conservative with overbooking than with 8 F seats.

    There was some interesting article on F capacity in Europe in this German-language blog entry:

    I just wonder if the whole thing is economically viable given the complete lack of scale. Just look at LH: Under the assumption its A380 and A340-600 currently in long-term storage don’t come back, it follows LH got rid of as much as two-thirds of its F seats during the course of the pandemic.

    Is it really worthwhile to continue with this for the long run? I’m skeptical, maybe there will be a quiet phase-out. You slowly decommission aircraft without bringing in new ones with an F cabin.

  3. Re above comments point taken, however one or two seats in la premiere is a huge amount of revenue v 20 seats in economy. The lounge is also used by VIPs
    It doesn’t mean a company should stop investing, and this was also within budget. Lufthansa’s first is far poorer in comparison.

  4. I was expecting a much more spectacular renovation to be honest, but I’ll survive 😀 .
    And to also respond about the very limited capacity, it is rumored that Air France is planning on installing F seats in the A350 – possibly in an 8 seats configuration, but we shall see.

  5. Seems to me like Air France has the ideal First Class strategy figured out. They only have 4 First Class seats on each plane (777-300ER), with each seat having complete privacy or openness with their curtains (why doesn’t any other airline feature curtains in First Class?), and industry-leading soft-product service in the air and on the ground. Plus they only use those planes on routes where people will pay cash for that level of service and comfort (rather than get there through upgrades and points), like JFK to CDG and LAX to CDG. With Covid not going away anytime soon, their First Class product seems to me like the best and safest way to travel in commercial aviation other than perhaps Emirates new 777 First Class, and there’s certainly a market for this product on certain routes. On top of all of that, their First Class product gives Air France a greater level of cachet for their overall product.

  6. Cant wait. I just happened to take an upgrade offer for my CDG-JNB flight on Wednesday.

  7. I can’t wait I’m flying AF first to ORD on June 2. Looking forward to my flight even more now that La Premiere is open.

  8. While I have no plans to be in the La Premiere Lounge at CDG, malheureusement, I do have plans to travel in the La Premiere cabin from IAD to CDG in late July, if the French government is willing to have U.S. citizens visit and if museums and other attractions start to open back up. (We are vaccinated and well-behaved, willing to follow any and all COVID regulations.)

    Time will tell whether this plan is feasible…and if the lounge at IAD is open!

  9. Bloomberg published an article that business is very popular. People have more
    Disposable income after the pandemic as they saved not going anywhere and for security they prefer a less dense cabin setup. Maybe less economy seats is the solution.
    Flew to Dubai recently from Zurich Swiss A330 was absolutely full. I got upgraded to FC, couldn’t believe my eyes. Never happened to me in 30 years flying with that airline…(under its present and past name of course).

  10. I flew Air France First class 14 times and all the major airlines in international (don’t count US domestic first class as first class please as that’s just a premium economy, for apple and apple comparison). AF F is truly the best. Sam Chui and Ben agree with me.

    I think I agree with comments above that Air France only send first class on routes that people actually paid $$ so it’s set up to not lose money like many airlines that first classes are just full of upgrades and points redemption. As if one had flown AF F, you would know that redemption is rare, only if you are Gold and spend 230k per way across Atlantic. Buy-upgrade last minute is usually offer base on your original ticket price which would be steep as well. People who said that (losing money segment of this airlines) because they don’t know Air France and only flown Lufthansa First (which I love and ‘ve flown a lot as well but via redemption more often).

    In addition, the footprint for only 4 seats (1 row) makes it more financial viable to not fill that section but still make money overall as a flight. Per math, this just take small percentage of a real estate so.

    Another point is that, though there’s an anti-air-travel green group in France. On average, French people care about eating nice food more than other cultures (hence a worldly famous cuisine), so an above and beyond cuisine offerings in first class are more appreciated by average French person than other airlines. Because really other than Japanese carriers and Air France, all other top first classes offer hit or miss food (if you fly many F flights with each of them), even on Singapore Airlines Suite there was a miss sometimes.

  11. @Marc I never knew that AF ever offered La Première to Chicago before? It really? Because ORD seems to not be a strong port for the airlines

  12. @Concorde02 AF has been flying their 77W to more US destinations than normal. Also sometimes it’s about cargo abilities of the 77W over other AF aircraft.

  13. That’s incredible to see. Well done AF. Having flown them 2x RT across the Atlantic during covid, I recognise that the airline and airline staff are hurting and are craving some resemblance of normal. Appreciate the push, hopefully with the vaccine rollout we’ll reach that point soon enough

  14. @Concorde02

    I do conceptually understand the argument: “It can be a problem to have 8 F seats because there aren’t enough people to pay full-fare F.” However, the smaller you make F, the higher your unit costs. It is possible, say, that it is more profitable to sell 5 seats in an 8 seat F than it is to sell 3 seats in an 4 seat F.

    My guess is that a 4 seat F is not profitable in and by itself. Just consider all the planning, crew training etc. that you have to undertake for so few seats. It may still be profitable if you consider effects such as on the entire airline’s image, aspirational value to top-tier elites etc.

    But if you look at the long-run decline of F (EK being a notable exception), it seems airlines are re-evaluating the relevance of F for marketing and loyalty. I, for one, think Air France F will go away eventually. If anything, the pandemic should accelerate the movement towards private jets for the very wealthly. And fewer and fewer corporates allow their top execs to fly F.

  15. A cursory examination of Air France’s financial results from before COVID demonstrates that it’s an organization pretty adept at immolating money and providing an exceptionally poor (negative) return on capital. Air France’s shareholders in 2005 would have way better off buying 15 year US treasuries. Since COVID, unsurprisingly the trend has been an even better job of destroying wealth and surviving only by the largess of the French treasury.

    Lolz, these internet arm-chair airline CEOs: on the topic of Air France updating a first class lounge during COVID: “AIr FRaNCe wOuldN’t dO it If iT Didn’T MakE Money!!!


    “wHAt AbOut bRAnD HAlO????”

    For future users of the lounge, make an especial effort to be nice to the poor people you meet in France that are paying for this silly thing.

  16. @Eric – if you flew AF, you’d understand AF F is considered one of too F products and is a lot of times sold out.

    Unlike other airlines AF doesn’t give it away for free. A day pass for just the F lounge/ground service at CDG is €600 by itself. Guess what? People pay for it.

  17. Just checked May 7-14th, of a total of 28 potential first class seats going one way JFK-CDG, a total of 20 remain for sale. Of the seats blocked off, some portion are likely awards, upgrades of French politicians (gotta keep that sweet govenment money trough open!), etc.

    Uhh, yeah, probably not making money.

  18. @Eric – yeah cause everyone is back flying again right now.

    Regardless if you look at prices, it’s not cheap. For those not flying in F, but want the ground services at CDG for F passengers, AF charges 600€. (Lounge, private car from lounge to plane, etc)

    F/J cabin passengers are what make a flight profitable.

  19. To sum up your argument: it’s expensive, and therefore profitable?

    What’s your day job, risk management desk at Credit Suisse??

  20. Nope, worked in RM at an airline. Cargo and F/J passengers are what cover costs on long haul. Flight can be empty in Y, but can make a profit if F/J are full.

    Conversely, plane can be losing big amounts if Y is full and F/J empty.

    In normal times, AF F is typically sold out.

  21. So excited to be flying La Premiere again in October! I booked with the help of [email protected] who found me better fares than I could find. Hoping to fly it again in April 2022. Absolutely the dreamiest airline experience I’ve ever had.

    @Concorde02 ~ at Flying Blue Gold, it would be 250k points each way, that would be 1 mil points RT (Yikes! Not impossible but would significantly cut into our AMEX points) I need $11,000 in Delta MQD’s to get to Diamond, but I don’t think Delta allows you to use partner $$ toward medallion status. So, what would you do with a RT AF La Premiere ticket? Credit your Skymiles account or go for the Flying Blue Gold?

    Lastly, I did not know one could purchase the La Premiere ground experience! Does that include their taking your luggage through customs and security?

  22. DL does indeed count partner MQD. It’s calculated based on miles flown X % (% based on fare class)

  23. @dana
    La Premiere lounge access can only be purchased under strict criteria.
    Last I remember (might have tightened — or relaxed? — now):
    1) Must be ticketed by AF in J long-haul on an aircraft with no P/F cabin, and
    2) Must have flown in La Premiere within the previous 12 mos.
    I have no idea how this latter requirement would be interpreted or applied at this time, in light of the events of 2020/21.
    Ben has an earlier post about this, from sometime pre-Covid. Needs updating.

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