Air France offers the world’s best first class ground service, in my opinion, and you can even buy access to this experience if not flying first class. However, the price for this has just been raised significantly, and more restrictions have been added on buying access. In this post I wanted to recap the current state of this opportunity.
Why Air France’s La Premiere Lounge is great
Based on my rankings, Air France offers one of the world’s best first class experiences. Air France’s 777-300ER first class is the world’s second best first class product in my opinion, after Emirates’ new 777-300ER first class.
If you’re connecting in Paris, you’ll be picked up from your arriving flight and will be brought to the lounge. After relaxing (and not having to worry about anything, since the staff keep an eye on the time), you’ll then be driven to your connecting flight when it’s time.
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. As of now Air France exclusively has first class on select Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, though rumor has it that some future delivery Airbus A350-900s will have first class as well.
The good news is that there’s another cool way to get access to this lounge. Unfortunately it keeps getting more and more costly, with an increasing number of restrictions.
Air France sells access to the La Premiere First Class Lounge
Given the relatively small footprint of Air France’s first class, the good news is that you can buy access to the Air France La Premiere Lounge if you’re traveling in long haul business class. This has been possible going as far back as 2015, though unfortunately this has continued to get more expensive and also more restrictive.
There are two types of Air France La Premiere packages that you can buy:
- You can buy an arrivals service, where you will be picked up plane side and fast tracked through immigration
- You can buy a departure or connecting service, where you receive access to the La Premiere Lounge, as well as all transfers between flights
Ideally you’d want the departure or connecting service, since the arrivals service just gets you a fast track through immigration, and doesn’t get you access to the lounge.
Here’s how much these packages cost:
- 300 EUR for the La Premiere arrivals experience
- 650 EUR for the La Premiere departure or connecting experience
This price hike was implemented this year, and until recently the cost was as follows:
- 200 EUR for the La Premiere arrivals experience
- 500 EUR for the La Premiere departure or connecting experience
Going back a few years, the pricing was as follows:
- 150 EUR for the La Premiere arrivals experience
- 300 EUR for the La Premiere departure or connecting experience
As you can see, those are some pretty significant price increases. The price of the departure or connecting experience has increased 117% in the last few years.
Restrictions on buying La Premiere ground services
Even at this high price tag, there are some other conditions that have to be met in order to buy the Air France first class ground experience:
- You must be flying on a long haul Air France flight in business class
- The flight must be operated by a plane without a first class cabin
- The flight must be on a route that doesn’t ordinarily have first class (in other words, you couldn’t buy access on a flight between Paris and New York, since some frequencies have first class)
- You must have flown Air France La Premiere in the past 12 months
- 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 it may not be possible to buy access to the lounge
Is buying the La Premiere ground experience worth it?
Back in the day virtually any long haul business class passenger could buy access to the Air France La Premiere Lounge for 300 EUR. There was no requirement to have flown La Premiere in the past 12 months, and the pricing was still easy enough to justify.
Sure, it would be a splurge for many, but when you consider the value of two private car rides to the plane, a spa treatment, and an amazing meal, it’s something that many people could see the value in for a special occasion.
Unfortunately times have changed:
- If you’re looking to justify the value of the price you’re paying, it’s probably harder for most to make the numbers work on paying 650 EUR for lounge access
- Then there are the other restrictions, including having to fly La Premiere in the past 12 months, and restrictions on which routes are even eligible
At this point I’d say the opportunity to buy the La Premiere ground experience is truly for those who would otherwise pay for first class if it were available on a route, rather than those just looking for a fun experience.
I consider the Air France La Premiere Lounge to be the best in the world, between the (aircraft) door-to-door service, amazing food, spa, and French service. Fortunately it’s possible to buy access to the experience even if you’re not flying first class, though there are an increasing number of restrictions.
I suppose I can’t blame Air France for wanting to maintain the exclusivity of the La Premiere experience, and encouraging people to pay for first class rather than just buy portions of the experience.
At the same time, with Air France’s first class footprint having been scaled back significantly due to the retirement of the A380, you’d think the airline would want to generate some additional revenue from operating the lounge. I can’t help but wonder if the current restrictions and pricing are really maximizing revenue (of course without diminishing the experience for first class passengers).
What do you make of the Air France La Premiere lounge access policies and pricing?