Can You Redeem Miles For Air France First Class?

Can You Redeem Miles For Air France First Class?

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Air France offers one of the world’s most exclusive first class products. It’s not only exclusive in terms of the size of the first class cabins, but also in terms of how few ways there are to get into these cabins with miles. So in this post I wanted to go over the details of that.

Basics of Air France La Premiere first class

Air France’s first class, known as La Premiere (“the first” in French), is one of the world’s best first class experiences. Personally I rank the inflight product as being the second best in the world, while I rank the ground experience as being the best in the world.

Currently Air France only offers first class on select Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, which fly to high yield markets (like Dubai, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, etc.). Each of these planes is configured with just one row of four first class seats, in a 1-2-1 configuration.

Air France La Premiere first class cabin

Air France has innovative first class seats, as each has a curtain that goes all the way from the ceiling to the floor, giving you utmost privacy. The only other first class product in the world offering this level of privacy is Emirates’ new first class.

Air France La Premiere first class dining

Everything else about the inflight experience is incredible as well, from the consistently great service, to the top notch food, to the amenities.

The awesomeness of the Air France first class experience doesn’t end in the air, as Air France offers an unrivaled first class ground experience. You’ll be driven to & from the plane, you can receive a complimentary spa treatment, and you can enjoy an amazing meal in the lounge. Note that you can also independently buy the first class ground experience, though there are many restrictions associated with that.

Air France La Premiere ground transfer

Redeeming miles for Air France La Premiere first class

Here’s the catch — of the world’s best first class products, Air France La Premiere is the product that’s most inaccessible with miles.

You can only redeem miles for Air France first class directly through the Air France-KLM Flying Blue program, and only if you have Flying Blue Gold or Platinum status:

  • You can’t redeem miles for Air France first class if you are a non-elite or Silver member of the Flying Blue program
  • You can’t redeem any partner loyalty program miles for travel in Air France first class
  • Note that similar restrictions exist for upgrades with miles
  • There are carrier imposed surcharges on these award tickets, but they’re fairly mild (at least compared to airlines like British Airways and Lufthansa)

Even if you are eligible for these redemptions, award costs are steep. How much should you expect to pay? You can use the “miles price estimator” on the Flying Blue website to get a sense of how many miles would be required. Just to give some examples:

  • A one-way first class ticket from New York to Paris would cost 220,000 Flying Blue miles
  • A one-way first class ticket from Los Angeles to Paris to Frankfurt would cost 230,000 Flying Blue miles
  • A one-way first class ticket from Miami to Paris to Singapore would cost 320,000 Flying Blue miles
  • A one-way first class ticket from Washington to Paris to Dubai would cost 350,000 Flying Blue miles

As you can see, these are really steep redemption rates. If it’s any consolation, these awards book into the “Flex” award level, meaning that award availability is typically pretty easy to come by. Inventory should generally match up with however many seats in the “F” fare bucket show as being for sale.

For example, in a four seat cabin you’ll usually find that in advance the inventory shows “P4F2,” with “P” being the highest fare class, and “F” being the lower fare class. Typically at least two first class award seats will be available per flight.

Air France La Premiere beds

Are there tricks to booking Air France La Premiere first class?

While I wouldn’t say there are any “tricks” to booking Air France La Premiere, there are a couple of other things to consider:

  • Sometimes Air France has reasonable(ish) paid first class fares, though they’re rarer than in the past; you’ll usually find the best fares originating in Europe, especially departing from places other than Paris, like Frankfurt, Geneva, Madrid, Stockholm, Zurich, etc.
  • Air France will sometimes sell paid first class upgrades at check-in, and prices vary; for example, from Paris to Dubai it might cost as little as ~$1,000, while from New York to Paris it typically costs ~$2,200

Lastly, I’ll just throw this out there. In the past I’ve considered going for Flying Blue Gold status in order to be able to redeem for Air France first class. I could probably earn this status by crediting my Delta flights to the program.

Since Flying Blue partners with virtually all major transferable points currencies, I could then transfer over points for redemptions. We often even see transfer bonuses of ~25%. So if an award would usually cost ~220,000 miles each way, you could book it for “just” 176,000 transferable points.

Is that a bargain? Of course not. But when you consider the lack of alternatives for transatlantic first class, and the ability to lock in awards as soon as the booking window opens, it’s not quite as bad as it may initially appear.

This isn’t something I’m really considering right now, but I don’t think it’s the worst strategy for someone who wants easy access to Air France La Premiere.

Bottom line

Air France La Premiere is one of the world’s best first class experiences. Unfortunately it’s also one of the toughest experiences to secure with miles.

You can only redeem miles for Air France first class if you have at least Gold status in the Flying Blue program, and even then redemption rates are high. The good news is that award availability is quite good, which is otherwise a struggle with transatlantic first class.

Some might find it to be worthwhile to earn status with Flying Blue to redeem for Air France first class. Alternatively, Air France does sometimes sell first class upgrades at check-in, which is otherwise the best strategy for booking Air France first class.

Have any OMAAT readers redeemed miles for Air France first class?

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  1. Ehhhh Guest

    Yeaaa if you want to try this product, you're going to have to pony up.

  2. 747Jetter Guest

    Note that similar restrictions exist for upgrades with miles - this isn’t true. Anybody holding J ticket can upgrade At check in. And prices are usually better than for own Plat members due to their clever algorithm.

  3. Mcf Guest

    DONT DO THAT! The award chart is not fixed and acceptably priced tickets are basically not available anymore. For example, in theory a one way business class ticket from nyc to europe is 55k miles but on most days they go up to 200-300k miles. I bet on most days la premiere will be 500-600k if there is any availability at all

  4. Joe Guest

    Can someone with status book for you?

    1. TravelinWilly Diamond

      Yes, someone with AF status who has the miles required can book you a FC ticket.

  5. Oyvind Guest

    I upgraded a paid business class ticket from SFO til CDG for 1100 usd and around 100.000 points. It was fun to try it!

    1. Stuart Guest

      I'm confused, you paid $1100 AND 100K points to upgrade from a paid business class ticket? That would rank as one of the worst upgrades to cost ever initiated. I'm assuming you are not typing this correctly as that would equate, given the paid business class, that you overall spent around $8K total, lol. Just buy an F ticket!

  6. Stuart Guest

    Maybe at JFK they charge $2200 for the buy up from Business at check in. However at IAD I have done it a number of times and it was always around $1200-$1400. Unless it's changed in the past months. Oh, and they do allow it from redemption tickets.

  7. thibderoc Guest

    as the Flying Blue Program relies on XPs to gain status, and as it has been designed for AF and KLM (and not for Delta), within the US, a domestic flight gives you 2 or 6 points. Even for a flight between LA and NY.
    But a flight between Paris and Amsterdam gives you 5 or 15 points for a 45 min flights.

    Even as a very frequent flyer, you'll need to almost take...

    as the Flying Blue Program relies on XPs to gain status, and as it has been designed for AF and KLM (and not for Delta), within the US, a domestic flight gives you 2 or 6 points. Even for a flight between LA and NY.
    But a flight between Paris and Amsterdam gives you 5 or 15 points for a 45 min flights.

    Even as a very frequent flyer, you'll need to almost take 3x more flights within the US compared to a frequent traveler in Europe.

    You'd better try to gain FB Gold status by paying cash a few transatlantic flights a year...

    1. Mike C Member

      The same in Australia (where you can credit QF flights to FB). If you only fly short sectors it's no big deal but you need another option for trans-con or other longer flights. If you don't fly much attaining status in more than one airline could be difficult but it can be done. Non-US status tends to give you lounge access on US flights if that matters to you.

    2. Super Member

      Just looked it up because I was in disbelief - you're right! FB very clearly did this to prevent US-based Delta passengers from getting status on FB easily, or otherwise they would've stuck purely to a distance based chart instead of having a separate category for Domestic.

      That being said, you only have to take 15 RT Business flights to get FB Gold (30x flights at 6xp ea = 180xp) which for a business traveler...

      Just looked it up because I was in disbelief - you're right! FB very clearly did this to prevent US-based Delta passengers from getting status on FB easily, or otherwise they would've stuck purely to a distance based chart instead of having a separate category for Domestic.

      That being said, you only have to take 15 RT Business flights to get FB Gold (30x flights at 6xp ea = 180xp) which for a business traveler is not that much. Even quick hopper flights in business would count (LAX-LAS, NYC-BOS, etc.). Considering how worthless SkyPesos are, could still be worth it to credit all Delta flights to FB.

    3. Mike C Member

      Be careful! It takes 180 to get FB Gold but you have to have FB Silver to start with so you need 280 (IIRC).

    4. Levi Member

      If you're buying DL F outright and can keep your average segment less than 1100 miles or so, you need fewer flights to get ST E+ (gold in either program) crediting to AFKL. If you're outstation-based, those regional jet flights might help a lot.

      The credit card, even ignoring the current 100 XP bonus, gives you 60 XP for spending $15k each year (20 for renewing and 40 for the spend). Relative to the DL...

      If you're buying DL F outright and can keep your average segment less than 1100 miles or so, you need fewer flights to get ST E+ (gold in either program) crediting to AFKL. If you're outstation-based, those regional jet flights might help a lot.

      The credit card, even ignoring the current 100 XP bonus, gives you 60 XP for spending $15k each year (20 for renewing and 40 for the spend). Relative to the DL Amex Plat's MQM boosts, that's marginally better in terms of Elite+ qualification (ignoring that FB Gold is probably a better status than DL Gold), especially when you consider DL MQD/waiver requirements and then the difference in annual fees (though the DL companion cert makes a difference there).

      If you're averaging 15 XP a month (no card) you'll eventually get gold: it'll just take you about 7 months to get Silver for the next 12 months, during which you'll squeak through the 180 XP barrier to Gold. After that, you'll keep retaining Gold by the skin of your teeth.

      AFKL is also noteworthy over DL for letting you book awards and earn miles/elite credit on JL and QF and AFKL codeshares on some SQ flights as well.

    5. Bubba Guest

      The brilliance of FB's XP system is exactly that it makes SkyTeam-wide rules that favor travel on FB carriers (AF/KL/RO), and for those carriers, encourages travel through their hubs, rewarding fights from airports dominated by other alliances. And the most cost-efficient way to build status is to fly business in Europe. That's also the least appealing product: blocked middle seat and a cold meal. KLM won't even give you proper silverware (Bamboo-hoo).

    6. Raylan Guest

      Workaround idea here: position to DTW and do a mileage run to and from YYZ on DL.

      I believe you also get XPs from the Bank of America Flying Blue co-brand card, so there are certainly opportunities to shortcut to status.

  8. Steve Diamond

    When paying cash, i would assume crediting this to Delta is the way to go, any tips on this and would buying one first class ticket on AF end up getting you platinum?

    1. TravelinWilly Diamond

      One r/r FC ticket on AF on any AF route (including connections) will not get you PLAT with AF.

    2. Steve Diamond

      I meant platinum with Delta.

    3. Mick Guest

      It looks worth trying but I prescribe less premium to the food and wine. It looks like the jal seat albeit with a curtain. Is is that much better than Jal or lh? Enough to do 14 business class flights to then earn the right to pay 220k miles for a short flight?

      Why doesnt lh bring in curtains? Seems like an easy fix to create a cocoon.

      I personally would much rather fly etihad apartments than this. Especially for the price. Obviously rip

  9. Joe Chivas Guest

    How do the flight attendants check the F cabin for mask compliance with the floor to ceiling curtains?

    1. Evan Guest

      Let's get real. They don't. That's why the whole masking on planes thing has been silly from the start. On long-haul flights, people have their masks off for long stretches, especially in business class where you can be "eating" for two hours. Meanwhile on domestic flights, people were raising and lowering their masks every time they ate a single peanut.

    2. Moose Guest

      Anecdotally mask compliance isn't as proactively enforced in premium cabins. Depending on your personal risk tolerance, this makes sense given lower passenger density in these cabins.

    3. TravelinWilly Diamond

      Emirates couldn’t care less on the two FC flights I had with them last month, and Lufthansa wasn’t enforcing it in FC either, including to/from the USA.

  10. Andre Wiggins Guest

    Does Aor France ever do status matches — for example, from ITA Volare to Flying Blue Platinum since they’re both in the Skyteam family?

    1. TravelinWilly Diamond

      Yes, AF does periodically offer status matches, but I did mine (DL Diamond to FB Plat) with them 13 years ago; not sure when the last one was.

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

TravelinWilly Diamond

Yes, someone with AF status who has the miles required can book you a FC ticket.

2
TravelinWilly Diamond

Yes, AF does periodically offer status matches, but I did mine (DL Diamond to FB Plat) with them 13 years ago; not sure when the last one was.

2
Mike C Member

Be careful! It takes 180 to get FB Gold but you have to have FB Silver to start with so you need 280 (IIRC).

2
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