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What paid first class should I look at taking?
Hello everyone! I’m starting to plan a RTW-style trip for my birthday next year (I love planning so I start super early) and I’m looking to take one of my segments in first class. I am considering paying for this segment and redeeming miles for other legs, which opens me up to virtually all first class products. What F product would [I]you[/I] take if you are concerned about the following in order of decreasing priority:
[*]The first class product (i.e. onboard, lounge and other amenities)
[*]Products that are hard or impossible to redeem for miles (because I am paying, I don’t want to necessarily book a trip that I could use miles for)
[*]Miles accrued from the segment (I am SLC-based Delta and American flyer with no status. I do not fly United)
I have flown Etihad F on their A380 and Thai F on their B747. I don’t want to use this segment on either of those products. Looking forward to your thoughts!
Tough one… so many great F products out there!
I’ve only flown LH F and as much as I enjoyed it I am sure there are better products. Needless to say if you are flying F you need to fly out of the hub to fully enjoy the experience 😉 . If you haven’t established a set of specific destinations that you’d like to visit (or not) yet, these are the three airlines I would most like to eventually travel in F (in no particular order):
I am not sure there are many amenities that can compete with having a shower at 40,000 feet, so that would be a nice one for the novelty. That being said you have already been on EY’s A380 on F, so maybe it’s not that enjoyable… Additionally EK’s new 777 F (1-1-1 configuration) seems like a very luxurious and opulent product and was ranked by Lucky as the best F product in 2019.
They have a very private and modern product. Their ground services in CDG are amazing: they have great dining facilities, the food looks excellent and you will be driven to and from the plane, regardless of where it departs from. Have seem some decent offers ex-Germany and BUD.
This is probably the more biased option (since I travel LH J occasionally), so the idea of travelling on F on “premium” LH sounds pretty appealing to me. Additionally they have a very intimate lounge in ZRH with a very good dining selections and two private rooms. Depending on where your flight departs from (remote stand or gate) you may be driven on a private car to the plane. You can sometimes find some good rt deals (not sure about ow) ex-PRG/BUD/CDG/STO to the US.
LX and AF F are very hard to redeem miles on (only available to top-tier members of their respective programs) and EK doesn’t partner with neither DL nor AA, so these three would be relatively challenging to book with miles. The above recommendations for where to book from are based on searches I’ve done in the past, so it may or may not be the case anymore. Regardless of what you choose you will have a great time.
Enjoy the planning process and the actual trip!
Given your 3 bullet points, then without a doubt, Air France. I am lucky that I flew AF First (La Premiere) several times, and there is nothing like it honestly. The onboard product is phenomenal (aim to fly the 777 as opposed to the A380 though), the ground experience is simply unmatched. The food in the lounge is ridiculous, everyone knows your name, and you are escorted at all times. Heck, last time I flew it a few weeks ago they even stopped everyone from boarding the plane so I could board undisturbed haha (very embarrassing).
It is indeed hard to redeem miles for it, you need to be an Elite and even then the points cost is prohibitive. And you should get a good amount of points on Delta.
There are good fares from certain European cities as Ben mentioned; MAD, BCN, BER and OSL are also good suspects. The added benefit is that you get the full ground treatment when you have a connection in CDG since they pick you up at the plane door. Just make sure you budget ~4 hours or so to have enough time to enjoy the ground stuff.
Asian destinations usually have the cheapest fares, especially given the long flights, more bang for your buck ;).
Problem with AF out of Europe is that the cheap paid F tickets often require a return ticket.
A travel agent might be able to arrange F outbound from Europe with and Y return ticket that you can throwaway, this is not something you can easily book on your own online.
Also a problem with lots of the cheap starting points are limited service when it comes to number of daily flights. Not a problem if you are willing to take the 6 am something morning flights, but flights later in the day will often end up with short connection times in CDG and little time to enjoy the lounge on westbound flights to the US or Mexico.
And since AF is the EU3 with the least flights with F service you choices are somewhat limited.
Outside the US and Mexico you have Beijing, Shanghai, Tokyo, Seoul, Hong Kong, Singapore, Johannesburg +1 more in Africa and Beirut with year round service. Dubai also gets F service during the norther winter if I remember correctly.
Color me surprised! Thank you everyone for your suggestions and providing tons a detail to your opinions. Ben has raved about AF, but I always thought that maybe he was a little biased to products that were nostalgic or of cultural significance to him such as Lufthansa or how he describes AF as Oh So French. But now the first thing I’m going to do is re-read the AF trip reports and start looking for potential destinations that are aligned with the general route I want to take 🙂 Thank you!