Air France La Première is often ranked as one of the best First Class flights in commercial aviation, with private cabins, exquisite food and drink on the ground and in the air, and refined service from start to finish.
And while securing a seat in the prestigious La Première cabin at a discount price is notoriously difficult, it’s certainly not impossible.
In this guide, we’ll look at everything that makes Air France La Première one of the best products in the business. In detail, we’ll look at what you can expect before and during the flight, as well as the cabins, routes, and how you can book this First Class experience with points.
The Air France La Première Experience
As expected for one of the world’s best First Class products, the Air France La Première experience is top notch. It’s far beyond anything offered by any business class cabin, and is superior to most other First Class products, too.
As a La Première passenger flying out of Paris, your First Class journey begins long before boarding the aircraft, and even before arriving at the airport.
La Première passengers get a complimentary chauffeur transfer to the airport they are flying out of. This service is offered within a 40km radius of Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport, and within a 30km radius of airports in Bordeaux, Lyon, Marseille, and Nice.
If you’re flying out of Paris, there’s a dedicated meeting place for La Première passengers. You’ll be met by a concierge who will take your luggage and lead you to a private check-in lounge.
At the check-in lounge, you’ll be introduced to your dedicated handler, who will help guide and assist with everything prior to your flight, beginning with check-in.
Once checked in, you’ll be escorted to what’s considered one of the best First Class lounges in the world. Of course, you’ll whizz through the long security lines via a series of secret corridors along the way.
The Air France La Première Lounge in Paris has everything you’d possibly want before your luxurious La Première flight.
Free access is only granted to La Première passengers flying into or out of Paris Charles de Gaulle airport, while select Air France business class passengers may purchase access for €650 ($877 CAD). Needless to say, the strict entry requirements deliver a convincing air of exclusivity.
Once inside the lounge, you’ll encounter an intimate space, with bold splashes of red against soothing shades of cream and grey.
There’s a wellness area with reclining chairs, located in a secluded area that’s made to feel like you’re surrounded by grass. Should you wish to sleep, there are also nap pods available on a first-come basis.
A highlight of the lounge is the spa operated by Sisley, where La Première passengers are entitled to a 30-minute complimentary spa treatment. You can either make a reservation prior to your journey, or through your escort on the day of travel.
The dining options at the Air France La Première Lounge are of the highest calibre. Most notably, the full à la carte menu was created by three-Michelin-starred Chef Alain Ducasse, and there’s no limit to how much you can order.
A miniature buffet selection is also available, with a buffet shelf that includes 11 types of still or sparkling water, including quintessential French brands Evian and Perrier.
To close off your dining experience, the lounge has an entirely separate menu for ice cream and sorbet for you to enjoy before your flight.
The Air France La Première Lounge also plays host to a high-class bar with top-shelf whisky, Champagne, wine, and cocktails.
While the La Première Lounge is spectacular on its own, what really sets Air France’s La Première ground experience apart from many other First Class products is the private car transfer.
If you’re originating from Paris, an elevator will take you from the La Première Lounge to the ground floor, where a BMW will be waiting to whisk you away to your La Première flight.
Ensuring that the journey is as seamless as possible, your driver will even escort you onboard and help load your luggage into the overhead bins as you take your seat and prepare for the main event.
Lastly, another element of the ground experience that distinguishes Air France La Première is the service provided after you land.
Even if you aren’t flying into France, dedicated La Première staff will guide you through security, immigration, and all the way to the baggage carousel, where your bag will be the first to arrive.
The Air France La Première staff will gather your bag and present it to you, thus concluding the La Première exquisite ground experience.
Similar to the La Première Lounge, the onboard Air France La Première experience is just as luxurious and exclusive. With only four seats across one row, you’ll feel as though you’re flying on a private aircraft.
With a seat pitch of 79”, and a seat width of 24” that measures at 30” wide when converted to a full-length bed, you’ll certainly have lots of room to sprawl out and relax.
Every seat has an adjacent ottoman with extra storage space underneath. There’s enough space here to have a companion join you for the meal service.
There’s also a 24-inch entertainment screen, with plenty of options for your viewing pleasure.
Beside each seat is a chic lamp, decorated in La Première’s seahorse design, making the seat feel a lot more like home with a bedside lamp.
Adding to the feeling of being in a luxurious apartment rather than on a plane is the most unique aspect of the La Première seat: the full-height curtains.
Every seat has its own private curtain, which can be drawn to provide complete privacy.
For electronics, there is a separate entertainment controller, power and USB outlets, as well as a headphone jack with noise cancelling headphones.
The seat controls allow you to position your seat however you’d like, which includes lowering it to a 6’7” fully lie flat bed when you’d like to get some rest.
Prior to lying down for a nap, the flight attendants will make up your bed by adding a memory-foam mattress, a fluffy duvet, and a pillow. You’ll also be given pajamas, which are yours to keep, to ensure your rest is of the highest quality.
Food and Drink
The La Première ground and seat experiences elevate you to another level of in-flight opulence, and the incredible onboard gastronomy certainly maintains that high standard.
La Première passengers can dine on demand, meaning you can order off the menu at any time during your flight.
Before take-off, you’ll be offered your choice of beverage, which may include Taittinger Comtes Blanc de Blancs 2007 Champagne.
Once airborne, more Champagne is readily available, including during the Sturia caviar service.
After the caviar service, you’ll be treated to high-quality French cuisine, with a plethora of fine-dining food options created by Michelin-starred chefs.
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An array of French cheeses and delectable desserts are available to wrap up the extensive menu, along with a range of high-end beverages throughout the flight to suit your every desire.
Air France La Première First Class Cabin
Since Air France retired its Airbus A380s in 2020, the La Première cabin can only now only be found on select Boeing 777-300ER aircraft.
(However, it’s worth noting that Air France is looking to add La Première on their Airbus A350 fleet in late 2023.)
Situated at the front of the Boeing 777-300ER, Air France La Première is quite noteworthy in that it’s limited to a single row in a 1-2-1 layout.
You won’t have any seats in front of or behind you, and you’ll enjoy complete privacy with the curtain drawn.
Like most First Class products, you really can’t pick a bad seat. If you’re travelling with a companion, you’ll want to select Seats 1E and 1F to enjoy a shared experience, while if you’re travelling solo, Seats 1A and 1L by the windows would be the best options.
Air France La Première First Class Routes
In North America, Air France La Première can be found on routes between Paris and the following destinations:
- San Francisco (SFO)
- Los Angeles (LAX)
- New York (JFK)
- Washington (IAD)
- Miami (MIA)
- Mexico City (MEX)
Outside of North America, La Première is operated between Paris and the following cities:
- São Paulo (GRU)
- Abidjan (ABJ)
- Johannesburg (JNB)
- Dubai (DXB)
- Singapore (SIN)
Even if you see that there’s a Boeing 777 flight on your desired route, you’ll want to make sure that it offers the La Première cabin, as not all of Air France’s Boeing 777s have it as an option.
How to Redeem Points for Air France La Première
Air France La Première is one of the most difficult aspirational awards to book on points. Nevertheless, there are a few ways to go about it if you’re determined to make it happen.
Redeeming Flying Blue Miles for Air France La Première
Air France is a part of the SkyTeam alliance, but they don’t release any La Première award space to any partner programs. This means that the only way to book a La Première flight with points is through their own Flying Blue loyalty program.
To make things more difficult, and what keeps La Première even more exclusive, is that only Flying Blue Gold and Platinum elite members are allowed to book La Première using Flying Blue miles.
In order to reach Flying Blue Gold Elite status, you’ll need to earn 280 XP points. XP points are earned by flying with Air France, KLM, or any other SkyTeam partner.
Air France uses a dynamic pricing model when pricing out flights booked with Flying Blue miles. At the lower end, a La Première flight from North America to Paris will cost around 220,000 miles one way.
While there are certainly cheaper options available for transatlantic First Class flights, this redemption could still be worthwhile for flying La Première as a bucket-list item, given that it’s one of the best First Class products out there.
Luckily, Flying Blue miles are relatively easy to earn. If you have US-issued credit cards, there are plenty of programs that transfer to Flying Blue at a rate of 1:1, including American Express US Membership Rewards, Capital One, and Chase Ultimate Rewards.
On the Canadian side, American Express Membership Rewards can be transferred at a rate of 1:0.75. You can also transfer Marriott Bonvoy points at a rate of 3:1, with a bonus of 5,000 Flying Blue miles if you transfer 60,000 points.
Recently, Brim Financial announced a partnership with Air France/KLM Flying Blue that will bring a Flying Blue co-branded credit card to Canada.
While the exact details have yet to be released, this will most certainly be the easiest way for Canadians to earn Flying Blue miles going forward.
Paying for an Upgrade from Air France Business Class
While it’s not a completely reliable method, you can use a combination of cash and miles to get yourself into La Première.
If you’re okay with a bit of a gamble, you can potentially upgrade from an Air France business class flight – booked with either cash or points – to La Première. The process is a bit complex, but this could represent the most efficient and affordable way to score yourself a seat in La Première.
The first step is to book a business class award on an Air France flight that has a La Première cabin. The most popular routes for this method are from Paris to Dubai and from Paris to Mexico City.
From there, you’ll have to monitor the La Première cabin on your specific flight, perhaps by using a tool such as ExpertFlyer, to ensure that there are indeed unsold seats in La Première.
A T-30 hours to your flight, you’ll be able to check in. During the check-in process, you may see the option to pay for an upgrade to La Première on your flight.
(While it appears likely that you’ll see the option for a paid upgrade if La Première seats are empty, it isn’t necessarily guaranteed. That’s why this method is a bit of a gamble, and you ought to be ready to either change your plans or simply fly in business class if it doesn’t work out.)
If you see the option, you can score a seat in La Première at a fraction of the regular price. Reports suggest that the upgrade costs around $1,000 (USD) ($1,351 CAD) to Dubai and around €1,000 ($1,349 CAD) to Mexico City.
If this approach winds up working out for you, you can expect the total cost to be around:
- 80,000 Flying Blue miles, $458 CAD in taxes and fees, and €1,000 ($1,349 CAD) for the upgrade from Paris to Mexico City
- 60,000 Flying Blue miles, $367 CAD in taxes and fees, and $1,000 USD ($1,351 CAD) for the upgrade from Paris to Dubai
Keep in mind that the flying time to Mexico City is over 12 hours, while the flying time to Dubai is just under seven hours. So, if you’re going to go for the gold, it may be best to aim for Mexico City.
Air France La Première First Class Award Availability
There’s one upside to the fact that La Première seats can only be booked with Flying Blue miles by Gold or Platinum elite members: there tends to be a fair amount of award availability.
If you have specific days in mind, you’ll still want to book well in advance. But if you’re flexible with your dates, and if you have the status and the miles, you shouldn’t have too hard of a time securing a seat or two on a date that works for you.
Air France typically releases two of the four seats in La Première to award bookings.
Tips & Tricks for Air France La Première First Class
The best way to earn Flying Blue Gold status and be eligible to book Air France La Première would be to credit paid fares with SkyTeam partners to the program, thereby racking up Flying Blue XP points.
SkyTeam airlines often put on business class seat sales – for example, from Europe to North America for $1,500–2,000 round-trip. You’ll still have to fly a fair amount in order to reach Gold status, but depending on how much you fly, it’s still within grasp.
Furthermore, keep an eye out for status match opportunities. If you already enjoy status with another airline, it may be easy for you to get Gold or Platinum status with Air France, giving you access to La Première award redemptions.
If you aren’t able to reach Flying Blue Gold or Platinum by any means, you aren’t completely out of luck for discounted La Première seats.
Air France has had mistake fares in the La Première cabin in the past, including a one-way fare between Algiers and San Francisco for only $472.05 (USD) one-way.
While these may be rare, they do happen. If you’re able to find one, I’d highly recommend booking immediately, as it probably won’t last long.
Lastly, if you’ve been eyeing down a La Première seat, you should also know that Air France is expected to roll out a new La Première product in late 2023.
The new First Class seats are said to not only have a seat, but also a sofa and fully flat bed. If you aren’t in a rush, it could make sense to hold off before booking your La Première flight in order to try out the newer version.
Air France La Première is one of the best experiences you can sample in commercial aviation.
You can expect to enjoy impeccable inflight service in your own curtain-enclosed cocoon in the sky, an out-of-this-world ground experience in Paris, and plenty of attention to detail throughout the journey.
From the fine dining in the La Première Lounge to the tarmac chauffeur service, there’s a reason why this particular flight is at the very top of many airline enthusiasts’ bucket lists.
While booking a seat at a discounted rate may seem out of reach, it isn’t entirely impossible. With careful planning, and maybe even a bit of luck, you can snag one of these seats at a discount as well.