With constant news about cancelled flights and everchanging travel restrictions, it’s rare to hear of positive developments in the world of travel.
In an exciting development for travellers based out of Quebec’s capital, Air France announced a new seasonal route with service between Quebec City and Paris.
Air France’s New Quebec City–Paris Route
Once service begins on May 17, 2022, flights will operate seasonally between Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport to Quebec City Jean Lesage International Airport on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays:
- AF352 Paris (CDG) to Quebec City (YQB), departing 1:10pm and arriving 2:40pm
- AF353 Quebec City (CDG) to Paris (CDG), departing 5pm and arriving 5:45am the next day
The flight will be operated by a newly-renovated three-cabin Airbus A330 aircraft, offering 36 lie-flat business class seats, 21 premium economy seats, and 167 economy seats.
This route becomes the third transatlantic offering from YQB, as Air Transat flies seasonally to London Gatwick and Paris. Air France’s new route offers travellers a vastly superior product and access to the airline’s other destinations.
Air France also operates flights between Paris and Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver, making Quebec City the airline’s fourth Canadian destination.
Should Quebec City-based passengers wish to fly to or from Paris on a day when the non-stop flight is unavailable, there is a complimentary bus service between Montreal to Quebec City that connects passengers to Air France flights.
Booking Air France’s Quebec City–Paris Flights
Since redemptions with Flying Blue are dynamic, the cost of booking this route may vary. I had a look at the availability of the direct flights soon after the launch, which gives an idea of the pricing.
Booking in economy costs 21,500 miles:
Booking in premium economy jumps up to 45,000 miles:
And booking in business class costs 55,000 miles:
Note that the taxes and fees increase by around $100 with each level of service. At $318 for business class, there are certainly less costly ways to redeem points, but it’s not as drastic as other carriers like British Airways.
Adding a connection to other destinations in Europe seems to be possible without increasing the cost in miles. Flying from Quebec City to Moscow via Paris prices out at 55,000 miles, too:
Once the number of fares available at these levels sell out, expect the prices to jump up.
Air France/KLM’s Flying Blue became a transfer partner with American Express in August of last year, making the loyalty program much more accessible to Canadians.
Recall that the transfer ratio is 1,000 Amex Membership Rewards points to 750 Flying Blue miles. While this is a less favourable ratio than when transferring to Aeroplan or British Airways Avios, it’s great to have an option outside of transferring Marriott Bonvoy points or dabbling in the US credit card market.
The following Membership Rewards credit cards all allow you to earn points that you can convert into Flying Blue miles:
|Credit Card||Best Offer||Value|
|90,000 MR points||$1,646||Apply Now|
|75,000 MR points||$1,561||Apply Now|
|Up to 67,000 MR points||$1,221||Apply Now|
|85,000 MR points||$1,063||Apply Now|
|30,000 MR points||$636||Apply Now|
|10,000 MR points||$220||Apply Now|
Assuming that you book at the lower end of the dynamic spectrum, how do Flying Blue redemption levels stack up against Aeroplan?
Flying to Paris via Montreal runs a total distance of 3,587 miles.
This route would be subject to the lowest distance band on Aeroplan’s North America–Atlantic chart. Flying with Air Canada, we see that the lower end of the dynamic spectrum costs as few as 60,000 points in business class.
As we’ve seen with Aeroplan’s dynamic pricing, though, it can be difficult to find lower prices with Air Canada, so it could be beneficial to look for long-haul segments with partner airlines to secure a fixed-price.
As both programs are subject to dynamic pricing, it would be beneficial to compare the costs with each prior to transferring points or making a booking.
Considering that 60,000 Amex MR points would convert to 60,000 Aeroplan points or 45,000 Flying Blue miles, you may not get the best value out of your points with Air France. You’d need to convert around 74,000 Amex MR points to get the required 55,000 for the above Air France business class flights, or even more as the dynamic price increases.
One thing to keep an eye out for, though, are Promo Rewards. Each month, Air France unveils reward bookings available at a reduced cost in economy and business class.
Canadian destinations have historically been well-served on these promotions, so it wouldn’t come as a surprise to see Quebec City available at a 25%–50% discount at some point in the future.
How Is Air France Business Class?
The business class cabin in these aircraft has been recently updated. The seats recline into a fully lie-flat bed, measuring 2 metres long and 57.1 centimetres wide.
Rather disappointingly, this new cabin has a 2-2-2 configuration. Should you not be travelling with someone you know, there is a sliding partition that will afford you a bit more privacy.
Each seat has a 18.5 inch in-flight entertainment system with over 1,400 hours of content at your fingertips.
The colour palate of the interior seems appealing, but the configuration and apparent lack of privacy are a bit of a letdown.
Air France has announced thrice-weekly direct flights between Quebec City and Paris. This route is their fourth Canadian destination.
If you are able to secure a business class flight at the low end of Flying Blue’s dynamic spectrum, spending 55,000 miles for a flight to Europe isn’t a bad deal at all, despite the less favourable transfer ratio from American Express. Snagging a Promo Reward could drop the cost down to an even more attractive level, too.
It’s nice to see a newly-renovated cabin operating on this route, but the hard product isn’t cutting-edge by any stretch of the imagination. Once the service begins operating, it remains to be seen if the food and beverage service make up for the lack of privacy.
Part of my plan for this year is to diversify into trying new products. Should I be able to find a deal, I’m certainly open to giving Air France a try for my first business-class redemption with a SkyTeam airline.