Air France has long been known for a charming, utterly French premium cabin product—which isn’t surprising, considering most “flag carriers” often take the opportunity to highlight their home country’s cultural traditions and products. It doesn’t hurt that France itself has already long been celebrated in western civilization for cuisine, wine, and fashion, and all of the elements make their way onboard the company’s intercontinental flights.
On Air France's business class product, passengers can expect lie-flat seats, charming service, menus designed by France’s top chefs, and well-stocked airport lounges.
What to know about Air France business class
Air France offers Business Class on virtually all flights. The exceptions are French domestic flights that do not arrive or depart from Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG).
On domestic flights ex-CDG, as well as intra-Europe and flights between the United States and the Caribbean operated by single-aisle aircraft, Business Class is a “Euro Business” product with seating similar to Economy Class.
On intercontinental flights operated by widebody or dual-aisle aircraft, Business Class is an industry-competitive lie-flat seat.
A quirk: Air France cabins tend to run warm, and most Air France aircraft are not equipped with individual air vents.
The Air France business class experience at the airport
Air France Business Class passengers have access to a lounge throughout their journey. At minimum, lounges typically have comfortable seating, hot and/or cold buffet or a la carte food service, a bar pouring complimentary alcoholic beverages (local regulations allow self-service alcohol in some locations), and free WiFi.
At New York JFK and Montreal airports, Business Class passengers on designated late evening departures can take advantage of “Night Service,” being served their meal (from the same menu as onboard the flight) in the lounge prior to departure, if they wish to sleep the entire flight. Passengers who elect to dine in the lounge can still have the regular meal onboard if they’re still hungry.
The Air France lounges at Paris CDG also offer treatments by Clarins and have individual shower suites.
Air France operates its own lounges at many North American cities, while at some cities Air France and KLM operate a combined lounge. At cities without an AF/KLM operated lounge, Business Class passengers can use a Delta SkyClub, SkyTeam-operated lounge, or a designated airport or third-party lounge.
Air France Business Class passengers connecting to or from their Air France gateway on a SkyTeam flight are also entitled to use SkyTeam-operated and SkyTeam member lounges (such as Delta SkyClubs) throughout their journey.
Air France, like its SkyTeam partners, has standardized premium passenger services around SkyPriority. Elite members of member carriers frequent flier programs, plus Air France Business and Premium Economy passengers can use SkyPriority lanes at check-in, security at many airports, boarding gates, and at some customs inspection lines (mostly in Paris).
An agent is typically stationed at SkyPriority check-in areas to verify qualification.
Business Class passengers benefit from an increased checked baggage allowance compared to the Economy and Premium Economy cabins. Business Class passengers are entitled to check in two bags, free of charge, up to 70 pounds (32 kilos) each. Flying Blue members with Silver or higher status can check an additional piece at the same weight.
The carryon allowance is standard for all classes higher than economy—a bag and personal item up to 40 pounds (18 kilos) combined weight.
The Air France business class experience in the air
Seats in Air France business class
Air France Business Class seating varies slightly depending upon the type of aircraft and the route. All intercontinental flights on dual-aisle aircraft have lie-flat seats.
- Boeing 777-200: Business Class seats are consistent onboard the 777-200—lie-flat in a 1-2-1 configuration. The only variation is the number of seats allocated to the Business Class cabin.
- Boeing 777-300: The 777-300 has perhaps the most seating variation in Business Class. Newer lie-flat seats in a 1-2-1 configuration are available on a large number of aircraft of this type. A smaller sub-fleet, generally assigned to leisure markets in the Caribbean Sea and Indian Ocean, have an older 2-3-2 configuration in Business Class. The 777-300ER has just 14 Business Class seats, in a newer lie-flat style in a staggered 1-2-1 configuration, similar to the seats on the new Airbus A350.
- Boeing 787-9: The 787-9 has standard lie-flat Business Class seats, mostly identical to the lie-flat business class seat on most 777 aircraft, in a 1-2-1 configuration.
- Airbus A330: This aircraft has lie-flat Business Class seats in a 2-2-2 configuration, and is primarily deployed to smaller cities in North America and West Africa.
- Airbus A350: The A350 is the newest type in the Air France long haul fleet and has a new Business Class cabin in a 1-2-1 configuration. The window seats are staggered; alternating between one seat close to the window, the next close to the aisle, and so on.
Air France’s lie-flat business class seats have universal power outlets, stowage space for personal items, a mirror, a handheld entertainment control, and personal reading light. Personal overhead air vents are not standard.
Benefits of flying Air France business class
Air France’s Business Class benefits are standardized around SkyTeam’s SkyPriority concept, with designated priority lines at check-in, security, and boarding. Business Class passengers not pre-boarding with their group number can board at their leisure using designated SkyPriority lanes at the departure gate.
Business Class passengers also receive an amenity kit—the design of which changes every few months for variety—that includes socks, an eye mask, a tooth brush, and Clarins skin care products. Passengers will also find Clarins skin care products (along with cotton pads) in the lavatories for refreshing during the flight.
Air France also consistently allows priority deplaning for Business Class passengers upon arrival, and checked bags receive priority tags which indicate expedited delivery to baggage claim.
Meals in Air France business class
Business Class passengers on intercontinental flights are offered a multi-course meal designed by a rotating cadre of top chefs.
Starters can typically include a premium protein such as foie gras, lobster or shrimp, often with a marinated vegetable salad and mixed seasonal salad with olive oil and vinaigrette dressing. Hot bread rolls are also offered with French butter (a concession to international tastes—bread isn’t traditionally served with butter at mealtimes in France).
A daily selection of cheeses (typically one hard, one soft, and one “wild card”) will also be found on the tray. As in France, this is meant to be eaten after the main course.
Main dishes are offered separately after the appetizer plate is cleared. Menus typically have three to four choices of main dish (unless a special meal to accommodate dietary needs has been pre-ordered). The main dish options almost always include at least a meat dish, a seafood dish, and a vegetarian dish. Sometimes two meats or two seafood dishes are on offer depending on the length of the flight and destination.
Desserts are often a selection of small sweets, offered with coffee, tea, and cordials. Most long haul flights have a self-service bar set up in one of the galleys, with snacks and beverages (and often individual servings of Haagen-Dazs ice cream) available. On some flights, hot snacks can be requested from the crew.
On most long-haul flights, a light meal or breakfast is served prior to arrival. For hot breakfasts, a choice of hot entrée is sometimes offered. Light snack trays for arrivals outside breakfast hours often do not offer a choice.
Passengers who prefer to skip a full breakfast and sleep in can request coffee and a pastry up to 30 minutes prior to arrival.
Alcohol in Air France business class
Alcohol is complimentary in the Business Class cabin.
Aperitifs (drinks before the meal) include an Air France signature cocktail, liquor, beer, and tawny port. Digestifs (drinks after the meal) abound with French favorites including cognac, calvados, armagnac, pear brandy or green chartreuse.
The wine list (which includes champagne in all classes of service) understandably focuses on French wines, and there will often be a choice between two reds and two whites.
Air France business class vs first class
La Premiere, Air France’s first class, is only sold on select routes, on flights operated by the Boeing 777-300 aircraft.
The cabin is super private, offering just four large seats with more space than the Business Class cabin, significantly upgraded dining and amenities like pajamas and turn down service with hotel-style bedding, separate first class lounges and transfers planeside in luxury cars.
The best description of the difference is perhaps the difference between a four-star and five-star hotel—Business Class is a comfortable premium experience, while La Premiere is bespoke luxury.
Previous deals we've found in Air France business class
- Boston nonstop to Paris for $2,756 roundtrip
- San Francisco to Madrid for $1,675 roundtrip
- Chicago to Cairo for $2,471 roundtrip
How to book Air France business class
How much does it cost for a business class ticket on Air France?
A business class ticket on intercontinental long-haul routes can range between twice as much to several times the price of an economy class ticket on the same flight. A Transatlantic flight can range from $3,600 to over $6,000 roundtrip. At Scott's Cheap Flights, we find deals in the range for $1,700-$3,100.
How to upgrade to business class of Air France for free
While impossible to predict in advance, Air France sometimes upgrades passengers to a higher class of service for operational reasons. There is no published methodology for this, but like most airlines, Air France tends to show preference for elite members of Flying Blue, the airline’s frequent flier program.
How much does it cost to upgrade to business class on Air France?
Passengers booked in a lower class of service can rebook all or a portion of their itinerary in business class for the difference in fare prior to check-in, so passengers interested in flying Business Class should continue to monitor Business Class fares even after booking.
Air France will sometimes offer upgrades to Business Class during the online check-in process, but amounts vary. Passengers who choose to upgrade can choose to pay the full amount in either miles or cash, or a combination.
How many miles to upgrade to Air France business class?
The amount of miles to upgrade is not specified in advance. A recent check of upgrade space on a New York – Paris nonstop found upgrades available for 30,000 Flying Blue miles for a one-way upgrade.
Air France’s Business Class product is competitive with other airlines flying across the Atlantic—onboard aircraft configured with all aisle-access seating in the business cabin. The airline’s onboard service is distinctively French, and francophiles may prefer Air France solely for that reason.
For passengers connecting via Paris, the Air France lounges at CDG Airport are an additional draw, with a fine selection of hot and cold dishes, a full bar, and convenient shower suites.
Long-haul Business Class flights on Air France are also a quick way to earn elite status the Flying Blue program, which does not have a set spending requirement, counting only the length of flight and class of service in calculating points toward elite tiers.