This is a review of the stunning Air France La Première First Class on a Boeing 777-300 ER aircraft. If you missed it yesterday, you can find my review of the La Première first class lounge at Paris Charles de Gaulle here.
After spending an extensive amount of time in Air France’s La Première lounge, it was time to head aboard my flight to San Francisco in style. As is customary when flying in this class, you will be escorted by one of the lounge’s team in a luxury vehicle which is likely to be an Audi or BMW saloon. As an avgeek, this is an extremely unique vantage point when travelling around the airport but also an effective way of getting the convoluted layout of CDG. I had opted for an early boarding, instead of late, to get clear cabin shots.
At the time, the US still imposed their Covid testing requirements. On the way to the vehicle, I did encounter a passenger who was rather rude to the staff because they hadn’t read up on the need to test…they certainly gave the ‘do you know who I am’ impression.
Boarding and initial impressions for Air France La Première First Class
After the ten minute ride across the airport, we entered the boarding area by heading up secure stairs to the jet bridge. The member of staff who escorted me across the airport handed me over to the flight attendants, alerting them to the fact this was my first time on La Première and to ‘give me the best experience’.
The Air France La Première First Class cabin is intimate with four seats across in a 1-2-1 configuration. Each seat consists of an extremely comfortable armchair measuring almost 90cm wide and an ottoman opposite. An adjustable headrest is also featured while the seat does also recline into a multitude of positions including bed mode.
If you are lucky enough to be travelling with a companion, the Air France La Première First Class ottoman features a seat belt which can be used by your guest to have a true dining in the sky experience.
Storage in the Air France La Première First Class seat is extensive, with a large pull-out drawer underneath the ottoman and a side console which can store smaller items such as laptops, tablets, and personal goods. The latter is quite deep in sections and can be a little difficult to retrieve items. Here you can also find pre-wired noise cancelling Denon headphones along with a remote control. Additional overhead lockers can be found above the window seats as well as coat and clothes storage towards the galley.
Above the side console, a dimmable light can be found with a very gentle pattern of the classic insignia of Air France dubbed the winged seahorse. When the Air France La Première First Class cabin lights are off, this dimmable light creates a relaxing mood at your seat which I’ve found unmatched by few other seats.
Unlike suite doors on British Airways First Class, Air France’s cabin still features floor-to-ceiling curtains making for an extremely effective divider without being claustrophobic. Between seat 1E, where I sat, and 1F there is a divider which can be raised or lowered improving privacy between the two passengers.
Soon after boarding, the excellent flight attendant introduced themself and provided a glass of Pommery 2004 Couvée Louise champagne which retails for around £170 per bottle. It had a crisp taste and was cooled to the perfect temperature to make it exceptionally refreshing.
Air France La Première First Class Food and drink
After exceptional food in the Air France La Première First Class, I was expecting more high quality gastronomy up in the air. Air France did not disappoint. On this flight to San Francisco, blocked at 11h 30m, the airline serves two extensive meals.
You will first notice the size of this table. It is huge. Along with the comfortable ottoman, you can see how one might easily be able to sit two at this table.
The first meal, lunch, was served soon after takeoff and consisted of five courses. Here’s a look at the menu, which was beautifully presented. This is the lunch menu.
The starter selection was not particularly to my taste on this flight, with a choice between two rich options. I opted for the duck foie gras. This is the first time I’ve had it before, and I wouldn’t go out of my way to eat, but I will say it was exceptionally produced and the lime alongside the tomato offsetting the luxuriant foie gras.
Meanwhile, the appetizer and soup were surprisingly good. The Caviar Sturia with vodka and lime whipped cream were flavoursome, while the fresh bellini were well cooked.
I was unsure of the soup offered, not only was it chilled, but the primary ingredient cucumber is not usually a winner in the flavour department. It provided an effective way to split the meal up by acting as a palate cleanser between otherwise rich ingredients. Not something I would go out of my way for, but equally, it was a decent option. As an aside, I hope that Air France do as British Airways did in 2020 and sell some of their La Premiere cutlery and plates off – they have a beautiful design.
For the main dish, I opted for the coffee-smoked centre-cut beef tenderloin with celeriac, purée, and jus. The flight attendant did ask how I wanted the beef, to which I said rare. To my surprise, it was cooked exactly to my preference. The accompanying vegetables and jus provided the perfect offset to the rich beef. It was not as good as the beef in the lounge, but I doubt there is a beef dish in the sky that can beat this.
A selection of cheeses followed the main, alongside an excellent medium-sized baguette which one would expect from a French airline.
I decided to opt out of the dessert options having overindulged both in the lounge and with the earlier courses. Instead, I opted to have the ice cream and sorbet selection alongside fresh fruits. Nothing exceptional, but it was all I really wanted after the raft of food offered. If I wanted, I could have opted for both the dessert and ice cream with fruit which would have been completely over-the-top.
I finished off with a black coffee freshly made with the onboard espresso machine. While only a minor point, the sachet of milk does feel a bit cheap. It does the job, but equally you are paying for a premium experience where a small saucer probably wouldn’t hit the Air France bottom line by much. Later in the flight I requested for an iced latte which technically isn’t offered, but the cabin crew did a great job of making one anyway.
Around ninety minutes prior to landing, a ‘meal service’, which was neither called lunch nor dinner, was produced. A far more limited selection than the lunch, but enough to get you prepared for the rest of the day in San Francisco
The delivery of this meal was odd, with the cheese and dessert courses delivered alongside the starter which I assume is to save time ahead of arrival. That aside, this was another corker of a service – and in some ways, I preferred it over the lunch meal.
For starter, I seemed to receive both the ewe’s cheese salad alongside the tarts. The ewe’s cheese had a similar flavour and texture to Greek feta and worked well alongside the Leek tarts on the plate. A small dish but one that was full of flavours.
As I wasn’t enamoured with the foie gras flavour, I instead chose the artichoke ravioli, which was possibly my favourite course alongside the earlier beef. The creamy flavour of the sauce with a slightly firm ravioli filled with tasty artichoke was the perfect alternative to the other dish offered.
The meal finished with a Cantal cheese alongside a sweet tart and then ‘apple compôte, date chutney with lime, pear and speculaas biscuit’. The latter was like an apple crumble but, again, tasted excellent and along with the main gave the impression of home cooking – in a positive way.
Outside of the extensive food, I didn’t stray far from the champagne on-board this flight.
Air France La Première First Class In-flight entertainment, WiFi and amenities
On this Transatlantic route, there is an exceptional amount of competition in the form of in-flight entertainment. While on-board service may be lacking, American carriers usually have fantastic offerings which overshadow that offered by Air France. The touch-enabled screen itself is excellent and is about the right size considering its distance, while the remote features a small touch screen to more easily search or view the moving map.
The content offering itself isn’t awful. For one, you will find many recent releases as well as a lot of French-language films, but the selection just isn’t quite as extensive as American or British airlines – the same point could be directed at their sister airline KLM too.
Fortunately, I bought along my tablet with downloaded Netflix programming, but in La Première, you also have free WiFi for the entire journey. The usual caveats apply as with all long-haul WiFi experiences, but on this trip to the US it was reliable, with usable speeds to browse the internet, use Slack and even play YouTube videos.
I travelled on Air France just after their announcement of new amenity kits. I received the striking red faux-leather bound box option with magnetic opening and closing which represent a unique offering compared to other airlines. The contents feature Sisley amenities, which are a continuation of the lounge spa offering, alongside a large eye mask and comb featuring the winged seahorse logo.
The bathroom featured a further range of amenities for La Première passengers to use. There was not an extensive range of options, but the full-size bottles were welcome while the bathrooms were always kept clean.
One last point, pyjamas are provided in La Première and are of excellent quality. While the first set provided came up short, the second set were far better, and I am still wearing them on the odd occasion at home. It is a good thing when airlines decide to invest a bit more in aspects such as this, so they don’t just go straight to landfill.
While putting on the pyjamas, the cabin crew prepared the seat into bed mode with the softest and most comfortable bedding I’ve had in the sky (until Singapore Airlines Suites recently). With a large, marshmallow-like pillow and fluffy duvet, the bed on-board La Première is like no other.
I didn’t sleep on this flight owing to it taking place during the day, but it did provide for an extremely cosy way to cross the pond and relax back into some programmes. This was further aided by a cabin that was kept at a consistent temperature which can only be described as pleasant. I have no doubt that if you are on a long-haul, overnight flight that you will get a good rest.
You can tell from this review that my time in Air France’s La Première cabin was exceptional. The cabin crew were attentive and approachable, but not aloof or too pretentious as other airlines might be. Equally, they showed an actively showed an interest in my photo taking on-board by asking what I do and how I got into blogging in my spare time.
Even on my arrival, the ground crew were also fantastic escorting me off the plane to customs and then collecting my bags from the conveyer belt. After a long conversation, they provided me a number of recommendations on paper for San Francisco while they waited for me to pass through the border and even escorted me across the airport to Alaska Airlines terminal (despite being on separate tickets). It’s small aspects like this that made the experience on La Première fantastic.
Another aspect Air France get down to a tee is branding. While the branding is extremely subtle, the use of the stylised winged seahorse everywhere from the plates to light, curtain buttons and glasses is elegant. Other airlines should certainly take note of how to brand their premium cabins in such an understated but classy manner.
Air France’s first class cabin provides a true glimpse into French gastronomic and service culture in the sky. Compared to other European first class offerings, Air France stands head and shoulders above both on the ground and on-board. La Première may only have a tiny fleet of seats, but their offering is exceptional and is one for all avgeek or premium travel fan’s bucket lists.
Like our Air France La Première First Class review? You can read more flight reviews here.
What a great review. Satisfied my curiosity, whetted my appetite.
Thanks Maurits, hope to bring more reviews to you soon.
Brilliant review and loved the detail.
I will certainly look out for Air France’s Apple Compost in the future. Sounds earthy!!!
Thanks Tom! Noted and changed ????
Enjoyed your review. I’ve flown this cabin and your experience chimed with mine. Glad you enjoyed it.
Two little things. Unique as a word in English which cannot be qualified. It’s either unique or not. It’s like saying he was a little bit dead or she was a little bit pregnant. Secondly, as my grandmother taught me, mentioning the cost of something (in this case the retail price of the champagne) is vulgar. Often when people are interested in the cost of something and prize that over the value of it. If you need to do that it means you’re easily impressed. Those of us who fly Premiere don’t need to know the cost of the alcohol. I’m sure those that need to be persuaded aren’t going to be persuaded by the cost of the champagne which is a tiny component of the cabin experience. Those that fly La Premiere know we’ve paid premium and trust Air France.
Fair points Jaques and noted.
I included the retail cost of the champagne because I have seen other reviews do so assumed some people reading may be interested. As you say, the champagne is a relatively minor aspect of the service and cabin experience – but it is something that many do value as a big part.
Great second review Callum – thank you!
You have inspired me to do possibly a couple of blogs for TLFL coming up…I write for a living (not a blog – corporate clients) and so for me doing these kind of reviews seems like a busman’s holiday. However I’m branching out from BA loyalty and have got myself a Star Alliance account. I have some flights coming up on SAS and TAP so I will try to take photos and write something up if admin is happy for me to do so.
I am not at all a connoisseur of drinks, whether alcoholic or not. So the pricing information is always valuable for me when choosing to fly an airline in a premium class. After all, the food and drink offering is such an important part of the experience that I am paying for.
Another great review Callum – it’s definitely on my bucket list!
Thanks Will! Definitely add it!
Thanks for writing such a detailed article. I have flown First on ANA, Singaoore and the defunct Jet Airways. However, there is something about Airfrance’s product (despite being similar) that just stands out. I think it’s just the elegance / beauty and ground transfer that really sets it apart. I’m going to try and fly on La Premier for my next trip. I have already booked a ticket in business class from Paris to LA and the first class cabin is currently vacant. I’ve booked my ticket via a redemption from a partner airline and I can view the booking on the Air France website. If I have the possibility of upgrading at Check In or via the Transit desk will they offer a reasonable upgrade fee e.g – 700 – 1000 euros? Or will they be looking for the difference in the airfare between business / first class tickets that could be in the thousands. Your thoughts / experience on this would be very much appreciated. All the best, Nick.
Thanks Nick – your comments are appreciated. I’ll point you towards the FlyerTalk thread I mentioned in my lounge review here. This will have more information on the cost others have reported for various routes that feature La Premiere upgrades. LAX appears to be more expensive than the 1000 EUR you mentioned – Mexico City is the only destination in North America that regularly appears at this cost for upgrade.
There’s a specific algorithm they seem to apply to how and when they allow the upgrades as well as the cost which can result in a huge variation of upgrade price.
Nothing can be guaranteed on this upgrade process but asking at check in or at the transfer desk, if you don’t receive a message to upgrade while checking in online, seems to be the best way. Good luck – and even if you don’t get to try La Premiere again, AF Business is still great!
Thanks for your thoughts and advice on this. I’ll see what happens 🙂 Good luck on your future travels.
I’m Flying Blue Platinum so I hope to one day have enough miles to redeem for this. Any idea of what the going rates are? I certainly can’t afford a cash ticket…
I like how understated and chic everything is. Nothing like the obnoxious bling on Emirates. I’ll never understand the champagne obsession though. Hopefully they serve better whiskies than the French single malt they have in their lounges though.
As somebody else has noted, the availability can be limited but it is possible. According to a One Mile at a Time article you need to be a Flying Blue Gold or Platinum member and a significant number of miles (200k+ one way).
The paid upgrade at check-in (online or in-person) or at the transfer desk if likely to be the best way – it can be paid in cash or a mix of Flying Blue miles + cash (not sure on the amount, but likely to be poorer value).
The best value routes for paid upgrade is Mexico City and Dubai – the former offering a longer flight time to enjoy La Premiere. And be sure to counter in a longer lay over!
Hi there, I’m currently doing research on this. I queried it with Airfrance. If you have a business class ticket with Air France and want to upgrade with miles it would be approx 77,000 one way. This was for an Paris to LA route. Hope that helps. Thanks, Nick
Thanks for sharing Vasco – useful info and, in my opinion, seems like excellent value if you managed to get a decent base fare in business class.
For someone to complain re displaying the price of Champagne in Premiere smacks of snobbishness to me. Just because he/she may be a regular top flier etc etc. Not sure how he/she would regard me flying up front on a non revenue ticket and using a considerable amount of KL miles.
@vasco. A very top tier benefit only and you could easily be looking at 400k+…one way…US to CDG.
I want to know is it worth it ? and you give no indication of price, as a leisure traveller, I will pay what a flight is worth to me. All the subjective objectives in the world are interesting , not useful, since they just reflect your opinion. Given that you pay very little for your travel you tend to ignore the most important item to someone paying their own way. Value. If you do not detail the cost , I have to do further reseach and make trial bookings, which is a nonsense, since is defeats the whole object of reading your views.
Your comment is misplaced, Brian. I am not sure who you think pays for my travel but in this case, it was not TLFL and nor did Air France pay. The base business class fare was expensed as part of a business trip on a cheap ex-EU departure (around £1k), I then paid the extra for the upgrade (£1.5k) to La Premiere from my own money.
In the first part of the review here, I detail how I upgraded the flight at check-in. Admittedly, I left out the upgrade cost I paid because there are so many variables for the price of an upgrade based on route, dates, load factors etc. but did respond to this on the previous article’s comments. There is a link on part 1 to a FlyerTalk thread that details the price for upgrade offers across Air France’s La Premiere routes – which can vary from $1k to Dubai or Mexico City all the way up to $3k to JFK on top of the base fare.
The conclusion clearly states that this was an experience that is close to the best offered by commercial airlines. Detailing the cost in reviews, especially with upgrade offers, is not always useful because of the variables involved. Going on a flight booking engine will only return you expensive first class costs that only a few people would feasibly pay for.
A good way to interact with the world by getting a good review on Air France first class!
It’s unfortunate that your attire (a tee shirt) didn’t warrant the same elegance as the Air France premium cabin.
It’s a shame you had to troll using a fake email address. Why would anyone want to wear uncomfortable smart clothes on a long haul flight?
An unnecessary comment that does not add to constructive criticism nor feedback. The clothes were suitable and comfortable for travel. That is all.
Flying this route next month for the second time. I hate pate and cucumbers. Were they amenable to ordering say a main meal as a starter? Also I know for a bit they were on the Veuve champagne train which to me is a horrible champagne. So glad to see they’ve changed that
I enjoyed this review, have been salivating for weeks over a pending La Premiere voyage in a few days. I am surprised they served cooked bellini (usually a cocktail served cold) and that they would pair it with caviar…A Russian passenger is like to prefer a blin (блин) (or блины in the plural). Looking forward to more reviews.
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