Air France Intra-European Business Class Review

by on July 26, 2011 · 22 comments

in Air France, Trip Reports

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This trip report is going to be pretty short, but I thought I’d still highlight Air France’s short-haul business class product. While many of us complain about US domestic first class as, “not being worth it” and “paling in comparison to the good old days of travel,” European business class is much, much worse. In fact, it’s basically the same exact seat as coach!

For the most part, European carriers’ short-haul business class is coach seating with the middle seat blocked out. Some may add a little bit of legroom, but for the most part it’s negligible. The only thing you should expect is a meal included, which is your typical airline fare (at least on Air France), and no personal entertainment system and certainly not wifi.

So the moral of this story is to enjoy your big comfy seats in domestic first class, even if you don’t have in-flight entertainment or a delicious filet mignon – because it sure beats flying glorified coach-style in European business class!

Getting ready to board AF Barcelona to Paris.

Wait - there must be a mistake- I'm supposed to be in business class! ... Huh? This is business class? Looks like coach to me!

At least I had the bulkhead, which has significant legroom. The other rows of "business class"? Not so much.

Beverage service. The flight attendant sure looks cheerful!

My meal on Barcelona-Paris. The salmon patty (yes, that's what it was) was inedible, but the Camembert and peach-rhubarb pie were clear winners.

Meal on my Paris to Amsterdam flight: Anchovy sandwich (unsurprisingly un-good), but decent feta salad and rhubarb dessert. What is with AF and rhubarb this summer?

So there you have it. Everyone always knocks on the US carriers for having inferior in-flight products, but I don’t think anyone can argue that intra-European business class is better than even the worst domestic first class product, though I’d love to hear your thoughts and past misadventures if you think otherwise!

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  • Ken

    I had a FRA-MUC flight on Lufthansa this summer, and business class was the same as you described above. After coming off the row 1 sleeper seat on my PHL-FRA US Airways flight this was a major disappointment.

  • Deb

    British Airways and Lufthansa is the same way. Except for the Air France photos you show look like the planes are in better condition that the BA flight I just flew. Really disapointing.

  • Jim

    Looks pretty bad… was there a first class on this plane as well, or just two-cabin service?

  • Anonymous

    2 cabin- most European carriers only have 2 cabins on short haul

  • Guesstimate

    I think it’s manageable for flight under 70min. You don’t need luscious seats with a steak when flying LAX-SFO/ LGA-BOS, or do you?

  • Anonymous

    I don’t need a steak but if I pay for business class, if prefer not to have a cramped coach seat. I’ve been on plenty of “short” lga-bos type flights that have been delayed on the ground for hours.
    Also, air France runs these planes on longer routes like Paris-tel aviv/Moscow. Buyer beware!

  • Euan

    Most European airlines run similar intra-Euro business class services, even to Moscow, etc. BA, LH, LX, etc they are all very much the same. For short-hauls generally not worth the additional cost when compared to Y.

    The front x rows generally have additional pitch (BA is 34″ v 31″ if I recall) and you get the middle seat block but that’s about as far as it goes for European airlines. You might strike it lucky if they have an equipment swap but don’t count on it.

    Intra-Euro is very different from the intra-Asia business class service you get from the likes of TG, NH, SQ, etc.

  • dschnitz

    The only good thing about Business class in Europe is, that it gets you lounge access when you have no status with the airline. Apart from that, there are no real benefits

  • Tim

    I wonder how much higher European business class fares are then coach, compared to how much higher US first class fares compared with US coach.

  • Euan

    That is generally one of the main benefits. Other reasons might be to pick up additional miles for status or if you are in the BAEC a number of members fly business class in Europe to pick up cheap tier points (required for status) by doing LGW-AMS, etc.

    We flew business to IST last October, got a good price, and for a 4 hour flight we did enjoy and notice the additional space. It was particularly welcomed on the return flight when I wasn’t feeling quite 100%.

  • Dave

    Next time for that route take the train it’s a great experience!

  • jimbo

    I’ve taken that Paris-Tel Aviv flight, and although I was in coach, because the return was not full, I basically had the same as business. It’s the same for CDG-BAR, and all you need to do is adjust the arm rests of the middle seat, if you twist the knob underneath you can move the armrest into the middle et voilà, business class seat. Only difference is the lack of rhubarb dessert ;).

  • Mitch

    That trick works on AZ, too. (Although it’s a button rather than a knob.) The big problem is getting their incompetent agents to put partner elites in the front of Y rather than way in the back. (Put in row 20-something on an A320 at the LHR ST E+ check-in desk when most of the front of the cabin was empty. Non-status pax spread out into them after the door closed.)

  • Anonymous

    I’m actually traveling between these locations. I paid $345 US per ticket in coach. From CDG to BCN the aircraft was 80% empty. People actually laid out on empty rows. One sole passenger in “business”.

  • Aleks

    I just flew AF business BEG-CDG (ironically marketed as Premium Affaires) yesterday. Mine didn’t even have the middle seat blocked with the tray, just had a pillow on it and a sign on the headrest cover (seat blocked for your comfort). As you said, about the only benefit is that you get a meal. Otherwise, it’s same as the coach seat.

  • miffSC

    I had the same surprised expression on my face when I boarded a Lufthansa Business class flight from Prague to Munich!

  • Sara Donna

    I know you’re a sky-team man..but Swiss has very nice service within Europe(and I’ve only done coach)…plus they hand out big gold-foil wrapped chocolate “coins”. Gotta love that!

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  • Andrew10412

    and the glass was plastic too?

    domestic first in the states is really not so bad after all.

  • Noah

    Currently sitting on a IST-AMS (4 hour) KLM flight and I am horrified that I paid 5,000 dollars for this piece of crap business class. There is no difference between coach and business, not even a blocked off middle seat, and the same amount of leg room. They even boarded the entire plane at once and I got stuck behind the entire line of coach. When I got on the plane, there was no more room for my carry ons and they had to be stuffed under my “business” seat. As an extra slap in the face, the guy sitting next to me is snuck up from coach and is bragging about it to me! Glad he paid 4,000 dollars less for the same ride.

  • Guest

    Hey, I just found your site and I like it. I found it with keywords air france europe business class….cause I wanted to see if I was taking crazy pills or if the AF business class was really that pathetic waste of money as I had to experience. So itseems I wasnt the only one who thought it was miserable. Just flew with AF business from and to Paris within europe and I will never in a million years do that again.

    RyanAir,EasyJEt and others who are upfront and honest about their miserable everything are on the same level than AF business. I paid 1,500 euros for return wich I felt was 1,300 too much.

  • Dave

    By. By reading your comments, I think, that u not talking sense.
    Europian business class is completely different from coach. It is not all about seating on plain. It is about hall departure/landing process. On Europe business u get double luggage allowance, business check in, fast track through out airport, longue access, 3course male on plane and priority hoarding.thats what u psy for. Seating is whider and legroom is bigger then coach. U got also wardrobe on europian flights.
    U mentioned tel aviv route. There is not Europe config. But long haul. I flown lhr to tel aviv with ba business and u get fully flat bed suite on plane, toiletries and Pijamas . So your comments about Europe products are nonsense. U get loads more for money then coach.

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