Air France La Premiere (First Class) Promo Awards Now Bookable for Non-Elites

Jun 5, 2013

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

A few months ago, Flying Blue, the frequent flyer program of Air France, KLM and Air Europa, announced some major (negative) changes to award redemptions including higher award ticket redemption mileage requirements and some reduced surcharges on Economy and Premium Economy awards that will affect intercontinental award ticket starting in this month.

One other aspect of the new changes is that previously, even if you had the miles to do book a La Premiere (first class) award on Air France, you had to be either a  Silver, Gold and Platinum elite Flying Blue member to do so. That is no longer the case, as non-elites may start redeeming for La Premiere class 50% off promo awards (none on North American routes unfortunately) and I suspect that the elite status restriction will be lifted from regular La Premiere awards in the future, though the redemption rates can be staggering- especially compared to other, better, first class products.

Promo awards for Europe-Asia July 1- Sept 15
Promo awards for Europe-Asia July 1- Sept 15

For a quick comparison, here is the new award redemption chart:

The new award chart for Flying Blue after the upcoming changes take place.
The new award chart for Flying Blue after the recent changes took place.

And for reference, here is what tickets from North America to Europe used to cost versus what they cost now:

Business Class
Before: 50,000 miles + approximately 180 euros ($235) each way
After: 62,500 miles + approximately 180 euros ($235) each way

First Class
100,000 miles + approximately 180 euros ($235) each way
162,500 miles + approximately 180 euros ($235) each way

So if you’re sitting on a ton of miles (or Amex Membership Rewards points since Flying Blue is a 1:1 transfer partner), the good news is that first is bookable. The bad news is that award availability found through doesn’t align with ExpertFlyer’s Flex First availability, so it seems to be a new fare bucket for first class awards has been made. Normally promo awards just pull from the regular Classic award availability, so I don’t suspect that will change. However, maybe Air France will only be releasing Classic award space via these limited rotating promo awards.

Here is an example of a La Premiere Promo Award shown below from Paris to Shanghai for 260,000 miles roundtrip and over $500 in taxes and fees round-trip. In comparison, British Airways would charge 180,000 Avios and ~$900 roundtrip for a similar London to Shanghai first class roundtrip (which would only be 134,000 Amex points with the current 35% bonus). To buy these same flights outright, it would cost $15,272.16, giving you a 5.68 cents per mile value on this redemption on the face value of the ticket (actual value varies on what you value that ticket at, which I don’t get into here).

La Premier CDG-PVG Award.
La Premiere CDG-PVG Award.

I tried to search from New York (JFK) to Paris (CDG) and saw plenty of availability in ExpertFlyer, so thought I’d try and find some awards on the Air France site.

Air France JFK-CDG ExpertFlyer availability.
Air France JFK-CDG ExpertFlyer availability.

However, when I tried to search on Air France, I got the error “There is no seat available in La Premiere for your request; we propose Business”, so it seems like some of the kinks might still need to be worked out.

No first class awards available on the Air France site.
No first class awards available on the Air France site.

However even for business class from New York-Paris, you can see how outrageous some of the awards are. For a Flex award, the airline would charge you 300,000 miles roundtrip – no thank you! Even the low-level awards are now 125,000 miles instead of the 100,000 they used to require.

CDG-JNB La Premier Award.
La Premiere CDG-JNB Award.

I decided to try some other continents and found plenty of availability from Paris to Johannesburg, South Africa for 97,500 Miles miles each way. The total cost for a round-trip La Premiere award to South Africa was 195,000 miles and $632.65 in taxes and fees. To buy these same flights outright, it would cost $9,837.07, giving you a 4.7 cents per mile value on this redemption on the value of the ticket.

Although it doesn’t seem to have opened up yet, because first class awards are already available on Air France’s other intercontinental routes, I suspect we’ll start seeing La Premiere award space on North American routes before too long – not that it will matter to a lot of people because the prices of these tickets are outrageous in terms of both miles and carrier-imposed charges.

Flying Blue awards are also bookable one-way, so if you need flexibility in your award,  even with the high surcharges, booking it with miles is still better than having to pay for first class outright. At least it’s another option to have and at least you no longer have to be a Flying Blue elite to experience the airline’s first class product.

American Express® Green Card

WELCOME OFFER: 30,000 Points


CARD HIGHLIGHTS: up to $100 annual CLEAR statement credit, up to $100 annual LoungeBuddy statement credit, 3x points on travel and transit, 3x points on restaurants worldwide

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 30,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $2,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on all eligible travel, from subway swipes and window seats to hotel stays and city tours.
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points at restaurants worldwide.
  • Receive up to $100 per year in statement credits when you use the American Express® Green Card to pay for your CLEAR® membership at select airports and stadiums across the U.S. and Permissible Biometric Scanning Technology terms: eye scanning, irises scanning and fingerprints scanning.
  • Use the American Express® Green Card to purchase lounge access through LoungeBuddy to any of the lounges in the LoungeBuddy network – no memberships, elite statuses, or first class tickets required. Earn up to $100 in statement credits per calendar year on your LoungeBuddy purchases.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $150 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Intro APR on Purchases
Regular APR
See Rates & Fees
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
See Terms
Recommended Credit
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.