La Première Lounge, perhaps one of the best first class airline lounges in the world. Arguably, the top SkyTeam First Class Lounge.
La Première is the very stylish international first class (IFC) product offered by Air France on select long-haul routes, which includes access to the lounge and ground services at Paris CDG. While not the best airline hard-product, it is definitely a unique upscale option. It is also very exclusive, since you cannot use credit card currency (such as American Express Membership Rewards) to book award tickets in La Première, unless you are Flying Blue Elite. (you can transfer American Express Membership Reward Points to Flying Blue, but this would only be applicable to Flying Blue Elite members)
Alas, the usual way to gain access to the lounge, as well as other La Première pre and post-departure benefits is to be flying in La Première. Unfortunately, this is a very expensive class of service with both points (FlyingBlue) and when purchasing a revenue ticket. It is also important to be aware that the new product is only available (starting September 2014) on specially configured 777 series aircraft. These new configurations include four private suites. Ironically, this new product (the best international first product on Air France) is not available on the A380.
Spotting the 777s with this configuration is relatively easy on the seat-map. All applicable 777s should be configured with new La Première by sometime in 2015. Considering that La Première is only offered on select 777s and A380s (not the new La Première); the destinations are rather limited. According to Air France, they will progressively equip 19 Boeing 777-300 aircraft with the product from September 2014.
Each passenger will have a personal 24-inch (61 cm) HD tv/entertainment system. The suite will also include a 77cm seat (bed) width, and the length of the seat when converted to a fully-flat bed will be 2.01 meters. Some of the destinations for the new (777) service include Singapore, Seoul and Tokyo.
Taken from the Air France specification sheet, at a glance :
· 76 seats equipping 19 Boeing 777-300
· An exclusive cabin with 4 suites
· A unique concept, with each suite featuring adjustable curtains
· A suite designed with top-of-the-range materials – leather, woven fabrics, suede, etc.
· A spacious, ergonomically-designed seat, with integrated lumbar support
· Direct access to the central aisle
· A large fully-flat bed
· A sleek console with integrated storage compartments
· A large table and an ottoman for inviting a guest during the trip
· A mobile partition and adjustable curtains, allowing each guest to choose their preferred level of privacy
· A plaid and “boudoir” cushion available as soon as the guest boards
· A mattress, cushion and warm duvet for optimum sleeping comfort
· A private wardrobe
· A 24-inch High Definition screen and touch remote
· The window blinds close at the flick of a switch
· Accessories to make the guest feel at home; bedside lamp, pillow, plaid, etc.
Air France put together a very “sexy” promotional video for this product, probably one of my favorite premium cabin promotional videos.
Anything under €5000 (all-in roundtrip) is considered a good “deal” for La Première. Always be sure to glance at the Air France websites for your respective market to see if there are any promotions. An example (and the current promotions) from airfrance.nl (the Netherlands site) looks like this. I have also found similar pricing on the German Air France website. Flights departing from Germany (Hamburg [HAM] for example), often are just around €5000. You can also build a long connection rather easily, since this service is only offered from Paris CDG. Of course, most people like the idea of a long connection (at least in one direction) to fully utilize the services of the lounge.
If you have a lot of Flying Blue miles to burn (or alternatively, a lot of American Express Membership Reward points for transfer), you can also redeem miles for La Première. You will have to be Flying Blue Elite, and you will be using the “Flex Awards” chart. Flex awards do have good availability and can be modified without charge. Just make sure you are sitting down, when you look at the award chart!
If you do decide to purchase a ticket, La Première earns 300% in the Flying Blue program. Considering this, it is best to credit La Première flights to the Flying Blue program. As an example CDG-SIN (Paris to Singapore) for a Flying Blue Platinum would earn 26,636 Award Miles and 19,977 Level Miles. Considering that Gold Status (SkyTeam Elite +) requires only 40,000 Level Miles in the Flying Blue Program one long-haul roundtrip in La Première could (just about) provide qualification for Gold Status (especially, if connecting from a European city through Paris). The lowest fares (roundtrip) I have been able to find in La Première trend around €4000 and would require a low fare and promotional coupon. Perhaps, depending on the market, you might be able to combine a La Première fare basis one way with a discount business class in the other direction. Unfortunately, most promotional La Première (discount) fares do require a roundtrip; but since this class of service is not booked very often and many multi-city itineraries do not offer the service some opportunities for lower cost itineraries might exist.
The La Première Lounge is described by Air France as “an exceptional lounge,” and very few would disagree. The lounge includes spa services and a fine dining experience designed by Alaine Ducasse, with the requisite elegant table service. For those looking to really indulge, they offer a deluxe spa package which allows for one to “relax and recharge for 2 hours with the deluxe La Première treatment: a unique combination of well-being and escape.” After you finish your lounge experience “prestigious” private car transfers are provided to your flight. For those who would like to experience the lounge; but don’t have the budget, or perhaps the ability to travel to a destination with La Première air service there is one other option. On a limited basis, Air France business class passengers can pay for lounge access and premium services. There is a LINK with complete details for the sale of these services. (provided link is from the Netherlands Air France website) Using Flying Blue miles is also an option, instead of paying cash. Perhaps, a great way to “blow” those orphan miles that you never seem to be able to use for a trip. Or you could transfer American Express Membership Rewards points into Flying Blue to pay with Flying Blue miles.
The terms, conditions and pricing :
and the services provided :
The soft product, with an emphasis on the food and beverage is an essential element of La Première. Air France advertises it as “The Art of Dining.” Caviar is the cornerstone of premium international first class service; as well as vintage Champagne, fine wines and luxury spirits. Air France has been advertising their caviar service in the most recent on board magazine.
You will be able to find more details HERE with regard to the food and beverage service offered; which includes a menu developed by Michelin-starred French chefs, including culinary designers like Joël Robuchon, Régis Marcon, Guy Martin, Anne-Sophie Pic and Michel Roth. International first class is all about the details, which includes such elements as beveled Christofle glassware.
I’d love to hear your experiences at the La Première lounge as well as flying La Première.
La Première : International First Class on Air France
IFC : International First Class
AMS : code for Amsterdam
CDG : code for Paris
HAM : code for Hamburg
777 : a popular long-haul wide body aircraft manufactured by Boeing
A380 : the largest (2 floor) commercial aircraft in the world manufactured by Airbus
American Express Membership Awards : a popular program where you earn points for spend that can be transferred to airline programs
FB : Flying Blue
FB Platinum : Flying Blue Platinum, the highest Elite Tier in the Flying Blue program
Award Miles : the same as RDMs, except the FlyingBlue program using this term instead of Redeemable Miles.
Level Miles : these are the miles that count towards Elite Status in the Flying Blue Program
Hard Product : the actual seats and non-food amenities (video entertainment, stand up bar) on a plane
Soft Product : the service and food and beverage on a plane