You snooze, you lose. My plan to buy a business class award ticket on Air France and upgrade during check-in was dashed by a new policy change that further tightens just who is eligible for upgrades to first class (La Première).
Air France La Première – Buying A First Class Upgrade Now More Elusive And Exclusive
It has been a few years since I reviewed La Première and I was looking forward to doing so on a flight from Paris to Mexico City later this year or next. Why Mexico City? It
is was one of the cheapest routes – it costs cost about 1,645USD to upgrade from business class at check-in, which sounds like a lot but is not all that much when you can consider how high the sticker price is for first class on Air France if you are buying the ticket outright.
But as noted by One Mile At A Time, Air France has a new policy in which you can no longer upgrade business class award tickets to first class. The new policy went into effect on July 1, 2023.
Short of buying a ticket at full price (which routinely runs more than $20,000 round-trip between the USA and Europe), there are only three options left for reasonable first class tickets:
- Flying Blue Platinum members can book full award seats (prices vary from about 200K one-way)
- Flying Blue Platinum members can upgrade from business class using miles
- Revenue business class passengers may still be offered paid upgrades during online check-in or at the airport
Like Ben, I find this a personally disappointing change – that’s because it was the one “reasonable” way to get into Air France First Class. In that sense, I understand why Air France closed the loophole: it will create an even great sense of exclusivity in the cabin. And the constant vlogging in La Premiere might get tedious for other passengers.
And let’s say that because there are no upgrades, Air France gets one person willing to pay an extra $7K to confirm first class versus three people willing to pay $2K each for the upgrade. In that case, Air France still comes out ahead.
My Algeria ticket did not work out and I see no other La Première specials at the moment, so it appears if I want to review Air France First Class again, I’m really going to have to pay for it. That’s a shame. But I get it. I’m not upset.