After canceling our SWISS First Class trip to Zurich, I booked us four tickets on Air France to Paris…in economy class. The seasonably reasonable Air France Flying Blue fares offer great value for family travel.
Family Matters: From SWISS First Class To Air France Economy Class Via Flying Blue
One first class ticket on SWISS from Los Angeles to Zurich was 121K miles. Four tickets in economy class from Los Angeles to Paris on Air France were 84K miles.
That alone was not reason enough to book Air France (I explained my reasoning here), but I was delighted at what a great value the tickets were.
Flying Blue, the loyalty program of Air France-KLM and a number of other airlines, does not publish a fixed-price award chart. Instead, award tickets are dynamically priced and can vary from as little as 15,000 miles to well over 200,000 on the same route, depending upon the day and flight loads. That can sting you if you are trying to book a last-minute ticket on a popular route during a busy time, but can also save you thousands of miles if you are a bit flexible.
Furthermore, Flying Blue “sleeps around” so to speak by partnering with most flexible points currencies (like American Express, Chase, Capital One, and Citi). Therefore, getting the points into your account is quite easy.
Flying Blue used to be a pain to deal with it over the phone. Flying Blue is still a pain to deal with over the phone. Two things, however, have made it easier. First, the website has dramatically improved such that you can reasonably rely upon it to book award travel. Second, the Flying Blue call center is now open 24/7 so you can book a trip any time of day if you require telephone assistance.
Tip: If you are in the USA, call Flying Blue late at night and you will reach the far more competent European call center than the Mexico call center.
Flying Blue now offers complimentary stopovers, even on one-way awards. The plan was to stop over in Paris and then continue on to Basel or Zurich or even Frankfurt. Sadly, there was no connecting space at all available such that we could take advantage of the stopover (you need “saver” space on both segments, even though you cannot tell by looking at the website if it is available).
Ultimately, we decided to fly to Paris and then take a train to Basel. Train tickets were reasonable and going to Gare de l’Est seemed much easier than going back to CDG Airport.
From high rollers to budget travelers, we are shifting gears and heading to Europe on Air France in economy class. I look forward to bringing you updates along the way. This whole episode really has me thinking about the world of miles and points, especially as it pertains to travel with children. I look forward to addressing this next week.
image: Air France
How much taxes for those 84k?
Everyone on the internet keeps seeing good FB deals (and I see them too) but since I don’t live near JFK/LAX/ORD or the like, I really can’t take adavantage of those deals.
$253, so about $63 each.
Matt, perhaps I misread you but when you said, quote, “One first class ticket on SWISS from Los Angeles to Zurich was 121K miles. Four tickets in economy class from Los Angeles to Paris on Air France were 84K miles.”
That strongly implies to me that you were scoring 4 tickets for 84K total compared to 121K each ticket for 1st class.
That’s not just a compelling reason but one that begs sanity coming out at 1/5.76 the price of a first class ticket or perhaps 21K per passenger. If that’s the case, I’ll certainly start surfing Air France offers regularly.
You read that correctly. That’s one reason why I cancelled my SWISS tickets. All four Air France tickets were less than one SWISS ticket. Claire Marie was the primary reason, but this made the decision easier.
Can you book additional empty seats with miles? Coach could be a lot less onerous if you could book three award seats for two people, assuring that the middle seat would be empty.
Probably possible. It’s a good thought when there is a huge difference in price.
I wouldn’t do that on Air France. My wife and I and children were all going to Paris a couple years back and our parents offered to take the kids. We didn’t cancel their tickets as they were nonrefundable and lo and behold my wife and I had random people between us, because “the other passengers (my kids) didn’t check in“
You should have checked in! 😉
I love the cheese on Air France! Actually Air France served my favourite in flight meal last year!
I’m a big Air France fan. I have sometimes upgraded to First Class. The food and drink are great and staff are fabulous.
No matter the class, Air France always gets my vote.
I’ve also never had a bad Air France flight. Crews generally lovely and food good too. CDG not my favorite airport, though.
They generally are fine in the air (I have only flown business and short haul economy, so I don’t have a view on long-haul Y, Première, or Premium Y), but not so good at everything else.
A few examples from 3-4 years ago: I had to sue them for a refund on a fully refundable fare because they failed to process my original request (apparently that was my fault because I had sent it to AF.FR and not AF.CO.UK) and deemed the follow-up demand for a refund to be out of time. I had to sue them again when they cancelled a KL flight, promised to reimburse me for a hotel at CDG and subsequently refused to come up with the money. When departing from CDG, they were not going to allow me to go through security because my carry on was a couple of kilos over the limit- never mind the AF ‘baggage cabine’ tag that I had gotten (same item, same weight) at MAN the previous night or the fact that the excess weight was attributable to the CPAP machine I was carrying. They then said that I was too late to check it in so I would have to miss the flight, and it was only when I asked the supervisor whether it was AF policy to discriminate against passengers on the basis of their medical conditions that I was escorted back to the security queue.
Needless to say, I wasn’t in a rush to fly them again, but I couldn’t resist the temptation of a cheap business class redemption from NBO a couple of months ago, which went absolutely fine.
Check out FB award in business from Singapore to LAX. I’ve seen offers of 600,000+ miles one way, one person!
Agree that Asia is not competitive. A shame. I once did SFO-AMS-TPE-BKK for 100K miles in J.
Basically nothing is competitive outside of transatlantic flights and promo rewards. They routinely price business class for Europe-Africa flights at 300k each way or so, and the rates for partner redemptions are shocking too.
Worse still, the revenue-based earnings mean that you could fly business class all the way to Chile or wherever and end up with a pathetic amount of miles. The only reason I have a FB account is the double-dipping with Accor.
Once in a while a deal shows up:
I paid 48.5k Virgin Atlantic miles for an AF journey for which Flying Blue wanted 121k!
I’ve reassessed too. Honestly it’s not that exciting to be in j or f with the family. Ours are allowed unlimited screen time and they def sleep well… but one person in f or the whole family in j/f. Just seems too much of a splurge for me. Not impossible sometimes (eg the five of us flew aa biz on the red eye from Honolulu to ord after Christmas in 2020 and it made the whole holiday worth it.
But 4-500k extra points to have a slightly better sleep for one night meh. Still have to navigate airports etc. Swiss first class is still a reasonably poor meal and seat compared to a hotel.
Mind you. As a hobby, I’m happy to splurge on myself and/or my wife.
Yes whenever I boom economy because business class costs too much it’s also a “voluntary downgrade” not because I’m poor.
This wasn’t about cost and I think the word you were looking for was “book.”
So you are going to bust on them for an obvious typo, which is just a jerk move, while floating out the subtly racist comment about the European call center vs the Mexican call center. So we can add racist to elitist in the list of your character traits. Good to know.
Rotfl. Racist because I point out how incompetent the call center is? Have you ever called it? It was your racist mind that made the link between geographic location and the people (versus the poor training of the people or the long hold times due to inadequate staffing levels) I’m laughing at you Jack. Troll, troll, troll your boat.
So as you can see based on Kiki’s comment, I am not the only one who questioned the comment. I still think it shows your true self, especially with the quick pivot to accuse me. “accuse others of what we do”, maga playbook stolen from the Nazis. Nice company you keep there.
Rotfl. “Kiki” wasn’t responding to your comment. Keep digging old sport.
Jack how is mommy’s basement these days. You must be very lonely.
Thanks for the kind clarification. The comment confused me.
Will never ever fly air france again what a experience we had 2 wines on 10.5 flight to maimi when we asked for another we where told they had run out especially when you have paid for premium and also dinner one got the beef the other wanted the pasta and was told they had run out kids don’t get a choice either have to take what adults are taken never again give me B A and Emirates any time
You must be living a very sheltered life – if I stopped flying every airline running out of my meal choice, I would be confined to private flights by now.