Call me crazy, but I have a strong desire to fly on the Air France A380 while still in service.
Yesterday I wrote about the decision by Air France to retire its entire A380 fleet by 2022. This move makes total sense considering the high costs of retrofitting and CEO Ben Smith’s vision for a more streamlined fleet.
And yet the news has got me thinking about an A380 trip on Air France. I’ve made it a goal to review the first class product of every single airline that offers it. I’ve almost met that goal, having flown the A380 on:
- British Airways
- China Southern
- Malaysia Airlines
- Qatar Airways
- Singapore Airlines
- Thai Airways
I’ve just got two left: Korean Air and Air France. And now we know time is limited on Air France.
Part of me thinks I am crazy for even considering this. Unlike many of the first class products above, there is no “smart” way to book Air France La Première first class. That’s part of its allure…a first class ticket will set you back 200,000 miles one-way between North America and Europe and you can only book an award ticket with Flying Blue elite status. Paid tickets occasionally go on sale, but the object of the miles & points games is to minimize out-of-pocket spending.
The Main Issue
But that’s not even the main issue. The main issue, it seems to me, is that the Air France A380 has an incredibly dated first class product that does not come close to measuring to the luxurious 777-300ER in first class I reviewed last year. The seats are open with virtually no privacy, a far cry from the curtains on the 777.
And yet I’ve got a trip in mind. I’m thinking JFK. There’a first class lounge there with a la carte dining I want to review:
And it would give me a chance to spend a night at the TWA Hotel, the number one hotel I want to review in the near future.
But if I want to the full experience, it seems to me I should originate in Paris this time and fly to San Francisco. But even that…I mean why spend so many miles or dollars to review a product that will soon be decommissioned? It doesn’t make financial sense, so the only reason to do it would be for nostalgic reasons.
What do you think? Should I even bother? Is it wrong that I am hoping for another sale fare that is actually honored?
If you’ve flown the Air France A380 in first class, was it worthwhile?
From an AvGeek perspective, I get the allure and desire. If you only have two A380s left to try, you’ve got to go for it, IMHO. Yes, the AF F hard product leaves much to be desired on the 388, but it’s still La Premiere.
As for the TWA Hotel, from everything I’ve read, that place is a dumpster fire right now thanks to bad service. If you really want to go, you might well be better off just making a reservation at the Connie for drinks the next time you’re going through JFK. That’s what I’m leaning towards myself.
I’m with MeanMeosh… Even if it leaves service, you’ll still have the memories and a tick in the box for something that (at one time) was very extravagant – a total bucket list item. I mean, you could say the same thing for flying the 744. Those’ll be gone from service soon, yet you still see lots of us AvGeeks flocking to get on final flights. Not totally the same, but close.
citi thankyou points in Mexico use a value-fixed award chart in which any first class flight from Mexico to Europe costs 280,000 points roundtrip as long as you book 21 days in advance. you choose the airline and the schedule and even the routing. it’s clearly good value though here we don’t have signup bonuses and we only get 1.5x points on all purchases (no bonus categories) so getting that much points is a matter of spend only
That is a great deal. Thanks for sharing.
You’re welcome. You can find the award chart here: https://www.loyaltygateway.com/banamexPrestige/rewards/DisplaySitePageServlet?site_page_name=SPN_DISPLAY&display_source=tsAndCsSrc&source_id=tsandcs&source_type=typeFileSrc&file_ext=htm&bank_id=10352&i18n=es_US&csrf_token=gdig1ifzh68w
Another good thing is that the 4th night free benefit in Mexico is stating the same as of now
I flew La Premier on AF 380 from CDG to MIA in 2016 and actually liked the « open » seat.
Call me a claustrophobe but I’m not too fond of those new all closed cells.
Departing from CDG is the way to go for the full Air France La Premiere experience. They just can’t reach the same level on other countries.
Completely agree. But the AF soft product is excellent and flying the A380 is pretty special just due to its size, though I certainly understand why it did not catch on while the 787 became the new long-haul airplane of choice. Incidentally, I know you want to plan this in advance, but I would sometimes upgrade to La Premiere at the check-in counter. Not always available (more so on flights to CDG), and around 1K USD when it was.
In the coming months, I will also be flying the BA 747 (upper deck) and A380, which I think is a treat while they last.
it really doesn’t make sense… your goal is accomplished whether you fly it or not. once it’s out of service, it falls off your list and then you just need Korean (which is super easy).
not to mention you’ve already done the 777 which is obvi in a different league and the cost is stupid. use your good judgment here
You forgot BA on your list – they also have first on their A380. I’m looking forward to my flight in April!
You are correct! I’ve added my BA A380 F review above.
Just flew BA A380 from Chicago to London. It was a nice flight, but far to short to truly enjoy first class. Was supposed to be on the earlier 747 flight, but my flight to Chicago was delayed. Was a nice surprise to be rebooked to the later A380 flight and keep my first class upgrade.
Too short?! Gah. I flew the 747 in 1st from DEN to LHR. I almost needed a stretcher after nearly drowning in LPGS over the Atlantic.
For me yea, a flight time of 7:15 or so seems short. By the time you finish your meal, there’s really only around 5 hours to landing, so not much time to sleep and then wake up and enjoy a nice breakfast before landing. I did enjoy a nice meal in the Concorde Lounge though before my connecting flight to Manchester.
I ‘m sad for the fact that I’ll probably never fly aboard an Airbus A318. I was hoping for it to be on Air France since I won’t be flying Avianca and I missed my chance at BA LCY-SNN-JFK due to moving.
I am way behind and have to be aboard a A380.
I used to fly as a passenger a lot and was on most of the models. For example, not just 747 but 747-100, -200, 747SP, -200SUD, -200Combi, -300, -400.
Why originate Paris when you can connect? I’d say go Geneva-CDG-SFO and program in an extra long layover (then tell me how to do it, since AF/KLM’s respective apps aren’t good at padding connections). Why not ZRH? The contract lounge there is beyond the pale. GVA ain’t wonderful, but they’ve got some proper Champagne stashed in the back if you ask for it. Plus, you can book a 318 service, just to annoy Derek.
Oh yes, I would certainly originate at an out-station and then factor in at minimum a 5hr layover at CDG.
Not ” La Premier” :-)))
You are excused as you probably do not have the french azerty keyboard on your laptop.
The food in the lounge in CDG is great because the Ducasse team makes it.
Altough some reports suggest there are some decline in what is offered in the lounge.
It is still above the business lounges.
I guess your are willing first to try the A380 Af experience on board.
Because otherwise you can offer yourself a diner at one of the Ducasse restaurant.
Is your child’s college education fully funded? If so, go for it, However I agree that AF B777 seems more fun and The CDG lounge experience seems nice.
however, I’d do the Korean B747-8 before their A380, so there’s that too,
We’re hoping he goes to school in Germany.
University in Germany is free?
For Europeans 🙂
Hi Mathew, having flown La Premiere CDG-MEX just 2 weeks ago. I will tell you that there is no better soft product in the sky. Some come close but when you add the ground service at CDG it definitely takes it above others. That being said you would be doing your self a diservice if you don’t fly out of CDG there is a remarkable difference from other airports. Just my 2 cents. I had the entire cabin to my self and yes the seats show their age but it didnt matter to me.