*Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.
This article was last updated Apr 25, 2019. Terms and conditions may have changed. For the most accurate information, please consult the issuer website.
Air France business class on its fleet of long-haul aircraft is delivered in a style you would expect from the country’s flag carrier, so why not upgrade if you have the miles in its Flying Blue loyalty program?
The airline gives you several options on how to use your miles when it comes time for seat upgrades, listed below.
What types of miles can you use to upgrade?
You can upgrade Air France flights using Air France/KLM Flying Blue miles. You can also use Delta SkyMiles to upgrade Air France flights to and from the U.S.
If you don’t have Flying Blue miles, you can also transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards®, American Express Membership Rewards®, Citi ThankYou® and Marriott Bonvoy™ points to Flying Blue. Chase, Citi and American Express points transfers are at a 1:1 ratio, while Marriott is 3:1.
What fares can you upgrade to?
Air France doesn’t restrict you to the highest fares to upgrade, but you will pay fewer miles for your upgrade if you book a higher fare class initially. Here are the fare classes that are eligible for upgrades.
- Economy – Y, B, M, U, K, H, L, Q, T, N, R, G, V, X, Q
- Premium Economy – W, S, A
- Business – J, C, D
Upgrades to La Première first class on Air France are available for Silver, Gold and Platinum Flying Blue members in business with J, C or D booking classes.
How much do upgrades cost?
Unfortunately, there is no easy way to calculate this, since Flying Blue no longer has an awards chart. It does have a miles calculator, but it only covers how many miles are needed in each class for a reward flight, not upgrades.
The Flying Blue Miles Price Estimator allows you to type in city pairs and receive an estimate on the miles needed for international flights in four cabin classes, shown below.
Even after creating a free Flying Blue account, you can only search if you have miles available. The price to upgrade depends on the fare class booked. You can only see the exact number of miles needed for your upgrade when booking your flight.
How to know upgrade space is available
The easiest way to see if upgrade space is available is by checking if seats are available in your chosen class, although nothing is guaranteed until you’re in the seat. A flight from New York to Paris on Sept. 10, 2019, shows availability in Premium Economy and business classes:
You can call Air France at 800-237-2747 and have an agent check award space for you for free.
Another option is to use a paid Expert Flyer account to get specific numbers of available seats in each premium cabin. If you are using Expert Flyer to check for upgrades to business class, you will want to look for ‘O’ space. Upgrades to Premium Economy require ‘A’ space.
Upgrades to First Class require ‘F’ space, but can only be booked if you are an elite member with Air France. Additionally, if you are an elite member and are interested in upgrading to business class, you can also upgrade if ‘Z’ space is available. Note that the last column in the screenshot below shows how many seats are available in business class on four Air France flights.
Can you waitlist if no upgrades are available?
No. You’ll have to keep checking back or set an alert on Expert Flyer to see if an upgrade becomes available.
Do upgrades get lounge access?
If you upgrade your ticket to business or first class, you’ll receive access to the appropriate lounge.
How to book the upgrade
You can upgrade online 48 hours or more before a flight at the Air France or KLM websites. You can call customer service at 800-375-8723 for help. You can also do an upgrade when checking in at the airport or even by asking a flight attendant on board the plane.
What is business class like?
The airline’s business class features a fully flat bed with a duvet and a hypoallergenic feather down pillow, along with direct aisle access. Passengers receive an amenity kit that contains toiletries and Clarins skin care products.
The seating area is a multipurpose space with a desk/restaurant table, a secure storage area to hold your smartphone, tablet, a personal power outlet and USB port for charging and noise-reducing headphones. Enjoy fine wines and meals curated by Michelin-starred chefs.
The bottom line
Air France offers options to use miles for premium cabin upgrades. If you’re a new Flying Blue member, it’s impossible to check the number of miles needed and seat availability for business or first class upgrades, leaving you only two options: calling an Air France customer service agent or paying for an Expert Flyer account to check it yourself.
Check out our picks for Best Airline Credit Cards.