Is Air France Premium Economy from IAD to CDG Worth It?

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Air France’s Premium Economy is decent, far better than US airlines’ “premium economy” offerings, but had I paid twice the cost of an economy ticket I would have disappointed.

For my trip with my dad back to Spain this summer I’d originally planned to fly American Airlines on one of their cheap $400 east coast fares and *hope* my systemwide upgrades would clear. But with American’s stingier upgrades, it was a risk. When a deal for premium economy under $600 and out of Washington, DC popped up, I had to jump on it.

I was a little nervous before the trip after reading a bunch of critical reviews about Air France’s premium economy product but I was hopeful as we boarded.

Premium economy gets its own cabin complete with curtains and separate bathrooms. It’s not a large cabin and having two lavatories for so few passengers meant there was rarely a wait, even though business class would sometimes come back to use them as well.

Curtain separating business class, lavatory to the left.

I’d snagged an exit row that gave us significantly more leg room but meant no storage at our seat, so it was important we were one of the first to board. We barely got all our carry on in the bin and it threatened to slide out if anyone opened it.

The exit row is extra leg room with a caveat, the door juts out in front of the seat, so depending on how you cross your legs, the leg space in the window seat might be limited. The window seat does come with some handy side storage though, big enough to hold an amenity kit, menu, and odds and ends.

But back to the seat. It was a good width. It came with noise cancelling headphones already installed and a decent blanket and big fluffy pillow. Perhaps a little too fluffy. Great for sleeping but not for putting behind your head or back when dining.

It doesn’t help that the head panels on the seat are too small to hold the pillow in. Essentially the seat was not worth paying more than we did. It’s a “wedgie seat”. The leg rest helps, but only goes about half way up. You don’t have to worry about the person in front reclining, but you also can’t recline much yourself. It was not comfortable and we didn’t get any more sleep than we would have in regular economy.

My dad & I at the start of the trip

Premium economy does get an amenity kit! Toothbrush, headphone covers, socks, and sleeping mask.

The in-flight entertainment had a decent variety of movies. Cabin service was friendly but sparse. Dinner was served shortly after take off, but no beverage service beforehand and they only offered refills when coming by with the post-meal coffee. If you want more than one glass of wine you’ll need to ask for it. I also noticed they only came through the cabin at night (I wasn’t sleeping) once with water.

Air France Premium Economy Dinner Menu

Air France Premium Economy Beverage List

You have the option of pre-ordering a special meal for €16-20. The options looked appealing but I decided to give the free option a try on our outbound. It was fine, nothing special.

Breakfast was actually more than generous considering we’d eaten only 3 hours before. A yogurt, a muffin, and orange juice we just enough. 

Overall impression: the flight was definitely worth the price of coach, but not double.

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