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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  1. Bruce Kane

    June 29, 2017 at 2:04 am

    I caught one of their sales a few months back and have CLT-JFK-CDG-BIO with the overwater in their Premium Economy coming up. $650 RT, I’ll take it.

  2. DaninMCI

    June 29, 2017 at 2:30 am

    Nice review thanks for posting. I’ve been thinking about redeeming miles for premium economy so this is helpful. It might be worth the extra just to go for business class

    • Keri Anderson

      June 29, 2017 at 10:46 am

      Can’t remember the award price difference between the two, but the experience is night and day. Lie flat seats and better service are definitely worth it!

      • DaninMCI

        June 29, 2017 at 11:12 am

        A one way flying blue premiun econ from NA to Europe is 50k and business is 62500 so it’s not much higher. I enjoy AF business so it might be worth it depending on the route. I like flying Houston to CDG so that’s a bit longer than from East Coast.

        • Keri Anderson

          June 29, 2017 at 12:04 pm

          I would say it’s definitely worth it! Especially if you want to be rested for a full day when you land.

  3. Matthew

    June 29, 2017 at 4:44 am

    I’ve taken it from LAX and have to say it’s worth it on the long hauls. The extra leg room, seat width and spiffed up dinner service were appreciated after 11 hours.

  4. Craig

    June 29, 2017 at 1:55 pm

    Was this the A380 or 777?

    • Keri Anderson

      June 29, 2017 at 2:01 pm

      It was the 777

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