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air france business class seat A350-900

Leveling Up: A Review of the New Air France A350 Business Class Suites

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Air France has always been known for providing an excellent experience flying to Europe and beyond – heck, it regularly ranks among the best airlines in the world. 

With a lie-flat seat, multi-course meals, and modern tech, Air France has long offered among the best business class experiences flying to Europe and back. But the French flag carrier is one-upping itself with a brand-new business cabins on the Airbus A350s and Boeing 777s flying many of its long-haul routes – including, yes, individual suites with a door for every passenger. 

While you won't find these new suites on every Air France flight across the Atlantic just yet, I got to experience them for myself on a recent trip to Europe. Read on for the full review of my flight from Paris-Charles de Gaulle (CDG) to Chicago-O'Hare (ORD). 



How to Book Air France Business Class 

There are several ways to book Air France business class, but the best way is with Air France's own Flying Blue miles. And somehow, it's gotten even cheaper recently.

Whether you're flying nonstop to Paris from the East Coast, the Midwest, or as far away as the West Coast, Air France business class can be booked for as low as 50,000 Flying Blue miles each way. While most other airlines are busy raising award rates, Air France and KLM actually lowered the price late last year.

It's one of the best ways to get to Europe in lie-flat seats, bar none. And best of all, it's still bookable for just 50,000 miles even if you're connecting onward to another European destination – as I was with my flight from Rome (FCO) to Chicago.

The one big tradeoff is that Flying Blue passes on a decent chunk of taxes and fees: Think $230 or so for a one-way from the states – and often closer to $400 for a return flight from Europe.


Air France business class flying blue booking


At Thrifty Traveler, we don't accept freebies. We use our own points, miles, or cash to pay for every single flight or hotel you see reviewed here – including this one!

But just because these flights are bookable for as low as 50,000 miles doesn't mean that's what you'll always see.

Flying Blue's dynamic award pricing means award rates are still all over the map – especially in business class, where you're more likely to see rates closer to 200,000 miles or more. But Flying Blue Promo Rewards – the airlines' monthly specials with discounted award rates of 25% to 50% on select routes – are also still around, so you might occasionally find an even better deal.

But the real beauty of booking with Flying Blue miles is just how easy they are to earn. Air France and KLM are transfer partners with all the major banks: American Express, Bilt Rewards, Capital One, Chase, Citi, and now Wells Fargo. It gets even better if there's a transfer bonus, like this recent 25% transfer bonus from Chase which brought a one-way business class fare down to just 40,000 points each way. 

Unless you already know exactly what you plan to book thanks to a Thrifty Traveler Premium alert, start your search by logging in on Air France's site, click on the “Book with miles” tab, and hit “Continue.”

To find the lowest rates, you'll want to pull up a flexible calendar – and there's an easy way to do it: Simply enter your departure and arrival destinations but leave the “departure date” field blank. Be sure to select “Business” from the drop-down menu of cabin options, then click “Search flights.” It will be easiest to search one way at a time. 


Air France Flying Blue booking


The airline's site will pull up a month's worth of availability – with the ability to quickly tab over to another month. Look for months that show business class flights available for 50,000 miles and dates listed in green for the lowest rates.


air france award search flexible calendar FCO-ORD


Currently, you'll only find Air France's newest business class suites on some (but not all!) of its newer Airbus A350-900 and Boeing 777-300ERs. The new seats on these planes look nearly identical, though they're actually different. But both feature tons of modern touches and more privacy with doors at each seat.

To ensure you're booking one of the fully enclosed suites, look for the words “individual suite” under the flight details on Google Flights. 


Google Flights air france business class


While these suites are undoubtedly the airline's latest and greatest, Air France's other business class seats aren't too shabby of a ride either. Check out our review of Air France business class on the older A350! 


Checking In & Lounge Access

Since I was connecting in Paris after initially departing from Rome (FCO), I didn't need to check in again with Air France for my long-haul flight back to the U.S.

Be warned: The Charles de Gaulle airport is notorious for being difficult to navigate. If you have a layover in either direction, build in a longer connection if you can. 

Read more: ‘Is My Connection To Short? What to Consider With Airport Connection Times

If you're flying Air France business class, you'll have access to Air France lounges in Paris. While there are five different Air France business class lounges in all, you'll want to visit the lounge in the terminal you're departing from. In my case, I had access to the Air France lounge in Terminal 2E, Hall M.

Air France has been slowly updating its lounges in Paris, and this one was recently renovated and is nothing like its counterparts I've visited in the U.S. It was spacious, with plenty of different types of seating throughout and no shortage of outlets. Massive floor-to-ceiling windows along one wall let in tons of natural light and provided an excellent view of the tarmac, no matter where you were sitting. 


Checking In & Lounge Access


There was a robust breakfast buffet, with hot dishes like your usual eggs and bacon and even quiche to choose from as well as cheese, yogurt, and fruit. In the center was a table with a selection of pastries and bread. There were several coffee machines so despite the size of the lounge, there was never a wait to get a drink. There was also a self-serve bar with wine, beer, champagne, liquor, and fresh-squeezed juices. 

After grabbing some food and coffee, I settled into a comfortable wingback chair in the middle of the lounge to get some work done.


Checking In & Lounge Access


Boarding for the flight began about an hour before takeoff, and while there were separate queues for business and economy passengers, everyone boarded simultaneously.  

Boarding was orderly and we boarded quickly, leaving plenty of time to store luggage, settle in, and enjoy some complimentary champagne before takeoff. 


The New Air France A350 Business Class Cabin 

My flight from Paris to Chicago was on one of Air France's newest Airbus A350-900 aircraft, which are equipped with their latest business class seats.


air france business class seat A350-900


There are 48 business class seats spread across two cabins at the front of the A350, which are split by a galley and restrooms. 


Aeroplopa Air France A350-900 business class rows 1-8


Aeroplopa Air France A350-900 new business class cabin rows 10-14


Air France's new business class cabin is laid out in a 1-2-1 arrangement so all passengers have direct aisle access. The seats are angled away from the aisle in a reverse herringbone pattern for additional privacy, with the solo rows of seats angled toward the windows and the middle seats angled toward each other.


air france business class seat A350-900


Each seat has a sliding door you can close (at least after takeoff) to make it a fully enclosed suite. While suites with doors have become far more common over the last few years, that's something you won't find with Air France's older business class seats. 


air france business class seat A350-900


The pair of seats in the middle section are perfect to chat with your seatmate or enjoy a meal together, making these the best seats for couples, families, or travel companions. But if you don't know your neighbor, there's a partition for additional privacy.


air france business class seat A350-900


From the moment I stepped on the plane, it was clear these were new seats. The cabin felt very modern and sleek with deep navy blue carpeting running down the aisles as well as navy blue on the suite walls, punctuated by light gray and crisp white everywhere else. It made for a bright, yet calming effect. 


air france business class seat A350-900


There were three restrooms in the business class cabin: one at the front of the plane near where we boarded and two in the second galley between the two business class cabins.

The bathroom was standard, with the same crisp navy and gray color scheme as the rest of the cabin. But it had a brightly lit makeup mirror above the sink plus – and this surprised me – a full-length mirror on the opposite wall. The bathroom was also stocked with a few additional Clarins products, which is a nice touch you won't find back in economy. 


air france business class bathroom


Air France A350 Business Class Suites

For my flight to Chicago, I selected seat 4L: a solo seat on the right side along the window.


air france business class seat A350-900


At about 23 inches across, these seats were wider than you'll find on many airlines. And there was a spacious, padded leather footwell thanks to the reverse herringbone layout.


air france business class seat A350-900


No matter where you sit, the Air France A350 business class seats are more or less identical with a few exceptions: The bulkhead suites in rows 1 and 10 have far more legroom and move to stretch out thanks to huge ottomans, which means you don't need to squeeze your feet into a smaller footwell carved into the seat in front of you.

These special seats are initially only available to travelers with Flying Blue status … until 72 hours before departure, at which point anyone onboard can select an open bulkhead seat for free. Unfortunately, none were available on my flight.


air france business class suite bulkhead
Bulkhead business class suites, photo courtesy of Air France


Back in my seat, it was still spacious, comfortable, and incredibly well-cushioned, with padded leather armrests on each side and a wide padded leather headrest, too.


air france business class seat A350-900


My seat angled towards the window and away from the door, giving it a pod-like feel. While seated, I couldn't see any of my fellow passengers. 


air france business class seat A350-900


air france business class seat A350-900


The seat had a small console table near the window, with a built-in padded leather armrest.


air france business class seat A350-900


air france business class seat A350-900


A small compartment adorned with Air France's signature winged seahorse popped open to reveal a water bottle and a pair of noise-canceling headphones. There was also a small mirror on the inside of the door. While small, the compartment had plenty of space to store a few personal items and my amenity kit during the flight. 


air france business class seat A350-900


Beside the compartment was a removable (but wired) tablet, which you could use to control your seat as well as the entertainment system. It was easily removed from the wall – and a long cord meant you could comfortably use it while sitting up or reclining.


air france business class seat A350-900


An additional set of controls alongside the seat made it even easiler to recline or raise your seat and even dim or brighten the windows – even while lying down.


air france business class seat A350-900


Above the tablet was a built-in reading light, which you could adjust for a more optimal angle. 


air france business class seat A350-900


The tray table easily slid in and out from the console table with the push of a button. It was plenty big and sturdy enough to hold my laptop as I attempted to work from 35,000 feet. 


air france business class seat A350-900

air france business class seat A350-900


These seats had both USB-A and fast-charging USB-C ports as well as something you won't find on many airlines – at least not yet: A wireless charging pad built into the console table itself. I tested it out during my flight and found it worked well, charging my phone almost as quickly as the USB ports. 


air france business class seat A350-900


There were no physical shades on the windows. Instead, you could dim them electronically with the panel beneath the window itself or by using the in-seat controls.


air france business class seat A350-900


A large silver button released the sliding door, but I still found myself having to pull it shut the rest of the way. 


air france business class seat A350-900

air france business class seat A350-900


The seat reclined into the footwell to become a bed, measuring 78 inches when fully flat. The seats themselves were well-cushioned and upholstered in ordinary fabric, while the footrest was the same padded leather as the armrests and headrest.


air france business class seat A350-900


As this was a daytime flight back to the states, I didn't have much need for sleep. But this bed provided a plenty comfortable post-lunch nap. 


air france business class seat A350-900

Amenities in Air France Business Class 

There was no amenity kit at my seat at first, but flight attendants distributed the amenity kits during boarding. 

The kit included all the essentials for a long-haul flight: a toothbrush, toothpaste, pen, socks, ear plugs, and a very soft eye mask. Each kit also came with a few Clarins toiletries. 


air france business class seat A350-900


Each business class passenger also received a pair of noise-canceling headphones to use on the flight. 


air france business class seat A350-900


At every business class seat, there was a blanket and pillow, plus a hanger for storing a coat. I was surprised to see the pillow was nearly full-size and had a pillow case, a far cry from the tiny fabric pillows you'll find on many flights, even in business class. The navy-and-gray blanket was thick, with a quilted top and a soft underside – more than cozy enough for the long flight.


Dining & Service in Air France Business Class 

Lunch service began promptly after takeoff. And it was immediately obvious that the flight attendants took a lot of care in their service, pulling out my tray table for me and even recommending wines that would pair well with my meal. 

Lunch started with an amuse bouche: a small dish of golden beets with a dollop of garlic cashew cream and sesame seeds. It was the perfect bite, surprisingly flavorful with fun textures. I was a bit skeptical to try the cashew cream, but it was nutty and delicious, with garlic that wasn't overpowering. 

It was served with a box of cheese crackers, which were a little rich for my taste.


air france business class food


The first course was smoked salmon, which paired perfectly with the horseradish and more cashew cream. The sweet potato and butternut squash puree on the left was cream, with just the right amount of crunch from the pumpkin seeds. The presentation was great, and both dishes were excellent. There was also a side salad and roll, but I didn't try either as I was saving space for the next course. 


air france business class food 

While the first two courses had a set menu, there were several options for the main course, and business class passengers could select theirs online ahead of the flight to ensure they got the dish they wanted. A flight attendant even came around before the meal to confirm my online selection. 

I went with the beef chuck and gnocchi – a huge disappointment after the slam dunk of the first two dishes. For starters, it was burned, evidenced by the smell as well as the burned bits around the edges of the plate. It looked wholly unappetizing.


air france business class food


The gnocchi itself was fine, all things considered, although it stuck to the plate considerably. The gnocchi was served on top of chestnut puree, which was clearly burnt and looked like an unidentified brown goo – and tasted like it, too. The beef was tender, at least. 

Another disappointment: The flight attendants never offered me a refill of my drink or water. 

Dessert was a choice of green tea cake, ice cream, or sorbet. I went with the raspberry sorbet, which was simple, but delicious – the perfect palate cleanser. 


air france business class food


After the meal, flight attendants came around with coffee, offering a choice between “American coffee” or espresso. 


air france business class food


We were also served a pre-arrival meal before landing. It was described in the menu as a “light snack” although given the amount of food, I would hardly have called it light. 

The star was an open-faced sandwich served on a brioche pastry with egg salad and pickled onions. I wasn't expecting much but I really enjoyed it. The egg salad was hearty and flavorful, with celery and pickled onions adding the right amount of crunch. 

It was served with a small dish of citrus fruit and a chocolate chip cake, which were both good but nothing special. 


air france business class food


Overall, the meals on Air France business class were creative and elevated for airplane food. But the clearly burnt beef and gnocchi dish quickly reminded me that I was not at a fine dining establishment but stuck in a metal tube in the sky where, despite their presentation, the meals are basically reheated in a microwave – and not always well.


Entertainment in Air France Business Class 

Every Air France business class seat is equipped with a crisp and large high-definition screen. With the click of a button, it would swing out – and you could even pull it closer to your seat if you wanted to. 


air france business class seat A350-900


Although you could use the tablet at your seat to pick and choose, it was also a touchscreen monitor. The touchscreen was very responsive – and since you can slide the screen closer to your seat, it's easy to reach, too. 

The media system even had Bluetooth capabilities so you could connect your own headphones if you didn't want to use the pair provided. I was easily able to pair my AirPods to the screen. 


air france business class seat A350-900 

For inflight entertainment, there was a great selection of movies and TV shows from which to choose, including lots of new releases. There was also an interactive, customizable flight map if that's more your speed. A handy bar with a plane icon at the top of the screen provided a visual indicator of how much time was left in the flight. 

Air France offers three different inflight Wi-Fi packages for purchase. 


Air France Wi-Fi options


I bought the full-flight streaming option for 30 euro, or about $32. Once I got online, it was speedy enough to get some work done … but I doubt I'd have been able to stream anything had I tried. 


Bottom Line

Air France has long been considered among the best ways to cross the Atlantic in a lie-flat seat. But with these new, private business class suites, the airline is one-upping itself. 

The cabin is sleek with comfortable seats boasting nearly unrivaled privacy, thanks to those sliding doors. But each seat is also equipped with tech-forward modern touches like wireless charging and Bluetooth pairing for headphones. 

Aside from a poorly executed entree at lunch and a tiny hiccup with service, flying Air France business class back home from Italy was a real highlight – easily one of the chicest ways to get to Europe and back.


Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

1 Responses

  • that beef looked horrible like in the us. poor quality yet hyped and overly marketed due to capitalist hustlers.

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