Air France new business class review – The Points Guy

Quick take: Swanky new suites and up-to-the-minute technology but that same Air France elegance combine to make this a showstopping business-class experience.


  • Closing doors provide a new level of privacy.
  • If you can snag a bulkhead seat, the extra space feels more like a first-class fixture.
  • Excellent Wi-Fi and cool new technology like wireless charging pads make this feel like the next generation of business class.


  • The new seats are only available on a handful of planes and routes so far.
  • Airfare and award redemptions to fly Air France business class can be astronomical.
  • Some seat features like the tray table could have been designed more ergonomically.

The idea of seats with closing doors in international business class was revolutionary when Delta introduced its new Delta One suites and cabins back in 2016 (though Qatar Airways put its much-beloved Qsuite into service before Delta got its own to market and JetBlue had had its so-called “throne” seats with closing doors in service since 2014).

Since then, however, multiple airlines have introduced business-class suites with closing doors, including British Airways’ Club Suites, Virgin Atlantic’s latest Upper Class Suites, Etihad’s A350 business-class suites and JetBlue’s Mint Suites and Mint Studios.

But business-class suites with closing doors are still the exception rather than the rule. So it was with no small amount of fanfare that Air France unveiled its own take on closing doors in business class back in May 2022. We got a sneak peek of the innovative fixtures in September of that same year when it began installing them aboard its Boeing 777-300ERs.

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While they may look a lot like the airline’s longstanding business-class seats, there’s a lot that separates these ingenues from their predecessors, including all kinds of tech touches like larger inflight entertainment screens and wireless charging pads.

It wasn’t until last month that I took these new suites out for a test flight myself, though, when I flew Air France from Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) to John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK). Here’s how the experience rated and what you need to know about Air France’s new business-class suites with closing doors.

How much does business class cost to book Air France business class?

Airfares on Air France between New York and Paris can vary dramatically depending on the time of year, as can award pricing now that the airline’s frequent-flyer program, Flying Blue, prices awards dynamically.

Over the next several months, however, here is the range of prices for round-trip tickets from New York to Paris on Air France in economy, premium economy and in business class.

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Class Economy Premium economy Business class
Airfare $568-$1,247 $1,583-$4,072 $2,999-$12,099
Flying Blue miles 30,000-245,000 + $240 60,000-440,000 + $240 110,000-860,000 + $562

I just needed to travel one-way back to New York after taking JetBlue’s inaugural New York-Paris flight and for my date of travel, that would have cost 3,520 euros ($3,951). If I’d had to return to Europe, I could have booked a round-trip in business class from Paris to New York and back instead for a mere 1,754 euros ($1,969) – so always be sure to check round-trip prices in case you can make an itinerary work for you.

Instead, I used 55,000 Flying Blue miles plus about $212 in taxes and fees. Depending on how you look at it, I was getting between 1.4-6.8 cents per Flying Blue mile in value, still well above the 1.2 cents TPG values Flying Blue miles at.

Even if you don’t actively participate in Flying Blue, the program is a transfer partner of:

So if you have a card like The Platinum Card® from American Express, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, or the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card (see rates and fees) among others, you can transfer your points or miles to Flying Blue and redeem them that way.

For now, seat selection on flights to and from the U.S. are free for Air France business-class passengers, though that might change. One of the bulkhead seats, which are free for Air France Gold and Platinum elites to select in advance, was still available at check-in before my flight, so I was able to choose it for free as well (more on that below).

Finding the new Air France business-class seats

The other thing I had to keep in mind is that only a very few of Air France’s 777-300ERs so far have the new seats aboard, and the airline will only equip 12 of the jets with them (along with its new Airbus A350-900s eventually as well).

The way you can tell if your flight will have them is by looking at the seat map.

The Boeing 777s with the new seats do not have a first-class cabin. They just have 12 rows of business class at the front of the plane, 7 in the first section and then another 5 in a smaller cabin behind some galleys and lavatories. The row numbers range from 1-7 and then 9-14 (with rows 8 and 13 missing).

I was able to use seat maps to determine which flight from Paris to New York the day I needed to travel had them aboard. It was Air France flight AF 22, departing Charles de Gaulle at 8:30 a.m. and arriving JFK at 10:40 a.m.

Checking into and boarding business class on Air France

Air France business-class passengers can expect the following priority services at the airport.

Priority boarding Yes
Lounge available Air France Lounge
Does the airline participate in TSA PreCheck? Yes
Boarding group Zone 1

Given the early hour of my flight, I stayed near the airport the night before so I only had to take the CDGVal train to Terminal 2E, where many of Air France’s long-haul international flights depart, and check in at the SkyPriority zones near doors 6 and 7.


I was entitled to use those thanks to my business-class ticket, but elite status with a SkyTeam member like Air France-KLM or Delta will get you access as well.

The SkyPriority lines were nearly empty at that time of the morning, and I was through passport control and security within 10 minutes, so I made my way to the Air France Lounge near the terminal’s M gates, where my flight would be departing.

This lounge is open daily from 5:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and is enormous. With a forest theme, including tree-like lamps and leaf motifs, there are various seating and lounging areas, plus a quiet rest area with chaise lounges.

There are also multiple coffee and snack stations and a main food buffet serving pastries, fruit, yogurt and cold cuts among other options, all sourced and made in France.

There’s also a Clarins Spa offering short treatments, but it’s only open from 7:40 a.m. to 1:20 p.m. daily (and closed Wednesdays).

I didn’t stay long since my flight was supposed to begin boarding at 7:35 a.m. and I wanted to be among the first passengers on the plane to take some photos, so I headed to the gate.

Boarding began on time, though passengers were lined up in the terminal and the bridge to the plane waiting for the final cleaning checks. I made it on at about 7:45 a.m., ahead of the pack, though, and boarding lasted for about 30 minutes after that, allowing us to push back on time. Most passengers boarded through the second door, so the front business-class cabin was relatively traffic-free during this time.


How comfortable was business class on Air France?

As mentioned, the Air France planes with the new business-class seats on board have a specific layout that’s easy to pick out, with just 48 seats spread across 12 rows at the very front of the plane.

Number of seats 48
Cabin layout 1 – 2 – 1 
Seat recline 78 inches, fully flat
Seat width 23-27 inches
Screen size 17.3 inches

The new seats, made by French manufacturer Safran, look somewhat like Air France’s current business-class ones, only there are quite a few high-end updates. These are still in a four-across reverse-herringbone configuration where the center seats angle toward one another and those at the sides of the cabin angle outward.

But these seats have sliding doors that you can shut for privacy. To operate them, you hit a button in the side wall of the seat. Mine functioned quite smoothly so that I could slide it open or shut easily, though other seats’ doors snapped shut with a loud bang, so watch those fingers.

The doors run from the bottom of the lowered aisle-side armrest to the top of the seat shell, so they’re more like panels than proper doors, but they do insulate passengers from noise and activity on the aisle.


The seats themselves and their exterior shells are upholstered and paneled, respectively, in a sharp navy blue while the interior of the fixtures and their other surfaces are finished in a pearlescent white. The carpeting in the aisles between the seats, meanwhile, reflects both colors in a kind of contemporary parquet pattern to evoke the feel of a classic Parisian pied-a-terre.


Their aisle-side armrests, which measure 4 inches wide, can be raised or lowered a full eight inches, either for support when you’re in an upright position, or for more space when you’re lying flat. Seats in the center section also have privacy dividers between them that can be raised or lowered depending on whether you want to converse with your seatmate.

Among the stylish finishes passengers will find in the seats are a stowage compartment emblazoned with an illuminated hippocampe ailé, or winged seahorse, the symbol of Air France.

This contains a hook for provided noise-canceling headphones (though you can plug your own headphones into a jack below it that’s next to a USB-a port) and a small vanity mirror along with the entertainment system remote. It’s a great place for stowing the small amenity kit provided as well.

Below the larger armrest (along the window for side seats and down the middle for center-section ones) seats also have small cubbies holding the safety materials and a bottle of Evian plus a universal power plug and a USB-C port.

The seat controls embedded in the larger armrest are simple and intuitive, allowing flyers to manipulate the seats into upright, lounging and lie-flat positions as well as turning on and off the ambient and overhead lighting and activating a “do not disturb” indicator should you wish flight attendants to leave you alone while resting.


You can also adjust the seatback forward and back, which helps when the tray table is deployed for dining. The table pops out of the wider armrest and unfolds to full dimensions of 11 by 16 inches, large enough to accommodate most laptops. Although it slides back and forth slightly, it can still make for a tight fit when dining unless the seat is almost fully upright. Hopefully in future versions of the seat the airline will make the table more maneuverable.

Perhaps most innovative of all, the seats have wireless charging pads. I have an iPhone 13 Pro and found it charged my device at about 1% per 2.5 minutes. The USB charger was slightly faster, but not by much.

Finally, while most of the seats have spacious but still limited cubbies for your feet while in lie-flat mode, the bulkhead ones in rows 1 and 9 actually have large, bench-like padded sections, which makes them feel even more spacious. I managed to snag 1L in the first row along the right side of the cabin for free at check-in since it was still unclaimed, but usually Flying Blue elites have dibs on those.

It meant sleeping was extra comfortable since I could roll from side to side or even onto my stomach without hitting my feet or legs on anything.

That said, I asked a couple other business-class passengers about their experience in the regular seats and they said they found them very comfortable.

All 48 passengers in business class share four lavatories, two up front near the cockpit and two in near the galleys between the two seating sections. Thanks to that ratio, there was never a line, and flight attendants were diligent about keeping them clean throughout the journey. What’s more, they had full-length mirrors and were provisioned with Clarins Eau Dynamisante and hydrating tonic lotion products for a touch of luxury.

Amenities in Air France business class

Upon boarding, the seats were stocked with medium-size pillows and full-size lightweight blankets as well as a hanger to hand to the flight attendants with any outerwear you might want to shed.


When it came time to sleep, the pillow was very comfortable, with the right balance of softness and give, and the blanket was warm but breathable, which was good since seats on the aircraft do not have their own air nozzles for temperature control.


Shortly after boarding, flight attendants passed through the cabin handing out unisex blue or beige amenity pouches upholstered in a herringbone pattern.

These contained:

  • Bamboo toothbrushes
  • Toothpaste
  • A writing pen
  • Ear plugs
  • An eye mask
  • Socks
  • Clarins Hydra-Essential moisturizing gel
  • Clarins Beauty Flash Balm

Though spare, the amenity kits had the essentials, and the pouch was good to keep for stowing loose wires and chargers.


The provided noise-canceling headphones were likewise basic, but worked well at keeping the cabin sound out. Should you wish to use your own set, though, you can pair it to the entertainment system via Bluetooth.

The entertainment screen, meanwhile, was crisp and clear thanks to its 4K display, and passengers could select from a range of options including a moving map, new releases like “Avatar: The Way of Water” and “Don’t Worry Darling;” TV shows like “House of the Dragon” and “You;” and a variety of music albums and games.

The two drawbacks to the entertainment system are that the screen does not tilt up or down for passengers of various heights or if you want to view it easily in lie-flat mode; and the touchscreen remote, which also had buttons for the seat lighting and to call flight attendants, was not very responsive so I just used the touchscreen functionality on the main system instead.


I needed to get some work done, so I logged onto the plane’s Wi-Fi shortly after we hit cruising altitude and found a handful of packages offered:

  • 1-hour surfing for 8 euros ($9) or 1,600 miles
  • Full-flight surfing for 18 euros ($20) or 3,600 miles
  • Full-flight streaming for 30 euros ($34) or 6,000 miles

I chose the full-flight surfing option, which was good for emailing and browsing the internet but not much heavy use like streaming videos or music, and was able to pay and get online within about a minute. Despite the limitations, I found it to work very well, with a download speed of 43 Mbps and uploads of 1.76 Mbps.

How was the food in Air France business class?

As business-class passengers boarded and got settled into their seats, flight attendants passed through the cabin offering a choice of water, orange juice or Champagne and pointed out the printed menus waiting on the seats.

The bubbles the airline was serving were Pommery Brut Royal, which usually retails for $40-$50 per bottle.

Just before pushback flight attendants came through once again to take passengers’ orders and ask if they would like a post-departure beverage.


About a half-hour after we hit cruising altitude, the crew began bringing out drinks individually to passengers. The breakfast menu on this flight included:

  • Fresh fruit juice (orange or a tangy ginger-carrot), coffee, tea, or hot chocolate
  • Bread and other breakfast pastries
  • Plain yogurt
  • Fruit “tartare” with pistachios
  • Smoked salmon on pastry with vegetables julienne and creamy Ossau-Irraty PDO cheese
  • And a choice of mushroom and spinach flan
  • Or pancakes with verbena cream and blueberries

After the flight attendants set out my table cloth, I was served a tray with the smoked salmon, cheese, a fresh brioche and the other starters all served on contemporary Degrenne Porcelaine china designed by Jean-Marie Massaud and with Christofle cutlery.

This could have been breakfast in and of itself. Though nicely presented, the salmon was not super appetizing, so I just nibbled at it and saved my appetite for the main.

I had chosen the flan, which was more like a frittata, and it was piping hot, rich and delicious. The mushrooms and spinach had a fresh texture and plenty of flavor, like the dish had been prepared a la minute rather than from a catering kitchen.


Flight attendants cleared the meal about 45 minutes after service had begun so passengers could get some rest, though they handed out little treats like Le Petit Biscuit cookies and extra dark Le Chocolate des Francais mini chocolate bars, which they also left in baskets at the bulkhead for folks to help themselves.


About 75 minutes before landing, meal service began again with a light snack that included:

  • Fresh fruit juice, coffee, tea, or hot chocolate
  • Puff pastry brioche with garlic-herb cheese and vegetable julienne with ewe’s cheese sprinkled on top
  • Orange and grapefruit slices
  • Financier cake

Though beautifully presented once again on a single tray, this meal was a letdown. The pastry was cold, the cheese was bland and the vegetables were limp. Better to have served a small sandwich or even a plate of crudites. I was most interested in the coffee anyway, and it was a nice kickstart before landing along with the ultra-buttery financier.

Air France has some impressive chef partnerships, including with the multi-Michelin-starred Anne-Sophie Pic, whose dishes you are more likely to find on afternoon or evening flights, so if food is one of your main indulgences, you might want to book a flight later in the day once the new seats go into wider service.

Wines on board Air France are selected by Paolo Basso, who was awarded the title of best sommelier in the world in 2013 by the prestigious Association de la Sommelerie Internationale. The Champagne plus two whites and two reds on offer represented an interesting cross-section of French regions, including:

  • Pommery Brut Royal Champagne
  • Chablis La Sereine 2019
  • Chateau de Villemajou, Domaine Gerard Bertrand 2021
  • Cairanne Peyre Blanche Famille Perrin 2021
  • Sain-Julien Pavillon de Léoville Poyferré 2018

Normally I’d have asked for a taste of all of them, but given the morning duration of the flight, I just had some Champagne with the first meal, which was crisp and delicious in the air.

Passengers could also choose from mineral water, various fruit juices, sodas, and both Nescafe and Illy coffees as well as Palais des Thés teas.

I asked for sparkling water throughout the flight, and my glass was kept full with Badoit the whole time. My Illy coffee was also great for an airplane beverage and I landed feeling refreshed and perky.


Would you recommend Air France business class?

At least aboard the Boeing 777 and Airbus A350, Air France business class has been among the best transatlantic options for years, both in terms of onboard comfort and amenities as well as mileage redemptions.

With its new business-class seats, complete with high-end finishes and closing doors for privacy, Air France has taken a tangible step forward in improving an already excellent product and competing with other carriers like its own partners, Delta and Virgin Atlantic, as well as British Airways.

What sets Air France business class apart, though, are the oh-so-French touches like the France-sourced catering; the understated upholstery, carpeting and paneling; the hippocampe ailé stencil; the up-to-the minute technology like 4K entertainment screens and wireless charging; and the refined service.


A word on that last one. The crew on this flight could not have been more polished or professional. Virginie, the flight attendant covering my aisle, greeted each passenger by name upon boarding, took time to show them around the seat and place their meal orders, and just generally seemed to enjoy the experience of working aboard a flight with the new seats (she told me passengers loved the new experience as well).

Overall, Air France business class remains among the best ways to get from the U.S. to Europe, and will become even better as more planes and more routes see the new seats go into service.

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