My Honest Air France Premium Economy Review—Is It Worth the Money?

> April 30, 2024
My Honest Air France Premium Economy Review—Is It Worth the Money?

You know how they say, "opinions are like bellybuttons, everybody’s got one"? That’s gospel truth. So, if this is your first read from me, let me introduce myself. I’m Jan, a big fan of traveling (surprise!) and adventure. And by adventure, I mean exploring new cultures, trekking through jungles, or soaking up breathtaking views, not the nightmare of sleeping in cruddy hotels or cramming myself into an economy seat for a 10-hour flight.

Got it? I don’t compromise on comfort, and I’m totally fine with paying a bit more for it, as long as the value for money is on point.

In this article, I’m giving you my straight opinion on my flight with Air France in premium economy aboard their latest Airbus A350 in 2024. I flew from Charles de Gaulle in Paris to Buenos Aires, Argentina—a 13-hour journey spanning 11,000 km (6,900 mi). I flew back home with them too, only this time the flight was just 12 hours (lucky me!).

Note: I was in premium economy, not business class. Don’t get them twisted! If you are confused about what is what (and what it isn’t), read my article about all things airplane classes.

A tourist visiting Patagonia in Argentina, standing in front of the snow-capped mountains

A happy passenger in destination Argentina!


I will not lie to you Air France is my favorite airline. It is well connected with direct flights everywhere and its fleet is new. It has reasonable service and unparalleled customer care among airlines (tested for you). I have had some issues with my flights in years with Air France, but their customer care always follows the “solve the problem on the first call” rule which is very helpful. I have to admit that, as an EU-based airline, it has to follow EU guidelines, and being French, they often mess things up on flights. However, they have compensated me for delays multiple times, even paying me EUR 600 twice for significant delays, no questions asked.

Enough promo of my favorite Airline… Let’s get down, let’s get down to business (anyone else have that song stuck in their brain?).

Is Air France’s premium economy class worth your premium money? Or is it better to spend it elsewhere? 

To start, here's my rating (who doesn't love numbers, right?):

Value for money: 9/10
Compared to Air France economy: 8/10 (it is because the economy in Air France is actually ok)
Food: 10/10
Entertainment: 8/10
Boarding: 7/10
Service: 7/10
Seat: 10/10
Overall: 85% 

Shocking revelation: Honestly, I wouldn’t even think about flying economy with Air France as their business and premium economy prices are very reasonable. 

Ready for the details? Let’s begin!

Value for money—Potentially great!

Flying with Airfrance Premium Economy class, review

My favorite airline!


A huge plus on Air France’s premium economy is that it can be great value for money. I find it almost luxurious and pretty affordable compared to other airlines. In our case, the price was only about USD 500 higher (for two people) than economy and it truly brought a host of benefits. Like saving an hour in line, which I value at at least USD 100. Per person.

Notice the word "can" in the first sentence. It's there on purpose because it can be great value for money, but it's not guaranteed. Air France, like many other airlines, doesn't have a fixed price for upgrades. It always depends on demand. So, it might happen that if there's high demand for economy tickets, their prices skyrocket, but the premium economy price stays the same. In that case, paying extra for premium economy is worth it.

On the other hand, if a lot of people want to fly premium economy, the ticket prices can increase several times compared to economy. At that moment, I'd consider flying economy class.

Tip: When there's no heightened demand for flights in either economy or premium economy, the prices for premium economy are usually double that of regular economy (I've never written the word "economy" so many times in one sentence).

SkyPriority—It makes you feel a little bit special!

With Air France, your premium economy ticket includes SkyPriority service. This privilege offers priority check-in at the airport, priority security check, priority boarding, and priority baggage handling. These benefits are designed to enhance your flight experience, and they really do. You are literally ahead of the crowd that’s side-eyeing you, upset they didn’t think of upgrading to premium economy.

SkyPriority saves you from waiting in endless lines. And I hate waiting; it's an extreme waste of time. I particularly loved the priority check-in, where, for example in Buenos Aires, there was a 30-minute line that we just skipped.

SkyPriority sign i Air France boarding area

Once you SkyPriority, you’ll never want to turn back


Boarding is also priority. You're not as much of a priority as children, seniors, business class, and the handicapped. You're in the second group after them. But in our case, it all got mixed up with economy class anyway, and boarding was just as slow. So no extra points there, Air France!

Dining experience from a Michelin-star chef

Food in Air France Premium Economy

You'll be especially happy if you fly Airfrance Premium Economy from Paris—airplane food by a Michelin chef? Yes, please!


Next up, my favorite part: the food. Those of you who know me a bit know that I have a refined taste and good food simply makes me happy. And let me tell you, when it comes to food, Air France has no competition in the skies.

So, first things first, great news. Right after takeoff, they serve you a welcome drink. Okay, the welcome drink is a choice between “champagne” and water… Thanks, I’ll stick with water. For those of you who insist on having lunch exactly at noon, with Air France, your wish is granted. They served food within an hour after takeoff, which seems quick for such a long flight, so that’s superb. Unless you’re used to snacking while waiting for your flight and you’re still full.

A bit of a downside for me is that they don’t serve the food on porcelain but are clearly going the ecological route, so it’s on paper. It's nice that at least it’s an eco-friendly solution, but it’s slightly inconvenient. Especially the paper straws! Those of us living in the EU have learned long ago that paper straws are utterly tragic. The cutlery is normal, at least there’s that.

The lunch itself was excellent for "airplane food" standards, but for Air France premium economy, it was average. I had ordered salmon risotto, but it turned out to be pasta with salmon instead. That was fine and well-seasoned, even though it was a different dish than what I’d ordered.

The salad, however, was peculiar as it came in the form of a purée and looked like ice cream. Visually, it was impressive, so I give top marks for presentation, but the taste was worse. And no, it’s not because I dislike vegetables; I actually love them. You know what, the dessert erased all doubts and minor grievances—the camembert and especially the chocolate mousse were absolutely fantastic.

Dining on board in Airfrance Premium economy, review

Doesn't offend, doesn't delight. Just look at that loaded sandwich!


Are you enjoying reading about what I ate on the plane? Happy to oblige! Let me tell you about the menu on the return flight then! Overall, I'd rate the food on the way back... also average (again, compared to the usually high standard on Air France). I had pasta with vegetables, which was okay. The beetroot was good, but I'm not a fan, so it wasn't really to my taste. And the dessert was decent, something like cheesecake.

Fun fact: Do you know who created the menu for the flight from Paris? Frédéric Simonin, holder of one Michelin star and finalist in the pretigious “Meilleur Ouvrier de France” contest, has created two dishes for Air France passengers, including a vegetarian option:

  • Salmon risotto with orzo pasta, wild dill and lemon sauce;
  • Trofie pasta bake with porcini mushrooms and hazelnuts.

I know, pretty cool, right? I ate risotto made by a Michelin-starred chef. If you want to experience it too, you'll need to fly from Paris, as his menu isn't served on other flights.

In-flight entertainment–It was surprisingly quite entertaining

Entertainment on board of Airfrance premium economy, review

Entertainment in premium economy had no added value


If you've read any of my reviews before, like the one on Austrian Airlines Premium Economy, you know I struggle to keep myself entertained on board. Despite a selection of 300 movies, I often find myself not choosing any. Or spending an hour browsing... and then playing the trivia game instead. I don't think this is a common issue, so you'll probably manage better—they even have new releases and hardly any duds. But I wouldn't count the large selection as a premium economy perk, since you get the same options in economy class.

Tip: Read my article, "Long-Haul Flight Survival Guide: 21 Comfort Hacks and Travel Tips", where you'll find loads of great tips and learn how I typically spend my time on long flights.

What entertainment options do you have at your disposal in premium economy? There's a very responsive touchscreen that works beautifully. The only change I'd make is switching the menu from horizontal to vertical, as the UX feels unnatural (but maybe that's just my professional bias). The screen is as wide as the seat (13.3 in) and a big plus on such a long flight is the option to purchase fast internet. You even have a power socket in your seat, which you won't find in economy, so that's another big plus.

What surprised me was the option to listen to audiobooks, although the selection is small (and not quite anything for me this time).

What else... There's a reading light and noise-canceling headphones, which work so-so. At least mine did. So, take advantage of the Bluetooth and bring your own.

Onboard service—Nothing special

Alright, let's talk about the cabin crew. I'll be honest, the service on board wasn't quite up to par, at least from what I experienced. I remember when reviewing ANA Premium Class, I wrote: "I would rate the flight crew 15/10." Well, definitely not this time around. A 7 seems about right.

I had bad luck on the first flight. I must have had the prettiest stewardess I have ever seen and also the slowest and dumbest. The return flight was much better. Overall, it felt like the crew wasn’t particularly attentive. You didn’t get that vibe that they’d go out of their way to make your flight exceptional. Sure, they were nice, but it seemed like they weren’t really trying all that hard.

Air France Premium Economy Seats—You’ll even get your beauty sleep!

Seat map of the Premium Economy Class in Airfrance Airlines, review

Check the seat map! The seats in premium economy are genuinely spacious and adjustable


I consider Air France as one of the best airlines out there, but I’ll be straight with you—it’s mainly because of the seat recline and size in premium economy. Imagine having 94 cm (37 in) of legroom and a seat that's a whole 48 cm (19 in) wide. The backrest tilts up to a 121-degree angle. The seat is genuinely spacious and adjustable. Even a tall guy like me, at 186 cm (6 ft 1 in), can almost fully recline and stretch out comfortably. It's definitely worth paying extra for, especially in our case where upgrading to premium economy cost under USD 250 per person. Plus, you can adjust the headrest to four different positions. Sleeping on this seat is a joy.

However, not everything was roses and rainbows. What I found incredibly annoying was the footrest—it just got in the way too much and should be more retractable under the seat. That or I have unnaturally large heels and calves.

Also crucial for a positive experience is the seat layout. The Air France premium economy A350 seat map has a 2-4-2 configuration, making it ideal. If you book your seat in advance, you'll find yourself snug between a window or aisle on one side and on the other side? Your better half, a great buddy, or some random grandpa—it all depends on who you're sharing the journey with.

Good to know: My glowing review might be biased by my disdain for economy class seats. I hate those things so bad!

Final thoughts: Summing up my Air France Airline experience

It's totally worth upgrading to premium economy on Air France even just for those roomier and more comfortable seats. That's a major (major!) plus in my book.

Even though Air France is my favorite airline, it scored the same as ANA Premium Class overall. Just so you know, I'm not playing favorites. The biggest letdown was the cabin crew. I know it depends on the individual, but we really got the short end of the stick. I feel that there’s huge room for improvement and that the fix isn’t even that hard. Train your crew better! And then there's the "priority" boarding that’s priority only by name, but I'm hopeful that's not the norm. Maybe there was a mix-up at the gate?

FAQ 1: Can premium economy access Air France Lounge?

With a premium economy ticket on Air France, you don't get lounge access. That's standard for most airlines, so Air France is no exception.

Air France offers premium economy passengers the option to buy lounge access at check-in, availability permitting, of course. I can't tell you the price because it's not set in advance and varies by airport.

FAQ 2: Can you sleep in Air France premium economy?

In Air France premium economy, you can actually get some decent sleep, way better than in the regular economy class, where you're more likely to break your neck trying to doze off. The premium economy seats are big and comfortable, with ample legroom and a nice recline.

FAQ3: Is premium economy worth it on long flight?

Yes, premium economy is definitely worth it for long flights. You can manage three hours squeezed into an economy seat, but for longer flights, where you ideally want to get some sleep and not arrive at your destination completely wrecked, premium economy is the way to go.

For me, one of the biggest perks of premium economy is the increased comfort, a.k.a. better and roomier seats. Sure, there are other benefits like welcome drinks and better blankets, but you didn’t pay those extra hundreds just for those, and if you manage to get a good price, the value can be incredible.

FAQ4: Does Air France offer last-minute upgrades?

Yes, Air France does offer last-minute upgrades, and sometimes they’re quite proactive about it. Once check-in opens, that's your time to act. You can reserve an upgrade online or wait for an email from Air France—which might not come. Sometimes Air France and other airlines offer discounts on upgrades just before departure if they haven’t sold enough seats. At that point, you can get fantastic value on premium economy upgrades. Upgrading from economy this way is my top tip for surviving long flights!


Visiting Salta in Argentina

Are you looking for your next vacation destination? I highly recommend Salta in Argentina


FAQ5: Is it cheaper to book economy and then upgrade?

It might be cheaper, but then again, it might not be. Helpful, right? As I mentioned earlier, most airlines don't have a fixed price for upgrades—it all depends on supply and demand. So, if demand is low, it's very likely that the price of an upgrade will drop significantly just before departure. But you also risk the price becoming too high or, worse, there may be no available seats in premium economy. In both instances you may end up in economy and that’s enough to scare me into buying premium economy up front if it’s a very long flight. It's all about how much you like to gamble.

FAQ6: Do you get better food in premium economy?

If you fly with Air France, then yes, the food should be upgraded. At a minimum, your main meal will be better than what’s offered in regular economy. And if you’re flying from Paris (like we did), your menu will even be designed by Frédéric Simonin, a holder of one Michelin star (and a bunch of other titles). Ha, take that, economy folks with your chicken and rice!

FAQ7: Which airline has the biggest premium economy seats?

Japan Airlines, hands down, has the biggest premium economy seats. I tested this firsthand on a flight to Japan (surprisingly) and let me tell you, Japan Airlines has no competition when it comes to the amount of space. All their premium economy seats offer 107 cm (42 in) seat pitch. Now tell me, where else are you going to find that? Right, maybe just at home in your living room.

FAQ8: Can I ask for a free flight upgrade?

Sure, go ahead and ask. And please take a photo of the poor soul at the check-in counter's face for me... You can ask, embarrass yourself, but you won't get it. Unless maybe you have a bazillion frequent flyer miles, it’s your 90th birthday, you’ve just graduated from college, and you’re flying to your son’s wedding. Still, no guarantee, buddy. 

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About me

About me

Hi! I’m Jan. I live in Prague, Czech Republic. I try to experience the best the world has to offer, and I don’t cease to be impressed. But if I’m not, I’m sure going to tell you! You can count on my full honesty and real opinions here. No bullcrap. I own and run several companies, which gives me great (but not unlimited) freedom to roam the world.  

I was first inspired to start this blog by my own experience of researching for upcoming trips—I often struggle with a lack of good information, accuracy, and authenticity of resources. You wouldn’t believe how many “travel bloggers” don’t even visit the destinations they write about! 

My goal with this blog is to provide you with complex and practical information so that you can plan your own vacation, complete with insights you’d only get if you visited the place. I also put together itineraries that are fully planned out trip guides.

Another aspect that drives this platform is my curiosity about the history, geography, politics, and economy of each country I visit, so I try to include this information in my articles, too. It’s always great to get the bigger picture, right? 

And just to be clear, I am not trying to compete with backpacking blogs or provide hacks for an economical and affordable experience. My vacations follow the standard pattern of traveling by plane, staying in good hotels, and renting a car on the spot to get around. I’m also always up for a fantastic meal, though I don’t shy away from local delicacies and street food, either.  

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