Earn Miles When You Buy Up to First Class on an Air France Business Class Award

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Reader Marc R. redeemed 57,000 Air France KLM Flying Blue miles to fly business class San Francisco – Paris – Lyon.

Two key things to know:

  • These points are really easy to come by because Air France is a transfer partner of Chase, American Express, Citibank, and Capital One.

  • Business class award space on Air France is much better for members using their own points than when you’re using partner miles (such as Delta SkyMiles). West Coast – Europe in business class it’s often one of the best bets.

When he checked in online he was offered the option to ‘buy up’ his business class award to first class. The price was US$2070. He wound up with the whole first class cabin to himself. Air France has the best first class between the U.S. and Europe except, arguably, for Singapore’s New York JFK – Frankfurt flight and the Emirates New York JFK – Milan flight.

Here’s what he didn’t know – would he earn miles for the first class buy up? How would this turn out?

  • No, on the theory that upgraded tickets earn based on their underlying ticketed fare?
  • Yes, it’s spend under the program’s revenue-based four miles per Euro earn?

He didn’t receive miles automatically however he emailed La Premiere (first class) customer service and “an hour later they credited me 8600 Flying Blue miles.” Marc also earned 5 Membership Rewards points per dollar spent paying with his The Platinum Card® from American Express. All in all he earned nearly 20,000 miles and flew first class.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Thanks Gary, this is helpful information. I recently bought an upgrade on a paid business class itinerary. I didn’t think to request mileage credit for First Class until I saw this post. Emailed the La Premiere e-mail address. Let’s see how they respond.

  2. ” Air France has the best first class between the U.S. and Europe, but only on the 777-300. The first class on the A380 is not up to modern standards.”

    Fixed it for you.

  3. AF 380 cabin is long in the tooth and lame however getting past the cabin the service and offerings are fantastic. Of course the new interiors are gorgeous Le Premier and Business, business new interiors far superior flight than F on 380. Given that the 380 are already being phased it not an issue anymore.

    AF seems to have quietly improved their transatlantic service now my carrier of choice to Europe.

  4. Aer Lingus cancels your economy class mileage earning when you buy up to business class with cash. You pay for the economy ticket, then you pay additional cash for the business class upgrade.

    Then they take away your economy class mileage and total miles earned on the flight is 0.

  5. Many of us book using miles since there’s no way we’d ever pay for F. The fact that he spent over $2k to upgrade is not what many of us would choose…

  6. I presume the $300 or so in taxes/fees was not reimbursed so that’s really $2300+ plus miles. Assume that route would never be available for under 4x that amount.
    It’s not about being worth monetarily, it’s about the experience. And for many people that makes it worthwhile.

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