Air France Upgrade to Business Class at Check-In

Old Nov 23, 17, 9:01 am
  #1  
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Air France Upgrade to Business Class at Check-In

Good morning everyone! Happy Thanksgiving!

Something I've been quite pleased with in the last few years of traveling with Air France is their ability to sometimes upgrade to the business class cabin at check-in for a fee. I'm not at the point financially where I can afford business class, so these offers are great because they allow me to come somewhat within reach. Of course, each one is a gamble, because often the cabin can be full, however tomorrow is not one of those days.

Typically offers range anywhere from $250-$600 (depending whether you're sitting in Economy or Premium Economy - they seem to lower the cost for those already in premium). However the flight tomorrow wants $1585!!! (I'm ticketed in Premium Economy already). Obviously this is too high, but I was wondering if anyone else has played these games before with Air France, and perhaps what advice they can offer...

I'm a Delta Platinum Medallion, and the reservation recognizes me as "Flying Blue Platinum" so I'm not sure what other options are available. I'm also curious to try using miles, as I know KLM allows me to pull from my Delta mileage on the day of departure at the airport, but does Air France do that? I'm not sure...

Looking for tips! Usually I pay $250-300, so anything in there financially is probably fine, and for miles I have so much that I'm willing to hear any offers there. Thanks!
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Old Nov 23, 17, 9:11 am
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Just a few threads down... New policy for paid and miles upgrades (AF/KL) - sept 2017
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Old Nov 24, 17, 5:15 am
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Originally Posted by Ditto View Post
Thanks for the tip! My last Air France flight was July so it looks like this is my firstborn time on the new policy. Thanks for pointing it out, sounds to me like the days of cheap upgrades are numbered... what’s weird is that the cabin has 35 seats open and they still want to charge $1600. No one has bought it, it still says 35 available, even almost 24 hours later.
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Old Nov 24, 17, 8:48 pm
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Yes this is not a very bright policy.

They will end up upgrading people for free. It happened to me twice. The upgrade was too expensive or not offered at all and then my boarding pass beeped at the gate. I would have happily paid € 200-300 to upgrade from PE so it seems like a loss for them to me.

They will come to their senses.
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Old Nov 24, 17, 11:47 pm
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AF previous system was very simple and did not really discriminate by fare bucket or flights. The segmentation by flights was asimple formula on load. The upgrade prices were quite cheap.

The new system is much more complex. It depends on a lot of parameters (including the likely number of staff/family/friends on that flight ). I assume that AF will go through a period of experimentation and then adjust the parameters according to the results. There is little doubt though that prices will not be as cheap as before. But if AF gets half the number of pax to pay upgrade twice the price, they benefit. I can also understand that AF realized that its cheap upgrades meant that some frequent flyers became accustomed to buying upgrades, therefore not minding buying cheap tickets.

I was expecting Plat posters to be happy about the change as it would mean more free opup opportunities. At least that would be true on airlines where the policy is to prioritize opups based on status (AF seemed to have a somewhat-different opup policy trying to also induce non-frequent AF pax). But I guess that Plats are also very frequent flyers benefiting regularly from these cheap upgrades.
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Old Nov 25, 17, 2:03 am
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Originally Posted by brunos View Post
I was expecting Plat posters to be happy about the change as it would mean more free opup opportunities. At least that would be true on airlines where the policy is to prioritize opups based on status (AF seemed to have a somewhat-different opup policy trying to also induce non-frequent AF pax). But I guess that Plats are also very frequent flyers benefiting regularly from these cheap upgrades.
I am not happy about it. I was a « regular » buyer of those paid upgrades (when I say regular, I mean 2-3 long-haul and 2-3 medium haul flights/year) and I haven’t done it for quite a while now as all the proposals I had were just crazy. What’s the point proposing €350 for a CDG-LHR or €1600 for JFK-CDG (Y to J). This is a fare difference and not a paid upgrade. From the airline perspective, I can completely understand the concept of dynamic pricing for this, but there is no point reaching those prices because no one will ever pay that. If you accept to pay €1600 for a paid upgrade Y to J JFK-CDG, you would have booked J from the beginning.
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Old Nov 25, 17, 5:56 am
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Originally Posted by Goldorak View Post
if you accept to pay €1600 for a paid upgrade Y to J JFK-CDG, you would have booked J from the beginning.
Not surprising though.
Remember AF corporate culture about upgrades which AF hates (other than for F&F).
The motto was "if we upgrade pax, they will stop buying biz class".
​​​​Management has tried to impose paid upgrades to the "system" which has revolted is now back to its old self: de facto no upgrades.
A bit like antibodies fighting an infection.

I was in fact talking with a FA at AF. She was saying that the biz class cabin was now always full as AF was selling cheap upgrades as well as with miles in the cabin. She mentioned that "real" upgrades (that is to say for free) were now almost impossible. It means that F&F would have a hard time, which the system would certainly not tolerate long.

Last edited by carnarvon; Nov 25, 17 at 6:54 am
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Old Nov 25, 17, 8:17 pm
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Originally Posted by Goldorak View Post
I am not happy about it. I was a « regular » buyer of those paid upgrades (when I say regular, I mean 2-3 long-haul and 2-3 medium haul flights/year) and I haven’t done it for quite a while now as all the proposals I had were just crazy. What’s the point proposing €350 for a CDG-LHR or €1600 for JFK-CDG (Y to J). This is a fare difference and not a paid upgrade. From the airline perspective, I can completely understand the concept of dynamic pricing for this, but there is no point reaching those prices because no one will ever pay that. If you accept to pay €1600 for a paid upgrade Y to J JFK-CDG, you would have booked J from the beginning.
I thought Goldorak was only traveling in La Premiere .

From a casual reading of the other thread, it seems to me that they have been many offers well below 1,600. I suppose that they do dynamic pricing. When the J load is very high while Y has lot of empty seats (no need for opup), they basically price the upgrade as fare difference. A very few guys might pick it (see story below), but there are very few seats available anyway so that is equivalent for AF to selling a J ticket and priced accordingly. But when the J cabin is wide open their software offers a more reasonable price. And when J is wide open and Y overbooked, they might need to free opup anyway, so they are ready to offer a good good price.

Each pay-for-upgrade system (including bidding) is different at different airlines. AF system was peculiar because it offered dirt-cheap upgrades, irrespective of original fare bucket. But in general, top tier members of the airline tend to object to any paid upgrade system. At least when the airline strictly prioritize free opup on status. Take the example of CX. On regional flights (and these can be 5+ hours), CX uses widebodies with large fixed number of J seats. CX top tier (DM) score high on being upgraded ( say 50 to 70% on regional flights). Even on longhaul, the record is quite good. As OWE I was opup recently from J to F. That benefit would be vastly reduced when a paid-upgrade system (other than fare difference) is introduced if it is available to all.

Of course, the best world for status pax would be cheap upgrade offers prioritized to them, even in situations where Y is not overbooked (unlikely to get free opup). But that is not going to be the future.

My reading is that AF has worked hard to provide J fares at a reasonable price, even outside holiday sale periods. Much lower than 5 years ago. The "bargain" where you could buy a heavily-discounted Y fare and upgrade to J for little money won't stay in the new AF pricing strategy. And I understand them.


Story: Assume you work or are invited for/by a bureaucratic university with strict no-J travel policy. They issue the ticket in Y. You are rich and famous and wish to travel J. It is near-impossible to get the university to issue/reissue the ticket in J paying on your own dime (trust me). There are just too many bureaucratic/accounting constraints and hoops. An upgrade offer of the fare dfference does the trick.
PS: With the moving curtain aspect of regional flights, the logic might be a bit different. But on longhaul planes the number of seats are fixed..
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Old Nov 25, 17, 9:46 pm
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If you are rich and famous then you would buy your J/P ticket straight away, no? Or otherwise if they wanted you so bad, you could still tell them it’s J/P or nothing and have them deal with that.
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Old Nov 26, 17, 2:17 am
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Originally Posted by Sjondorn View Post
If you are rich and famous then you would buy your J/P ticket straight away, no? Or otherwise if they wanted you so bad, you could still tell them it’s J/P or nothing and have them deal with that.
I am very very rich and very very famous (hope everyone understand it's a lame attempt at humor).
The reason I got rich is that I do not subsidize companies that pay for my work travel.

And you can guess, the response I got 100% of the times I ask them to violate their public travel guidelines. Other notorious posters in this forum might be more famous or smarter than me.
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Old Nov 26, 17, 9:45 am
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My point is the following - and I actually was referring the university comment specifically: people that already are rich and famous will not care about the Y potion of the ticket as it’s insigificant if they fly P or doesn’t make financial impact to them if they fly J. Therefore at the end they do not really care at this point whether they pay 100% of the ticket or just 50% - 90%.

The other way around is to say “it’s J or nothing” - and then it depends on how bad they want to (and what other folks are willing to accept). If they say “no” then it’s “nothing” - simple as that.

Work travel is a diferent story and it depends on what your company pooicy is, really, the class of service allowed and whether you can book independently or have to use their corporate system.
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Old Nov 28, 17, 1:54 am
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CDG-BCN upgrade for €369!

I am a recent victim of the new dynamic pricing for day of departure upgrades, being quoted a whooping €369 for a miserable 1.20h flight from CDG to BCN.
I paid €423 for a Y to J upgrade last time from YUL to CDG (night flight) with Goldorak!
Ridiculous...


Upgrade price from CDG to BCN (Y to J) on 11/17/2017


Upgrade price from YUL to CDG (Y to J) on 05/29/2016
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Old Nov 28, 17, 6:56 pm
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This is getting ridiculous. Nobody is going to pay that much for an upgrade in european business class.
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Old Nov 29, 17, 12:43 am
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Cdg-gru y->w 227€, y->c 567€

Here are the offers received at check-in today on CDG-GRU tomorrow's flight (original fare in V). Unfortunately I had to give them a pass (cannot afford Y->C, and already paid €€ for an extra legroom seat so Premium Eco would not be much of an upgrade), but found them pretty decent.

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Old Nov 29, 17, 1:11 am
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Originally Posted by albireo View Post
Here are the offers received at check-in today on CDG-GRU tomorrow's flight (original fare in V). Unfortunately I had to give them a pass (cannot afford Y->C, and already paid €€ for an extra legroom seat so Premium Eco would not be much of an upgrade), but found them pretty decent.
indeed this is decent for such a long flight. It doesn’t correspond to a fare difference and so, IMO, it fits well in the concept of discounted paid upgrade on DoD.
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