Air France: Charging Business Class for Economy Seats

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Mar 5, 2019
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#1
My wife (Marjorie Sherman) and son (Benjamin Sherman) all purchased Business class seating for an Air France flight from Paris to Amman (AF0452) on 10 December 2019. We were seated in what amounted to Economy Class, with narrow seats and limited leg room. The only difference between their faux Business Class and Economy Class was that the former occupied the first few rows of the cabin, and the latter fell in directly behind. I have estimated the difference in fares to be roughly $2600 for the three tickets. This amounts to a scam on the part of Air France, and I requested from their Customer Service a refund for the difference between Classes for our tickets (case #AF20xxxxxxxxx). Their response was a form letter denying my request with no further explanation.

Can anyone help with this? Thank you in advance.

Edited by a moderator to remove case number
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Neil Maley

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#2
Here is the seating chart for your flight, you are correct, the only difference in the seats is the location. It looks like the first 7 rows are Business class.

There are actually 2” more pitch on the seats in business do you did get more legroom than economy.

Seat Specs:
Business: Pitch 34, Width 18
Economy: Pitch 32, Width 18

Did you check the seating chart before you booked? Were there and guarantees on the seat sizes?

If you booked and traveled in those seats, I don’t see them providing a refund. This looks like a very small
plane and smaller planes don’t always have any luxury features.
 

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Sep 19, 2015
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#4
Only long haul flights have lay flat seats. Medium and short haul flights have the economy configuration. This is the same with BA, Lufthansa, Swiss, Alitalia, -- just off the top of my head.

What you do get is extra luggage, use of lounge, seat assignment, faster check in --

If you booked with a travel agent that should have been explained. If you booked it yourself there is an area that discusses the business seats on inter-European, Middle East, North African flights.

I am sorry but it is doubtful you will get a refund.
 
Mar 29, 2016
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#5
You experienced typical European business class. In addition to an empty middle seat, you should have had lounge access, priority boarding, free drinks and a meal. European is an overall disappointment. While you may not have received what you wanted or expected, you got what you paid for. As an aside, I'm going to Amman later this month and I found tickets to be inordinately expensive.
 
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Mar 5, 2019
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#6
You experienced typical European business class. In addition to an empty middle seat, you should have had lounge access, priority boarding, free drinks and a meal. European is an overall disappointment. While you may not have received what you wanted or expected, you got what you paid for. As an aside, I'm going to Amman later this month and I found tickets to be inordinately expensive.
I guess the key here is the definition of flight length. I accept that a flight of up to two hours may not requires real Business Class seating, but this flight lasted 4 and a half hours. I also question the ethics of charging an extra $900 for 2 more inches of legroom.

Nonetheless, I guess I have to accept that, once again, we allow airlines to behave badly. At least I learned a lesson.
 

Patina

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Dec 22, 2015
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#7
I guess the key here is the definition of flight length. I accept that a flight of up to two hours may not requires real Business Class seating, but this flight lasted 4 and a half hours. I also question the ethics of charging an extra $900 for 2 more inches of legroom.

Nonetheless, I guess I have to accept that, once again, we allow airlines to behave badly. At least I learned a lesson.
It really is such a bummer that most of the airlines are getting rid of what we think of as true business/first class on less than long haul flights. I remember when first class from coast to coast was just as good as overseas flights. Now, they are a bit roomier with some free food and drink thrown in.
 
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Neil Maley

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#8
It isn't that they behaved badly - you didn't check to see what you were getting when you bought - your expectations exceeded reality. It doesn't matter how long the flight was - what matters is that the information was there in the seating chart when you chose your seats. The plane was a small commuter type plane and none of those have

You got 2" inches of pitch, no one in the middle seat and whatever drink/food perks that business class gets that economy doesn't.

Seatguru is a great website to look at before booking tickets. You can input your flight number and bring up the seating for the plane, see the details of the seat size and also see which seats are desirable and which aren't. Thats was where you could see you actually did have extra leg room and no one in the middle seat. Its a great tool to use when booking flights.
 

Neil Maley

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#9
It really is such a bummer that most of the airlines are getting rid of what we think of as true business/first class on less than long haul flights. I remember when first class from coast to coast was just as good as overseas flights. Now, they are a bit roomier with some free food and drink thrown in.
Four hours is not really considered a long haul flight, but you also have to look at the destination. Paris to Amman isn't exactly a route that might have 300 people flying to at any one time. If they did, the airline would use larger planes.
 
Mar 29, 2016
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#10
The Middle Eastern airlines offer such as Qatar, Turkish, Royal Jordanian, etc. all offer legitimate business class. BA does have an old British Midland Club World seat that is a real business class seat as well, but it's often substituted for a European style seat. Other than to lounge access and fast track access, there is never a sound reason for paying for a business class seat on most mainline European carriers that aren't long-haul. I'm sorry you learned this the hard and uncomfortable way.
 
Jan 6, 2015
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#11
From their website re:Business Class . . .

In just a few seconds, your seat transforms into a spacious bed up to 2 m / 6.5 ft in length. You can easily find the position that is right for you by using your seat controls.

To improve access for passengers with reduced mobility, the Business cabin seat is equipped with a flexible armrest.

The Business seat is also equipped with a personal screen so you can enjoy our complete entertainment lineup. This includes 500 hours of varied programming available on demand.

In addition, you also receive the following items to guarantee your comfort on board:
  • A hypoallergenic feather pillow
  • A soft and soothing duvet
  • A "comfort and well-being" travel kit including a sleep mask, a complete toiletries kit and Clarins moisturizing products
The Business cabin provides everything you need to work in comfort, including:
  • a power outlet to plug in your laptop or other electronic devices,
  • a reading lamp that can be adjusted so as not to bother or be bothered by your neighbor,
  • noise-cancelling headphones,
  • storage space for your documents or laptop.
Thus Business Class is not just more leg room . . .
 
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Sep 19, 2015
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#12
Msherman it is a hard lesson to learn. I took a business class BA flight -- FCO to LHR -- I was so late in booking and it was holiday time that it was almost the same price, as the only economy fares left were unrestricted fares.

In BA there is a curtain that shifts in the cabin to separate the business class -- it could be 5 rows or 7 depending on route. Why did I pay a little more for the business class -- because BA charges for a cup of coffee or tea in economy, and I was afraid that my luggage would be a little over weight. So I got something to eat, shorter lines and middle seat blocked. I needed a non-stop so my choices were BA or Alitalia.

VoR61 is quoting what the transcontinental long haul passengers receive, with the lay flat seats and all the amenities -- those are much different planes.

Unlike the US domestic first class/business class there really is little difference in the seat. One does get better baggage allowance, less lines, and at least having the middle seat seat blocked meant no risk of accidentally elbowing someone.

The European Airlines have diminished the short and medium haul business class because people were not flying them -- they have to compete with the Ryanair/EasyJet/Wizz/whateverlowcost airlines.
 
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Neil Maley

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#13
From their website re:Business Class . . .

In just a few seconds, your seat transforms into a spacious bed up to 2 m / 6.5 ft in length. You can easily find the position that is right for you by using your seat controls.

To improve access for passengers with reduced mobility, the Business cabin seat is equipped with a flexible armrest.

The Business seat is also equipped with a personal screen so you can enjoy our complete entertainment lineup. This includes 500 hours of varied programming available on demand.

In addition, you also receive the following items to guarantee your comfort on board:
  • A hypoallergenic feather pillow
  • A soft and soothing duvet
  • A "comfort and well-being" travel kit including a sleep mask, a complete toiletries kit and Clarins moisturizing products
The Business cabin provides everything you need to work in comfort, including:
  • a power outlet to plug in your laptop or other electronic devices,
  • a reading lamp that can be adjusted so as not to bother or be bothered by your neighbor,
  • noise-cancelling headphones,
  • storage space for your documents or laptop.
Thus Business Class is not just more leg room . . .
If the size of this plane offers all that.
 
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Patina

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Dec 22, 2015
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#15
Four hours is not really considered a long haul flight, but you also have to look at the destination. Paris to Amman isn't exactly a route that might have 300 people flying to at any one time. If they did, the airline would use larger planes.
I know 4 hours isn't considered long haul....that is why I said "less than" ;)
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#16
Since msherman flew from Europe to Asia, the flight (#452) IS an intercontinental flight. I contacted Air France who confirmed that what I posted is correct for that flight/aircraft . . .
Vor61 The Middle East is another continent, as is North Africa. But it is not a long haul flight. And the flight being a medium haul means that there is no lay flat seat or any of the fancy pillows and such that were mentioned.

Business class amenities are split

Airfrance.jpg
 
Likes: Neil Maley
Sep 19, 2015
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#17
And when one goes to the actual amenities

Airfrance2.jpg

Not a lay flat seat, it is a normal 3 by 3 with middle seat blocked



Airfrance3.jpg

Flight status shows it is just a standard reclining seat.
 
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Jan 6, 2015
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#18
This post is NOT intended to be argumentative or sin up a debate. Rather to clarify my previous post.

I could not find information on Air France's site about the "standard" business class seat so I called them back for more information. Christina is correct in stating that for this flight (#452) business class is NOT a lay-flat seat. This rep had to dig further as the initial screen showed the lay-flat. So thank you Christina for that correction!

However, she stated definitively that "we do not have different services for the standard business seat vs. the lay-flat". All business class flyers receive the same set of services (screens, pillows. etc.).
 

jsn55

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Dec 26, 2014
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#19
I will never forget my first (and last) first class flight on Alitalia LHR-FCO. We actually laughed about this experience for several years. Thankfully, the flight was short, and I never made that mistake again. Airlines are cutting service while expanding the use of positive adjectives. There's no point in discussing seating with an airline agent, they are clueless. Don't book or choose seats without consulting SeatGuru. That is the only way you at least have a chance of knowing what you're buying. I find the best strategy for comfort without the first-class price is booking three seats for two people in an exit row or bulkhead. The upgrade fees are far less than a tix up front.
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#20
This post is NOT intended to be argumentative or sin up a debate. Rather to clarify my previous post.

I could not find information on Air France's site about the "standard" business class seat so I called them back for more information. Christina is correct in stating that for this flight (#452) business class is NOT a lay-flat seat. This rep had to dig further as the initial screen showed the lay-flat. So thank you Christina for that correction!

However, she stated definitively that "we do not have different services for the standard business seat vs. the lay-flat". All business class flyers receive the same set of services (screens, pillows. etc.).
VoR61 -- I believe this type of confusion is exactly why the OP was disappointed. I suspect the OP was expecting a lay flat seat or even a seat that was appreciably larger -- like in US domestic first class. Certainly one does get more with food, luggage, lounge, amenities, etc, but what most people really want is more space and a larger seat -- and the smaller seat seems to be why the OP was most upset.