United or Air France? (Business class)

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Oct 9th, 2017, 04:29 PM
  #1
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United or Air France? (Business class)

Looking at fares R/T SFO to CDG Business class

Both United and Air France have essentially the same fare and also schedules are nearly identical. Both are non-stop overnight flights going out.

United - Boeing 787
AF Airbus A380

I have no alliance or loyalty program with either of these airlines or their partners. (I use a credit card that rewards travel with refunds, so I can choose any airline any time and reimburse myself.)

Which would you choose? Why?
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Oct 10th, 2017, 12:09 PM
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I have never flown business class, so cannot compare those, but I'm sure there are plenty of websites where you can do that (or maybe on here!). But I do have FF status with both those airlines and have flown both to/from Paris but choose based on the schedule and price. If they were identical, I'd choose AF because I like their service a bit better and I am not a fan of Boeing planes, I prefer Airbus in general. Now last summer I did the opposite, I switched time periods when flying AF solely to change to a B777 plane but that was because I was flying economy plus and the Airbus planes don't have as good a section for that (at least not with AF). But those issues wouldn't affect business class.

Also, AF gives you free wine, but in business you probably get it anyway. Okay, if I had absolutely no way to choose and no preference at all, I'd choose AF because CDG is their home airport and I prefer their terminals and figure if any problems, you are better off with the home airline.
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Oct 10th, 2017, 12:43 PM
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I personally would go with United for two reasons.

1. United's Polaris seats on their 787s are lie-flat, while those on the AF A380 are angle-flat i.e. the beds aren't parallel to the floor. This is uncomfortable for some people. The Air France seats are wider, however.

2. The 787s higher cabin air pressure makes for a better in-flight experience - less drying, for example. On a really long flight like SFO-CDG (and an hour longer on the return due to prevailing winds) this can make a big difference.
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Oct 10th, 2017, 01:18 PM
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Gardyloo- Yes, I believe you are correct. I realized that about the AF seats not being lie-flat just after I posted. I wouldn't like that at all. Thanks.
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Oct 11th, 2017, 07:13 AM
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Go to seatguru.com and look at the types of seats.
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Oct 14th, 2017, 06:40 PM
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Also check out American Airlines, where I recently got a very good business-class fare--and the seats are lie-flat, with some privacy.
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Oct 14th, 2017, 08:08 PM
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The problem w/ AA is they don't fly non-stop between SFO and CDG (assuming the OP wants NS)
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Oct 14th, 2017, 08:11 PM
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Meant to say AFAIK the problem w/ AA is they don't fly non-stop between SFO and CDG. Didn't check to to confirm but I'm pretty sure.
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Oct 14th, 2017, 08:23 PM
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Yes, Janis, that's the situation. I prefer non-stop for this long haul, especially if I'm paying for Business.
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Oct 15th, 2017, 11:35 AM
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I'm happy to have a one-stop when it's short; gives me a chance to get off the plane and stretch for a while. But no long stops.
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Oct 15th, 2017, 01:05 PM
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IMO the main point of Business is the lie flat beds (and the much better food) which you don't get domestically and then you end up in the posh seats for a much shorter time.

I do have to connect in the States because SMF doesn't have any transatlantic/transpacific flights. But what I usually do is the short hop to LAX, 2 or 3 hours in the Admirals club and then settle in for non stop all the way to London, Tokyo or where ever. Flying to the east coast and then over night to Europe cuts the long flight into unwieldy segments and just seems harder.
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Oct 16th, 2017, 06:22 AM
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As others have said I’d go with United. Business class on the dream liner the new Polaris class is pretty outstanding.
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Oct 16th, 2017, 06:56 AM
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I do think a short hop and then the long haul ... for example from SFO to LAX and then nonstop to Paris ... would be my next option in the event I can't find anything from SFO with lie flat seats.

But, that said, coming home I would rather have a root canal without anesthetic than come back through LAX immigration.

Now for my next question: For travel beginning in mid August 2018, what would be the optimum time to buy tix? Balancing availability with fare price, I'm not sure what time for America for purchase is best.
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Oct 16th, 2017, 06:59 AM
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"America?" Not sure how that got in there!
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Oct 16th, 2017, 07:24 AM
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We bought our tickets for next April a month ago, and the prices were quite good. August, though--hard to say, as that's peak season.
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Oct 16th, 2017, 07:56 AM
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Now for my next question: For travel beginning in mid August 2018, what would be the optimum time to buy tix?

If you're traveling in business class, wait.

For the past several years (and probably longer than that, but I haven't been following things) the high summer is the cheapest time for business class airfares over the Atlantic. Presumably this is due to ordinary "business" travel falling off at that time of year.

While of course no promises, for the past couple of years "cheap" business class fares (in "I" or "Z" fare buckets depending on the airline's nomenclature) have appeared in the March - May period, good for travel through the end of summer and beyond. I've seen round trips from the west coast to Europe as low as $2200 on major carriers, ironic because that compares to economy prices of $1200+. (The slowest time for business coincides with the busiest time for coach.)

A couple of other thoughts...

First, British Airways has an arrangement with AARP that gives a 10% discount on BA business class fares purchased using the AARP code. Since BA is one of the leaders in discounting summer business class fares, it's possible to get a double discount, as it were. Yes, you'd have to change planes in London, but it's really pretty easy.

Second, it might be worthwhile to check on United's website to see when and if they put frequent flyer miles on sale. Sometimes you can buy miles as cheaply as 2c per mile, sometimes even less. United requires 115,000 miles for a round trip in business class from the US to Europe, so if you found a sale where you could buy miles for 2c each, that's something like $2300 for the round trip, most likely much less than the retail price of the same tickets.

Third, if you're willing to change planes on the west coast, look at transatlantic fares out of Vancouver BC. These have frequently been substantially lower than comparable fares from SFO or SEA due to different market and demand characteristics. SFO-xYVR-CDG won't take much longer than routing through LAX.

Fourth, for the last few years, American Airlines' fly-hotel deals have effectively discounted the business class airfare to very low prices. You'd have to connect someplace, but if you're planning to stay in hotels anyway, this can be a terrific source of cheap business class fares. https://www.aavacations.com . For all I know United might have something similar going on; certainly worth investigating.

Finally, monitor this board on Flyertalk - https://www.flyertalk.com/forum/premium-fare-deals-740/ . The people who contribute to this board seem to find the best deals before anyone else. Bone up on your airline and airport codes beforehand.
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Oct 16th, 2017, 08:12 AM
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Thanks Gardyloo. Great info, and as I was already thinking it's way too early to buy now for next August.

I hadn't considered BA through Vancouver, but will definitely take a look.

My dilemma is that this will be a monthlong trip throughout France, Germany and Luxembourg. I am looking at cottage/apartment rentals in three areas, and will want to have that arranged well before next March, as we all know that August is a popular time to be out of the cities for locals, so I will be somewhat competing with them for such accommodations. I hesitate to book non refundable-deposit rentals (and they are ALL non refundable deposits!) in the event that the flight I will need no longer has availability.

The plan right now is to take an outbound train from CDG as soon as we arrive, so I will need to have a fairly accurate flight arrival date.
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Oct 16th, 2017, 09:10 AM
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Just one thought if you do end up going through LAX (though I don't think you'll need to)

>>root canal without anesthetic than come back through LAX immigration. <<

Me neither . . . UNTIL I got Global Entry (and priority status). Between that and flying Business Tom Bradley or other international arrivals at LAX aren't bad at all. Front of plane so first off and using the GE kiosks is a snap. If you don't have GE -- consider getting it.
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Oct 16th, 2017, 09:54 AM
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Late to reply, but the Air France 380 has (IMO) one of the worst business class seats. Angled, uncomfortable. Worse even than the rear-facing UA seats on their 777's (which are being replaced by the new Polaris seats, slowly). The 787 seats are good on UA. Avoid the AF380 until they renovate.
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Oct 17th, 2017, 04:26 PM
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We just flew from LHR to LAX on Virgin Atlantic; loved the flight and we were in Premium Economy, not even Business!
with Global Entry, it was pretty painless to get through customs/immigration.

The bigger issue is we flex Delta after to DEN and the airport is a mess; we had to take a bus between terminals.
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