Flying Basic Business on Air France and KLM: Is It Worth It?


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Air France and KLM, two of Europe’s major legacy airlines, both offer a basic business class fare on many routes. This cheaper business class ticket provides a way to experience their long-haul business class cabins at a reduced price compared to full-fare business tickets. But is this basic business class product worth the money compared to flying in economy or premium economy? Let’s take a closer look at what you get with Air France and KLM’s business basic fares.

What is Business Basic Class?

Since April 2023, this discounted business class fare from Air France and KLM provides access to their long-haul business class seats and cabins (often called un-bundled business class product). However, it is worth noting that business basic ticket comes with some reductions in service and perks compared to full-fare business class tickets on the airlines.

The main limitations of Air France and KLM’s business basic fare compared to full business class are:

  • Last to get upgraded to business if flying a flexible economy ticket
  • Not eligible for lounge access
  • Only 1 checked bag included instead of 2
  • Lower priority for waitlisting and standby
  • No same-day flight changes allowed
  • No access to premium check-in counters

Despite these drawbacks compared to regular business class, you still get to fly in the same lie-flat seats with more space and amenities.

How Business Basic Compares to Other Airlines

Air France and KLM are not the only airlines to offer discounted basic business class fares. Airlines like Lufthansa, Finnair, Austrian, and Brussels Airlines have similar business light products in Europe. And in the US, American, United, and Delta offer basic business fares domestically.

However, Air France and KLM’s business basic fares tend to offer greater reductions compared to full business than these other carriers. While the hard product and amenity kits are no different depending on the ticket type, checked baggage allowances are lower, but that may be something you are willing to accept with a business basic fare.

So Air France and KLM provide bigger savings off full business tickets but also scale back more aspects of the experience.

When Does Business Basic Make Sense?

For many flyers based in the US hoping to fly to Europe, Air France and KLM’s discounted business fares can represent a solid value:

  • If premium economy seems too tight for a long flight: The extra room and ability to lie fully flat to sleep is a huge upgrade over standard premium economy recliner seats for red-eyes over the Atlantic.
  • When business class prices are very high: In peak summer and holiday seasons, business can be extremely expensive. The business basic fare can offer substantial savings to experience the seats still.
  • To use miles for upgrades: Discount economy fares that are upgradable using miles become very attractive when you only have to upgrade to business basic rather than full business.
  • To gain elite status: Business class flights earn significantly more elite status miles and qualifying points. For those pursuing status, the business basic fare helps rack up points quicker when budgets are tight.

The Bottom Line

Air France and KLM’s business basic fares can be a smart play for many flyers looking for a compromise between economy, premium economy, and business. For flights between the US and Europe, the ability to lie flat in a reverse herringbone seat for a fraction of the full business fare is often going to be worth it over standard economy or premium economy options. While service and amenities are reduced, the hard product is still far superior. Just be sure to set expectations around the lounge access, upgrade priority, and checked bag allowances before booking. Overall, Business Basic can be an excellent way to experience the outstanding hard products Air France and KLM offer in their long-haul business cabins at a discount.

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