Air France has announced a new route from Paris Charles du Gaulle to Abu Dhabi.
Launching at the start of the winter flying season on Sunday 29th October, it represents a new way to spend Virgin Points to get to the Middle East.
I have used Air France to fly to Dubai before using Virgin Points – last year I managed to get enough business class seats for my entire family.
Availability to Dubai quickly dries up though. At the moment, the new Abu Dhabi route looks very open.
The flights operate daily. It is an overnight flight from Paris, departing at 9.15pm (lands 6.45am) with the return leaving Abu Dhabi at 8.45am, landing in Paris at 1.15pm.
Air France is using an A350. It will be one of the earlier ones with the old-style business class seat pictured above and not the new suite.
I think the reason it is an overnight flight out is that Air France codeshares with Etihad on the route, and the existing Paris – Abu Dhabi flight on Etihad leaves in the morning. This service cannot be booked on Virgin Points despite being an Air France codeshare.
How to book with Virgin Points
Here is Virgin Atlantic showing FOUR business class seats for Virgin Points on Monday 30th October, back on Sunday 5th November, should your children have a late half-term:
As you can see, you can save a lot on taxes and charges if you choose to start your trip in Paris. As the screenshot shows, the cost per person, return, in business class is 110,000 Virgin Points + €388 (£337).
You could either buy a separate flight to Paris, collecting and rechecking your bags, or do what we did last year and take Eurostar with a sightseeing day in Paris before flying onwards. If that’s too much faff, you can book with a connecting Air France flight to/from the UK – either London or one of its regional departure points – although the addition of Air Passenger Duty will push up taxes sharply.
It is very unlikely that the Virgin Atlantic website will let you complete an online booking. It has never let me book a long-haul Air France or KLM flight – you always get an error message after inputting payment details saying ‘sorry, someone else took your seats’ but this is not true. Call Virgin Atlantic after checking the Virgin website for availability and you can book successfully.
You cannot use a Virgin Atlantic credit card 2-4-1 or upgrade voucher on partner airline flights such as this one.
Here is my review of flying to Dubai last year on an Air France Boeing 777. This is a different seat to the A350 but it will give you an idea of the food and IFE.
How to earn Flying Blue miles from UK credit cards (September 2023)
Air France and KLM do not have a UK Flying Blue credit card. However, you can earn Flying Blue miles by converting Membership Rewards points earned from selected UK American Express cards.
These cards earn Membership Rewards points:
- American Express Preferred Rewards Gold (review here, apply here) – sign-up bonus of 20,000 Membership Rewards points converts into 20,000 Flying Blue miles. This card is FREE for your first year and also comes with four free airport lounge passes.
- The Platinum Card from American Express (review here, apply here) – sign-up bonus of 30,000 Membership Rewards points converts into 30,000 Flying Blue miles
- American Express Rewards credit card (review here, apply here) – sign-up bonus of 10,000 Membership Rewards points converts into 10,000 Flying Blue miles. This card is FREE for life.
Membership Rewards points convert at 1:1 into Flying Blue miles which is an attractive rate. The cards above all earn 1 Membership Rewards point per £1 spent on your card, which converts to 1 Flying Blue mile. The Gold card earns double points (2 per £1) on all flights you charge to it.