Air France or British Airways, which is better?

British Airways and Air France are full-service global airlines. Each offers extensive networks and excellent onboard service. They also boast strong reputations for quality. Comparing the airlines’ reputation, in-flight service and entertainment, destinations and fees help determine which airlines is the best.



Air France and British Airways’ industry reputation


Skytrax is a leading site for airline and airport reviews and rankings. Air France and British Airways are both certified as four-star airlines based on the quality of their airport and onboard product as well as staff service. Since 1999, Skytrax has organised the World Airline Awards. In 2019, British Airways ranked 19th in the world – an improvement from 31st in 2018. Air France ranked 23rd, up from 25th. In 2019, British Airways also ranked as the fifth best airline in Europe while Air France was eighth.

British Airways also received five Business Traveller Awards in 2020. These awards included the Best Short Haul Carrier, Best Airport Lounge, Best Frequent Flyer Programme and Best Travel App. British Airways was also ranked as the fourth best airline in the world by Business Traveller.




Inflight service


British Airways features four classes of service. Economy class delivers value fares and is branded as World Traveller for long-haul flights and Euro Traveller within Europe. For a more luxurious economy experience, World Traveller Plus is the airline’s premium economy product with wider seats, more legroom and priority boarding. Club Europe and Club World are British Airways’ business class service. On long-haul flights, passengers fully flat beds. First Class offers fine dining and a private suite.

Air France also has four classes. In addition to standard economy class, increased space and comfort as well as gourmet dining are available on Premium Economy. La Première is the airline’s First Class offering. Service includes private chauffeur in Paris plus a concierge service and lounge at Charles de Gaulle Airport. Onboard, there is a comfortable suite and lie-flat bed complete with a fluffy duvet and memory foam mattress. Business class features a full-flat bed and working space on intercontinental flights.



Industry reputation


In Skytrax’s 2019 World Airline Awards, Air France ranked third among the world’s best First Class airlines and the best Business Class seat in Europe. The airline was also awarded the world’s best onboard catering, amenities and lounge dining for First Class. British Airways was recognised as having the third best Business Class comfort amenities and ranked 13th for the best airline cabin crew and the best airline staff in Europe. British Airways’ inflight service was recognised with a 2020 Business Traveller Award for the Best New Seat for the Club Suite.



Inflight entertainment


By the end of 2020, 90 percent of British Airways’ aircraft are expected to be connected to Wi-Fi. Browse and stream packages are available for purchase depending on your planned usage. Air France also has most of its aircraft equipped with Wi-Fi. Where available, there are three Wi-Fi passes: Message Pass (free) for sending instant messages, Surf Pass for one-hour or the duration of your flight, and Stream Pass with a faster connection.

Long-haul and some short-haul flights feature seatback in-flight entertainment with movies, series, music and more on both airlines, depending on the aircraft. Where available, onboard Wi-Fi on Air France flights also allows passengers to link to in-flight entertainment. This is done by using the Air France Connect portal on mobile devices and laptops.



Air France and British Airways’ destinations


British Airways flies to 192 destinations, as of December 2020. The airline operates on all continents apart from Antarctica. As a member of Oneworld, it also has codeshares to hundreds of additional destinations. Made up of 13 airlines, the alliance includes more than a thousand destination airports. Air France operates to 116 destinations on five continents, as of December 2020. The airline also has several codeshare agreements and is a member of SkyTeam, which serves more than 1,000 destinations.



Airline fees


Depending on your fare, a fee may be charged for selecting a seat in advance of your flight on both airlines. Fees are generally waived for business and first class travellers as well as when checking in 24 hours before your flight. Both airlines also include at least one free checked bag except for the lowest economy class fare. Where Air France and British Airways differ is meal service within Europe. British Airways offers free refreshments and a buy on-board service. Air France provides complimentary refreshments as well as a meal or snack depending on the duration of the flight.



BA vs Air France – The verdict


British Airways and Air France are leading airlines that offer comparable experiences. While economy class is similar for both airlines, Air France has a stronger First Class service while British Airways offers a better Business Class product. Overall, British Airways has a edge over Air France in terms of service, destinations and reputation.



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