Affordable Flights to the City of Light

French bee is a realistic alternative to overpriced international carriers
By EDDIE RIVERA, Editor, Weekendr Magazine
Published on May 12, 2023

We fly a lot around here. With at least two flights to  Europe a year, we’re always on the lookout for great deals. Last year, as our scheduled I-Won’t-Name-The-Airline flight back home was inexplicably unavailable, we scrambled to find an easy and affordable way home from Paris, by way of Madrid.

Meanwhile, once we made our new reservations, we happened upon information regarding French bee, an affordable long-haul airline based in Paris, France. 

Relatively new, it’s the first French “smart-cost” long-haul airline, as well as the first affordable airline to fly from San Francisco to the South Pacific, and the first airline to operate solely with Airbus’s newest aircraft, the A350-900 XWB. 

Los Angeles became French bee’s fifth destination with nonstop service from Paris, joining Newark, San Francisco to Paris and Tahiti, and Reunion Island, in April of 2022. 

French bee owns and operates an all-Airbus fleet of four Airbus A350-900s and two A350-1000s, with unmatched cabin pressurization, ambient lighting, high ceilings and temperature-controlled air quality.

The airline offers accessible (that are actually accessible) fares with what they call a “tailor-made, à la carte travel experience.” This essentially means that you can fly as cheaply as their cheapest flights allow, without feeling like steerage class.

As we made new travel plans for a relatively short ten-day trip to Europe back in February, we contacted French bee to request a business class round trip flight in exchange for feature coverage—a common practice in the travel industry.

They agreed, but with a caveat: Our flight out to Paris would be Premium Economy class, and the return flight would be economy in what they call “Cozy Cabin,” a more private economy section with only 43 seats. I had tried to negotiate an emergency row seat in Basic, (the tall thing) but this seat had its advantages as well. 

On the way to Paris, My first row aisle seat turned out to be a lie-flat seat since the equipment on the flight came from Air Caraibes, and was not one of French bee’s A350-900s. French bee has a Premium Blue section, but not a lie-flat seat, just so we are clear here. 

The Premium Blue seating offers a 35-seat Premium Blue cabin, with more space with 7-seat rows, 36” pitch, 18” seat width, 16° reclining seats, 12” HD touchscreen and free entertainment, Center console and cup holder, headphones, power and USB plugs, along with foot and leg rests.

The onboard vibe is very French and friendly, whether you’re seated in Basic, Smart or Economy class. Frankly, basic, also known as “coach,” will always be snug, no matter what airline it is, especially if you’re tall, but French bee still feels comfortable to the average-sized passenger. (At 6’2”, I need to sit in a premium or Business seat, but that’s just me.)  

There are actually three customizable ticket options:

  • Basic, the lowest-priced option, which welcomes one 26-lb carry-on bag
  • Smart, the Basic offering plus one 50-lb checked bag and an in-flight meal (with a range of options including vegetarian and fish)
  • Premium Economy welcomes one 26-lb carry-on bag, plus one additional 50-lb checked bag, a premium meal, complimentary beverage service, Premium cabin seat choice, line jump, priority boarding, and priority luggage delivery. 

In case you’re wondering, Premium seating also allows access to the premium lounge, but only at Paris Orly, and the price is $37. The plan is to have one available at LAX sometime next year, a French Bee spokesperson informed me. 

Meanwhile, all seats include adjustable headrests, USB and electrical ports, headphone plugs, and unlimited in-flight entertainment. Wi-Fi is also available at an additional charge.

Passengers can also  customize their flights by choosing from a menu of  amenities available to any ticket level. There are more than 20 services and products including: 

  • Maxi Leg seats for additional space and maximum comfort | From $45
  • Priority Luggage Delivery, ideal for those in a hurry | From $20 online and $25 on the day of departure
  • Additional Luggage first checked bag | From $45 online to $95 on day of departure, with second checked bag | From $90 online to $130 on day of departure 
  • À la carte meals, featuring chef-prepared meals such as The French bee “bistro chic” meal designed by Jean-Michel Lorain, a double Michelin-starred chef, that is based around the specialties of France’s main regions ($55); basic meal ($25), fish-based meal ($35), vegetarian ($35), teen meal ($35), halal meal and kosher meal ($35); for those celebrating together, the Instant Duo ($40) meal offers an Aperitif served before the meal, including two bottles of Nicolas Feuillatte Champagne (7 oz) and two plates of three warm and crisp canapés (spring roll, beggar’s purse and vegetable samosa). 

Meals are included in the Smart and Premium pricing. 

As their needs require, passengers can also add a host of varied amenities, such as: 

  • Express Pack which includes dedicated check-in and Fast Track, as well as priority boarding (from $40 and only available at Paris Orly airport)
  • Comfort Pack which includes a premium upgrade and airport lounge access (from $277, available at Paris Orly Airport only)
  • Serenity Pack includes Fast-Track and priority boarding, with access to a designated airport lounge (only available for flights departing from Paris Orly (from $55)
  • French bee has also joined forces with SNCF [The French National Railway Operator] to offer packages that combine air and train fare into one single fare to explore various destinations across France.

French Bee’s  Airbus A350 is outfitted with the latest generation in innovative design and technology, including mood lighting which mimics sunrise and sunset with 100% LEDs—improving sleep quality and reducing jet lag.

While a lot of affordable airlines offer drama and discomfort at no extra cost with their low prices, French bee is living up to its billing of affordable flights with a practical range of choices and options. 

I’m sure I’ll fly them again this summer. 

The 411:

French Bee Airlines, (US) 1-833-376-7158. 


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