Last year when planning our trip to France, I decided to start our itinerary in Alsace. That meant we needed to figure out the fastest way to get ourselves to Strasbourg. I wanted to use Flying Blue miles for our flights so that left two options. We could either fly on KLM through Amsterdam to Strasbourg or fly on Air France through Paris. Upon closer examination of the Air France option, I noticed the segment from Paris to Strasbourg was on a train rather than a plane. Enter Air France’s Air & Rail Combined Trips. This post explains all about Air France’s Air & Rail and how you can book these combined trips with miles.
Note: Itineraries are limited for Air & Rail packages due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, but this is an option for future travel.
What is Air France Air & Rail?
Air France Air & Rail refers to combined itineraries that include travel by airplane and train. Booking one itinerary through Air France will secure your seats on both the plane and train. There are three options for Air & Rail through Air France:
- A flight to or from Paris-Charles de Gaulle and train ride to or from Brussels
- Train from Amsterdam-Schipol to Brussels or Antwerp or vice versa
- A flight to or from Paris-Charles de Gaulle or Paris-Orly and a regional train ride on the following TGV Air Routes:
- Angers Saint-Laud
- Avignon TGV*
- Champagne-Ardenne TGV
- Le Mans
- Lille Europe
- Lorraine TGV
- Lyon Part-Dieu
- Valence TGV*
*Option to and from Charles de Gaulle only.
Specifics on how to collect your train ticket depending on your itinerary can be found here.
What’s the Benefit of Booking a Combined Air & Rail Trip?
The main benefit of using the Air & Rail option is that if your flight or train is delayed, Air France is responsible for guaranteeing you a place on board the next available flight or train at no extra charge. A small added benefit of the CDG-Brussels option is that you are guaranteed first class for the rail portion of your trip.
How Do I Book an Air & Rail Trip with Miles?
Booking an Air & Rail trip with miles is simple. Search in the same way you would for a flight, but you enter the train station as your final destination. To take the train to Brussels, enter ZYR instead of BRU. Here’s an example itinerary of a flight from Tel Aviv to Paris with a train to Brussels:
Here’s an example of a flight from New York to Paris with a train to Strasbourg. You can tell it’s Air & Rail since SNCF is listed as one of the operators.
My Experience with Air France Air & Rail
As I mentioned earlier, we flew from Boston to Charles de Gaulle on Air France and then took the train to Strasbourg. I was able to book this itinerary for 33,750 Flying Blue miles and $66.64 per person. Since I transferred Amex Membership Rewards points to Flying Blue with a 25% bonus, the actual cost was 27,000 Amex points per person. Most flights from the U.S. to Europe in economy will come out to about 30,000 miles so this was a pretty good deal.
Once we landed at Charles de Gaulle, we walked to the Paris-Charles de Gaulle TGV train station. At the train station, we picked up our tickets at the TGV AIR counter. After about an hour of waiting, our train arrived and we were off to Alsace! I chose this option rather than flying into Strasbourg for one reason. Since we planned to rent a car, I wanted to be able to pick it up and drop it off at the train station rather than the airport since we would be heading back to Paris later that week by train. With a Europcar location right across the street from the Strasbourg train station, this plan couldn’t have worked out better.
I had never heard of Air France Air & Rail combined trips before planning our trip to Alsace last fall. Sometimes it’s easier to travel by train than to wait a few hours for a flight connection. For us, this option worked great. Even better, it was bookable with Flying Blue miles. If you plan on traveling to a region outside of Paris, booking an Air & Rail trip might be your best option.