POST 7 – November 3rd 2018 – Travel lifestyle
Moving to warmer seas... (part 2)
SNCF TGV Lyon- Paris CDG + Air France CDG-DXB Business class
After a nice evening in my hometown of Lyon with my family (and a much smaller laundry than expected due to my luggage issues), I took the high speed train (called TGV) to CDG airport the next morning. I am glad I booked a couple months ago the 8 O’clock train as this would allow me to get plenty of connection time to collect my luggage, repack and check it again for my flight to Dubai.
The train ride was pretty much uneventful, I had a window seat inside the first class compartiment of the duplex train. As usual on French trains, there was no service, besides the restaurant car located at the center of the train. Wifi was working surpringly well (free of charge), and I was able to upload quite some picture during the 2-journey to CDG airport.
We arrived on time, and headed towards the Air France luggage counter in terminal 2F, where I was able to collect my luggage after 10 minutes talking with an agent to try locating the bag.
A post office (finally) opened right above the train station of the airport and I was able to send some of my stuff back to my parents.
Afterwards, I went to check-in my bag in terminal 2E, using the Sky Priority counter, which was quite crowded. It took about 30 minutes to check the bag. They really need to put extra efforts on this part, although almost all check-in desks were staffed and open.
Clearing passport control in the main terminal, and later clearing security at the L gates were a simple formality as it only took a few minutes to complete those actions.
The terminal 2E, L gates of CDG is currently under renovation, but the Air France lounge was finished being renovated a few months ago. As it was my first time I was going there, I was quite impressed by the new furniture and like the design of this lounge a lot.
Boarding started a bit later than expected, about 20 minutes before departure time, and the departure area was organized in 5 different zones, with SkyPriority customers in zones 1 and 2.
Air France AF662, October 25th 2018.
CDG Paris Charles de Gaulle – 13:40
DXB Dubai Intl – 22:35
Boeing 777-300 – F-GSQJ – Seat 3A, Business class, window.
After booking this flight, I selected the seat 3A, located in the front section of the business class cabin, just behind the First class, where I still managed to get a sneak peak before the first class passengers boarded the aircraft 🙂 The cabin configuration is 1-2-1 (in « herringbone »), meaning that all the seats have direct aisle access, like many airlines nowadays.
I personally like this configuration, especially when travelling solo. Air France markets this cabin as the « new » business class cabin (as the old one is still configured in 2-2-2), although my seat showed already some signs of damage, with duct tape placed in different areas. Anyway, the seat was quite comfortable in seated position and is equipped with a wide screen with the new inflight entertainment, a small cabinet where the noise cancelling head phones are located, together with some personal storage, and the remote controller, with one USB and one power plug.
Shortly after boarding, the flight attendant in front of this section, Alexis, came to me to ask if I wanted to place my jacket in the wardrobe and quickly noticed I was taking pictures of the cabin, so we started to discuss about my trip. Later, the captain introduced hisself at the speaker, and informed us that we will depart slightly late due to some delays with the cargo loading.
The menus were distributed together with the amenity kits, available in different colors. Sleepers, a pillow and a blanket were also available at the seat. A welcome drink, consisting of champagne, water or juice was offered and I opted for a glass of bubbly (since AF gives real champagne, I could not miss this opportunity). It was a Charles Heidseck, the same to the one displayed on the menu. As usual, magazines and newspapers were proposed.
The « new » safety movie was shown on the screens prior to take off. I personally find it incredibly dumb, and almost annoying to watch (and I usually enjoy funny safety movies), but that’s my personal opinion.
We took off from CDG sligthly late and I decided to try doing a time lapse of the take off (see video above).
The cabin service began about 40 minutes later with a mise en bouche (salmon), and another drink.
The starter was some foie gras with a quinoa salad and it was quite good. It came with bread, some good butter and an uneventful green salad.
For the main course, I choose the fish and it was good, although the presentation was not so exciting. (The best fish dish I ever had on a plane was surprisingly on Iberia between MAD and SCL two years ago !). I opted for a glass of white wine and Alexis, my FA, was willing to make me taste both whites. Both were very good, but I opted for the Pouilly fumé.
The dessert consisted in a choice of 3 desserts, served on the cart : One small dessert « trio », ice cream or a fruit salad. I opted for the ice cream (3 flavors available, I choose Rasberry) and asked if I could get the fruit salad too.
It was ok, but honestly, I would expect something better and more exciting flying Air France.
I later asked for some coffee and it came with a Valrhona dark chocolate cube.
The seat can recline fully to make a flat bed, which is nice, and I managed to get a good hour of sleep somewhere above the south of Turkey. As I said before, the seated position is also comfortable, but unlike other business class seats on the market, I could not find a « lounge » position, something intermediate between a bed and a straight seat. I find this to be an important missing feature of this seat. This can be explained by the fact there is no leg rest available. Quite a disappointment in that respect.
The inflight entertainment was responsive and has a wide selection of music, series and movies. There was however, no wifi available on board this flight.
I counted 3 lavatories for the business class cabin located next to the second galley but one was inoperative before take off.
Two small bars are available in the second galley, but during this 6 hour flight, the selection consisted only in drinks and peanuts.
I found the crew to be professional and friendly most of the time.
About an hour before landing a snack was offered and consisted in a trio of « bites » sweet and savory. I honestly don’t know what’s going wrong with airlines and their second meals but this was a disappointment and well below expectations of what one could expect from a business class snack. It was not bad, but just looked like a joke.
The captain made the pre landing announcement about 40 min before landing (also in perfect English) and informed us that we will be landing 20 minutes before schedule and thanked us for choosing Air France « considering the large choice available for air travel between Europe and the Emirates ».
We arrived at the gate in DXB Terminal 1 around 22.20 local time and parked between and Air Canada dreamliner and a Sri Lankan Airbus 330 (I did not know btw that AC was flying to DXB nowadays).
It was quite a trek to the arrivals area of Terminal 1 but Immigration and customs clearance were quite smooth, we just had to wait for a few minutes for the luggage to arrive on the belt.
To conclude, the flight was ok. The lounge in CDG was nice and given the price paid, I would do this again. However, I missed the « wow » effect of flying business class after that flight. Perhaps I got used to it, but I was expected something more from AF, in terms of catering for instance. Note that I haven’t flown AF long-haul since 2010, as I moved most of my long-haul flights to Star Alliance (Lufthansa and Swiss mostly) in the past and OneWorld (British Airways, American, Qatar and Iberia) nowadays, and never flew with them in Business class.
Being French myself, I really hate to say that, but I feel that the new BA catering does not look « that bad » after trying Air France.
This flight allowed me to get enough tier points to increase my AF/KLM Flying blue status from Gold to Platinum, and the miles posted barely 24 hours after the flight.