AIR FRANCE

Founded in 1933, Air France (AF/AFR) is one of the largest air carriers in Europe and the World.  AF has a diverse fleet composed of mainly Airbus and Boeing aircraft with a total number of 235 aeroplanes and together with their partner KLM Royal Dutch Airlines share one of the most extensive air transportation networks on Earth.

THE AIR FRANCE PARIS – LIMA ROUTE

Because of family reasons I had to travel from Europe to Lima,Peru. Air France has served Lima since 1966 but because of several problems, the airline suspended their services in 1994 giving way for the defunct AOM French Airlines to operate the Paris Orly – Lima flight with a McDonell Douglas DC-10 until 1997 when the carrier finally ceased operations.

Air France offers since 2011 5 weekly non-stop flights from Paris CDG to Lima in Summer Season and 3 weekly flights in Winter operated with a mix of Boeing 777-200ER’s and the high density Boeing 777-300ER. Together with their partner KLM, Air France offers up to 12 weekly connections between Peru and Europe.

THE CHECK IN ( AF 480 CDG-LIM )

As usual I arrived early to the airport, today my flight was departing from Paris/CDG Terminal 2E.  As flying Business Class and being a holder of the frequent flyer program Flying Blue at a Platinum Level I was invited to the ”SkyPriority” lane for check in and security control. After probably fifteen minutes I was airside and making a quick transit with the underground train I was at the Terminal 2E Air France Business Class Lounge where I was greeted by name and recognized by status, then invited to proceed to the lounge.

THE LOUNGE

Air France has different lounges located throughout the many terminals of  Paris CDG, but probably the best lounge is located in Terminal 2E Gates L. The lounge is elegant, sober and has a self service Open Bar fully stocked of Champagne ( normally served Deutz which is completely fine for Business Class travel), diverse selection of Red and White Wines and all kind of liquors and coffees. Concerning food, AirFrance offers hot and cold meals during the regular meal times and snacks composed of fine French cheeses and cold cuts, croissants , chocolates, French specialty desserts and a salad bar.

IMG_4472

Deutz Brut offered at the Business Class Lounge

Champagne Deutz Brut offered at the Business Class Lounge.

Light Snack Selection

Light Snack Selection.

The Camambert was Fresh and of a very high quality. The Chocolate pastry was produced by the famous Parisian bakery and coffee shop ”Maison LeNotre” which gives a plus to the offer of Air France to its Business Class passengers and frequent flyers compared to other airlines.

Evian can be taken at own discretion… Amazingly French!

THE BOEING 777-200 / AIR FRANCE BUSINESS CLASS CABIN

Now here it can get tricky, Air France has many configurations of Business Class cabins throughout their fleet of aeroplanes.        In the case of the Boeing 777’s there is a new configuration called ”Best and Beyond” which offers completely lie flat seats with the latest in In-Flight entertainment and personal space. These aircraft are dedicated to Premium markets such as New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Singapore and Tokyo. The 777 that was taking me to Lima today offered the old seat NEV4 which features semi lie flat seats, a small IFE screen and the traditional configuration of 2-3-2 seats in the wide cabin of this aircraft.  For a day flight is it completely fine but I would have some serious doubts if this would be the configuration I would want to have for a night time flight across the Atlantic.

NEV4 Generation of the Business Class offered by Air France.

NEV4 Generation of the Business Class offered by Air France.

Rather Small IFE Screen.

Rather Small IFE Screen.

As I speak a decent level of French the cabin crew was amazingly friendly and dedicated to me, of course the Purser knew I was a Platinum member of the Flying Blue program so that might as well helped a bit!

Deutz champagne at the proper temperature was offered and after a slight delay of 15 minutes we proceeded with the push back from Terminal 2E.

Refuel in Process.

Refuel in Process.

IMG_4482

Taxi took around 20 minutes, take off was fantastic and in no time we were heading towards the West initially and then South towards South America.

Power Set!

Power Set!

IMG_4487

Paris / Le Bourget Airport.

Paris / Le Bourget Airport.

THE IN FLIGHT SERVICE

For today’s flight they were two meal services offered: A Lunch and a Pre Arrival Snack/Dinner before landing in Lima. In between meals there is a  self service fully stocked Bar offering sandwiches, ice cream, chocolates and of course Champagne!

Thirty minutes into the flight the cabin crew started the service of Lunch.

The Bible for this Flight!

The Bible for this Flight!

Excellent Menu for Business Class.

Excellent Menu for Business Class.

IMG_4496

Alcoholic Selection in Air France Business Class cabin is in general over the standard compared to other European carriers. Wines and Champagne are carefully selected by their Master Sommelier Paolo Basso, which has been awarded the title of  the ”World’s Best Sommelier”.

Beautiful Selection of Wines for Business Class Level.

Beautiful Selection of Wines for Business Class Level.

Bordeaux was exquisite.

Bordeaux was outstanding.

An Amouse Bouche was then offered, tastefully presented.

Amouse Bouche.

Amouse Bouche.

The main tray was delivered some moments after professionally by the experienced cabin crew working on my side of the cabin.

Lunch served in a tray in fine China.

Lunch served in a tray in fine China. All of very high quality.

Main Meal.

Main Meal.

The Main Meals consisting of Artichoke filled pasta was average, a bit dry for my taste but it was decent. Bread was fresh and warm.

The best part of the meal was of course Dessert! As I have a very sweet palate I ordered  the trio with a glass of Bordeaux, Cognac and a double Espresso!

Trio of Desserts.

Trio of Desserts.

Illy Espresso

Illy Espresso (excellent!) .

After the Meal I watched two movies and slept for a few hours…

Waking up it was almost dark outside and the Pre Arrival Meal was already being served. It consisted of a Mushroom Risotto, some slices of Prosciutto together with a Caprese Salad and a fresh fruit platter.

Dinner before Descent.

Dinner before Descent.

Lima offered some beautiful views over the city before landing at Jorge Chavez Airport right on schedule. The Purser thanked me for flying Air France and wished me a pleasant stay in Lima.

CONCLUSION

Despite having an ”old generation” seat, Air France has improved greatly its catering and wine selection product in its Long Haul Business Class cabin. The cabin crew is professional, friendly and respects every single customer. I have never experienced any bad service from its cabin crew as some people might say.

The truth is that compared to  U.S. air carriers, Air France is light years ahead in respect of service and customer satisfaction.       It might be of course the European service protocol but there is big room of improvement by the American companies to deliver a more refined service in their services across the Globe.

Air France delivers a truly French product, refined cuisine and a very decent offer of Wines and Liquors on its Long Haul Business Class. I truly hope the company can keep up the standards in these difficult times for the Airline Industry.

Have you tried Air France lately?  Do you plan to travel in Business Class?

Leave me a question or comment and we can discuss the best option for your next trip!

 

The Executive Pilot.

Follow me via Twitter (GiancarloA330) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/executivepilotblog)