"Ras le Bol" Air France

Old Jun 3, 18, 6:06 am
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"Ras le Bol" Air France

I had not flown AF for quite a while, neither longhaul nor shorthaul.
A few days ago I flew to CDG with wifey in AF Business from HKG as that was purchased by a client. Tmr I am flying ORY-NCE on separate tickets.

I am not going into a discussion of BEST seat (I prefer the CX version) nor AF service. But my checked bag arrived last despite the tag. A friend on the same flight said that it was common and a "revenge" of ground employees. I have no idea if this is true.
The worst is the preassigned seats that we got on ORY-NCE (booked together on website on the same PNR). We are seated in two middle seats rows apart (12E and 36B). We are both Explorer (ivory) so the discrimination is random (unless based on gender, I am in 12E). For once, I chose AF over EZY because of the large price difference. I prefer EZY because of better-shaped seats and I pay for a front pre-assigned seat with priority boarding. But I now regret saving 100EUR.

Last edited by brunos; Jun 3, 18 at 6:35 am
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Old Jun 3, 18, 6:30 am
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So ... how was the AF service ?
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Old Jun 3, 18, 7:16 am
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Originally Posted by brunos View Post
I am not going into a discussion of BEST seat (I prefer the CX version) nor AF service. But my checked bag arrived last despite the tag. A friend on the same flight said that it was common and a "revenge" of ground employees.
IMO, this is nonsense. The idea that baggage handlers are going to bother sorting out priority luggage to set them aside to ensure they are delivered last to punish frequent flyers strikes me as pure paranoia. OTOH, that delivery of priority luggage is the most inconsistently-delivered benefit of premium class flying and/or elite status is something that would tend to accord with my own experience. But that is not AF/KL specific but frequently occurs with most European airlines (Asian airlines, OTOH, are usually pretty good at ensuring that priority luggage is delivered first)
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Old Jun 3, 18, 1:09 pm
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Originally Posted by NickB View Post
IMO, this is nonsense. The idea that baggage handlers are going to bother sorting out priority luggage to set them aside to ensure they are delivered last to punish frequent flyers strikes me as pure paranoia. OTOH, that delivery of priority luggage is the most inconsistently-delivered benefit of premium class flying and/or elite status is something that would tend to accord with my own experience. But that is not AF/KL specific but frequently occurs with most European airlines (Asian airlines, OTOH, are usually pretty good at ensuring that priority luggage is delivered first)
You say that but on BA, I have had it arrive last 6 out of 18 times, first twice, and along with everything else the other times. It doesn't surprise me in the least.
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Old Jun 3, 18, 1:38 pm
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Originally Posted by NickB View Post
IMO, this is nonsense. The idea that baggage handlers are going to bother sorting out priority luggage to set them aside to ensure they are delivered last to punish frequent flyers strikes me as pure paranoia. OTOH, that delivery of priority luggage is the most inconsistently-delivered benefit of premium class flying and/or elite status is something that would tend to accord with my own experience. But that is not AF/KL specific but frequently occurs with most European airlines (Asian airlines, OTOH, are usually pretty good at ensuring that priority luggage is delivered first)
Baggage handlers don't have to sort. Bags are loaded in different containers. They simply have to unload containers in a different order from that prescribed by the company.
And I can assure you that this has been a frequent "strong-arm policy" followed by baggage handlers. I could mention two airlines where their ground staff clearly stated that CDG baggage handlers were in conflict with them and taking such action. Admittedly that was a while ago.

In my case that was a nonstop flight, so bag not loaded in special container as sometimes happens in transfer flights. And I could notice that other business pax sitting around me also had their bags delivered last. This does not seem to happen at loading as bags are electronically directed to containers (yes there is still limited human intervention) and I always had my bags delivered first at HKG whether AF, CX or QR.
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Old Jun 3, 18, 1:47 pm
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Originally Posted by thebigben View Post
You say that but on BA, I have had it arrive last 6 out of 18 times, first twice, and along with everything else the other times. It doesn't surprise me in the least.
So, 100% consistent with my suggestion that this is the most inconsistently-delivered benefit of premium class/elite perks. I do not see anything in your post that supports the view that baggage handlers at airports are acting as if it were the nuit du 4 août* all over again.

*: For those unfamiliar with French history, this refers to an event during the French revolution in which the French constituent assembly abolished feudal privileges
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Old Jun 3, 18, 1:52 pm
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Originally Posted by brunos View Post
And I can assure you that this has been a frequent "strong-arm policy" followed by baggage handlers.
Can you be a bit more specific: other than hearsay and gossip, on what can you base yourself to be so certain as to "assure me" of this?

Personally, I follow the old adage that one should not attribute to malice that which can be explained by incompetence, lack of care and je-m'en-foutisme.
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Old Jun 3, 18, 1:55 pm
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Originally Posted by brunos View Post
This does not seem to happen at loading as bags are electronically directed to containers (yes there is still limited human intervention) and I always had my bags delivered first at HKG whether AF, CX or QR.
And what does this establish other than baggage handlers in Asia (or at any rate some Asian destinations) take priority baggage delivery more seriously (no doubt because it has been rammed in their head by their employer that this is important as well as reflective of a rather different culture)?
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Old Jun 3, 18, 2:00 pm
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... and I have to admit that once, my bag arrived wet, despite the tag. I wonder how they did that one ...
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Old Jun 3, 18, 4:20 pm
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Originally Posted by brunos View Post
A friend on the same flight said that it was common and a "revenge" of ground employees.
Dumbest thing I've ever heard.

I'm a ground handler, the only "revenge" I ever want to exact is on the people who pack more in their bags than they could ever possibly lift, because I have to lift that, plus then most people put no consideration into their choice of bags, buy a bag with a handle on the bottom please, or at least the 4 spinner wheels, cuz I can grab that. I've never ONCE heard of or seen (in 10 years in the business) anyone look at a priority tag and say "F those rich .......s, I'm gonna put their bag last". It simply doesn't happen like that.

Your bag could be last for any number of reasons, but THIS I can almost guarantee isn't it. The ONLY way I'd even suggest this as a reason is because of French labour views, they seem to strike at the drop of a hat, so maybe JUST MAYBE thinks that this is some silent protest.
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Old Jun 3, 18, 4:25 pm
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Originally Posted by brunos View Post
This does not seem to happen at loading as bags are electronically directed to containers (yes there is still limited human intervention)
You do know that's now how it works right?

Here's how the system works...

1) bag gets dropped at check-in
2) bag goes through the sorting hat
3) bag gets pounded (literally) by a battering ram down the appropriate baggage pier (either a straight belt or sometimes a racetrack)
4) HUMANS then scan the bags into the cans. HUMANS choose which can to scan them into. The only electronic direction is that if the cans are set up correctly, if the human tries to scan the bag into the wrong can, the scanner SHOULD alert them that it's the wrong can.

It's not like priority bags go to a special magical room with only pristine cans for priority bags.
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Old Jun 3, 18, 4:39 pm
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Originally Posted by NickB View Post
And what does this establish other than baggage handlers in Asia (or at any rate some Asian destinations) take priority baggage delivery more seriously (no doubt because it has been rammed in their head by their employer that this is important as well as reflective of a rather different culture)?
I'll try to make this my last comment, but threads like this that are nothing but accusatory of me and everyone else that does this thankless job really piss me off.

Yes, SOME of the Asian carriers take it more seriously. The "classy" ones. ANA and CX here at YVR do a much better job with priority bags than MU, CZ, CA and the other recent influx of Chinese carriers. I can't speak to SQ because I never worked under them here.

What I will say is, when the loads are planned correctly, IE: J/F bags loaded last, AT the door in the aft of the aircraft, there's no excuse for the priority bags not to come out either first, or almost first. I say almost first, because usually you'll pull a string of 4 cans away from the plane, in that string, you've probably got 1 can of priority, 1 can of local, MAYBE a can of hot connections depending on your station, then something else.

Those bags get taken to the carousel, but there's likely anywhere between 2-4 individuals there to offload them. The cans simply aren't big enough to have 4 people on 1, that's too many even for a house can from Philippines, so you'll have like 2 guys dumping priority bags and 2 guys dumping the first can of "regular" bags. So that's why you might see a mix. That's how things SHOULD go.

I'm not gonna get into narrowbody priority bags, I've ranted about that before, it's all dependent on the originating station to get priority bags right on a narrowbody.

Instances where you might not get priority cans off first would be if the weight distribution was such that they had to be loaded in the front of the aircraft, or if it was loaded incorrectly to begin with, or if they had to put cargo in a position that blocks bags, or if some priority bags are in the bulk bin. Again, that's all pretty avoidable for the most part, but it's up to the loadplanners and originating ramp guys to get it right.

Now I'll also give you the stupidity angle. Let's assume 2 strings of bags have been dropped off at the carousel when no one was there, OR if the guys there were offloading something else. Some people are dumb, it's an entry level job, they might not look at the cards on the cans and pick the priority bag can first. I try, but I can't fix stupid . Also because of the type of job it is, you might just get some guys that don't care, which isn't part of the attitude in Japan/Korea or in places where job security might be a bit more tenuous.

Also if you've got a priority tag but your item is fragile/oversized, odds are it's coming out last, no matter what, because that belt is often far away from the carousel, and I can't be driving back and forth for every single item. Lesson is, don't fly with oversized/fragile items if you're in any kind of a hurry.

So I just wanna reinforce that the odds of someone intentionally screwing with you and dropping your bag last is REALLY slim. The videos of bad baggage handling are always out there. 1) that doesn't represent the majority of us 2) the job doesn't allow us to treat your luggage like a chandelier 3) things often look worse than they are.

As usual if anyone has any questions, I'm happy to answer them.
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Old Jun 3, 18, 4:50 pm
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Thanks drvannostren. Great to have someone directly involved to inject a dose of reality check.
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Old Jun 3, 18, 5:36 pm
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Originally Posted by NickB View Post
Can you be a bit more specific: other than hearsay and gossip, on what can you base yourself to be so certain as to "assure me" of this?

Personally, I follow the old adage that one should not attribute to malice that which can be explained by incompetence, lack of care and je-m'en-foutisme.
It is not hearsay or gossip. In one case, I was travelling with a top management guy of a top Asian airline in F. We had lot of time to chat waiting at the delivery belt where he was joined by the outstation (CDG) boss. Apparently the union/group wanted some compensation for better service. The second time was talking with the representative of an American airline, again at the delivery belt. This not gossip or hearsay but I do not wish to name the airlines.

Everyone is entitled to his opinion and mine is not favorable to CDG bag handlers.
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Old Jun 3, 18, 5:51 pm
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Originally Posted by drvannostren View Post
Dumbest thing I've ever heard.

I'm a ground handler, the only "revenge" I ever want to exact is on the people who pack more in their bags than they could ever possibly lift, because I have to lift that, plus then most people put no consideration into their choice of bags, buy a bag with a handle on the bottom please, or at least the 4 spinner wheels, cuz I can grab that. I've never ONCE heard of or seen (in 10 years in the business) anyone look at a priority tag and say "F those rich .......s, I'm gonna put their bag last". It simply doesn't happen like that.

Your bag could be last for any number of reasons, but THIS I can almost guarantee isn't it. The ONLY way I'd even suggest this as a reason is because of French labour views, they seem to strike at the drop of a hat, so maybe JUST MAYBE thinks that this is some silent protest.
I thank you for your expert comments stated in three posts.

I fully understand that priority bags can have involuntary incidents as well as sometimes get treated with others.
At my old age, I have legged over a thousand of longhaul flights and have personal experience besides those of family/colleagues/friends.
As you know, different airports have different systems, some more automatized than others. You also know that, except at some dedicated terminals, most handlers are not airline employee but airport employees. For example, AFKL flights arriving at HKG are handled by airport employees; I always had my bag arrive among the first, sometimes mixed with other bags coming from transit flights.

But my point is solely about CDG bag handlers and their numerous fights with AF (or other airlines).

I won't post anymore on this topic, nor mention several other types of incidents involving CDG bag handlers, because everything I would say will be called hearsay, even if coming from reliable airport sources.
Again this is not a general attack on the profession.
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