Go Back  FlyerTalk Forums > Community > Trip Reports
Reload this Page >

A New Yearís Travel Extravaganza Featuring AF, CI, SQ, LX, BA, EI, EY, LH, KM and KL

A New Yearís Travel Extravaganza Featuring AF, CI, SQ, LX, BA, EI, EY, LH, KM and KL

Reply

Old Feb 25, 19, 10:02 am
  #46  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 281
Lufthansa Business Class back to Basel. That was... interesting.

HERE'S THE LINK TO THE PHOTOS

TRANSFER IN FRA

My flight from Malta comes to an end at the C pier, which is just about the worst thing that can happen to you if youíre connecting through Frankfurt to another Schengen flight. Because although passengers exit into the Schengen area, the moment you step out of the gate, youíre no longer in the secured area, which means that for my onward flight to Basel from the A pier, I am going to have to go through security again Ė which is kind of missing the point. There is a separate security line for premium passengers. But somehow they even manage to screw that up in Frankfurt, because the queue for security at the premium lane is actually much longer than the regular Economy Class queues.

LOUNGE
By the time Iím airside, itís just coming up to eight in the evening. The flight should start boarding in about twenty minutes. As itís on my way anyway, I decide to stop briefly in the lounge. As it turns out, the place is far more crowded than the public airside area. There are people everywhere and there literally isnít any place at all to sit. There are people standing around randomly, holding a glass of beer in one hand while trying to hold a plate of food and eat at the same time with the other hand.

BOARDING
Boarding is from a bus gate of course, which is never pleasant in Frankfurt, because you end up driving through the bowels of the terminal facility, stop starting all the way, before being ejected on the apron.CABINThere are six rows of Business Class on this eveningís flight.
CREW
There are two middle aged female cabin crew on the flight and they both so couldnít give a .... itís not even funny anymore. The one working the rear cabin has a set facial expression that is very much reminiscent of a bulldog Ė I think itís the drooping jowls that help to create the effect after having spent too many years glaring at passengers without smiling.

SERVICE
The more senior flight attendant is not much better. Her announcements are made without any interest, professionalism, intonation or even pausing. Does she ever stop to breathe? Once the service begins, 1A asks her what thereís on offer to drink. To which her only reply is that she really hasnít got time for this and that he should just tell her what he wants. Sheíll be sure to tell him if they havenít got in on board. Charming, Iím sure.

THE MEAL
The tray table on the empty seat next to me is down. I opened it to put my glasses on it. When the flight attendant reaches my row, she unceremoniously plonks down a tray without saying a word and just moves on to the next row. Ehm, thanks?Surprisingly, the meal looks nicer than the breakfast the day before. Thereís a plate with antipasti:

Vitello tonnato
A prune rolled in bacon
A mushroom filled with cream cheese
A fig and a piece of blue cheese

The meal is served with bread sticks, a chocolate bar and a dessert. In addition, bread is offered separately.

ARRIVAL
With a flight time of only thirty minutes, itís quite impressive that Lufthansa should offer anything at all, and I really am quite surprised by the quality of the meal. Before the crew have managed to serve all the passengers in Economy Class a drink, weíve already started out descent into Basel. The senior flight attendant takes another very deep breath, so as not to have to interrupt to inhale and exhale while she speaks, and announces that the service shall not be completed because that villainous cad of a pilot has selfishly started the descent. I notice also that she doesnít even consider for a moment making an apologyÖ

CONCLUSION
If nothing else, avoiding Frankfurt airport is a good enough reason to not fly Lufthansa. The airport is an unattractive and inconvenient mix of randomly constructed buildings that are linked together without a concept and clearly without a thought to the unfortunate souls that have to transfer through this hovel. As for Lufthansa, I think itís really quite tragic to see what a sad state their regional operation has degraded to. If you treat the people working for you badly, you shouldnít expect them to treat your customers any better. And thatís okay too, but customers are fickle.
offerendum likes this.
William Agius is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Feb 26, 19, 12:20 pm
  #47  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 281
And today I'm first off to Amsterdam with KLM Business Class

HERE'S THE LINK TO THE PHOTOS!

INTRODUCTION

On Tuesday afternoon I leave the office just before 16h. Iím catching the 16h01 train to the airport for a 17h30 departure with KLM to Amsterdam. Itís a lovely day here in Winterthur, with nice sunny weather and balmy temperatures. And apparently itís been like this since last week. Which is more than I can say about my recent trip to Malta.

CHECK-IN
Iíve checked in using the KLM app, which has been working a bit more reliably recently. If youíre using the KLM app, the boarding pass of your next flight with them will show up on your locked screen, so you can just swipe it at the gate. In ZŁrich, KLM checks in at row 2 of check-in 2.

LOUNGE & AIRSIDE
Today I am certainly not going to visit the contractor lounge, becauseÖ yes! Itís so nice out that the terrace of the sports bar is open. Thereís no service out there yet. Or rather, if you want something you have to order it at the bar and then take it outside yourself. But hey, Iím here for the view. And it really is a lovely view. The aircraft come up really close to the terrace and as they apply thrust to move off stand, you get a glorious whiff of kerosene fumes. And as my luck will have it, the KLM flight arrives just a short while later and comes to a stop on the stand closes to the terrace!

BOARDING
Boarding starts on time, at 17h00. There is a first boarding call for Business Class passengers, before everybody else is invited to get aboard.

CABIN
There are six rows of Business Class, for a total of 24 seats. The cabin is not quite full though, and as a result I have a whole row of three all to myself. Iím not sure if this applies to all seats, but on row 3, where Iím seated, there are two electricity plugs on either side of the middle seat. The seat pitch is good. The one thing I donít like though, is that the recline of the seat back, even in the upright position, is just a bit too slanted. I always feel like Iím half lying down and about to slide off the seat.

CREW
There are two middle aged ladies working the Business Class cabin. As usual on KLM, theyíre chirpy and chatty. One of them is a big fan of Switzerland, and has even picked up a few bits and pieces of Swiss German, much to the entertainment of the passengers as she tries out her language skills with the m as the board. Itís really quite funny, but in a very charming way.

SERVICE
Like Lufthansa, KLM does not provide any service on the ground. No welcome drinks or anything of the sort. The flight time is announced as 1 hour and 15 minutes, which means we should be arriving in Amsterdam at 18h55, 15 minutes ahead of schedule.

THE MEAL
As soon as the crew is released, the service begins. Every passenger is served individually from the galley. The meal consists of:

a small plate of salad with chilli shrimps, served with olive oil
a small ramekin of marinated vegetables and feta cheese with couscous Ė served with rolls from the breadbasket
a small ramekin with some rather gross looking mousse thing with a thick layer of chocolate on it.

To be honest, my opinion of the meal isÖ meh. The shrimps have an off-putting fishy smell, the salad is limp and the dessert is what it is. KLM has been serving this type of dessert for years, and I donít know why they bother trying to explain what it is on the menu, because whether itís passionfruit mousse or raspberry coulis, it always tastes the same. At least thatís my excuse for asking for some of those fabulous smoked almonds KLM caters. I love those, theyíre seriously addictive. A bit like the Twistees I had on Air Malta on SundayÖ I ask the flight attendant if perhaps I could have a packet. She saunters off and returns a short while later with five packets of the delectable almonds. Hurrah! I think it would be a shame to waste themÖ and rude to turn them down. And so I spend the rest of the flight reading my Kindle, snacking on almonds and enjoying the spectacular sunset weíre being treated to.

ARRIVAL
Eventually, we land in Amsterdam at 18h55, just as the pilot had announced in ZŁrich. But weíve landed on 18R, so that by the time we reach our stand at gate C4, weíre running five minutes late! I now have two hours to make my connection.
William Agius is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Feb 27, 19, 8:34 pm
  #48  
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: Bombay
Programs: EC Blue, EB Silver, FB Gold
Posts: 232
Love this - youíd writing style is fabulous!

As to the thong situation a number of posts back: I (non-Aussie but Aussie educated) was sitting talking to an Aussie colleague. We were talking about thongs as our American educated boss walked in. He started asking what on earth we were talking about, as he thought it was about underwear. His face when we explained was rather fun hehe
RoyalSwazi is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Feb 28, 19, 2:10 am
  #49  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 281
And on to Bergen with KLM

Here's the link to the photos.

Transfer in Amsterdam

Amsterdam Schiphol overtook Frankfurt a while back as Europeís third busiest airport. And I think itís beginning to show. And I donít necessarily mean that in a good way. Where previously one of the airportís strongest points was the abundance of space within the terminal building for passengers to move about, itís now starting to get very crowded. But itís still one of my favourite airports.

LOUNGE & AIRSIDE
I decide not to take any photos of the lounge, because itís crawling with people. And you donít want to piss people off when theyíre probably already tired from a long working day or just from the labours of travel, right? Itís interesting to watch though, how quickly the lounge empties at some point, as KLMís evening outbound wave of flights gets underway, including mine.

BOARDING
The flight will be departing from C18, which is at the very end of the C pier. The flight is operated by a Boeing B 737-800 and according to the gate agent, itís going to be a full flight. Theyíre making announcements offering to check Economy Class passengersí luggage free of charge.

CABIN
There are two rows of Business Class on this flight, and a total of five passengers. Iím sitting on 1A and I have the whole row of seats to myself.

CREW
There are two cabin crew working the Business Class cabin and they really are fabulous. One is a gentleman who probably looks older than he is, because his hair and beard are completely white. The other is a younger gentleman of South Asian descent. And heís just so camp. Which is totally okay, itís just that his effeminate mannerisms are completely at odds with the fact that heís built like a brick .... house, as my granddad used to say. In any case, the two of them keep the whole of the Business Class well entertained throughout the flight and take excellent care of the passengers. 1D is an elderly lady. Sheís alert but looks very frail. The care and gentleness with which the cabin crew treat her is just outstanding. They take all the time in the world with her, making sure sheís comfortable but without ever being patronising in that way many people tend to be around elderly people.The older one of the two is the maÓtre de. As soon as the doors close, he welcomes every passenger aboard by name and shakes each passengerís hand. From then on, whenever he or the younger crew member address the passengers, itís always by name. More on that laterÖ

THE MEAL
The meal is comparable to the one I had on the ZŁrich to Amsterdam leg. Only on this flight itís not shrimps but a very nice chunk of hot smoked salmon. And itís very tasty! I donít know if this is a seasonal thing or just a new feature, but on this flight KLM also has fresh apple juice on offer, and it really is very tasty. Itís quite addictive actually! After the meal I ask for a cup of mint tea, which is served with one of those Punselies biscuits.

ARRIVAL
We land in Bergen just before 23h. Itís been a long day! Since my last visit the terminal building in Bergen has been significantly expanded. And with the expansion theyíve also extended the cityís tram line to the airport. As a result, there are now a number of options to get into town: a taxi will take about twenty minutes and costs a staggering NOK700. Then thereís the airport bus, which takes about the same amount of time as the taxi but only costs NOK110. And finally, the journey by tram will take about 45 minutes, but only costs NOK36. I take the bus, mainly because I know from a previous visit that it stops right in front of my hotel.

EPILOGUE
So about the KLM crew on this flight: I return home from Bergen the following day, on Wednesday. As I step aboard the plane, I recognise the crew from the previous day. Theyíve obviously night stopped in Bergen. The maÓtre de takes a look at me and says ĎMr. A., youíre back again. You know, I think you travel too much! Where are you sitting?í I mean, Iím already surprised they recognise my face. But the fact that they both still remember my name is quite surprising. Later on, as I disembark the plane in Amsterdam, the maÓtre de wishes me a safe onward journey, while the younger one says good bye and asks me ĎI guess weíll probably be seeing you again tomorrow or so?í I must say, Iím quite exhausted from all my travels at this stage. And Iím so happy that I wonít be getting on a plane again until week after next. But I also have to say that itís people like the crew on this flight that make such a difference. Of course they canít replace your friends and family back home, but at least they can relieve some of the hassle of travel, by making you feel just a little bit less anonymous as the passenger.

KLM, gents: you were just brilliant. Thank you!
standch and roadwarrier like this.
William Agius is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Feb 28, 19, 2:44 am
  #50  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 281
Hi RoyalSwazi,
Thanks, a lot. Glad you're enjoying the posts. I'm also glad I'm not the only one who struggles with some of the Oz terms...

Australian really is a fascinating case study (well, it is if you're a linguist...) because in many ways it's like a fossilised version of English but newer than what the Americans speak.
William Agius is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Mar 3, 19, 5:19 am
  #51  
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 595
I enjoy your reports and enjoyed a visit to Malta (between Muscat and Phnom Penh) in January. Stayed in St. Julian's area and toured Gozo. I only had 3 days and definitely will need to return!
lamphs is online now  
Reply With Quote
Old Mar 7, 19, 10:02 pm
  #52  
 
Join Date: Dec 2012
Posts: 1,223
This is a great report and I always appreciate Singapore Airlines suites reports

Thanks!!
SQTraveller is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Mar 17, 19, 12:40 am
  #53  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 281
Luxair Business Class from Luxembourg to Paris

Here's the link to the photos.

INTRODUCTION
The Ibis at Luxembourg airport is currently in the process of being refurbished. And I think thatís probably a good thing. The room Iím in is nice enough, but the public areas are starting to look grubby. The carpets should probably be declared a biohazard, and the smell of boiled cabbage is ĎinterestingíÖ

The hotelís redeeming feature though, is that itís very close to the airport terminal, within walking distance.

GETTING TO THE AIRPORT
On foot, the airport is only about ten minutes away from the hotel. However, thereís also a shuttle that runs every thirty minutes and is available for guests. The service is complimentary, but advance reservations are mandatory. The drive takes about four minutes.

CHECK-IN
Iím booked on the Air France flight from Luxembourg to Paris-Roissy, which is in fact a code-share operated by Luxair. There are two counters open for Business Class passengers and there is no queue when I arrive, given that it is, after all, the weekend.

LOUNGE
From check-in I head straight for the security check. There is a checkpoint at either side of the terminal facility, and trying to figure out which one is currently in use is not always that clear when youíre standing in front of the check-in counters. Which means that itís not uncommon at Luxembourg airport to see disoriented passengers moving back and forth between the two, with the look lemmings get when theyíre trying to figure out if theyíre really in the mood to go jumping off a cliff with their palsÖ

But anyway, the lounge is very quiet. All the bankers that normally populate the lounge have gone home to count their millions. I grab myself a coffee and a bottle of water, in the hope they will turn me into a functioning human being again.

BOARDING
The flight is departing from gate B08, which is in the new part of the facility and specially designed to handle small regional aircraft. As in, regional aircraft that do not use a contact stand and thus require passengers to walk across the apron and, as a pleasant side-effect, give me cause to geek out for my fascination with airplanes.

Iím seated on 1A, so I figure I might as well wait until the very end to board, so as not to be in the way. The Dash 8 is a small aircraft. Besides, I have a back injury, so my movements are a bit slow right now. And every moment I do not have to stand in a queue is bliss right now!

CABIN
There is literally half a row of a Business Class cabin on this aircraft. Because on row 1 there are only the A and C seats on the port side. And as it happens, Iím the only Business Class passenger on todayís flight. The seat is comfortable and nicely padded. Itís very pleasant on the butt and also on my damaged back.Leg space is also good on the bulkhead row and the seat next to me is kept empty.

CREW
There are two cabin crew on the flight today, one male and one female. Both of them are perhaps not the worldís most extrovert individuals, but their service is attentive, friendly and polite.

SERVICE
There is a trolley set up by the entry door of the aircraft, where passengers can pick up a magazine or newspaper before taking their seat. The selection is rather good. I go for Time magazine, mainly on the merit of their cover, which catches my interest.Other than that though, there is no service at all on the ground. The flight time is announced as 45 minutes.

THE MEAL
As soon as the crew are released after take-off, the male cabin attendant asks me what Iíd like to drink with breakfast. He subsequently brings me a glass or orange juice, served in a real glass, and a cup of coffee with milk and sugar. The coffee is good, but I wonder if they really couldnít have splurged on a proper cup instead of the cardboard one. They put down a paper table cloth for the meal. Agreed, it wonít make the meal larger or better, but itís still a nice touch.The meal arrived in a cardboard box. It contains:
a salami and cheese sandwich
a yoghurt
an apple pastry
A packaged refreshing towel is also given to me with the boxed food set.

ARRIVAL
Eventually, we land in Paris more or less on time. Luxair uses terminal 2G, which is exclusively for small regional aircraft. Itís also very far out in the sticks. The only way to access any of the other terminals from here is by bus. Depending on which terminal your onward connection is departing from, there is an airside or a landside transfer.

I shall be departing from the M concourse, which is basically the non-Schengen satellite of Terminal 2E. Transfer to 2E is airside, which means that I will not have to undergo security screening again here in Paris. On the downside, emigration is done in 2G and the queues are very long.
William Agius is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Mar 17, 19, 5:39 am
  #54  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 281
A funky aircraft change to Dubai, by Air France Business Class...

Here's the link to the photos.

TRANSFER IN CDG 2

Immediately behind the immigration booths in Terminal 2G is the exit to the bus stop for the airside busses that connect to the other terminals. Terminal 2E M is served by the red line. Frequencies vary depending on which terminal theyíre serving.The journey by bus from 2G to 2E M take about five minutes.

LOUNGE & AIRSIDE
I havenít transferred through the M satellite before. But I have to say, itís a very nice facility. The main lounge area is on the first floor. I think Air France has put a lot of effort into updating, expanding and modernising the lounges at its hub in Paris in recent years. And this one here is no exception. The lounge has a very nice, spacious feel to it and itís also rather quiet and stays like that for the duration of my stay. Itís a far cry from the horrific Lufthansa Business Class lounges in Munich and Frankfurt, which are somehow always too small. The lounge has a business area with desks to work on, a kidís playing area and a quiet zone where passengers can lie down and have a rest. There are showers that are available on a first come, first serve basis, as well as a Clarins ĎSpaí for passengers to get a complimentary facial treatment. As far as food options are concerned, during my stay the lounge is serving breakfast. The dishes change according to the time of day, obviously. There are scrambled eggs and bacon available, in addition to a large selection of pastries, fruit, cheese and hams. And of course, thereís also a few eternal alcoholics helping themselves to the hard booze at nine oíclock in the morning. ĎItís the jetlag, darlingÖí.

BOARDING
Boarding for the flight starts one hour before departure from gate M 28. Boarding is done by zones, with zone 1 and zone 2 for the SkyPriority passengers boarding first. And it looks like thereís been an aircraft change. And what a nice one it is too! Originally, when I booked this flight, it should have been operated by a Boeing B 777-300. But outside, staring my in the face in all her glory, in an Airbus A 380! I mean, I know the Business Class on this bird isnít quite as fancy as that on the B 777-300, but I also have to say that since Airbus announced the end of production and Air France and Lufthansa announced that they were downsizing their respective fleets, every flight I can snag on one of these aircraft is a bonus. Of course, it also means that Iím determined to make sure I fly with every airline that operates the A 380 before they go out of service. Luckily, I donít have too many left on the list.

CABIN
The cabin is in a old fashioned 2 + 2 + 2 configuration and admittedly, there isnít much privacy in the setup Air France has. There is no divider in between the seats and all the six seats in a row are aligned. Storage space is also limited in comparison to the B 777 seat of Air France. There is obviously space to put things, but somehow most of that space is not really in a convenient position. The seat is slightly angled, but it is still possible to sleep on your side or on your stomach without having to make any serious contortions. One of the biggest problems of the Airbus A 380, which I think should be considered a design flaw, is that the aircraft is just so bloody quiet, even with the engines on take-off thrust. I mention this here because there are two Frenchman on this flight that are obviously determined to talk all the way to Dubai, which is six very long hours away. Throughout the flight, various passengers tell them to done it down, but apparently, itís to no availÖ

CREW
The crew are what I have come to understand as being very typical of Air France crews. There friendly and efficient in their work, but thereís not much warmth in them Ė the service and their interaction with the passengers seems quite formal.

SERVICE
When I reach my seat, a big pillow, a thick blanket and a pair of slippers have already been placed at my seat. Once boarding is completed, the service on the ground begins. First, there is a drink service with a choice of champagne, water or fruit juice. Shortly after, the vanity kits and the menus for the flight are distributed. And then eventually, thick hot towels are passed round and orders for the main course are taken.

THE MEAL
The meal service is always a highly enjoyable experience with Air France in that the quality of the food is normally very good and you certainly neednít worry about going hungry. And todayís flight is no exception.

Appetizer
For a pre-meal drink I have a Coke Zero, which is served with a small box of packed cranberries and cashews and a small ramekin with a beet mousse and cheese crumble.
First course
The first course is a plate of sautťd shrimps with a mango tartare and a couscous with flowers, grapefruit and vegetables. The first course is served with a choice of either brown or white bread.
Salad
There is also a salad with pine nuts, served with a small bottle of olive oil mixed with balsamic vinegar.
Main course
For the main dish I have the poached pollock with a curry and coconut sauce and Camargue rice.
Dessert
And finally, for dessert I go with the apricot tart and vanilla ice cream.The meal is very enjoyable and flavourful. The mango tartare goes nicely with the shrimps and the pollock is flaky and juicy, and complemented nicely by the rice.

SECOND SERVICE
About one hour out of Dubai, the lights come on again and the second service begins. Itís really just a small snack and consists of a small plate with a small vol au vent, a piece of apricot pie and a chicken wrap.

ARRIVAL
We touch down in Dubai at 23h05, twenty minutes ahead of schedule. We park on the non-Emirates pier, from where we have to take a shuttle train to the arrivals hall. Luckily, I reach the immigration just ahead of the rush hour, so at least I donít have too long to wait there. But there seems to be a problem with the baggage delivery. Or rather, itís a bit unfortunate that they put the Air France flight as the same baggage carousel as the Lufthansa flight, because it means there are the combined bags of a whole A 380 and a B 747-400 to delivery onto the same belt. Eventually, my suitcase arrives after a wait of 45 minutes. And then I head outside to grab a taxi to my hotel. Here in Dubai Iíll be giving a course for Flydubai, which has become the newest airline to use the English language test for pilots I developed.
William Agius is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Mar 23, 19, 2:54 pm
  #55  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 281
Air France La PremiŤre - encore une fois: from Dubai to Paris in First Class

Here's the link to the photos.

INTRODUCTION
The course with Flydubai was really good fun. The course participants were eager and keen to learn, which always makes my job a lot easier. Iíll be back in Dubai for another course with Emirates in three weeksí time. But now itís time to start on the journey back home. I have three classes Iím teaching on Monday.

Air France currently operates two daily services to Paris out of Dubai. There is the daytime service which leaves at exactly noon. And then there is the night time service which leaves at 01h35, roughly around the same time as all the other European carriers. To be honest, I think I would have preferred the daytime service. However, that flight is operated by an Airbus A 330-200 which still has the old Business Class configuration and has no First Class. The night time service is operated by a Boeing B 777-300ER in the new configuration.

GETTING TO THE AIRPORT
On this trip I stayed at the Sofitel Downtown near Burj Khalifa and the Mall of Dubai. I leave the hotel on Friday evening at 22h30. Being the weekend here in the UAE, traffic on Sheikh Zayed Road is unusually quiet and calm. As a result, the journey to the airport only takes twenty minutes to complete by car.

To get to the airport, you can either take a taxi from the hotel for AED50 or a Lexus limo for AED70 or the metro for AED20. The metro obviously takes a bit longer because it stops a few times on the way. But there is a metro stop about two minutes away from the hotel, with trains running from there directly to the airport.

CHECK-IN
Air France serves Terminal 1 in Dubai. Itís a bit unfortunate that the check-in rows for the various airlines are not marked outside the terminal. As a result, drivers tend to just pull up to the first vacant spot on the side of the road and offload you there.

Air France and KLM check in on row 1, which is at the far end of the terminal. As far as I can tell, the whole of check-in row 1 is dedicated to Air France and KLM and their flights to Paris and Amsterdam respectively. There is one check-in counter for La PremiŤre passengers, which is cordoned off. There is a DNATA representative standing by the entrance to the SkyPriority counters. I approach him to ask if this is also the queue for First Class. He asks my name and heís obviously been expecting me, because he immediately escorts me to the La PremiŤre counter and calls for a ground agent to escort me from check-in to the First Class lounge.

As soon as my suitcase is labelled, the check-in agent wishes me a pleasant flight and sends me on my way. The ground agent collects my passport and boarding pass holder and off we go. We take the normal entrance to immigration, but once weíre past the checkpoint, she guides me to the diplomatic passports section and then from there to a separate, dedicated security screening area. The process is very swift and efficient and just like that Iím through immigration and security in no time.

LOUNGE
Air France arrives and departs on the D concourse, which is where pretty much all other airlines except Emirates operate from. The shuttle to the D concourse takes only a few minutes to make the journey.

In Dubai Air France uses the Ahlan lounge for its La PremiŤre passengers. The lounge is quite large, but rather oddly shaped around the mezzanine level of the airside area. There is a separate dining area and a large buffet with a lovely smell of Indian food coming from it.

Other than that, the lounge has showers but no area where passengers can have a lie down and sleep. The wifi access code is available at reception.

The ground agent leaves me at reception and tells me sheíll be back to take me to the aircraft at 12h50.

BOARDING
At exactly 12h50, the ground agent appears in the lounge to inform me that itís time to leave. We go downstairs and from there board a golf buggy to take us to gate D18. Itís actually not that far, but given that my back is still painful, despite the painkillers, Iím definitely not complaining.

Rather embarrassingly, it turns out theyíve been waiting at the gate for me to arrive so they can start boarding. The ground agent escorts me past the long queues and no sooner has my boarding pass been scanned, one of the gate agents announces that the flight is now ready for boarding. As it turns out, I am the only passenger in La PremiŤre this evening.

The entrance to the L1 airbridge is cordoned off. A security watchman opens it for us when he sees us approaching and then immediately closes it again once weíre through.

As on my previous experience with Air France in Paris, the ground agent steps aboard ahead of me and then introduces me to the flight attendant who has been expecting me at the door. She then wishes me a pleasant flight and leaves.

CABIN
The flight attendant introduces himself to me with a genuine, friendly smile. He takes my backpack off me and escorts me to my seat on 1A. He stows away my jacket in my own personal cabinet and then leaves me to settle in.

As Iím the only passenger in La PremiŤre tonight, he suggests making up 1D for me as a bed after take-off, so then I can switch depending on what I feel like doing.

The Air France cabin really is a class act. Itís not just that it looks nice, itís also nicely finished and has been well thought through. And I have to say, it is very cool to know Iíll have this gorgeous cabin all to myself tonight!

CREW
In short succession the maÓtre de and then the captain come to introduce themselves and wish me a pleasant flight. They all stay and chat a while, but without prying or being nosy. In short, they go out of their way to make me feel at home and to make sure Iím comfortable.

SERVICE
While weíre still on the ground, the male cabin crew in charge of the La PremiŤre cabin brings me the vanity kit, the pyjamas, the menu and some fresh orange juice with a ramekin of nuts. The slippers and a pair of socks, as well as a thick pillow are already at my seat when I arrive.

I change in to my pjs while weíre still on the ground in Dubai. The flight time is announced as six hours and fifty minutes.

THE MEAL
Given that itís already approaching two in the morning by the time the crew are released to start their service, I inform the flight attendant that Iíd rather sleep straight away, but that he should wake me with enough time for breakfast. He makes up the bed for me and brings me a small bottle of Evian and a box of chocolates. And then I go off to sleep.

Around 80 minutes out of Paris, the flight attendant gently wakes me up to inform me that itís time for breakfast. By the time I draw the curtains to get up, heís already set the table on 1A for breakfast. There is a choice of two hot meals. I go with the banana pancakes and the apricot and strawberry compote. A lot has been said in many of the travel forums about the horrific instant coffee Air France serves in La PremiŤre. My suggestion is to go with the espresso instead of the coffee, because the former is made with a proper coffee machine and tastes much, much better.

The meal consists of:
a selection of breads and pastries, served with butter and jam
natural yoghurt
a bowl of fresh fruit
the hot meal Ė in my case the banana pancakes
orange juice

The pancakes are lovely and the accompanying compote is sweet with a hint of vanilla. Catering is something I think they do really well on Air France, even in Business Class.

ARRIVAL
The weather in Paris is cold and misty. In fact, the visibility is down to 200 metres, which is why we end up doing an automatic landing. Eventually, the aircraft comes to a stop at one of the gates on the M satellite of Terminal 2E. When the doors open, thereís already an Air France ground agent expecting me. The crew bid me farewell and hand me over to the ground crew. We take the stairs down one floor and then step outside, where a BMW is waiting to take me to the main terminal building. Once we get there, we take a separate, dedicated counter for immigration and then head downstairs to the baggage reclaim area.

The ground agent retrieves my suitcase and then escorts me out to arrivals. Itís nice to be back in Europe!

I shall be spending Saturday here in Paris, as I still have an appointment with royalty that I havenít seen twenty years.

CONCLUSION
On my way to the airport in Dubai, I was wondering if Air France would be able to live up to my expectations from my previous, exceptional La PremiŤre experience to Singapore in January. As it turns out, they certainly could. Once more, the service is flawless and opulent and the crew go out of their way to make me feel welcome.
standch and roadwarrier like this.
William Agius is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Mar 23, 19, 10:34 pm
  #56  
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: Queensland, Australia
Programs: QF WP; HHonours
Posts: 48
Great TR, you visited my area of Townsville, I frequently visit the QF Townsville & Brisbane lounges. I had a chuckle about the Ďthongí. It became a hot topic perhaps 18 months ago when policy came into place. On one of my flights to London I was chatting to a girl from England returning home post holiday in Oz. She mentioned how she & her friends were perplexed by signs leading into some pubs saying Ďno thongsí. She discussed with me how could someone know you were wearing thong underwear.😊
roadwarrier likes this.
parsonstrish is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Mar 24, 19, 1:40 pm
  #57  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 281
I nearly didn't make it for this one... HOP from Paris Orly to Basel

HERE'S THE LINK TO THE PHOTOS

INTRODUCTION

The last time I saw Tutankhamun was more than twenty years ago, when I was in Cairo studying Arabic. And so, when I saw that there would be an exhibition with artefacts from his vast tomb treasure in Paris, I figured it was too good an opportunity to miss. Before you ask: no, the death mask is not one of the exhibits and I very much doubt if that will ever leave Egypt again. One way or another though, the exhibition is well worth seeing and provides a glimpse into the ancient Egyptiansí understanding of eternity.

GETTING TO THE AIRPORT
On Sunday morning I leave the CitizenM hotel at Gare de Lyon at 09h30 and walk the short distance across the Seine to the Gare díAusterlitz, from where I want to catch the RER C to Rungis and from there the shuttle to Orly airport. My flight to Basel will be departing at 12h00.

Only, once I get to the Gare díAusterlitz I find out that there are no trains running, and instead there is a replacement bus to take me part of the way. In hindsight, I shouldnít have taken that bus, because quite frankly, none of the staff that were positioned along the way to help stranded passengers actually knew what was going on. And so, two busses and one Uber later, I finally manage to arrive at the airport 35 minutes before departure.

CHECK-IN
Air Franceís domestic and Schengen flights operated out of Orly 1, otherwise known as Orly Sud. Luckily, Iíve already checked in online. Originally, I was hoping to check in my bag. But by the time I arrive at the terminal, I figure that check-in is already closed.

AIRSIDE
There are people standing around everywhere and thereís literally no getting through. Eventually I have to climb over a whole row of seats with my suitcase to bypass all the passengers and reach the entrance for the priority security lane. And Indeed, I think if it werenít for my status with Air France, which allows me to use the priority lane, Iím pretty sure Iíd have missed the flight.

Finally, I arrive at the gate about five minutes before boarding begins. Enough time to visit the loos. The flight is boarding from gate A22, which is in a part of the terminal that was recently extended and renovated.

BOARDING
Boarding starts with a call for SkyPriority passengers. The gate agent tags my suitcase for me to leave it at the bottom of the aircraftís steps. I think sheís surprised that I thank her for that, rather than start complainingÖ

CABIN
This is a strange bird. F-GRZL was delivered to Britair in 2006 and was later on transferred to the HOP by Air France fleet. But the cabin is different to that on the CRJ-900 and the CRJ-1000. The bulkhead is lavender coloured, the seats are in dark grey, the window panels look old-fashioned and there is no Air France branding inside the aircraft.

Other than that though, pitch is good on row two and the seats are properly aligned with the windows to give passengers a good outside view.

CREW
There are two quite senior cabin crew on this flight. One male and one female. Theyíre not overly friendly, but theyíre professional and polite.

SERVICE
The flight time is announced as 45 minutes. The cabin crew start their service and inform passengers that due to the rather short flight time, they will only be serving passengers one drink each to speed things up and to make sure that every passenger gets at least something.

THE MEAL
There is a choice of hot and cold drinks, including alcoholic beverages like beer. Passengers also have a choice between a sweet or a savoury snack. The gentleman sitting next to me asks for the savoury snack, which turns out to be a packet of Pretzels. I have the sweet snack, which is a Madeleine filled with jam.

ARRIVAL
Itís a nice day for flying today and as we approach Basel the ground visibility improves further. Eventually we land after a flight time of only 42 minutes. We park on a remote stand, and thereís even a bus to drive us the 200 metres from the aircraft to the passenger terminal. Ten minutes after we touch down, I exit the terminal building on the Swiss side and head for the bus stop.

I now have a whole working week in the office ahead of me before my next trip on Friday. Woohoo!
standch likes this.
William Agius is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Mar 25, 19, 8:32 am
  #58  
 
Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: JNB
Programs: Flying Blue, Miles and Smiles, Hhonors, ICHotels
Posts: 1,031
The gentleman sitting next to me asks for the savoury snack, which turns out to be a packet of Pretzels. I have the sweet snack, which is a Madeleine filled with jam.

With a flying time of 45 mins? Hope the Crew did not overexert themselves...

Looking forward to the next trip.
roadwarrier is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Mar 25, 19, 9:42 am
  #59  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 281
It was touch and go for a moment, I'm telling you! But all's well that ends well and everybody received a drink and a snack before we landed.
roadwarrier likes this.
William Agius is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Mar 29, 19, 9:44 pm
  #60  
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: Queensland, Australia
Programs: QF WP; HHonours
Posts: 48
Iíve been trying to remember where I knew Trevorís name from. I babysat his children many years ago, small world. Back story to your comment on how green Townsville was, recent flooding. For years known as Brownsville. When I moved there in 1969, it was 12-18 months before we had rain.
parsonstrish is offline  
Reply With Quote

Thread Tools
Search this Thread