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Noumea, New Caledonia via CDG/NRT LONG

Noumea, New Caledonia via CDG/NRT LONG

Old Jan 24, 07, 8:46 pm
Original Poster
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: BOS
Posts: 275
Noumea, New Caledonia via CDG/NRT LONG

Sorry to make you click on all the links ... they load quickly in a new window facilitating reading.

Itinerary : CDG-NRT-NOU round trip

AF278 / 03OCT
Seats 12FG
Flight time : 11h
Scheduled departure : 23h25
Actual departure : 23h30
Scheduled arrival : 18h00+1
Actual arrival : 17h50+1

A full 10 days of vacation and here we are ready to travel to the other side of the world. For those of you who know me, you know I am from the US, so I actually flew BOS-CDG but one day earlier, a trip that doesn’t warrant being written about since I have reported on it on more than one occasion.

We tried and managed to check in as early as possible because the flight load was forecasted to be 100% full. Check-in was as the AF standards require and done with pleasure. We killed time around Roissy and later that evening passed formalities and spent the rest of the time in the lounge at 2F. AF has (unfortunately) combined its First Class and Business class lounges … we entered on the left side and went around to the otherside where there were less people. The lounge was quiet with dimmed lighting for the night time, the counters were fully stocked, and there were mini baguette sandwiches which provided for a good snack before boarding.

We went up to boarding, which started on time, and ended up boarding the second bus. Surprisingly we were parked out in ‘aire hotel’. The flight to JNB was also next to us out there. There were three other regular parking stands available at that time, I have no idea why they had to put us out in the country.

Departure bloc was just 5 minutes late and we taxied to takeoff from 27L. Interestingly during taxi, the Captain came on to welcome us and inform us of a special security measure for tonight’s takeoff : no passengers were to stand up until 30 minutes after take-off. He also advised the entire plane that no passengers were to cross the curtains between cabins. And of course, after takeoff a few people got up and there was no reaction of any of the cabin crew members.

Due to the time of departure, no aperitif on this flight, rather just a champagne offer. The appetizer proposition came out afterwards, followed by choice of 3 hot dishes, cheese proposition at the same time, followed by dessert, coffee, tea etc.

Choice of hors-d’oeuvre : peppered duck foie gras flavored with champagne and apricot-fig chutney OR shrimp with basil and marinated fennel with lemon

Choice of main courses : veal accompanied by sautéed vegetables and artichokes prepared with white wine, olive oil and garlic OR (plat du jour) fillet of duckling served with peppercorn sauce and accompanied by carrot puree and braised endive OR (japanese specialty) fried salmon with ginan sauce and rice misoshiru.

Selection of cheese : camembert, fourme d’Ambert, Sainte-Maure

Assortment of desserts : chocolate dessert, apple crumble, sherbet served with cookies, choice of fresh fruit

(notice the black cup, which contained misohiru soup, proposed by the cabin crew)

The service was really nice. One thing I liked about this flight is the balance between French and Japanese flight attendants. The Japanese flight attendants are able to attend to the Japanese clientele in ways that the French are not yet are also aware of what the European passengers expect.

Buffet offerings : asian noodles, sandwiches, cookies, baskest of dried and fresh fruit (at door 2)

bar at door 2 just before breakfast, which is why there isn’t anything left

On these longs flights I actually manage to sleep for a good chunk of the flight. Breakfast service started not long after I woke up actually. I did think it was interesting to be eating breakfast for a scheduled 18h00 local time arrival, but we did just fly “over night” so breakfast seems like the logical meal.

Fruit juice, coffee, tea, hot chocolate, fresh fruit, cereal yogurt, fresh bakery selection, breakfast pastries, butter and preserves.

Choice of main courses : scrambled eggs served with shellfish cream sauce and emmental cheese OR crepes with pear and chocolate, double cream and apples.

The cooperation between Air France and New Caledonia (and the importance of the route) shows because the connection in NRT is so easy. Upon disembarkation you go up a set of escalators and towards a security check point where an AF agent is waiting for connecting passengers to pick up flight coupons and communicate messages. A huge sign with our last names was made out and the agent wanted to make sure we had the right seats, emergency exit. What a nice touch.

After the security check point we headed back downstairs to the terminal and made our way to the lounge.

With a scheduled arrival from Paris at 18h00 and a scheduled departure from Tokyo to Noumea at 20h55, there is more than enough connection time. In any case, because of the commercial cooperation, if there is a delay with one of the flights, the other flight would wait. I would estimate at least 100 of the pax from CDG were transferring to NOU.

AF2278 / 04OCT
Seats 30AB
Flight time : 08h00
Scheduled departure : 20h55
Actual departure : 21h05
Scheduled arrival : 07h40+1
Actual arrival : 07h30+1

F-OHSD arrived from NOU a little late. I managed to speak with the Captain before he boarded the aircraft and had estimated a departure maximum 15 minutes late. He was right, we pushed back only 10 minutes late, if that. Announcements on the ground were done in French and then English.

A (blurry) view of the boarding gate and our aircraft :

The emergency exit row by door 3 was perfect for the 08h00 flight down to Noumea. Contrary to some impressions I had prior to boarding, the cabin crew was extremely well put together and very welcoming. The smile factor was positive.

After take-off, an aperitif was served followed by a choice of hot dinner. I can’t believe I cannot find the menu from the flight but the choice was a sautee of beef or a fish. The other elements on the tray consisted of a smoked salmon salad, bread / cheese, and a passion fruit mousse cake. Considering it was cattle class, the food really wasn’t that bad, the quality of the plastic dishes and the service was quite nice.

During the flight, the cabin crew passed through the cabin every 15 minutes with water, something you won’t see on an AF flight. They also checked the cleanliness of the lavs every 15 minutes which was very impressive. Due to the light load factor, they didn’t have too much to clean up fortunately !

The Air Calin video system isn’t too bad … there was the standard music choices as well as 8 hollywood movie choices, 1 Japanese choice, and 1 Korean choice. You can see the start of each film every 15 minutes. The navigation of the system is superior to that of AF’s.

A view during sunrise :

and a blurry view of the cabin, but I thought it would be interesting for you :

Breakfast : (one choice only, it was so-so)

I was extremely fortunate to have been able to do the landing in the cockpit. Man was it beautiful :

upon disembarkation at NOU :

Formalities in Noumea were just like in France … although if you say you are visiting family or friends you can almost be sure you’ll be inspected at Customs. Due to the distance, travelers often bring items and do not declare them, so the Customs officers know who to target, whereas if you say you’re there simply for tourism it is less likely that you’ll have an excess amount of goods on you.

Part II to be continued …

AF2277 / 09OCT
Seats 5EF
Flight time : 08h30
Scheduled departure : 12h25
Actual departure : 12h20
Scheduled arrival : 19h30
Actual arrival : 19h40

We spent 4 days in Noumea … all I have to say is that New Caledonia is a little corner of paradise. It’s too bad I do not have more vacation time, I would have gone to the “Ile des Pins” and would have wandered around the main island a lot more. A few higlights from NOU :

Back to the aviation part :

We arrived at the airport approx 3h before departure … check-in didn’t start until then anyway. Check-in was perhaps not quite as classy as an AF check-in but efficient nonetheless. Someone must have been spying at the counter because our agent received a phone call at her counter and she then asked me if I had a continuing ticket out of France, since I was not a French citizen. I told her yes and she inquired no further.

Views of the airport and of our aircraft :

Boarding started a little late without any explanation but departure was eventually a few minutes early. Yours truly before boarding at door 1L

The one thing about NOU is that they are so cool about photos. Plus you had all the Japanese filming and clicking away … the Gendarmerie agent had absolutely no problems “as long as we didn’t go too far” LOL.

Welcome drink on board :

A view of the terminal from the cockpit

at the end of runway 11, ready to do a 180 degree turn :

Tontouta Airport, banking right after take off

A few phenomenal views :

Aperitif :

Today we were offered a full lunch service :
Herb roasted venison, choice of porto wine duck braised leg with potato gratin OR mahi mahi fish and scallops gratin with pastry, seasonal salad, selection of cheese, fruit tartlet OR mint and chocolate mousse, tea, coffee and digesifs.

On Air Calin the main course is served “by the plate”, which I think is the way it should be done in business class :

One of the seats, basic, but comfortable. For me it was better than the old AF business class seat but not quite as nice as the new AF travel concept. The video programming is the same in both classes.

A refreshment was served 1h prior to landing : smoked marlin in terrine with prawn, seasonal salad, cherry and chocolate cake (the best part), fruit salad, tea, coffee, digestifs.

For the meal services, our flight attendants were extremely attentive and carried themselves really well. I really liked how the main course was served from a big dish to a smaller dish in front of each passenger and with good presentation. I found the quality of the meals to be comparative to those of AF, with the exception of the “seasonal salad”. Basic lettuce and tomatoes just does not do it for me. The china is really nice. I think a square piece of linen in place of the anti-skid mat to cover the tray would add an extra touch to the whole service. I was on the whole quite impressed with Air Calin.

Arrival in Tokyo was just a tad bit late due to strong head winds, but it still left plenty of time for the connection NRT – CDG. Like when we arrived from CDG we went up a set of escalators where again another AF agent was in place to take flight coupons from connecting passengers. There was once again a small sign with our last names on it … the agent had new boarding cards for us That’s what I call attention … attention you can’t seem to get anywhere else.

AF227 / 09OCT
Seats 12EG (12F was empty)
Flight time : 12h46
Scheduled departure : 21h55
Actual departure : 21h55
Scheduled arrival : 04h15+1
Actual arrival : 04h18+1

The flight load on this flight was not as heavy as it was on the way over, though Y was almost full. After arriving from NOU we stopped in the lounge again … a quick shower does a wonder of good when you’re in planes for such a long time. Boarding started 30 minutes before departure, which I thought was interesting considering most AF stations start 45 minutes before. As in Japanese tradition, everything finished on time and the bloc was on time. As with AF tradition, a welcome drink was proposed and I took the OJ.

For the return flight an aperitif was proposed … check out the otsumami, yum !

followed by the traditional service again :
Choice of hors d’oeuvre : cured ham and smoked breast of duck OR peppered smoked salmon and fresh seasonal salad

Choice of main course : grilled tournedos of beef served with a veal jus, Berny potatoes and buttered broccoli OR paupiette of sole with Nantua sauce, saffron farfalle and French green beans OR (plat du jour) spicy breast of chicken with miso sauce, oven roasted with red chili pepper accompanied by burdock, steamed rice, carrots and green beans.

Selection of cheese, followed by dessert : caramel opera cake, bourdaloue pear tartlet, sherbet served with cookies, choice of fresh fruit.

A buffet bar was set up at door 2 with asian noodles, sandwiches, onigiri, and pastries.

An interesting fact about flight AF277 : the normal flying time would be about 11h45 but it really varies between 12h45 – 13h. Why ? NRT has a curfew of 23h. If you’re not off by 23h, you’re grounded for the night so AF schedules its flight at 21h55 to leave a little bit of margin (not to mention for commercial reasons with the Air Calin connection). The plane, however, cannot arrive in CDG before 04h because there is no one there ! The scheduled arrival time is consequently 04h15. The aircraft has two routes it can follow back to CDG, has to fly low, and has to slow down. That night we flew at 28,000ft and a mach .076 instead of .083/4/5/6 !!! There are times when the aircraft even has to zig zag in flight so it doesn’t arrive so early in CDG.

After surprisingly sleeping 8h during the flight, I awoke a little bit before the breakfast service. Breakfast this morning included fruit juice, coffee, tea, hot chocolate, fresh fruit salad, fromage frais, bakery selection, breakfast pastries, butter and preserves as well as a choice between : cheese omelette served with chicken sausage, grilled tomato, and braised fillet of pork OR crepe filled with peaches, caramelized pears and maple syrup.

We landed in some heavy fog (I’m surprised we didn’t do a go around, but hey, it’s the 777-300ER!) and arrived in front of terminal 2F. With no other arrivals at that time, it would be a shame to bus us ! After waiting a shameful 30 minutes for our bags we made it to the arrivals lounge at 2C where we took a shower before heading off.

I really hope you enjoyed reading … I know it’s long but I hope you appreciated the pictures. It was a great vacation … the experience with AF was as it always is, classy, welcoming and “so French” LOL … Air Calin is a good little secret which deserves more credit, they do an excellent job on board and New Caledonia is amazing. I love flying the 777-300ER for long flights. While it’s not as quiet in the cabin as the Airbus (it is actually quite noisy in my opinion) its power on take off is breathtaking. I can honestly say there wasn’t anything that did not go as I had wished.
airchristophe is offline  
Old Jan 24, 07, 11:13 pm
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Thanks for the nice report ^
Kiwi Flyer is offline  
Old Jan 25, 07, 4:55 am
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EXCELLENT report, the AIr Calin China looks very sim to Air Tahiti Nui.

I love the trolley service, BRING IT BACK for ALL Airlines.
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Old Jan 25, 07, 1:58 pm
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Thank you VERY much for this nice report.

New Caledonia seems to be a really stunning hidden paradise. I´ll put it on my "places to visit" list from now on.
mijugo is offline  
Old Jan 25, 07, 4:05 pm
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Merci de partager cet excellent rapport. Vos images sont fantastiques. J'aime les presentations de repas, particulierment celles d'AirCalin.
aw is offline  
Old Jan 29, 07, 12:26 pm
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Great report. ^ Spookly the NOU terminal building seems to be a carbon copy of VLI.
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Old Jan 30, 07, 7:09 pm
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Super !!! merci..
couscous is offline  
Old Jan 31, 07, 5:47 am
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Thanks so much..I see its time to try AF from LAX-CDG... GREAT reading and wonderful pics.....
RTW4 is offline  
Old Jan 31, 07, 8:03 am
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Very interesting!

Great report and pictures! Exotic destination, exotic airline. Always interesting to read reports of routes not so common on most frequent flyer itineraries!
tomashi is offline  
Old Feb 1, 07, 12:52 pm
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^ Thoroughly enjoyed it. Gives a different perspective on other countries that I have not visited yet
indo79 is offline  
Old Feb 2, 07, 8:11 am
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Very nice report, ^ thank you very much.
Did you made the whole trip from BOS? wooh!
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Old Feb 2, 07, 9:12 am
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Very nice report! ^

But here's my question: How in the heck did you get to be in the cockpit for landing at (and takeoff from?) NOU? Nice! ^ ^
as219 is offline  
Old Aug 19, 07, 9:44 am
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Sorry everyone, the following links you to all of my photos from the trip, non-aviation included.

airchristophe is offline  

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