What to expect while flying Business Class on Air France
Planned your summer holidays yet? If you’re heading to Europe, I’d highly recommend ‘flying blue’. I recently flew Air France to Lisbon and back, and the good folks at AF upgraded me to Premium Economy on my flight in, and to Business Class on my return.
I have travelled by Air France earlier and have always enjoyed the experience, especially the wines & food onboard. The main reason I picked the airlines for my Portugal trip was the promotion “OH LALA Deals” that they were running earlier this year, which meant I got my tickets without breaking the bank.
On my flight from Mumbai to Paris, I got bumped up to premium economy, which has considerably more legroom (the most important factor for me on long-haul flights), so I had a comfortable flight. At Charles de Gaulle (CDG) Airport in Paris a surprise awaited me – not only did I get a chance to spend my 5-hour layover in the business class lounge, but I also experienced Air France’s unique welcome service for Indian travellers. AF has a team of Indian multicultural agents at CDG. These agents greet Indian travellers upon arrival, help them with transit formalities, and in general provide any assistance required to ensure a smooth travel experience. I was met by Suresh, a dapper gent who spoke English, French, and Hindi fluently, who guided me to the lounge & explained a bit about this service. It’s a wonderful service, which is particularly useful for first-time flyers and elderly passengers. The fact that the agents speak Hindi must be such a welcome relief for so many Indian travellers, especially since many AF flights connect forward to the USA.
The Air France Business Class Lounge in Terminal 2E at CDG is massive and divided into various areas – a well-stocked canteen, a bar, a workstation section, a spa, and showers. I headed straight to the showers – the best thing after an 8-hour long flight! I always carry a change of clothes in my carry-on (as a safety in case baggage goes missing). I had a nice, hot, long shower and then I was ready for some coffee – I generally don’t drink coffee on flights, because it’s dehydrating, and it’s almost always terrible :/
After a couple of espressos in me, along with a très francais breakfast of croissant and cheese, I set out to explore the lounge a bit. The Clarins spa offers complimentary services but you need to book it as soon as you get in the lounge. I just had a look around and made a mental note of it for the next time.
The lounge has different seating areas – bar stools at the bar, tables near the canteen/cafeteria, reclining loungers and leather armchairs lining the sides. The last gives a great view outside from the lounge’s floor-length windows. Food is excellent & ranges from breakfast, snacks, and full meals depending upon when you use the lounge. And of course, there’s Champagne on hand!
On my return flight from Paris to Mumbai, I got lucky enough to be upgraded to Business Class. The CDG-BOM route flies Air France’s best product offering and the modern seat layout is 1-2-1, as against the older 2-2-2 configuration.
I had a window seat, which meant no chattering co-passenger, yay! A(nother) glass of Champagne in hand, the NYT for company, and I was all set to take off. A special mention of the thoroughly entertaining safety video, catch a glimpse below.
The in-flight entertainment had an extensive choice of movies and TV shows, and I caught up on no less than 3 movies (Cafe Society, The Girl on the Train, and Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children). It was a day flight so I didn’t sleep much, apart from an hour-long siesta in the afternoon. The fully reclining,
It was a day flight so I didn’t sleep much, apart from an hour-long siesta in the afternoon. The fully reclining, lie-flat bed is such a luxury, probably my favourite part of flying business class.
The in-flight slippers and socks added to the comfort factor as did the amenity kit. In February this year, Air France introduced their new comfort kit, a sexy Toi & Moi design in a choice of blue, grey, orange, and turquoise, with two suede pockets filled with goodies. My cool orange-coloured comfort kit contained the usual eye mask, earplugs, dental kit etc. but what I loved were the Clarins amenities (incidentally, these are also available in the bathrooms onboard).
Apart from watching movies, I also read the Air France Magazine, hands-down one of the best in-flight magazines filled with well-written, good quality articles on travel, food, art, and design.
When you’re flying Air France, you expect great food, and I wasn’t disappointed. From the mise en bouche of goat’s cheese, beets, and hazelnuts, to foie gras (!) terrine as the appetiser, and an extensive choice of hot dishes (both veg & meat dishes), it was a feast up in the air. I picked the guinea fowl, perfectly cooked in a red wine sauce and served with tagliatelle on the side, plus warm bread, proper butter, and excellent Camembert and Tome de Montagne cheese. All of this paired beautifully with a glass of Chateau de Cruzeau Bordeaux from the Pessac-Léognan area. Dessert was a chocolate & caramel baton cake, after which I ordered a glass of port as aperitif.
And the #foodcoma didn’t end here. A couple of hours before landing, I was served a ‘light’ snack, which was no less gourmet – sauteed shrimp on a bed of carrot puree, with orange-glazed veggies on the side, followed by a red berry pannacotta and hazelnut cake, phew! I practically waddled off the flight 😉
So if you’re planning your holidays, check out the Air France website, which currently has great deals on summer travel to Europe. And experience the exceptional French hospitality at 36,000 feet up in the air!