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The AF A380 Gets TSAed: To JFK On Boxing Day  
User currently offlineAirpearl From Malaysia, joined May 2001, 957 posts, RR: 26
Posted (4 years 11 months 3 weeks 6 days 16 hours ago) and read 32767 times:




London, December 26, 2009

An attempt is made to blow up a plane flying between Amsterdam and Detroit. An SMS from my sister eight times zones away wakes me up at 3.30 am: R u sure it’s safe to travel to d US? I am in London for the Christmas holidays and not been following the news: it’s the first I hear of the bombing attempt aboard Northwest 253 on Christmas Day. I turn on BBC News for some perspective, try to reassure her that it’s an isolated incident, and besides: shud be ok, I’m not on US airline, I reply.

In reality, I am not so sure. The repercussions from an incident like this can be widespread. I can’t get back to sleep. My ticket to New York had been booked months ahead – in fact as soon as the Air France A380 flight was open for booking. Last night’s excitement about this trip – to tick off my fourth and latest A380 operator – has turned into mild apprehension. At the very least, some challenges may be in store.

Among the large European legacy carriers, Air France is one that I know least. First-hand experience had been few and far between: my longest flight on the carrier thus far was some 75 minutes, on a B744 between Ho Chi Minh City and Bangkok. The history of the airline is long and distinguished, but my recent views have been colored, in part, by A.net discussions. And that too leaves plenty to be concerned about.

One thing’s for sure: this isn’t going to be a routine flight.


first leg


First impressions are not good. Heathrow Terminal 4 is the new London home for Air France and its Skyteam partners. When I am dropped off at 6.15 am. – ample I think for my 8.20 departure – I am greeted with, well, a mess. The Skyteam check area in zone F is handling flights for KQ, KL and DL as well as AF: they are not common check-ins, but the mass of humanity here makes them look as if they are. Queues are long, baggage piled up high, while tempers are short. It’s obvious that there are insufficient desks although I suspect the recent poor weather in Europe may have been a contributory factor.

A queue minder asks me to join a line that one would not have instinctively thought was headed for one of the Air France desks. When I ask how long the wait will be, his hardly reassuring non-answer is: “don’t worry, you will get to the front of the queue.”





At least the lines move, and when I have time to survey my surroundings, realize we’re in some sort of organized chaos with minders keeping a magical, invisible control over the lines and priority that works in Britain, but probably nowhere else on earth. The AF and KQ queues intertwine like copulating snakes while the lines for KL are longer and almost reach the terminal entrance. It’s too early for most DL/NW flights but passengers are also lining up already. With no Skyteam status whatsoever, I am resigned to a long wait. I don’t know it then, but this is the first of many today.

It takes 40 minutes to reach one of the manned auto-check machines, and within 4 passengers of the bag drop counters. A busy but surprisingly cheerful agent prints out my boarding passes and I am directed to a bag drop line, just behind a woman heading for Kinshasa with nine suitcases. I watch in amazement as one bag after another is weighed (each at least 23 kilos) and then loaded back on the trolleys as she is told payment for excess baggage is at another counter. She moves off without fuss – I suspect it’s a routine event for her!





The queue minder is right. I am at the baggage drop counter at 7.05 am. – in good time for my flight. I hadn’t checked my boarding passes earlier, but when I do here, realize my seat for the A380 sector had somehow been changed from 91A (window exit seat on the upper deck, snagged months ago) to 50J (aisle seat at the back of the lower deck). What a bummer.

I ask the agent at the baggage drop desk what’s happened, as politely as I can with an “I realize you must be very busy but…” prefix. (It always helps, I think, even if you have the right.) He willingly taps into his computer but doesn’t know why my seat had been changed: “all I can find you is an aisle seat 83K on the upper deck, but all the windows are taken; Economy to New York is actually overbooked.” He also recommends I take the earlier 7.35 am connecting flight to CDG: “it’s always better to have more time in Paris… you never know.” I take his advice (despite missing out on a rare ATR42 LHR-CDG flight – better than missing the A380) and out pop my new plain white boarding passes: a new seat for CDG-JFK, and a new flight for LHR-CDG.

“You are seated in Business Class – but sorry, only for the short sector,” the agent sounds almost apologetic. I’d been upgraded – what a nice surprise! I thank the agent for the kind gesture (it’s not an op-up) and rush off for my flight.





London to Paris
Air France flight 1781 in Business Class (upgraded from Economy)
Airbus 319 F-GRXD
Dept: 7.55 am Arrv: 10.01 am (arrives 11 minutes late)


Boarding has started when I get to gate 19 but if check-in is any indication of the backlog, I am certain this flight will be delayed. A 2002-delivered A319 operates AF1781 to Paris this morning but there’s no view of the plane from the terminal.

Bonjour! Two older crew members greet passengers graciously at the door, and I am directed to 3A, a window seat in the back of this very small 3-row J class cabin. Little wonder: I am one of only 2 passengers flying Business. Even if this is a Saturday, I am frankly surprised at the light load.







“Affaires” offers the standard European business class hard product, with economy-style seating but the middle seat of three blocked up with a tray table. As I predicted, passengers continue to stream in after our scheduled departure time – with most appearing to have onward connections to sub-Saharan Africa, one of AF’s strong points. I presume many Paris-bound leisure passengers these days forego early AF flights in favor of the Eurostar or some LCC. Also standard in Europe, a movable curtain divider separates J from Y just behind me.





We are 20 minutes late pushing back but I am not concerned – I have at least three and a half hours to wait for my onward flight. Hot towels are passed out. Outside, London is wet and still dark; I notice passengers braving the drizzle to board the ATR I was supposed to have taken, while a Nairobi-bound KQ B772 next door dwarfs the prop.

It’s a quick taxi from this end of Terminal 4 to 27L and with no queues, we roll rapidly down the runway rotating as we pass the newly relocated airlines at T4MH 744, GF 343, 9W 77W all still looking strangely out of place here.

As we break through the clouds, the crew springs into action even before we level off. It’s a short 45 minute flight and a lot to do.





Business Class breakfast consists of a smoked salmon bagel, yoghurt, juice, bread, croissant and coffee – decent enough for a short flight (any food is a bonus these days) but the presentation is a little lacking for the premium cabin and obviously, a result of cost cutting in today’s bean counter-driven airline business.

In direct contrast, the crew is entirely old world. A purser, who must have served long hauls in the front cabins some time ago, delivers the modest offering with a panache you’d expect in the First Class cabin of a French carrier from the days gone by. It’s strangely personalized service for instant Tropicana OJ from a packet – I find it intriguing.

The hop across the channel is fast and when we get to the coast of Normandy, the low clouds disappear. As we descend into Paris – a light sprinkling of snow on the ground on the outskirts – the purser is apologetic in collecting my plastic tray, almost as if he is about to commit an unforgivable crime in not letting a passenger take the time to enjoy his meal. “I am sorry Sir, we are in such a rush today.” How very quaint.





It looks like a nice sunny day at CDG when we land at 26L, a runway that runs parallel with 08L-26R. In order to get to the terminal, we have to wait for three take offs from 26R. This is one of them: a rare spotting of a B738 of AMC Airlines, a charter airline based in Egypt, headed for warmer winter climes.






charles de gaulle transit


There is a confusing array of disparate, architecturally-unique terminals at Charles de Gaulle. Air France operates from a couple of them, which necessitates the issuance to transfer passengers of a multi-page guide on “how to find your next flight”. It all looks as cryptic as clues in a treasure hunt! My flight from London is supposed to arrive at Terminal 2E, the same one from where the JFK flight departs. But instead, we park at Terminal 2F, which requires a bit of a detour. We stop next to a company B747-400, coincidentally F-GITE is the one I took between SGN and BKK last year.







My new gate is not shown on the FIDS – it’s more than 3 hours before departure – so I’m not quite sure which part of Terminal 2E to go. (As if CDG isn’t confusing enough, 2E is split into 2 separate buildings located quite far apart.) I eventually locate an AF transfer desk to ask; the lady says the gate for AF006 has not been assigned yet, but still scribbles E61 on my boarding pass: “I’m almost sure that’ll be the one for the A380.” Fantastic isn’t it? Almost as unique as Concorde. Big grin

The walk between the terminals also yields some (mainly AF) spotting opportunities. Below is the mix of wide bodies parked at 2F with its elaborate maze of glassy boarding bridges.





Old and new Air France (or is it Airfrance?) liveries parked next to each other at the outer (my terminology) Terminal 2E that houses gates E51 to E76. An automated people mover links this part of the terminal with gates E21 to E47.





A relatively painless security check later, I am let into the departures area of the terminal. There are the usual shops but the gate areas are largely empty. Apart from a China Southern flight boarding for Guangzhou, nothing much is happening at this end of the building this morning. The CZ B772 is also the only non-Air France machine I can see here.







Already parked at gate E61 is the first A380 operated by an European airline. Just over a month ago in November, Air France started a six times-a-week Paris to New York JFK service with F-HPJA – its sole whale jet. As you well know, it hadn’t been the smoothest of introductions into service with a number of flights delayed or cancelled for technical reasons. My heart is beating faster for sure, but I am also feeling great relief too that today’s flight hadn’t been substituted with a B77W. With the fuselage looking fat and stumpy, I have to agree it’s not the prettiest plane. But I am excited just the same!





I am often quite amazed at the infrastructure developments at some airports in Europe and Asia to accommodate the A380, while their absence at U.S. airports is equally intriguing and telling. At Paris for instance, an elaborate, multi-level complex had evolved outside the terminal building to allow access to both levels of this double-decker plane. In contrast, airports like JFK and LAX – although upgraded to deal with the whale jet – strain in handling the crowds.







This complex has the vital role of segregating arriving and departing passengers. Arriving passengers on the A380 are all eventually channeled upstairs, while all departing passengers start boarding from the lower level. The distance of the aerobridge for the upper deck from the ground is pretty impressive too.





Below, you get a partial view of the main part of Terminal 2E – an unique cylindrical building (see also interior below) designed by the same architect who also did DXB’s Terminal 3. It’s an AF domain here, but some Skyteam partners are invited to share the facilities too.






The spotting continues. Among the rare treats for me is this Aeromexico B762ER taxiing out as AM 006 – with a distance of some 5,000 nm and flight time of 12 hours 55 minutes to Mexico City, this must be among the longest nonstop sectors currently operated by the type. This particular shiny metallic number is leased from LAM, I think.





11.30 am. Two hours to departure. There’s still no indication that this wouldn’t be anything other than a routine departure, albeit of a relatively special plane. The events of Christmas Day are in my mind but the absence of patrolling armed police suggests no heightened level of security. I begin to relax a little: maybe the situation isn’t as serious? Having no access to the news here, I have no idea what’s in store. Nobody is manning the gate yet but a growing number of AF006 passengers – many French families en route to a year-end holiday – start arriving. You can always tell those who have selected the flight based of equipment type: they start by going to the window first to check, the beam of delight and cry of excitement when they see the plane they’re flying on, and cameras at the ready to snap every moment. There are plenty of us today.





Air France boarding for the giant plane looks civilized enough, with three separate entrances depending on where you are seated. I do like the large banners placed at each entrance – not that it’s totally necessary for the typical passenger (do they study seat maps like we do?); a big sign that merely states “Rows 81-94 Queue Here” works just as well – but the banners evoke the sense that the A380 is a special plane, and this flight a special event: a bit of old world glamour to the newest jumbo jet.





Economy class, which Air France calls Voyageur, occupies three cabins of the main deck and the last compartment of the upper deck. The two decks board separately. In terms of configuration, Singapore Airlines comes closest to this, but the Asian carrier has a far less dense seating arrangement (399 Y seats on SQ vs. 449 on AF) in roughly the same space. How this translates into seating comfort (or discomfort) remains to be seen.





Another boarding entrance is for rows 60 to 73 that make up a very sizable Affaires Business Class cabin located upstairs. There’s no banner for First Class but then, there’s no need for it  Wink (A very nice double-barrel Christmas trip report by A.net user Goldorak shows just how lavish the service is at the very front of the plane – I am envious!)







Time is what I’ve got lots of this morning. With nowhere else to go, I loiter around the A380 banners. They become quite a hit with passing passengers who suddenly take an interest in aviation; and I am more than happy to guide them along.

It is also here that I sense today’s flight be might be special in more ways than one. Half a dozen French policemen are studying the seat maps too. And they don’t seem to be looking at them out of pure interest: there is much discussion and pointing as one would do before a mission, before they disappear through the gates to board the plane. I think about taking a picture, but decide it’s wiser to keep the camera in its casing. I don’t have a good feeling about this.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the terminal, spotting activity seems to be continuing as usual. I am sure you recognize the guy below: yeah, it’s any one of us.  Smile





transatlantic





The last catering truck has cleared the A380, and from the looks of it, we should be ready to go. It’s 12.45 pm. – about time for boarding if we are to leave on time. I notice a few police officers from earlier returning to the gate, but staying close to the gate agents. A few more officers join them. The waiting crowd is getting restless, and when a gate screen shows the flight as boarding and “on time”, queues start to form. I join the line for the upper deck Y cabin.





No public address announcements are made, which is rather strange I thought. The queues get longer and more unmanageable. Like earlier at Heathrow, the lines are haphazard and confused, but without minders, they truly are here. And the lines are not moving at all. News eventually gets filtered down that there’s a security alert, and we need to undergo “additional security procedures” at the request of US authorities.

The first announcement I hear is one asking for passengers without any hand baggage to board first. “We are boarding passengers with no bags. Only passengers with no luggage, please proceed to the front of the line!” Today’s definitely not normal: I’ve never heard such a boarding call before. I am trying to figure out the significance of this message when among all this mess, I hear a petite Air France staffer speak with a group of American tourists with trolley bags: “We will have to tag these. You will not be able to carry bags into the plane.”

I don’t like the sounds of this. Keeping my laptop computer and camera in the baggage hold? I’d been extremely lucky in most of my travels so far – looks like it runs out today.

By this time, there aren’t any queues left but just a mass of Third World humanity, and Air France’s civilized boarding zones are nothing more than pure wishful thinking. What is amazing though is passengers keep their cool throughout. Nobody raises his or her voice, nobody complains, everyone submits to every request and command, complies fully. I’ve never seen anything quite like it: more than once, a fellow passenger will tell me “I’d rather be safe” without any hint of irony. I have no argument with being “safe”, but it seems that it’s now politically incorrect to moan even a wee bit. “Bloody hell, my feet hurt from all this standing around,” I could be saying and, God forbid, suddenly be arrested as an enemy combatant. So shut up I did.

You will also realize the absence of pics from this segment of the trip. Alas, sentiment does not favor it. I am sure you will understand: “I’d rather be safe.”  Wink

In the midst of all this, Air France doesn’t do too badly. None of this is the airline’s fault, but uniformed AF crews “work” the crowd (it’s starting to look like a cocktail party now, but without the drinks) apologizing to passengers for the inconvenience, which is rather nice, I think. Instead of relying on the public address system, ground staffers wander among passengers explaining the situation in French and English to individuals or groups. And they are advising passengers to go away. The flight is indeed “boarding”, they say, but the secondary security screening is proceeding at such a slow pace that it’s not even worth waiting around. “Find a seat. Have lunch. It will take two hours, or three… it is better if you come back later,” says a ground agent. An indefinite delay! It’s worse than I thought.





For half an hour I don’t quite know what to do with myself. I quench my thirst with a ridiculously expensive bottle of water (3.5 euros for 0.5 liters) and wonder what else? Had we been on time, F-HPJA would be heading out over the channel by now; but instead, I’m still on the ground but with my feet up (I must say they’ve got some top class recliners here), while seeing a ground personnel given a patdown by airport security on the tarmac was interesting. Everything and everyone is on high alert, police are everywhere, and the photographers at the window have all disappeared. It’s no fun at all.

I return to the gate area at about 2.00 pm.. The crowds are much thinner: many passengers had taken the advice of ground staff and decided to wait. I see two distinct lines and join one of them instinctively: it seems today’s flight is not boarding by class of service, or seat row numbers, or frequent flier status.

“Males stay on the left, females on the right please!” AF 006 is boarding by gender type today. I so want to share with somebody the irony that such sexual segregation happen only in authoritarian Islamic republics, but I don’t think it would have been appreciated today. “Off to Guantanamo with you!” So keep quiet I did.

The queue crawls forward. I have plenty of time to contemplate and play little games in my head. Like doing pop quizzes in reverse, with the answer ‘AF A380 to New York’. The question is of course: What is the worst possible flight to take the day after a bombing attempt aboard a transatlantic flight on Christmas Day?

It is more than hour later, at 3.05 pm., that I reach an AF agent at the gate who scans my boarding pass and checks my passport. I ask her how many have boarded so far. “Let’s see, you’re number 154, we are 535 today,” she says, smiling pitifully at me. So it’ll be hours before we can leave? “Yes, I’m afraid so. Hours.” My pop quiz had just been reaffirmed.

The secondary security checks, when I finally reach them, are surprisingly painless. Thankfully, I am not asked to keep my backpack in the hold. An airport security officer hand-searches my carry-on, frisks me and checks my shoes. When that’s done, a French police officer does the exact same thing all over again. “It is a U.S. government requirement,” says the policeman as a matter of fact, and not to shift blame. “Merci. Have a good flight.” Everyone’s incredibly polite and cordial. And I am finally boarding!





After the long queues and rigorous checks, the walk to the plane is surprisingly free of any sort of security personnel. Or any personnel for that matter. I follow the signs for the upper deck, take the escalators alone to the upper level and down a fantastic glassy corridor where there’s a good view of this B772. An airport security officer sees me taking my camera out and doesn’t say a word, which I take as the green light to snap away.







The one-by-one security checks take such a long time that I am the only person boarding this plane. All alone, I savor the size and majesty of this enormous bird. It’s amazing how a view like this can lift your spirits. Just a few moments ago, I was dreading this trip but now, it’s not looking so bad.





Air France doesn’t get good press on A.net – so my expectations aren’t high. But the warmth of the greeting that welcomed me to the upper deck surprised me. Where I am expecting indifference and slight edginess (totally understandable when the flight you’re serving on is delayed indefinitely), I get friendliness and a high level of professionalism. In fact, none of the flight attendants I meet aboard this flight (and I get to meet a large number, serving in all three classes) give off even a whiff of frustration at the delay. And that alone is impressive.







Now, much as I dislike this delay, it does have an unexpected bonus. With the cabins hardly a quarter full, I get the chance to take my time in taking cabin pics, like capturing the Affaires Business cabin en route to my seat down the back. As many have said before, the business class hard product disappoints. I am not sure about seat comfort but legroom seems rather tight for a seat that supposedly goes almost horizontal.





This is the Y class cabin I am seated in. It may be the effect of darker seat cushions, but the same cabin on Singapore Airlines (in light colors) appears to be roomier and more spacious. Still, it’s not a bad looking place really. This flight is supposed to be going out full in Economy so there are quite a few more passengers still awaiting their security checks.







At each seat is a “comfort kit” of sorts containing a pair of clip-on head phones, scented towel, eye shades, blanket and pillow. The seat is wide and reasonably comfortable with a bottom that slides out when reclined. But I am not so keen on the legroom that feels snug. Despite what seatguru says about the seat pitch being similar to SQ at 32”, it does feel less generous. I can’t explain it. The side compartments are a big plus factor for choosing the upper deck window seat if you get the chance.







The Thales IFE system comes with a touch screen. It works pretty well for me but the presence of a trouble shooter from Thales on board suggests that teething problems still happen. (Poor guy is literally red-eyed, probably from shuttling one too many times across the Atlantic during the past month!) Many of the passengers who boarded ahead of me are already watching movies or playing games, and it looks as if there’s already been a drinks service. Notice the rather unusual storage compartment under the PTV.





The best seats in the house for legroom. I had reserved 91A the moment the seat map for this flight opened up. As you will recall, I was unceremoniously removed from here. I only find out a few days ago why: Air France is happy for you to choose these seats, but only if you’re prepared to pay 50 euros extra. Sad Alas, another sign of the times.





The boarding process is as slow as ever with passengers trickling in one at a time – it’s certainly one of the strangest boarding processes I have ever experienced. Flight attendants at the back galley notice my photo taking and suggest that since we have plenty of time, I should “tour the plane”. “Go down this way and walk all the way to the front and come back up using the front stairs.” Splendid. I couldn’t have put it better myself actually. I ask whether I will be allowed to pass through First Class (critical if I am to fully complete the circle) to which my tour guides suggest their colleagues will be accommodative if no F passengers have boarded yet.







The above is the rear-most Economy cabin. Had I not changed my seat, I would have been seated here. Quite a handsome cabin actually. “Is this your first time?” asks Barbara from Florida, noticing my photo-taking. Barbara’s part of a tour group of 60 who spent their Christmas in Bethlehem, and only left TLV this morning headed home via CDG and JFK. She tells me that it’s her first A380 flight “but I’ve been on Concorde once… wonderful plane.” We chat about this and that, and do the communal “I’d rather be safe” chant that unfortunately doesn’t save poor Barbara from a rough night at JFK because she will have missed her connection home tonight.

I move on. The next cabin forward (below) is almost indistinguishable from the last. Ideally, I would have liked Air France to dress each of the cabins a little differently to add that dash of character and variety, but I have absolutely no problems with how it looks now.







Like Qantas, Air France has self-service snack bars in Economy on the A380. The display is locked until after take-off. A strange glassy showcase above the bar is presumably intended to promote duty free fragrances: looks a little sad to be honest. Below, another view of a smart-looking downstairs Y class cabin.





Occupying the front cabin of the main deck is La Premiere, Air France’s First Class. Another one of us nutters is already there capturing the moment, so I don’t have any qualms in joining the party. There are no F class patrons at this time, and timing is perfect because as we leave, the first of La Premiere’s passengers start to arrive.





Seat 2L on the starboard side is one of five window seats. There are a total of nine such seats on the A380 and they’re almost indistinguishable from those fitted on other AF planes.







The cabin looks plush while the leather seats seem pretty comfy to me. But because airlines like SQ and QF launched new seats aboard their A380s, the lack of a surprise factor made for another round of AF bashing on A.net. Still, with every other A380 operator opting for the either the sarcophagus or office cubicle look, I think Air France’s wide and spacious cabin is the only one that makes you feel you’re on a very large plane. And isn’t that why you would choose to fly the A380?





The purser in charge of First Class is as extremely house-proud. “You must see this!” He opens a door to what looks like a lavatory from the outside. It’s a lavish changing room:





A First Class passenger has arrived; we say our thank yous and leave. Up the front staircase and to the left is what the airline calls its in-flight museum. It’s the same place that EK places one of its shower rooms but is closest in concept to the Business Class lounge aboard QF, which essentially is what this is.





Almost back where I started from: this is the main Business Class cabin. I think I’m beginning I forget to take a picture of the front J cabin that’s smaller and a lot cozier than this.







When I get back to my seat, my neighbor had just boarded while the cabin looks a lot more promising than before. They have somehow managed to speed up the boarding. At about 4.30 pm. – running three hours behind schedule – cheese sandwiches are passed out and another 10 minutes later, the captain says everyone’s boarded and we’re all ready to go.





It’s almost dusk when we finally push back, but as we do so, another announcement, first in French brings loud moans and sighs from many passengers. Apparently a sick passenger wants a doctor’s advice if he/she is fit for travel. The next announcement 15 minutes later is pretty much expected: we are returning to the gate. Doors disarmed, aerobridge connected to let off the ill passenger who was stressed from the hours spent queuing, baggage retrieved and removed. Our second (and successful) attempt at departure is at 5.25 pm. – four hours behind schedule.


Paris to New York
Air France flight 006 in Economy Class
Airbus 380-800 F-HPJA
Dept: 5.25 pm Arrv: 7.55 pm (arrives 4 hours 10 minutes late)





As we start taxiing, the captain comes back on the PA system to say the Airshow feature and on board cameras will be disabled for the duration of the flight to comply with U.S. regulations. The rest of the flight is thankfully smooth and free of incident. For me, even at take off, I feel like I had the longest day already. I will not detail the flight, but just add a few pictures from the meal. (I know this doesn't make me a very good trip reporter but I slept most of the way to JFK!) It must however be said here that the crew remain in good spirits and totally professional throughout – I am impressed.





Air France still offers a menu to its Economy Class passengers, which is rather nice. There are two choices of mains. What was originally lunch is now our dinner.







last words


It’s not news to you now. But it seemed strange then. When the captain had to announce it about an hour before landing, he seemed genuinely embarrassed to ask for blankets to be stored in the overhead lockers. “I am sorry to tell you ladies and gentlemen, we have been asked by the U.S. authorities to comply with additional security procedures. Your cabin crew will explain. Please comply with the request,” he said.

And that’s how my strange Boxing Day ended. With blankets and pillows inexplicably stuffed into overhead lockers aboard an A380 and everyone wondering what else is in store for us when we land at JFK (it turns out nothing more, except for more waiting at immigration, but that’s normal.) By the time I collect my bags, it’s 9.30 pm. Eastern – 19 hours since I first arrived at Heathrow’s Terminal 4 in the morning. I really ought to consider nonstop flights next time...  Wink


Finally, here's wishing you a very happy and successful 2010.  champagne 


Best Wishes,
airpearl


Previous A380 trip reports:

Emirates Airline A380 BKK-DXB-BKK (Dec 2009)
Qantas Airways A380 Inaugural MEL-LAX-MEL (Oct 2008)
Singapore Airlines A380 SYD-SIN (Nov 2007)

35 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineNZ107 From New Zealand, joined Jul 2005, 6457 posts, RR: 38
Reply 1, posted (4 years 11 months 3 weeks 6 days 15 hours ago) and read 32767 times:

Hi Airpearl,

First of all, I must say what a journey that was.. So much waiting.. Pleasure to read and congrats for getting it online so quickly! Man it must have been an anxious wait. But thanks for sharing the journey with us on a hectic day.

The upgrade was definitely a pleasant surprise! With only two people in J, are you able to remove the middle "table" and lift the arm rest up to give yourself more space?

Very interesting boarding pattern! Were any extra checks made as you boarded, and were you able to tell if boarding for females was different to how males got treated?

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
“Off to Guantanamo with you!” So keep quiet I did.

LOL!

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
Notice the rather unusual storage compartment under the PTV.

Yeah, I noticed that.. What can it store? Did you find a use for it?

It's nice that you were able to explore the entire plane. Something that I wouldn't have expected on flight like yours!

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
The purser in charge of First Class is as extremely house-proud. “You must see this!” He opens a door to what looks like a lavatory from the outside. It’s a lavish changing room:

Wow, a changing room..

They sure could have utilised the space where that "art gallery" is better than they did.. What were the amenities like from the self service bar?

Happy New Year to you too!

Regards,
Nicholas



It's all about the destination AND the journey.
User currently offlineMindscape From United States of America, joined Apr 2004, 315 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (4 years 11 months 3 weeks 6 days 14 hours ago) and read 32767 times:

Thank you Airpearl for sharing your amazingly long journey to the US ! Great detailed report and very nice pics !

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
so my expectations aren’t high. But the warmth of the greeting that welcomed me to the upper deck surprised me. Where I am expecting indifference and slight edginess (totally understandable when the flight you’re serving on is delayed indefinitely), I get friendliness and a high level of professionalism.

I have to admit I had same impression on my last long haul AF trip. French FA get friendlier and can smile, sacre bleu !


User currently offlineFlightsimboy From Canada, joined Sep 2005, 1342 posts, RR: 5
Reply 3, posted (4 years 11 months 3 weeks 6 days 14 hours ago) and read 32767 times:
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Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
As we start taxiing, the captain comes back on the PA system to say the Airshow feature and on board cameras will be disabled for the duration of the flight to comply with U.S. regulations.

I guess this is now standard on all flights to the US  Angry


User currently offline9MMAR From Malaysia, joined Jul 2006, 2110 posts, RR: 18
Reply 4, posted (4 years 11 months 3 weeks 6 days 6 hours ago) and read 32219 times:

Happy New Year Airpearl and congratulation for completing your A380's flights set! I am sure a LH's A380 flight report is in store for us in 2010.

What an experience, really! I can't comment much on the extra securities asked by the US authorities since I can't even passed the first hurdle - to get a visa to the US - was told that I am 'not qualified'.

Mind telling us who are 'we' since your first person reference changed from 'I' to 'We' beginning from the La Premiere cabin tour. Were you flying MH from KUL to LHR prior to the journey?


User currently offlineCrimsonNL From Netherlands, joined Dec 2007, 1908 posts, RR: 42
Reply 5, posted (4 years 11 months 3 weeks 6 days 5 hours ago) and read 32052 times:
AIRLINERS.NET CREW
CHAT OPERATOR

Hi Airpearl, thanks for this very well written report! Too bad they disabled the airshow features and such. Did you get a good look out the windows? From what picture's I've seen I sort of concluded that the space between the seat and the actual glass of the window is very large.

Thanks for sharing and have a good new year,

Martijn



Nothing's worse then flying the same registration twice, except flying it 4 times..
User currently offlineNonrevman From United States of America, joined Nov 2001, 1302 posts, RR: 1
Reply 6, posted (4 years 11 months 3 weeks 6 days 3 hours ago) and read 31864 times:

That was a fascinating account of both the A380 and the airport experience right after Christmas. I enjoyed reading about the details and hope to see the A380 some day. So far, I have not been to any of the airports that have one scheduled.

It looks like the crew was very friendly and accommodating. Passing out food due to the delay was also a nice touch. Thanks for the report!


User currently offlineGreg99 From United States of America, joined Jun 2008, 25 posts, RR: 0
Reply 7, posted (4 years 11 months 3 weeks 6 days 2 hours ago) and read 31756 times:

One of the best TR's I've read in a very long time.

Thanks!
Greg


User currently offlineSQ772 From Singapore, joined Nov 2001, 1792 posts, RR: 5
Reply 8, posted (4 years 11 months 3 weeks 6 days 2 hours ago) and read 31672 times:

Happy New Year Airpearl. Thanks for sharing with us your marvellous reports these past few years.

Here's another report that offers us a glimpse of air travel under the current climate. It's sad to see that air travel has once again been thrown into a state of chaos because of someone's malicious deeds.

Hope you are well-rested after this 'ordeal' (to me at least, but you seem to have a knack for seeing things in a positive light even in the bleakest situation).

Take care and looking forward to more quality reports from you in 2010.

[Edited 2009-12-31 09:44:06]


There's always a better way to fly...
User currently offlineReadytotaxi From United Kingdom, joined Dec 2006, 3360 posts, RR: 2
Reply 9, posted (4 years 11 months 3 weeks 6 days 1 hour ago) and read 31468 times:

That was great coverage.
Next time you must travel in First and report.
Can anyone chip in with the fare?  Big grin



you don't get a second chance to make a first impression!
User currently offlineOA260 From Ireland, joined Nov 2006, 27316 posts, RR: 60
Reply 10, posted (4 years 11 months 3 weeks 5 days 22 hours ago) and read 31211 times:

Great report. I have to say that I prefer the look of EK and SQ Y class but for me AF have the best looking First Class. I love that design. Certainly a different design and comfy.

Thanks for the report

OA260


User currently offlineEconojetter From Malaysia, joined May 2001, 430 posts, RR: 5
Reply 11, posted (4 years 11 months 3 weeks 5 days 16 hours ago) and read 30780 times:

First up, Happy 2010 to you! Hope the new year brings more flights and adventures (preferably not involving extra security).

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
I notice passengers braving the drizzle to board the ATR I was supposed to have taken,

A pity you did not end up taking this. Would have been an interesting contrast. But, of course, it's better to be safe. That's the theme of the day.

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
But the warmth of the greeting that welcomed me to the upper deck surprised me. Where I am expecting indifference and slight edginess (totally understandable when the flight you’re serving on is delayed indefinitely), I get friendliness and a high level of professionalism.



Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
In direct contrast, the crew is entirely old world. A purser, who must have served long hauls in the front cabins some time ago, delivers the modest offering with a panache you’d expect in the First Class
cabin of a French carrier from the days gone by.

Or maybe even the Concorde. In my limited experience, even the younger AF crew in Economy are remarkably composed but warm, a disposition that communicates to the passenger that they know their job well. I'm sure it is a matter of personal preference, but I do appreciate the underlying formality in the service.

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
Old and new Air France (or is it Airfrance?) liveries parked next to each other at the outer (my terminology) Terminal 2E that houses gates E51 to E76. An automated people mover links this part of the terminal with gates E21 to E47.

Is that the long transverse S3 pier that straddles the north and south sides of CDG2? I have never been to 2E but it looks fantastic in your photos.

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
At Paris for instance, an elaborate, multi-level complex had evolved outside the terminal building to allow access to both levels of this double-decker plane.

Trust ADP to come up with interesting (aesthetically and functionality-wise) constructions. I remember that 2C featured (still does?) passenger bridges that slide up and down between the departure and arrival levels.

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
but the banners evoke the sense that the A380 is a special plane, and this flight a special event: a bit of old world glamour to the newest jumbo jet.

Was there a flight information screen with details: flight number, names of flight crew and inflight purser, aircraft type, number of passengers etc.? At CDG I have seen them on LCD displays; handwritten (how quaint) on a whiteboard at outstations.

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
None of this is the airline’s fault, but uniformed AF crews “work” the crowd (it’s starting to look like a cocktail party now, but without the drinks) apologizing to passengers for the inconvenience, which is rather nice, I think. Instead of relying on the public address system, ground staffers wander among passengers explaining the situation in French and English to individuals or groups.

Impressive. This showcases the professionalism in the operation and suggests the years of experience they appear to have in reserve. Perhaps the A380 flight received special treatment and extra ground staff because of its flagship status. But it shows some people at AF took passenger well-being seriously.

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
Like doing pop quizzes in reverse, with the answer ‘AF A380 to New York’. The question is of course: What is the worst possible flight to take the day after a bombing attempt aboard a transatlantic flight on Christmas Day?

Ha ha ha. Sorry. Such irony. It crossed my mind as I watched the news report (in T1 Changi Airport on Boxing Day) on the unfolding investigations, how the authorities had established that it had been a terrorist attempt. I imagined extra security on over 500 passengers boarding the heaviest transatlantic flight. I imagined all European airports (including LHR) being on high alert. So I was actually half-expecting a photo-less report.

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
take the escalators alone to the upper level and down a fantastic glassy corridor where there’s a good view of this B772.

Awesome view.

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
But I am not so keen on the legroom that feels snug. Despite what seatguru says about the seat pitch being similar to SQ at 32”, it does feel less generous.

Oh dear, what a shame. I don't really trust the seat pitch figures on seatguru, or at least it does not translate to how one actually feels in the seat. QF is listed as offering 31" and CX 32", but in my experience QF felt roomier.

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
Notice the rather unusual storage compartment under the PTV.

Are these big enough for eyewear (and I don't mean for most of Elton John's collection)?

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
Another one of us nutters is already there capturing the moment, so I don’t have any qualms in joining the party.

Importantly, is he an A.nutter and will we be seeing trip reports from him?

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
Air France still offers a menu to its Economy Class passengers, which is rather nice. There are two choices of mains. What was originally lunch is now our dinner.

Ah I recognize the chocolate tart. I have had it before and loved it. I'd have taken yours if I had been seated beside you on this flight and you didn't want it.:D

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
I really ought to consider nonstop flights next time... Wink

I'm sure in a few weeks you will have recovered sufficiently to consider taking a five-stop milk run. Wink

Big thank you for another masterpiece!

(Are we going to hear about the other flights?)


User currently offlineStarAlliance38 From United States of America, joined Jan 2008, 1445 posts, RR: 3
Reply 12, posted (4 years 11 months 3 weeks 5 days 13 hours ago) and read 30636 times:

This report was a great way to start 2010 for me! Thank you for the TR. Very interesting pictures! Great account!


Roar, lion, roar
User currently offlineDL752 From United States of America, joined Jul 2008, 174 posts, RR: 1
Reply 13, posted (4 years 11 months 3 weeks 5 days 13 hours ago) and read 30626 times:

Beautiful.
Looks to be a nice flight.


User currently offlineRyanair!!! From Australia, joined Mar 2002, 4757 posts, RR: 25
Reply 14, posted (4 years 11 months 3 weeks 5 days 11 hours ago) and read 30545 times:

Happy new year...

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
A busy but surprisingly cheerful agent prints out my boarding passes and I am directed to a bag drop line, just behind a woman heading for Kinshasa with nine suitcases.

Makes me wonder how the hell she made it to the airport in the first place? Definitely not on her own... But I am sure she was already baking bread in Kinshasa while you were still stuck in CDG.

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
There is a confusing array of disparate, architecturally-unique terminals at Charles de Gaulle. Air France operates from a couple of them, which necessitates the issuance to transfer passengers of a multi-page guide on “how to find your next flight”.

Don't remind me... I was once herded from Nancy-CDG-Singapore and needless to say the transfer at this airport was total chaos for me. So much so my military charter flight to Nancy was much preferred! I had to go from Terminal 2-watever to Terminal 2-watever, no one spoke English (or should I say they refused to) until I had to break into French to plead for mercy. It must have been a chaotic time at the airport because the helpdesks I approached were manned by some of the most frazzled people I have ever seen. I have been somewhat traumatized by my experience at CDG so I have opted not to do anymore transfers there. KLIA works best for me... Hehehehehe... so empty.

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
I am often quite amazed at the infrastructure developments at some airports in Europe and Asia to accommodate the A380, while their absence at U.S. airports is equally intriguing and telling.

No need for the A380 to be a reason, airport infratructure in USA is just appalling - PERIOD. Although there are a few exceptions like SFO, MSP etc...

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
What is amazing though is passengers keep their cool throughout. Nobody raises his or her voice, nobody complains, everyone submits to every request and command, complies fully. I’ve never seen anything quite like it: more than once, a fellow passenger will tell me “I’d rather be safe” without any hint of irony.

If this was an SQ flight, I can imagine screaming matches at the gate agent's counter, "I am Star gold!...", "I am Krisflyer Gold!...", "Shut up... ALL OF YOU! I am PPS Solitaire! Hmph!..."... Remember that lady who shouted her PPS status in KLIA when a delay occured? hahahahaha...

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
An airport security officer sees me taking my camera out and doesn’t say a word, which I take as the green light to snap away.

Boy, we sure love to push the boundaries. So when are you going to pull your pants down to take a few snapshots of planes? Let me know, I'll join in the fun to compare the brands on our underwear.

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
Air France doesn’t get good press on A.net – so my expectations aren’t high. But the warmth of the greeting that welcomed me to the upper deck surprised me. Where I am expecting indifference and slight edginess (totally understandable when the flight you’re serving on is delayed indefinitely), I get friendliness and a high level of professionalism.

Always nice to have your expectations lowered and then a surprise is in store. It has so far happened on all my Air Asia flights so perhaps I should fly with this mindset from now on. 2 more flights await me in 2 weeks time on your country's world famous LCC...

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
Notice the rather unusual storage compartment under the PTV.

Strange indeed... Doesn't look like it can contain sunnies as the two thin metal bars are installed too low... Looks too narrow to be a cup holder... Is that where you put used sanitary pads so the cabin crew walking past can take it away? Beats me...

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
Barbara’s part of a tour group of 60 who spent their Christmas in Bethlehem, and only left TLV this morning headed home via CDG and JFK. She tells me that it’s her first A380 flight “but I’ve been on Concorde once… wonderful plane.”

Hahahahaha... Barbs had to make sure she added in the Concorde to up you on this one.

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
I think Air France’s wide and spacious cabin is the only one that makes you feel you’re on a very large plane. And isn’t that why you would choose to fly the A380?

Indeed it was disappointing. You'd expect the French to have pulled off something more oooh-la-la, something more stylish, something with more panache, something more Chantal-esque with the flashbulbs firing off in giddy speeds... Serving degustation (presuming AF has it on their PCL menu!) in an SQ-style Suite seems more fitting than those living room Frasier's dad armchairs. But still, if a perception of space is paramount, then the AF A380 it is!



Welcome to my starry one world alliance, a team in the sky!
User currently offlineBA319-131 From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2001, 8589 posts, RR: 54
Reply 15, posted (4 years 11 months 3 weeks 5 days 9 hours ago) and read 30419 times:
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Hi Airpearl,

Excellent TR and pictures, reminds me of my trip on her just last month, a really great day if tiring.

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
my seat for the A380 sector had somehow been changed from 91A (window exit seat on the upper deck, snagged months ago) to 50J (aisle seat at the back of the lower deck). What a bummer

- I'd agree, I'd only want an upper deck window, I'm a bit fussy!

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
“You are seated in Business Class – but sorry, only for the short sector,” the agent sounds almost apologetic. I’d been upgraded – what a nice surprise!

- Always nice, even for a short flight.

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
It is more than hour later, at 3.05 pm., that I reach an AF agent at the gate who scans my boarding pass and checks my passport. I ask her how many have boarded so far. “Let’s see, you’re number 154, we are 535 today,” she says, smiling pitifully at me. So it’ll be hours before we can leave? “Yes, I’m afraid so. Hours

- This waiting must have been very tedious.

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
An airport security officer hand-searches my carry-on, frisks me and checks my shoes. When that’s done, a French police officer does the exact same thing all over again. “It is a U.S. government requirement,” says the policeman as a matter of fact, and not to shift blame

- What a waste of time!

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
This is the Y class cabin I am seated in. It may be the effect of darker seat cushions, but the same cabin on Singapore Airlines (in light colors) appears to be roomier and more spacious

- I'd agree with that comment.

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
Despite what seatguru says about the seat pitch being similar to SQ at 32”, it does feel less generous

- I'd agree with this too.

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
. Flight attendants at the back galley notice my photo taking and suggest that since we have plenty of time, I should “tour the plane”. “Go down this way and walk all the way to the front and come back up using the front stairs.” Splendid. I couldn’t have put it better myself actually. I ask whether I will be allowed to pass through First Class (critical if I am to fully complete the circle) to which my tour guides suggest their colleagues will be accommodative if no F passengers have boarded yet.

- Nice, just shows teh crew realise the plane is special and people are interested in loooking around and taking pictures, one has to ask if a US carrier would they be so accomodating? - I think not!

Cheers

Mark



111,732,3,4,5,7,8,BBJ,741,742,743,744,752,762,763,764,772,77L,773,77W,L15,D10,30,40,AB3,AB6,A312.313,319,320,321,332,333
User currently offline9MMAR From Malaysia, joined Jul 2006, 2110 posts, RR: 18
Reply 16, posted (4 years 11 months 3 weeks 5 days 7 hours ago) and read 30243 times:



Quoting Ryanair!!! (Reply 14):
KLIA works best for me... Hehehehehe... so empty.

Tetap kan... LOL!

Quoting Ryanair!!! (Reply 14):
If this was an SQ flight, I can imagine screaming matches at the gate agent's counter, "I am Star gold!...", "I am Krisflyer Gold!...", "Shut up... ALL OF YOU! I am PPS Solitaire! Hmph!..."... Remember that lady who shouted her PPS status in KLIA when a delay occured? hahahahaha...

I think I still remember her exact words, "I AM A PPS, ARE YOU CRAZY???!!!"

Quoting Ryanair!!! (Reply 14):
Boy, we sure love to push the boundaries. So when are you going to pull your pants down to take a few snapshots of planes? Let me know, I'll join in the fun to compare the brands on our underwear.

That would be a sight to behold. Wow! (I have some visions already).


User currently offlineAirpearl From Malaysia, joined May 2001, 957 posts, RR: 26
Reply 17, posted (4 years 11 months 3 weeks 5 days 3 hours ago) and read 29954 times:

Hi guys, thanks much for taking the time to read and add your comments. I posted this TR in haste, not wanting to keep it beyond 2009 and as I had another flight coming up, I don't think this would ever be done if it wasn't completed by New Year's eve. I have since noticed some glaring errors, as I am sure you have. Apologies for that!

Quoting NZ107 (Reply 1):
thanks for sharing the journey with us on a hectic day.

Hi NIcholas and happy new year! Yes, it really was hectic; not so much because of the delay (4 hours can be 'routine' for some), but rather the feeling of uncertainty hanging over everything. "What's going to happen next?" Didn't realize how stressful that would be.

Quoting NZ107 (Reply 1):
With only two people in J, are you able to remove the middle "table" and lift the arm rest up to give yourself more space?

I think it's possible, but probably more trouble than it's worth.

Quoting NZ107 (Reply 1):
Very interesting boarding pattern! Were any extra checks made as you boarded, and were you able to tell if boarding for females was different to how males got treated?

I guess it was done to expedite the security checks, especially since everyone is frisked twice; once by airport security, another by law enforcement agents. It looked like pretty similar checks for both sexes from what I could see, no one was stripped searched when I was looking...  

Quoting NZ107 (Reply 1):
It's nice that you were able to explore the entire plane. Something that I wouldn't have expected on flight like yours!

Yes, that's what inspired me to queue early, and I was rewarded with a tour of all the cabins. Just as well I did it then while on the ground in Paris, because during the flight proper the atmosphere turned quite subdued (hence not many pics) and with warnings about this and that, it just didn't feel right to be going round taking pictures.

Quoting NZ107 (Reply 1):
What were the amenities like from the self service bar?

Now, that's something I don't know. I didn't venture downstairs at all during the flight.

Quoting Mindscape (Reply 2):
I have to admit I had same impression on my last long haul AF trip. French FA get friendlier and can smile, sacre bleu !

Unbelievable eh?  I would gladly fly AF longhaul now. La Premiere looks delicious!

Quoting Flightsimboy (Reply 3):
I guess this is now standard on all flights to the US

Sad, but I hope this can be reinstated soon. It certainly made my flight seem longer too.

Quoting 9MMAR (Reply 4):
Happy New Year Airpearl and congratulation for completing your A380's flights set! I am sure a LH's A380 flight report is in store for us in 2010.

Happy New Year 9MMAR and thanks, my collection is complete - for now. Yes, LH is the likely next target, but after this experience, I think I'm happy not to be flying an A380 for a while. More than anything, this flight drove home the point why airlines buy A380s: they carry lots and lots of people!

Quoting 9MMAR (Reply 4):
Mind telling us who are 'we' since your first person reference changed from 'I' to 'We' beginning from the La Premiere cabin tour.

My, my, you read waaay too much into my TR haha. By 'we' I meant the other aviation enthusiast I met taking pics there - 'we' were told our time was up with the arrival of the 1st F pax, that's all.

Quoting 9MMAR (Reply 4):
Were you flying MH from KUL to LHR prior to the journey?

Nope, I think you've already got MH covered quite well  

Quoting CrimsonNL (Reply 5):
Did you get a good look out the windows? From what picture's I've seen I sort of concluded that the space between the seat and the actual glass of the window is very large.

Hi Martijn, you're right about the view, it's not always the best on the A380. The distance from the window is one thing, while the huge huge wing occupies so much space. (Great view of the wing maybe?) On this flight I didn't get any view at all. By the time we left, the sun had set and it was pretty much dark all the way. Also the fuselage slants at quite an angle at window level on the upper deck.

Quoting Nonrevman (Reply 6):
That was a fascinating account of both the A380 and the airport experience right after Christmas. I enjoyed reading about the details and hope to see the A380 some day.

I am sure you will, A380 flights are becoming quite common now, no?

Quoting Greg99 (Reply 7):
One of the best TR's I've read in a very long time.

Thanks Greg, glad you enjoyed.

Quoting SQ772 (Reply 8):
Happy New Year Airpearl. Thanks for sharing with us your marvellous reports these past few years.
Here's another report that offers us a glimpse of air travel under the current climate. It's sad to see that air travel has once again been thrown into a state of chaos because of someone's malicious deeds.

Happy new year SQ772 and thanks for your kind words. It's a sign of the times unfortunately. U.S.-bound and U.S. domestic flights are an extension of the "war on terror" (if American media is the gauge, the term appears to be making a comeback) and it's really no fun at all. Hence I have renewed respect for trip reporters writing about their experience on U.S. carriers - it's not so easy at all. Those of us living outside the U.S. have a much easier job.

Quoting SQ772 (Reply 8):
Hope you are well-rested after this 'ordeal' (to me at least, but you seem to have a knack for seeing things in a positive light even in the bleakest situation).

Haha... yeah when you're already "in it", you might as well try to enjoy it and see the funny side. I wished I was travelling with someone else on this flight though - sharing the goings on with someone would have helped.

Quoting Readytotaxi (Reply 9):
Can anyone chip in with the fare?

My return LHR-JFK-LHR ticket was GPB234.00, so I think we are just a few grand short  Wink .

Quoting OA260 (Reply 10):
I have to say that I prefer the look of EK and SQ Y class but for me AF have the best looking First Class. I love that design. Certainly a different design and comfy.

OA260, definitely the most traditionally designed of the lot. At least it still feels like a plane. There's actually a lot of old world charm about AF I quite enjoy too.

Quoting Econojetter (Reply 11):
First up, Happy 2010 to you! Hope the new year brings more flights and adventures (preferably not involving extra security).

Happy new year to you too Econojetter. And hope you get aboard some interesting flights too in 2010... and share those experiences here  

Quoting Econojetter (Reply 11):
In my limited experience, even the younger AF crew in Economy are remarkably composed but warm, a disposition that communicates to the passenger that they know their job well. I'm sure it is a matter of personal preference, but I do appreciate the underlying formality in the service.

Yup, there's definitely something there that's hard to describe - trust the French to have a term for it... a certain je ne sais quoi?

Quoting Econojetter (Reply 11):
Is that the long transverse S3 pier that straddles the north and south sides of CDG2? I have never been to 2E but it looks fantastic in your photos.

Yes, that's right, the transverse S3, though AF doesn't call it that but confusingly Terminal 2E, so there's two separate buildings known as 2E on their airport plan! Inside of the main 2E terminal is stunning.

Quoting Econojetter (Reply 11):
Was there a flight information screen with details: flight number, names of flight crew and inflight purser, aircraft type, number of passengers etc.? At CDG I have seen them on LCD displays;

I was looking all over but couldn't find it. I may have just missed it, or perhaps the security protocols prevented the disclosures? On the flight back from JFK, there wasn't a hand-written one either. But I saw it for some other flights at CDG.

Quoting Econojetter (Reply 11):
I imagined extra security on over 500 passengers boarding the heaviest transatlantic flight. I imagined all European airports (including LHR) being on high alert. So I was actually half-expecting a photo-less report.

Hahaha I sure know how to pick 'em. What I find out later is that not every flight received the fun treatment we got. The A380 could be an obvious target, that's why. At the immigration queue at JFK T1 (where I spend another one and a half hours in line), I was talking to this lady flying in on LH from MLA via FRA - she was totally oblivious to the whole affair. So the secondary security checks don't seem to have been applied on all transatlantics.

Quoting Econojetter (Reply 11):
Are these big enough for eyewear (and I don't mean for most of Elton John's collection)?

Don't think so... and I wasn't prepared to test it either...

Quoting Econojetter (Reply 11):
(Are we going to hear about the other flights?)

I hope so, before the year is out  

Quoting StarAlliance38 (Reply 12):
This report was a great way to start 2010 for me!



Quoting DL752 (Reply 13):
Beautiful.

Thanks guys.

Quoting Ryanair!!! (Reply 14):
Makes me wonder how the hell she made it to the airport in the first place? Definitely not on her own... But I am sure she was already baking bread in Kinshasa while you were still stuck in CDG.

Happy new year Ryan. Hahaha... the lady from Kinshasa doesn't look the type to make bread herself. I forget to mention she has a very expensive looking overcoat, probably cashmere, and has 2 'helpers' in the queue with her, all three are on their mobiles almost the entire time we are queuing. It's such a bizarre scene!

Quoting Ryanair!!! (Reply 14):
If this was an SQ flight, I can imagine screaming matches at the gate agent's counter, "I am Star gold!...", "I am Krisflyer Gold!...", "Shut up... ALL OF YOU! I am PPS Solitaire! Hmph!..."... Remember that lady who shouted her PPS status in KLIA when a delay occured? hahahahaha...

LOL Oh yes I remember... I can just imagine! Thankfully nobody was throwing their weight around by telling others they're elite this or gold that. It would have made the situation a hundred times worse.

Quoting Ryanair!!! (Reply 14):
Boy, we sure love to push the boundaries. So when are you going to pull your pants down to take a few snapshots of planes? Let me know, I'll join in the fun to compare the brands on our underwear.

Sorry Ryan, that's one boundary I think I'll keep well within...    ... hahaha. And look what you did to 9MMAR...   

Quoting Ryanair!!! (Reply 14):
2 more flights await me in 2 weeks time on your country's world famous LCC...

Ah, you're quite the frequent flier with them now huh? We await the TR !

Quoting BA319-131 (Reply 15):
Excellent TR and pictures, reminds me of my trip on her just last month, a really great day if tiring.

Hey thanks Mark. So you booked on an LH JFK flight yet? 

Quoting BA319-131 (Reply 15):
I'd agree, I'd only want an upper deck window, I'm a bit fussy!

That's why SQ's A380 is still probably the best all-rounder in Y if you can snag one of these seats.

Quoting BA319-131 (Reply 15):
Nice, just shows teh crew realise the plane is special and people are interested in loooking around and taking pictures, one has to ask if a US carrier would they be so accomodating? - I think not!

Of course, no US carrier has ordered the A380 hehehe... I think the "special" rarefied air aboard the A380 will be around for a little while yet. And I am quite happy to continue pretending this is my first time, every time.

[Edited 2010-01-01 09:00:17 by airpearl]

User currently offlineAkhmad From Netherlands, joined Sep 2005, 2500 posts, RR: 53
Reply 18, posted (4 years 11 months 3 weeks 4 days 19 hours ago) and read 29420 times:

Hi there Airpearl,

Happy New Year 2010!

I just arrived couple hours ago from a great Christmas trip to Madrid together with another A.netter. I did notice your report earlier but I eventually managed to squeeze in some time to reply on it.

Wow, your second A380 flight, I reckon, with a different airline. And really, you have done another great covering of it and I really enjoyed it. Well done!

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
I think about taking a picture, but decide it's wiser to keep the camera in its casing. I don't have a good feeling about this.

I can imagine that. I experienced the same thing in front of the terminal building of Aswan. The presence of armed guards discouraged me of taking a picture.

Cheers,
Suryo



Friends forever
User currently offlineAirpearl From Malaysia, joined May 2001, 957 posts, RR: 26
Reply 19, posted (4 years 11 months 3 weeks 4 days 16 hours ago) and read 29236 times:



Quoting Akhmad (Reply 18):
Happy New Year 2010!

Hey happy new year Suryo. and thanks for your kind words. Do you have some interesting long hauls lined up for this year?  Smile


User currently offlineAirpearl From Malaysia, joined May 2001, 957 posts, RR: 26
Reply 20, posted (4 years 11 months 3 weeks 4 days 10 hours ago) and read 28967 times:

the return – express version


I hadn’t intended to write a trip report for the return flight to LHR via CDG a couple of days later. But I thought I’d share with you some insights from the return flight for completeness sake, and a few pics from spotting at JFK Terminal One, which is not a bad place at all for its variety, particularly of European heavies.

I am booked on AF007, the A380 service leaving JFK at 7.10 pm to Paris. When I reserved this flight in more optimistic times months earlier, I envisaged squeezing in another roundtrip domestic flight on the day of my departure. (After all, I am packed and flying already right?) So, I am also holding another ticket for today – a miles redemption day return LGA-DTW-LGA, mainly intended as my farewell to both NW and its DC9s.

Alas, back to today’s reality: two items continue to top the news – the Christmas Day bombing attempt over Detroit causing security delays at airports, and the atrocious weather conditions in the Midwest and central U.S. Both are clear warnings signs I should stay well clear. However optimistic I intend to be, there’s no way today will turn into anything other than an unmitigated disaster if I try to keep to my original plan. So, reluctantly, I forego the domestic DC9s, my miles well and truly burned.

So I am early for my flight, arriving at Terminal One six hours ahead of my transatlantic flight (and finding AF007 slightly delayed to 7.45 pm). I also do something I never thought I’d ever do: attempt to switch from the A380 to an earlier AF departure – there’s essentially only one: flight 023 departing at 4.50 pm. The ground agent says my ticket isn’t changeable, but as AF007 is late – which means there’s a good chance I might miss my LHR connection – he’s allowing it.

There’s a short queue for check-in even though it’s a full flight on AF023 this evening. Maybe because it’s still early in the day for transatlantic flights, queues for security checks are also relatively painless. I wonder if the novelty of flying the A380 is starting to wear off: I am actually comforted by the smoother departure process and thought that I am on a smaller plane with far fewer passengers. I’m even glad it’s the more common B772ER rather than a B77W because it’s less of a crowd. This is getting worrying: why am I harboring such scandalously conventional thoughts?!  indifferent 

Anyway, here’s some spotting pics:





An Alitalia B763 EI-CRM just docks in to the stand after a flight from Rome while parked across on the other side is a Lufthansa’s D-AIHU that’ll later be operating LH411 to Munich. LH operates a diverse fleet of B744s, A346s and A333s into JFK.






Air China’s B744 B-2443 is in the final stages of boarding as CA982 to Beijing when I take this photo. Drama of sorts when a couple of late passengers are given the most public of dressing downs at the gate in loud Mandarin: “Who do think you are? Everyone is waiting for you. You are holding them up!” Makes you feel like you’re in the People’s Republic already  Wink







A Turkish B77W is towed into the gate after the engines are cut (a cumbersome process I’ve only experienced at U.S. airports) after completing a flight from Istanbul. TC-JJB “Marmara” started life as Jet Airways’ VT-JEF and is on lease to TK.

An Austrian B763ER OE-LAY operates OS87 just arrived from Vienna this afternoon. This machine seems to have recently been painted in OS house colors – as late as October 11, A.net photos database are still showing her wearing the Star Alliance livery. Previous to that, she was in Lauda Air colors. The winglets on a B763 look huge and very impressive!







F-GSPM, a recently reconfigured 4-class B777-228ER, operates my overnight AF023 flight to Paris. Among the most prominent changes is the addition of a fourth class – a premium economy cabin called Premium Voyageur – three rows of seats, configured 8-abreast. There are no changes to the first and business cabins, but more seats are squeezed into Voyageur economy. The previous 9-abreast (3-3-3) Y seating is now 10-abreast (3-4-3). I am not to know this until I am aboard (otherwise I may not have switched flights!) Still, it wasn’t as bad as I feared. On settling down, it’s the legroom that I notice first: it is noticeably more generous than on the A380. Feels almost 34 inches, but I can’t be sure. Yes, the aisles and seats are narrower, but not uncomfortably so that it makes you moan. AVOD is fitted new (I think) but the PTVs are a tad smaller than on the A380. All in all, I have a more comfortable flight on a 10-abreast B772 than on the upper deck of an A380 mainly due to the generous pitch. Strange, but true.







Here’s the seat map of this new B772 configuration displayed at CDG. I don’t think you can find it on the AF website yet! The machine probably does a shuttle between CDG and JFK at the moment, because on arrival at CDG, it is immediately prepared to operate AF022, the first of AF’s four dailies to JFK.

The main building at Terminal 2E is an impressive one. But like most of the other massive architecturally interesting airports around the world, the designers have forgotten about the spotter. It is not totally bad but could do much better. Here’s a peep at F-GSPM in pre-dawn CDG.






Quoting Econojetter (Reply 11):
Was there a flight information screen with details: flight number, names of flight crew and inflight purser, aircraft type, number of passengers etc.?

The short answer is yes, except the info on U.S. departures appear to be limited to the seat map. Here’s a later departure to Hong Kong from the gate I arrived at. Amazing that all this info is put up for a flight departing at 11.30 pm tonight – it’s barely 7 am now! Notice they’re still calling Economy Tempo class, but otherwise excellent info. I can think of a few other things they can add, like the aircraft registration.









My uneventful onward flight to LHR is on an A321 (F-GTAH), which departs a little late due to a delay in the incoming. It’s wet and rainy in London. In December? Surprise, surprise.  Wink






User currently offlineEconojetter From Malaysia, joined May 2001, 430 posts, RR: 5
Reply 21, posted (4 years 11 months 3 weeks 4 days 8 hours ago) and read 28874 times:



Quoting Airpearl (Reply 20):
However optimistic I intend to be, there’s no way today will turn into anything other than an unmitigated disaster if I try to keep to my original plan. So, reluctantly, I forego the domestic DC9s, my miles well and truly burned.

So sad. And you didn't get to say farewell to NW.  Sad
Not entirely unexpected but, still, sad to have to let it go.

Quoting Airpearl (Reply 20):
I also do something I never thought I’d ever do: attempt to switch from the A380 to an earlier AF departure – there’s essentially only one: flight 023 departing at 4.50 pm.

Now that I did not see coming!

Quoting Airpearl (Reply 20):
I’m even glad it’s the more common B772ER rather than a B77W because it’s less of a crowd. This is getting worrying: why am I harboring such scandalously conventional thoughts?! indifferent

Jumbo jet fatigue... I can understand it though. It usually happens when one has flown a few international flights in relatively short amount of time. 100 more passengers at boarding, disembarkation, immigration and baggage claim can translate into quite a lot more waiting.

Quoting Airpearl (Reply 20):
Drama of sorts when a couple of late passengers are given the most public of dressing downs at the gate in loud Mandarin: “Who do think you are? Everyone is waiting for you. You are holding them up!”

LOL. I can totally see that happening.

Quoting Airpearl (Reply 20):
The winglets on a B763 look huge and very impressive!

Massive! The OS livery is among the prettiest in the sky imho.

Quoting Airpearl (Reply 20):
Still, it wasn’t as bad as I feared. On settling down, it’s the legroom that I notice first: it is noticeably more generous than on the A380. Feels almost 34 inches, but I can’t be sure. Yes, the aisles and seats are narrower, but not uncomfortably so that it makes you moan.

Good to hear. No knee shots to give us some idea of the legroom?  Sad  Wink

Quoting Airpearl (Reply 20):
The main building at Terminal 2E is an impressive one. But like most of the other massive architecturally interesting airports around the world, the designers have forgotten about the spotter.

Beautiful indeed. Yes, pity about the lack of views.

http://i149.photobucket.com/albums/s43/airpearl2007/AFD14.jpg
Thanks for locating and photographing these flight info displays.
French, English, Allemand (!), Spanish... lol the translator fell asleep.

Thanks for the additional report. It sure answers many of the questions I had.


User currently offlineAkhmad From Netherlands, joined Sep 2005, 2500 posts, RR: 53
Reply 22, posted (4 years 11 months 3 weeks 4 days 7 hours ago) and read 28769 times:

Hi again Airpearl,

Nice follow up to your A380 report. It is interesting to learn the B772ER cabin experience in comparison with those of A380. How about the service of the cabin attendants of the Boeing?

Quoting Airpearl (Reply 19):
Do you have some interesting long hauls lined up for this year?

As the matter of fact I do. My partner and I are bound for Indonesia this summer.  wink 

Cheers,
Suryo



Friends forever
User currently offlineGoldorak From France, joined Sep 2006, 1872 posts, RR: 4
Reply 23, posted (4 years 11 months 3 weeks 4 days 5 hours ago) and read 28659 times:

Thank you very much Airpearl for this excellent TR and I wish you all the best for 2010 ! This is great to have many TR about AF A380 now and obviously you flew on a very special day  Sad

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
As you well know, it hadn’t been the smoothest of introductions into service with a number of flights delayed or cancelled for technical reasons. My heart is beating faster for sure, but I am also feeling great relief too that today’s flight hadn’t been substituted with a B77W.

I know exactly what you mean...I was so anxious before my own AF006 flight on dec 19 after 2 consecutive days with last-minute replacement by a 77W  fever   worried 

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
There’s no banner for First Class but then, there’s no need for it Wink (A very nice double-barrel Christmas trip report by A.net user Goldorak shows just how lavish the service is at the very front of the plane – I am envious!)

Thank you very much for citing me  Wink

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
Notice the rather unusual storage compartment under the PTV.

After many investigations  Smile , I can give you the answer : it's very usefurl for glasses and/or pen

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
Trust ADP to come up with interesting (aesthetically and functionality-wise) constructions. I remember that 2C featured (still does?) passenger bridges that slide up and down between the departure and arrival levels.

Yes, it still exists

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
La Premiere looks delicious!

Absolutely, I confirm !  Big grin  bouncy 

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
I also do something I never thought I’d ever do: attempt to switch from the A380 to an earlier AF departure

WHAATTT !  crazy  Of course, I'm joking (as you were connecting in CDG, it was important to ensure your connection)  Wink

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
A Turkish B77W is towed into the gate after the engines are cut (a cumbersome process I’ve only experienced at U.S. airports) after completing a flight from Istanbul.

Interesting ! As you read in my own TR (part 1), I had the same on the A380 arriving in JFK. I never had that before at JFK on AF at Term 1, so I thought it was special for the A380. But obviously not. Or may be it's only for certain gates that are harder to acess ? It would be interesting to have some info of JFK experts on this forum

Again, thank you for sharing this with us  wave 


User currently offlineCgnnrw From Germany, joined May 2005, 1171 posts, RR: 2
Reply 24, posted (4 years 11 months 3 weeks 4 days 3 hours ago) and read 28569 times:

Execllent TR. I've been a fan of AF for many years. AF is one of the airlines a.netters "love" to hate. I've never been let down by AF and almost all my flights are in econ. One thing I noticed on my last AF flight this past summer was they replaced metal cutlery with plastic. It was the little things like this and amenity kits, menus and free alcohol that makes AF stand out from the every single US carrier.

The extra security you were subjected to was a complete joke as well as not allowing the airshow to be shown. But these are topics for other forums.

Your report really fuels my desire to book AF 006 to JFK next time I fly to the US even if NY isn't my final destination.

Again, thanks for thre great report and pics.



A330 man.
25 LH748i : Hi, thanks for sharing. I can't wait to ride an 380... (am booked in april this year on SQ). I enjoyed your detailed "pre-flight-report"^^. I had the
26 Airpearl : Ah, so that's the name for the illness. You'll be glad to hear I am recovering well. Started checking online bookings again... haha The huge winglets
27 Ronerone : WoW! ... What an adventure! Congratulations on successfuly managing to compile such a great TR amidst all the TSA madness! .. If i was in your place,
28 LH748i : As you seem to be familiar with SQ, I do have a couple of questions. 1) on the 380: I reserved seats 74K (upper deck) and 48A (main deck). Do you by
29 Ryanair!!! : You are a very visual person, aren't you? Time to hush those nips back into place, it is waaaaaay to perky for this wet season. Bangkok specials...?
30 Ronerone : Why are the threads cluttered with porn-induced discussions lately? First a striptease, then endowments, and now pulling pants down
31 Post contains images Airpearl : Hi Roni, you are absolutely right. Sentiment changed so dramatically that if I was to be given the option at CDG to go back to London, I would have s
32 LH748i : oh, sorry, I actually meant the 77Ws. I am on the SYD - LHR via SIN on two different 77Ws... I guess your pictures helped me for the 380. And I will
33 PlaneHunter : Hi Airpearl, what to say? Absolutely stunning report with excellent pictures, kept me entertained for a long time! I really got a good impression of t
34 Airpearl : Hey PH, good to hear from you and thanks for your nice words Haha, of course I did! Yours was the pivotal report for AF actually - before that, most T
35 PlaneHunter : Thanks! No, it's not too late. I wish you the same! I still have to post reports about two trips in October and November 2009 - the first part will b
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