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SkyTeam To Europe: AF ORD-CDG-ARN (Pics)  
User currently offlineIrishAyes From United States of America, joined Jan 2008, 2242 posts, RR: 15
Posted (2 years 10 months 2 weeks 2 days 13 hours ago) and read 11941 times:

Overview

Last summer, I had the opportunity to travel to Europe to reunite with some buddies from college. We had all studied/lived abroad previously in Santiago, Chile for a semester. One of them, originally from London, was living in Stockholm at the time and invited us to travel around Europe as a group. Since we are all spread out now, living in Atlanta, Boston, New York, and with myself in Chicago - we thought it was a fantastic idea to take our group travels to a different continent.

So, I began planning my itinerary to Europe. Our intention was to team up in Stockholm, make our way down to Andalusia, on the Southern Coast of Spain, then work our way up to London before flying back to the States. As such, I began searching for the ideal itinerary to fly from Chicago into ARN, and return from LHR. Our inter-European hops were done via ARN to Malaga on Norwegian, then from Malaga to London-Gatick on EasyJet.

When it came down to it, my options varied between flying Air France/KLM, via Paris on the outbound and Amsterdam on the return, or flying with Star Alliance: LH to DUS, SK to ARN, and return AC to UA back to ORD.

Well, even though I've switched to Star Alliance primarily, I bit the bullet and said what the heck, let me fly some new airlines for a change. So, I booked the AF/KLM itinerary on Delta.com and waited for the departure date on August 2nd.

This flight covers the outbound journey on Air France; to read about the return trip on KLM, you click here.

Arrival at Airport:

Departure day arrived and I stepped into Terminal 5 at O'Hare, nearly five years after having the opportunity to fly Int'l from T5 on my Air India flights in 2006. I must say, that in spite of the diversity of foreign flag carriers serving ORD, and the clean non-sterile corridor where the check-in counters are located, T5 is highly underwhelming. As a Texan native from Dallas, if only ORD had an International terminal just like Terminal D at DFW...but that is neither here nor there  http://i1169.photobucket.com/albums/r517/Aviation_D/IMG_1748.jpg

At the time, KLM and AF had two separate check-in counters at ORD, but they appeared to be the exact same - albeit are separated by a few other airlines in between. This led to much confusion for passengers checking-in, including myself - because they were not reciprocal...you have to look for a smaller sign at the entrance of the check-ins to see "Check in here for KLM-operated flights," etc. Because the AF and KLM flights left within an hour of each other, there was a decent overlap to the point where several people had to step out of line after realizing they were in the wrong check-in area!

**Note: This has since been re-corrected as Delta has temporarily taken over the AF flight, and check-in for both the Paris and Amsterdam flights have been consolidated into one check-in counter. COPA now has spankin’ new real estate space at T5 at ORD!**

At any rate, check-in was very quick - perhaps because I checked in slightly later than most other passengers? I also enjoyed seeing the new counters for the Cathay Pacific flight to Hong Kong, all ready to go  http://i1169.photobucket.com/albums/r517/Aviation_D/IMG_1749.jpg

Again, the sub-par diversions of T5 at ORD reminded me that there are no concession stands on the sterile side of T5, so I sat down and filled up on some grub before moving through security - all fairly painless, standard procedure. Afterwards, I walked around the Terminal to see all the various international flights. Seemed like the lineup for the evening included EI to DUB, BA to LHR, SK to ARN (heh, too bad it was out of my budget to take this one nonstop) KL to AMS, VS to LHR, LX to ZRH, AF to CDG, EY to AUH, RJ to AMM, TK to IST, etc.

I remembered that I had to buy some duty free at ORD to give my friend as a gift in ARN; besides, after hearing about the liquor prices in Scandinavia I figured why not take advantage. However, much to my surprise, I found out that I was cut-off since it was less than an hour till my flight to Paris was boarding - apparently, EU Duty Free laws require you to make purchases at least an hour before your boarding time if you are transiting to another EU country? Bizarre. I alerted my friend in ATL, who was taking KL via AMS, so that I could reimburse him later.

Journey:

Date: Tuesday, August 2, 2011
Flight: Air France 667
Depart: Chicago O’Hare Int’l (ORD) 17:10
Arrive: Paris Charles DeGaulle (CDG) 8:20 +1
EQP: Airbus A340-300

Boarding was very swift and efficient. I was one of the last to board and I walked to row 42, window side of the aircraft. The AF Y cabin is very blue, 2-4-2 seating configuration, equipped with AVOD PTVs, albeit the monitors were slightly older on this Airbus 340-300. I was lucky to have an empty seat near me.
http://i1169.photobucket.com/albums/r517/Aviation_D/IMG_1750.jpg
The seats alternate as such, and this guy seemed set for the journey!

Pushback, taxi and takeoff were uneventful and punctual. I had some stunning views of the Chicago skyline and Lake Michigan as we flew north of the city and immediately turned north-ward to fly over Lake Michigan onto the state of Michigan, over Detroit, Toronto, then Montreal and over the St. Lawrence river.

http://i1169.photobucket.com/albums/r517/Aviation_D/IMG_1752.jpg

http://i1169.photobucket.com/albums/r517/Aviation_D/IMG_1753.jpg

http://i1169.photobucket.com/albums/r517/Aviation_D/IMG_1754.jpg

Per usual just like any aviation nut, I took advantage of the PTV on the empty seat adjacent to me to display the moving map continuously throughout the flight so I could steal glances periodically. I took note that Air France alternates between showing a topographical map and an actual satellite view of what is below! I found that to be so cool - as we floated over Toronto, for example, it showed a satellite image of Mississauga and Toronto City Centre. Granted - the quality of the monitor was slightly outdated, but I still found it tolerable, quick, and easy to navigate.

http://i1169.photobucket.com/albums/r517/Aviation_D/IMG_1757.jpg
http://i1169.photobucket.com/albums/r517/Aviation_D/IMG_1764.jpg

Soon after take-off, flight attendants came around with a miniature amenity kit for passengers to use throughout the flight - I thought this was a great touch. It included ear plugs, eye shades, headsets, and a towelette. In addition, we received the menu cards for the first meal service of the flight, as well as the beverage selections.

http://i1169.photobucket.com/albums/r517/Aviation_D/IMG_1758.jpg

As my PTV booted up and I tuned it to watch some of my favorite TV shows, I browsed the menu and decided to try out some of Air France's aperitifs, where else can you get free champagne in coach these days? I enjoyed my bubbly with some almonds and watched the sun set as we cruised over Canada, relaxing and enjoying myself at 37,000 feet.

Around 2 hours into the flight, the air hostesses began distributing the first rounds of special meal orders, indicating dinner was on its way. Interestingly, we had some horrendous turbulence at this point whilst flying over Nova Scotia, and on not just one, but several occasions during the meal service distributions, the captain had to come onto the PA system and mandate that the crew and all passengers take their seats. We had one shrilly FA who seemed to be demonized by the turbulence - literally would run down the aisle with her hands above her head as though the apocalypse was near!

http://i1169.photobucket.com/albums/r517/Aviation_D/IMG_1762.jpg

http://i1169.photobucket.com/albums/r517/Aviation_D/IMG_1770.jpg

Anyways, fast forward a bit, and I was inspecting my selection of Beef with wild mushrooms and mash, which I had obviously chosen over the Penne. Alongside it was and Orzo salad as a starter, tapioca pudding as an entremet (French for “between meals”) strawberry lemon cake, cheese, ciabatta and some red wine. How French I felt at that moment!

http://i1169.photobucket.com/albums/r517/Aviation_D/IMG_1759.jpg

http://i1169.photobucket.com/albums/r517/Aviation_D/IMG_1760.jpg

I must say that the Orzo salad was one of the best dishes I have ever had on an airplane, complimented with raisins, spice, chicken, and carrots. The beef and mash were tasty enough, nothing too far removed from what I probably would have received on Lufthansa or any other standard coach meal on a major European carrier. However, it was a wee bit oily and salty for my liking. Nevertheless, I tucked in. All of the other items on the tray hit the spot and left me feeling reasonably satisfied and full. No need for tinkering here, unless AF feels the need to upgrade its Y meals (always welcome even in times like these).

http://i1169.photobucket.com/albums/r517/Aviation_D/IMG_1772.jpg

http://i1169.photobucket.com/albums/r517/Aviation_D/IMG_1773.jpg

Crew service was relatively average. Nothing over-the-top, but certainly met the standards. The cabin crew were all unmistakably French citizens. Another round of coffee/tea/drinks were available post-meal service, along with beverage runs (mostly just water) throughout the duration of the flight. Again, perfectly suitable for a medium haul segment in coach class. I suppose Air France is strict on allowing the booze to flow freely unless one specifically requested it.

The film selection on this flight was very adequate and had something for everybody. Air France did a great job picking out an ample blend of French and American films to keep many different tastes satisfied. I finished a film after dinner service and attempted to just get some rest/shut eye, even though I knew that was ambitious. I have to be VERY tired or VERY comfortable in order to sleep on a flight; plus, a flight that leaves at 5 PM local time and lasts a bit over 8 hours isn't necessarily going to fall primarily within my standard sleeping window. At any rate, I think I got what I would qualify as a "light nap/doze" for roughly an hour towards the tail end of the flight. During such time, I sampled the Audio selections on Air France - again, there were some great options in there that kept me a happy camper.

I would say the seat on the A340 is comfortable enough. Although the aircraft itself was not very clean. I recall seeing more crumbs and elements of leftover garbage on this plane, moreso than I would have liked to see. The seat pitch of 32 is great for my height, but then again, having an empty seat next to me makes a world of difference on a longer haul flight.

Around 3 hours or so remaining in the flight time, I switched on another film and sort of just stared blankly and allowed time to pass by. With around an hour or so left in the flight, the cabin crew turned on the lights and began distributing the pre-arrival meal service, as well as immigration forms. For a relatively short flight, I did not expect much more than a small snack/light meal, and per usual the tiny tray contained drinkable yogurt, a cold muffin, and a dixie-cup size of orange juice. I got some coffee as well, seeing that i would need to be awake and alert for the next three hours navigating my way through Charles De Gaulle as a first-timer.

http://i1169.photobucket.com/albums/r517/Aviation_D/IMG_1776.jpg

http://i1169.photobucket.com/albums/r517/Aviation_D/IMG_1777.jpg

http://i1169.photobucket.com/albums/r517/Aviation_D/IMG_1778.jpg

The upside to transatlantic flights that fall within the 6-8 hour range is that they pass by relatively quickly; the downside is that you often get jipped out of a second meal in Y. Knowing that I had a few hours of travel ahead of me, this only meant I’d have to shell out for an overpriced snack at De Gaulle. Oh well.

Other than that, not much else left to report other than some shots I took during the landing. Even though I have been to Paris before, I have not flown into CDG ever, and failed to remember beforehand how far from the city the airport is. We flew over Paris on a less-than-desirable rainy day, and sort of meandered throughout various holding patterns over the French countryside before we became visibly near Charles De Gaulle and made our landing. To no surprise, the Airbus 340 landing was shaky and course as it always feels like on an Airbus, and we taxied around until we arrived at terminal 2F.

http://i1169.photobucket.com/albums/r517/Aviation_D/IMG_1782.jpg

http://i1169.photobucket.com/albums/r517/Aviation_D/IMG_1783.jpg

http://i1169.photobucket.com/albums/r517/Aviation_D/IMG_1785.jpg

Connection at CDG

Now, I had retrieved some transfer information cards on board the aircraft, but I nevertheless braced myself for my CDG adventure ahead. After disembarking the aircraft, I entered into the terminal and made my way down to the lower level, beneath the gate, to take the transfer shuttle bus to Terminal 2D. The ugly weather remained outside at CDG, but hey, it's Paris, what can you expect? I did find it cool to be able to transfer underneath the Airbus we had rode in on.

Regardless, this was a really unattractive and unappealing way to transfer, in my opinion. The bus sort of whittles you through all of the ground ops at CDG which, while cool to see from an operations perspective, isn't really all that fun to see when you're on a layover. Or maybe I was just exhausted and apathetic at that point? When I arrived at 2D, I entered passport control to get the stamp and proceeded through the convoluted terminal setup to board my Schegen flight to Stockholm.

The interior design of CDG is pretty nightmarish. Immigration almost felt like I was going through a maze. Quite possibly one of the most confusing set-ups I have ever experienced. I can imagine how horrendous a tight connection would be at this airport, but fortunately, I had 3 hours. When you get to the departures level, the spacing is wide open, but you also feel somewhat suffocated and claustrophobic since you more or less cannot walk around ANYWHERE! It is so quarantined, not to mention it seems like AF just dumps all of the EU pax into a single area with 15 gates, 30 flights leaving all at once, and you have to fight for your own space. I paid $18 USD for a bottled water, a quiche and a small yogurt to hold me over until I boarded my flight to Stockholm. Might as well get into the habit of “letting it bleed” with the wallet since I was headed to Scandinavia.

http://i1169.photobucket.com/albums/r517/Aviation_D/IMG_1788.jpg

Let's just say I didn't care for CDG all that much after that. Granted, the actual transit experience wasn't so horrendous as I had heard before, but the airport itself left too much to be desired to categorize it into the "I dig it" department. Perhaps it was the weather, or the fact that I felt tired, but I just found the overall ambience of Charles De Gaulle to be quasi mood-depressing. I felt like I was on the drones of some downtown Public Library or a Museum whose interiors hadn’t been updated since the 1980’s. I was lucky that my wait at the gate lasted a mere 30-45 minutes before my flight to ARN boarded. By now, it was about 4 or 5 am Chicago time, and my fuel was running low.

Outbound sector: Conclusion

Our A319 flight to ARN boarded and pushed pack on time. After having the luxury of an empty seat next to me on an 8-hr widebody on the Chicago-Paris flight, I was spoiled and put to the test as I sat next to some skinny dude who smelled like he hadn't showered in weeks, and wore a blazer that screamed chainsmoker. Yikes. At any rate, soon after take-off, I was dozing in and out all the way to Stockholm. I did wake to collect my "ham sandwich" meal which was hard and unappetizing. Hit the veto button, this meal was free and horrendous for all the same reasons. Two bites and I left it, opting for sleep instead.

http://i1169.photobucket.com/albums/r517/Aviation_D/IMG_1790.jpg

We descended and landed into sunny Stockholm and I was greeted by my friends at the baggage belt. My initial views of ARN were that it was a very quaint, IKEA-esque airport haha. I was too tired to notice. We then boarded the Arlanda express and were in the city within 20 mins. And the Eurotrip began!!!

Photos from the journey

http://i1169.photobucket.com/albums/r517/Aviation_D/Europe/294118_919635515947_5618742_42918856_5013501_n.jpg
Stockholm


Vaxholm

http://i1169.photobucket.com/albums/r517/Aviation_D/Europe/IMG_1824.jpg
Vaxholm


Vaxholm

http://i1169.photobucket.com/albums/r517/Aviation_D/Europe/IMG_1859.jpg
JumboHostel outside ARN

http://i1169.photobucket.com/albums/r517/Aviation_D/IMG_1860.jpg
DY 4223 from ARN to AGP

http://i1169.photobucket.com/albums/r517/Aviation_D/IMG_1871.jpg
DY lifting off from ARN

http://i1169.photobucket.com/albums/r517/Aviation_D/IMG_1874.jpg
ARN from the air

http://i1169.photobucket.com/albums/r517/Aviation_D/IMG_1876.jpg
Approaching Andalucia, one of my favorite regions in the world

http://i1169.photobucket.com/albums/r517/Aviation_D/IMG_1881.jpg
landing in AGP

http://i1169.photobucket.com/albums/r517/Aviation_D/Europe/228889_919650316287_5618742_42919030_6775786_n.jpg
Puerto Banus

http://i1169.photobucket.com/albums/r517/Aviation_D/Europe/297493_919650271377_5618742_42919029_5336871_n.jpg
My friends in Puerto Banus

http://i1169.photobucket.com/albums/r517/Aviation_D/Europe/296512_919650341237_5618742_42919031_4091985_n.jpg
Our perfected Sangria

http://i1169.photobucket.com/albums/r517/Aviation_D/Europe/IMG_2019.jpg
[i]Granada

http://i1169.photobucket.com/albums/r517/Aviation_D/Europe/301866_921609994077_5618742_42950244_6896754_n.jpg
La Alhambra

http://i1169.photobucket.com/albums/r517/Aviation_D/Europe/302809_921613526997_5618742_42950313_3182589_n.jpg
Gatas

http://i1169.photobucket.com/albums/r517/Aviation_D/Europe/293662_919649981957_5618742_42919022_664925_n.jpg
Sevilla

http://i1169.photobucket.com/albums/r517/Aviation_D/IMG_2049.jpg
Onboard EasyJet 8616 from AGP to LGW. You can see Madrid at night here

http://i1169.photobucket.com/albums/r517/Aviation_D/IMG_2051.jpg
Barajas lit up at night  http://i1169.photobucket.com/albums/r517/Aviation_D/Europe/IMG_2120.jpg
London

http://i1169.photobucket.com/albums/r517/Aviation_D/Europe/IMG_2141.jpg
Icebar London

[Edited 2012-02-13 21:59:23]


next flights: jfk-icn, icn-hkg-bkk-cdg, cdg-phl-msp
13 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlinelychemsa From United States of America, joined Oct 2009, 1274 posts, RR: 3
Reply 1, posted (2 years 10 months 2 weeks 1 day 19 hours ago) and read 11000 times:

Can't see the pictures.

User currently offlineIrishAyes From United States of America, joined Jan 2008, 2242 posts, RR: 15
Reply 2, posted (2 years 10 months 2 weeks 1 day 15 hours ago) and read 10672 times:

Quoting lychemsa (Reply 1):

Can't see the pictures.

You should be able to now. If you're still having issues, refresh your browser.

Thanks!



next flights: jfk-icn, icn-hkg-bkk-cdg, cdg-phl-msp
User currently offlineabrelosojos From Venezuela, joined May 2005, 5130 posts, RR: 55
Reply 3, posted (2 years 10 months 2 weeks 1 day 14 hours ago) and read 10580 times:

Cool report - thanks for sharing it with us - especially your pictures of sun  . I am glad you survived AF - the appetizer does indeed look very good!

Quoting IrishAyes (Thread starter):

Let's just say I didn't care for CDG all that much after that. Granted, the actual transit experience wasn't so horrendous as I had heard before, but the airport itself left too much to be desired to categorize it into the "I dig it" department. Perhaps it was the weather, or the fact that I felt tired, but I just found the overall ambience of Charles De Gaulle to be quasi mood-depressing. I felt like I was on the drones of some downtown Public Library or a Museum whose interiors hadn’t been updated since the 1980’s.

= A bad experience @ CDG. Shocking, I must say  

Saludos,
A.



Live, and let live.
User currently offlinedc9northwest From Switzerland, joined Feb 2007, 2302 posts, RR: 7
Reply 4, posted (2 years 10 months 2 weeks 1 day 12 hours ago) and read 10442 times:

Hi there IrishAyes,

Quoting IrishAyes (Thread starter):
Again, the sub-par diversions of T5 at ORD reminded me that there are no concession stands on the sterile side of T5, so I sat down and filled up on some grub before moving through security - all fairly painless, standard procedure.

T5 is a horrible terminal. I hear they're trying to move some of the restaurants airside though.... Should make it a bit more bearable.

Quoting IrishAyes (Thread starter):
Boarding was very swift and efficient. I was one of the last to board and I walked to row 42, window side of the aircraft. The AF Y cabin is very blue, 2-4-2 seating configuration, equipped with AVOD PTVs, albeit the monitors were slightly older on this Airbus 340-300. I was lucky to have an empty seat near me.

Yes... I remember those PTVs from my A340 flight in 2001 or so. It seems the hardware itself hasn't changed much. As a 10 year old I really enjoyed playing that caveman game AF offers on its IFE.

But, AVOD, that's good to hear. Wasn't sure what if anything had changed in that department.

Quoting IrishAyes (Thread starter):
Anyways, fast forward a bit, and I was inspecting my selection of Beef with wild mushrooms and mash, which I had obviously chosen over the Penne. Alongside it was and Orzo salad as a starter, tapioca pudding as an entremet (French for “between meals”) strawberry lemon cake, cheese, ciabatta and some red wine. How French I felt at that moment!

Hmmm, now I know what I ate on the A380. You had the exact same meal--no wonder--but wine instead. It was a reasonable meal but below KL's weird meals in quality. The presentation isn't very good though.

Thanks for writing up your report!


User currently offlineIrishAyes From United States of America, joined Jan 2008, 2242 posts, RR: 15
Reply 5, posted (2 years 10 months 2 weeks 23 hours ago) and read 10091 times:

Quoting dc9northwest (Reply 4):
T5 is a horrible terminal. I hear they're trying to move some of the restaurants airside though.... Should make it a bit more bearable.

It really is. By far an embarrassment to ORD. But, according to this link, they're (hopefully) going to make improvements

http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2...h-o-hare-s-terminal-o-hare-project

Quoting dc9northwest (Reply 4):
It seems the hardware itself hasn't changed much.

I should have elaborated more in the actual TR....the interface is a bit archaic, and certainly not AS user friendly nor elegant when compared to systems on other airlines, but I think it has more to do with the older interior of the AF A340 rather than the entire IFE that the airline uses. Much like the seats....the interiors and hardware on their newer 777s and A380 are far newer, more updated and superior to the legacy. Not sure about the A330, and I know that the AF 744s still use overhead monitors....woof.

Quoting dc9northwest (Reply 4):
It was a reasonable meal but below KL's weird meals in quality. The presentation isn't very good though.

Agreed. I have seen pictures of more presentable/cleaner looking meals on comparable TRs in Voyageur class.

However, I have a theory that the meal service is generally better in Y when flying on an outbound leg from the host country (i.e. when I have flown ex-Canada on AC, or ex-USA on Delta, the meal service was better than on the return, when I flew ex-Santiago on the way back to Toronto, or ex-Sao Paulo back to ATL). The quality suffers a bit from the foreign side.

Likewise, when I flew ex-USA on BA, the food wasn't as good as on the return from London. Wonder if that's the same with AF....like I said, the main meal was a bit American (greasy).

The one exception to this rule is LH, where all Y meals are just bad across the board. And are legit the stingiest portions.



next flights: jfk-icn, icn-hkg-bkk-cdg, cdg-phl-msp
User currently offlinedc9northwest From Switzerland, joined Feb 2007, 2302 posts, RR: 7
Reply 6, posted (2 years 10 months 1 week 6 days 23 hours ago) and read 9499 times:

Quoting IrishAyes (Reply 5):
However, I have a theory that the meal service is generally better in Y when flying on an outbound leg from the host country (i.e. when I have flown ex-Canada on AC, or ex-USA on Delta, the meal service was better than on the return, when I flew ex-Santiago on the way back to Toronto, or ex-Sao Paulo back to ATL). The quality suffers a bit from the foreign side.

That makes a lot of sense. You're probably right.

Quoting IrishAyes (Reply 5):
I should have elaborated more in the actual TR....the interface is a bit archaic, and certainly not AS user friendly nor elegant when compared to systems on other airlines, but I think it has more to do with the older interior of the AF A340 rather than the entire IFE that the airline uses. Much like the seats....the interiors and hardware on their newer 777s and A380 are far newer, more updated and superior to the legacy. Not sure about the A330, and I know that the AF 744s still use overhead monitors....woof.

Well, to be perfectly honest I have no intention of seeing AF's seats on the 777. I'll avoid those aircraft for as long as I can due to the seating arrangement. I'd rather fly on an older A340. An A380 isn't a choice to most destinations, of course.

The 744's are used on low-yield markets and will go away in a few years, I think. There might not be any PTVs until the end.

PS: I was reading your other thread too, but I'll comment here. I'm based in Chicago for 9 months a year and my status is with AF/KL which means also with DL in practice. I find them much better than UA and AA service-wise. Of course there's little advantage using DL if you want a non-stop flight to reduce time on the road.


User currently offlineIrishAyes From United States of America, joined Jan 2008, 2242 posts, RR: 15
Reply 7, posted (2 years 10 months 1 week 2 days 22 hours ago) and read 8755 times:

Quoting dc9northwest (Reply 6):
Well, to be perfectly honest I have no intention of seeing AF's seats on the 777. I'll avoid those aircraft for as long as I can due to the seating arrangement. I'd rather fly on an older A340. An A380 isn't a choice to most destinations, of course.

I have heard they are 10 abreast on the 77W, but what about the 772?

The older A340 was perfectly fine.

Quoting dc9northwest (Reply 6):
The 744's are used on low-yield markets and will go away in a few years, I think. There might not be any PTVs until the end.

I see. Makes sense. Funny how LH is implementing PTVs on their 744s and KL installed them on the MD-11 despite the fact that both of these airlines will retire those fleet types soon.

Quoting dc9northwest (Reply 6):
PS: I was reading your other thread too, but I'll comment here. I'm based in Chicago for 9 months a year and my status is with AF/KL which means also with DL in practice. I find them much better than UA and AA service-wise. Of course there's little advantage using DL if you want a non-stop flight to reduce time on the road.

Agreed. And flying on CRJs on Delta just to connect somewhere out of MSP, DTW and ATL isn't usually my idea of fun. Oh well!



next flights: jfk-icn, icn-hkg-bkk-cdg, cdg-phl-msp
User currently offlinenethkt From Thailand, joined Apr 2001, 1093 posts, RR: 3
Reply 8, posted (2 years 10 months 5 days 8 hours ago) and read 7850 times:

Kinda love the T5 @ ORD.
My first ever step on US soil was there 10 years ago! Damn...I'm old lol

Still love AF long-haul meal tray presentation. Love the full tray, the pre-packaged water, champagne.
Asian carriers' standard.

Always love to rush and adrenaline making connections at hyper large airport. Never a problem to me really.

Your Europe trip seemed fun! How wild did you go? lol

Many thanks for sharing!!



Let's just blame it on yields.
User currently offlineLH4116 From Sweden, joined Aug 2007, 1715 posts, RR: 18
Reply 9, posted (2 years 10 months 5 days 7 hours ago) and read 7814 times:

Hi there, great report. Really enjoyed reading!

Quoting IrishAyes (Thread starter):
When it came down to it, my options varied between flying Air France/KLM, via Paris on the outbound and Amsterdam on the return, or flying with Star Alliance: LH to DUS, SK to ARN, and return AC to UA back to ORD.

Hmm, you could otherwise just have picked the non-stop flight with SAS. Fares ex US are pretty cheap, and you can apply for the option town upgrades which is really nice. Since it's summer the chance of scoring the seat up front is pretty big, given the lack of Business traffic, and high leisure loads clogging up the Y cabin.

Quoting IrishAyes (Thread starter):
I was lucky to have an empty seat near me.

Wow, now that must really have made a huge difference, wish I could've had that last time I flew long haul Y.

Quoting IrishAyes (Thread starter):
No need for tinkering here, unless AF feels the need to upgrade its Y meals (always welcome even in times like these).

The AF meals are really the best in the industry, and the fact that they offer cappuccino is great too. Any info on what spirits were on offer after the meal?

Quoting IrishAyes (Thread starter):
Again, perfectly suitable for a medium haul segment in coach class.

LOL, you call a transatlantic hop from Chicago a medium haul!? A transcon maybe, but not an 8 hour flight  
Quoting IrishAyes (Thread starter):
I did wake to collect my "ham sandwich" meal which was hard and unappetizing.

Interesting, so they serve different meals on different times of the day. I flew them at the same time on the same route, and on the outbound flight we were served a breakfast tray, and on the return flight departing in the evening we received a cold meal tray. Seems like the flights that don't operate on meal hours just get a sandwich, at least I hope that's the case. Would be a shame if they cut the proper meals in Y.
Quoting IrishAyes (Thread starter):
And the Eurotrip began!!!

Well not that Sweden is much of Europe anyway  Wink But it really looked like you had a great time. Stockholm is really beautiful in the summers, especially Vaxholm, love that place. I always enjoy taking those evening strolls down the streets of Södermalm on a summer evening, when it's all empty.

//Jonas

[Edited 2012-02-25 03:32:06]


SAS Plus is Business Class made faux!
User currently offlinePlaneHunter From Germany, joined Mar 2006, 6944 posts, RR: 77
Reply 10, posted (2 years 10 months 5 days 6 hours ago) and read 7776 times:

Nice report with good pictures! AF's long-haul product belongs to the best ones among European carriers.

Quoting LH4116 (Reply 9):
The AF meals are really the best in the industry, and the fact that they offer cappuccino is great too.

AF meals are fine in general, but they're not the best in the industry. The catering on EK, SQ, WY and some others is better.


PH



Nothing's worse than flying the same reg twice!
User currently offlinejreuschl From United States of America, joined Jul 2009, 552 posts, RR: 0
Reply 11, posted (2 years 10 months 5 days ago) and read 7602 times:

I was just on TK IST-ORD, I think that was an impressive meal in Y, and really good flavor. (On ORD-IST the 2nd meal was an omelette, first same. There was a 2nd choice for the first meal, too)

First meal:



Second meal:



(I know, I should have done a trip report  Smile )

[Edited 2012-02-25 10:27:05]

User currently offlinegabrielchew From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2005, 3372 posts, RR: 12
Reply 12, posted (2 years 10 months 5 days ago) and read 7555 times:

Nice report - good to see you enjoyed your flights on AF

Quoting IrishAyes (Thread starter):
However, much to my surprise, I found out that I was cut-off since it was less than an hour till my flight to Paris was boarding - apparently, EU Duty Free laws require you to make purchases at least an hour before your boarding time if you are transiting to another EU country? Bizarre. I alerted my friend in ATL, who was taking KL via AMS, so that I could reimburse him later.

How odd - never heard this rule before.

Quoting IrishAyes (Thread starter):
I paid $18 USD for a bottled water, a quiche and a small yogurt to hold me over until I boarded my flight to Stockholm. Might as well get into the habit of “letting it bleed” with the wallet since I was headed to Scandinavia.

Ouch, that's expensive, but like you so, excellent preparation for Sweden!



http://my.flightmemory.com/shefgab Upcoming flights:LCY-ARN-AMS-LGW,STN-OTP-AMS-YUL,YQB-JFK-LAX-DUS-STN,LGW-DXB-BKK-HKG-
User currently offlineIrishAyes From United States of America, joined Jan 2008, 2242 posts, RR: 15
Reply 13, posted (2 years 10 months 4 days 22 hours ago) and read 7490 times:

Thanks for all of the comments/feedback!

Quoting nethkt (Reply 8):

Kinda love the T5 @ ORD.
My first ever step on US soil was there 10 years ago! Damn...I'm old lol

Haha. It's not a bad terminal by any means, it is clean and at least there are some exciting sights to be seen. However, it's not a very enjoyable terminal to inhabit, because there really isn't much to do. Huge dearth of shopping, dining, and entertainment options.

Then again, who knows what the logic is behind this. Chicago has a very high O&D component when it comes to the international flights, so perhaps there really isn't a need for tons of diversions given that people just want to appear, check-in, board their plane, come back and deplane, exit immigration, etc. as painlessly as possible without the frills. The connecting traffic through ORD usually passes through T1 or T3 going international.

Nevertheless, it's such a shame because Chicago is so culturally unique, and can really boast its brand by having a cool int'l terminal, just like what other gateway airports have done (i.e. SFO).

Quoting nethkt (Reply 8):
Always love to rush and adrenaline making connections at hyper large airport. Never a problem to me really.

Yeah.....but my body clock was off at that point. Even the most die-hard road warriors and aviation fanatics can reach their threshold at some point. A transition through CDG was enough for me!

Quoting nethkt (Reply 8):
Your Europe trip seemed fun! How wild did you go? lol

Lol, not as crazy as we did back in Chile, but we had a blast just being in each others' company.

Quoting LH4116 (Reply 9):
Hmm, you could otherwise just have picked the non-stop flight with SAS. Fares ex US are pretty cheap, and you can apply for the option town upgrades which is really nice. Since it's summer the chance of scoring the seat up front is pretty big, given the lack of Business traffic, and high leisure loads clogging up the Y cabin.

Ooops - maybe I failed to mention this in the TR.....so the SK option on the outbound, flying direct to ARN, was too expensive for me. That, or the routing that Star was forcing me on had a return from LHR on the 744 on UA direct to ORD, which I REFUSED to do given the lack of PTV in Y. I was able to fly a 744 on KLM in Y with much better service   - see the TR here: SkyTeam From Europe: LHR-AMS-ORD (Pics + Surprise (by IrishAyes Feb 13 2012 in Trip Reports)

Quoting LH4116 (Reply 9):
The AF meals are really the best in the industry, and the fact that they offer cappuccino is great too. Any info on what spirits were on offer after the meal?

Ehh, they were certainly better than average, but I wouldn't say they are the best.....

About the Spirits, ugh, this is where the crew complaint comes in. They really didn't go above or beyond in terms of marketing their product offerings. It was kind of just printed on the little card but not explained nor really offered. I also noticed the English speaking capabilities of our crew really were not all that phenomenal.

Then again, we had HORRENDOUS turbulence on this flight, so it could very well be the crew needed to remain seated for the majority of it. But, yes, an after dinner beverage would have been nice  
Quoting LH4116 (Reply 9):
LOL, you call a transatlantic hop from Chicago a medium haul!? A transcon maybe, but not an 8 hour flight  

Haha whoops. It was a pretty short flight though, didn't exceed 8 hours.....but I'll remember the lingo next time!

Quoting LH4116 (Reply 9):
Seems like the flights that don't operate on meal hours just get a sandwich, at least I hope that's the case. Would be a shame if they cut the proper meals in Y.

Interesting. Yeah, the sandwich was horrendous. Would have much rather had a proper meal and saved myself the fortune I spent in CDG on that snack.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 10):
Nice report with good pictures! AF's long-haul product belongs to the best ones among European carriers.

The product overall truly is excellent. Far superior to Lufthansa (no offense) in my opinion.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 10):
AF meals are fine in general, but they're not the best in the industry. The catering on EK, SQ, WY and some others is better.

Yeah, the pictures I've seen on TK, NZ, EK, EY, etc. all look way more appetizing. Not that the AF meal was bad, but it was VERY greasy. The KLM meal was delicious on the return, I'd say better than this one.

Quoting jreuschl (Reply 11):
(I know, I should have done a trip report   )

Lol you should have, but thanks for sharing the pics anyway!

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 12):
How odd - never heard this rule before.

Yeah, it was bizarre. But luckily I got the word across before we left!



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