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Ahhh...Paris: DUS-CDG-DUS On AF  
User currently offlineTriStar500 From Germany, joined Nov 1999, 4696 posts, RR: 42
Posted (11 years 8 months 3 weeks 2 days 18 hours ago) and read 4123 times:

About this trip
For the last four months, I was constantly occupied with three fairly extensive projects, which took up a lot of my time. Fortunately, all projects were finally completed by last Friday, and I can now look forward to enjoying the beautiful spring weather at least a bit.  Smile

Anyway, after all this work-related stress, I really needed to "reset" my mind back to idle and get rid of my bad mood. When I checked the websites a couple of weeks ago, AF offered really great weekend specials from DUS to CDG for just 96 Euro, so I didn't hesitate one second and booked a daytrip to my favorite city (Paris), on my favorite airline (Air France). Another 2000 miles closer to the free Concorde trip!  Big thumbs up

I didn't plan to prepare a trip report about these flights, since I have already covered my experiences on AF's DUS-CDG-DUS sector, but due to popular request  Big grin I have decided to write a couple of lines. Please excuse me if details are lacking this time around, because I did not take any notes.

Saturday, March 29th 2003

Dusseldorf (DUS) - Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG)

AF1307
Scheduled block time: 1100h - 1215h
Actual block time: 1107h - 1220h
Flight time: 1115h - 1205h

Airbus A320-211

F-GFKJ
c/n 063
delivered: Sepetember 1st, 1989


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Photo © Florian Kondziela



At the airport (DUS)
Due to a lengthy 15 minute delay of our notoriously not-so-punctual Deutsche Bahn (German Rail), I arrived at the airport train station just about ten past nine in the morning, and was pleasently surprised to see the people mover between train station and terminal work. Ever since this about 3 kilometers long link between the railway lines and the central terminal complex was officially opened in July last year, there have hardly been a few weeks when this technological piece of cr@p has worked flawlessly.


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Photo © Bernd Lawrenz



Upon arrival in the terminal a few minutes later, I was very suprised. how lively and crowded the place was during these times of war in Iraq. Seeing all those travellers, hurrying from check-in to their gates, sipping their coffee or glancing at the offers of the airport arcades, I felt some hope that this crisis will not have a devastating effect on airlines and airport operators like September 11 did.  Sad
Check-in took more time than usual - although three counters (including one for "L'Espace" travellers were open, there were at least five persons waiting in each of the "Tempo" (Economy Class) lines. Soon enough, another counter was opened, and within three or four minutes, it was finally my time to check-in. Printing my boarding pass for both my flights this Saturday was a matter of only few seconds, and since I didn't have any baggage to check, I was able to leave the check-in area not more than five minutes after my arrival here. My seats today were 21F on the outbound leg and 10F on the return flight later this evening.
Thumbs up to AF for such a good reaction to what could have possibly become a lengthy wait at check-in!  Big thumbs up

Weather wasn't really that good this Saturday morning, with a typical gray German winter sky obscuring the sun and making all attempts to take some decent photographs from the still-open visitor's deck on top of Terminal B futile. Thus I directly proceeded to Terminal B, where I spend the remaing minutes by browsing through the fairly minuscule travel value offers and watching the movements on apron and runway (BTW - I saw Sabena332's ARJ-85 take off from here).

First boarding call was announced by two gate attendants exactly at 1030h in both French and German, with passengers in "Tempo" cabin receiving the first announcement. Unusually for AF1307, the aircraft today wasn't parked on a remote stand, but docked at B53, which is a gate at the upper center of the photo below.


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Photo © Florian Kondziela



Air France offers their customers a wide selection of internation newspapers and magazines, which are presented on a portable rack in front of the aircraft inside the jetway. Since the "Herald Tribune" wasn't available, and I am for several reasons not a fan of "USA Today", I spontaneously decided to test my French language skills to the max and grabbed "Le Monde", usually my second choice of newspaper when flying Air France.
Inside our Airbus, I was greeted by two very friendly female flight attendants in their early fourties, who directed my to my seat. Unlike what can sometimes be heard by some other contributors on this board regarding the lack of charm by "older" flight attendants - derogatorily calling them "SkyHags", I have never come across an unfriendly or impolite older flight attendant. I guess this has to with what attitude you as a passenger are offering to your counterpart serving you from the aisle...

The flight (DUS-CDG)
After stowing my small backpack in the overhead compartment and taking my seat at the window, I couldn't help but notice how the age of this Airbus was expressed by the state of the interior. The overal pearl-white walls had some scratches, and the blue-clothed seats were, although fairly wide and comfortable, still of the old-fashioned kind with no winged headrests like on the newer Air France birds.
The seatback pocket design on the older A320's is also quite unusual. It is basically just a piece of strengthened cloth in the same dark blue color like the rest of the seat, fixed to the front seat with elastic bands. Therefore it is not recommendable to store small and/ or important items in this "Pockets", because they are very likely to fall out as this is a pocket without a bottom!
Inside the seat pocket were the usual gadgets and items - a fairly worn "Air France Magazin", a safety card and an an airsickness bag.


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Photo © Philippe Gindrat



Pushback commenced a couple of minutes after eleven a.m., and soon enough our averagely-booked flight (2/3 full) was on its way to the treshhold of RWY23L. During our taxying, the usual safety demonstration was conducted in French, English and a very "creative" interpretation of what remotely sounded like German. Big grin (No offense, my French most likely sounds just like this the other way around.)
A fairly robust take-off commenced at a quarter past the hour, and after hardly half of the 3000m long RWY was used, the Airbus thundered into the graw German skies, banking sharply to the north and following the Rhine for the first couple of miles until we turned to the left in order to take a direct westerly route across a cloud-covered Northern Belgium to Paris.

Inflight service commenced about ten minutes after take-off, and much to my pity, Air France had once again decided to cut costs and serve a snack mix or a bag of cookies instead of my long-time catering favorite on the Duesseldorf route, i.e. a selection of small, but nevertheless delicious baguettes.  Sad
The first time this service cut was implemented came just after Septemebr 11, but fortunately, by mid 2002, the little baguettes were back. Therefore the change must have come fairly recently during the last couple of weeks.

Also included in the service program was a full selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. This was my first day off in a long time, so I talked myself into spoiling me a little, so I orded a small bottle of - complimentary - Bordeaux (again, another favorite of mine). IMO, AF has one of the better selections of inflight wines even in Economy, and this time around, the Pointe du Grave was not exception.

Maybe it was due to the wine or related to the stress of the last few weeks, but soon after finishing my bottle, I dozed off for the rest of the flight until about ten minutes from arrival.
I had expected to touch down on one of CDG's southerly runways, since these are a lot closer to Air France's Aérogare 2 (see lower terminal on the photo below), but soon enough and much to my surprise, the A320 soared over the airport fence, and our flight captain "greased" the great white bird onto the northern RWY (27).


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Photo © Walter Pietsch



Well, I didn't have to catch a connecting flight today and just wanted to have a good time, so I didn't mind the lengthy taxi just parallel to Aérogare 1 towards one of the new north-southerly taxiways, which connects RWY27 with the Air France terminal complex. Actually, it gave me a good opportunity to check out some of the more unusal visitors on the apron of Terminal 3, which is mainly used by charter, lowcost and some fairly colorful (and sometimes dubious) African carriers. The view of an LTU A320 on this apron was one of the most more movements here - does anyone know why it was here? I know that LTU has conducted a lot of Hadj charters this year, but AFAIk, the season for this is over now?

Every time I come back to CDG, I am amazed on how much construction at Aérogare 2 has advanced, and sure enough this time, a new remote apron had been dedicated, which was filled with an impressive line of Air France A340 and B777 being readied for their flights to North America and Africa during the noon and afternoon banks.


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Photo © Alain DISSEAU



By 1220h, our A320 was finally parked on a remote stand east of the terminal, and since deboarding took only a few minutes thanks to our light passenger load, we were quickly on the way to the dropoff at Terminal 2F.

The city
Ahhh...Paris, my favorite place on earth.  Big thumbs up Spend most of the time taking a stroll along Rue de Rivoli towards Les Tuileries and from there to my favorite park, the Jardin de Luxembourg. After two hours of relaxing, watching spring evolve on this wonderful and sunny March day, I walked a few meters to RER-Station "Luxembourg" and arrived back at the airport within 40 minutes at 1630h.


Saturday, March 29th 2003

Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG) - Duesseldorf International (DUS)

AF2306 (originally planned: AF1006)
Scheduled block time: 1830h - 1945h (originally: 2035-2150h)
Actual block time: 1830h - 1946h
Flight time: 1847h - 1943h

Airbus A319-113 (originally planned: A321-211)

F-GRHY
c/n 1616
delivered: November 15th, 2002


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Photo © DIGITALEX Wiecka



The airport (CDG)
I had already checked in this morning for my return flight, so I was able to proceed directly from the RER station to the security check-point at Aerogare 2F. My original itinerary comprised a return much later this evening on what was supposed to be the first regular Air France A321 flight to DUS, but unfortunately, a few days before my trip, the flight was cancelled due to low demand. This change actually turned to my advantage, since I got to fly on the only Air France short haul aircraft still missing from my collection - the A319!  Big thumbs up

Waiting inside the newest addition to the Air France terminals at CDG is not much of a chore - I am always amazed by the architectural beauty of the large glass-and steel dome when I have passed from security into the waiting area. It is just a pity that the Germany services will be moved back to the 80's style Terminal 2D in mid June, when Terminal 2E is opened and most of AF's services get shuffled around Aérogare 2.  Smile


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Photo © Walter Pietsch



Funny for me, I was subject to a passenger survey by ADP (Aéroports de Paris) while I was waiting for my flight at gate F27. Testing my French skills once again to the extremes, I actually managed to comprehend most of the questions, which were directed at me. Seems like ADP is trying to optimize the layout of their retailing and passenger service installations inside the terminals, since much emphasis of the survey was put on the amount of time spend at the airport, the route taken through the building and so on. Reminded me a lot of the time I worked on my thesis - part of it was a passenger survey at Leipzig-Halle airport. Nice to see a "colleague" of mine at work - I am always happy to help out fellow ingeneers.  Big thumbs up

Boarding commenced at five past six, and was completed within ten minutes. This flight was even lighter booked than my earlier leg this morning, with only 40% of the seats filled.

The flight (CDG-DUS)

I won't go into detail here, because the service was just the same like on the outbound leg. It was interesting to note however, how much passenger cabin comfort has evolved over the last 12 or thirteen years; this brand-new and shiny A319 didn't look worn at all. The walls were in a slightly creamier white, but carpet and seat color remained the same compared to my 1989-vintage A320 on the way out the same morning. My biggest seat-related gripe, i.e. the insufficient seat-pocket, has been solved on the seat configuration: there is actually a real seatpocket with a bottom. Another plus, the seat has the new ergonomically pleasing fomr and features winged headrests, whcih come in quite handy for a weary traveller like me!

Pushback was ontime at 1830h, and within ten minutes of taxi time, we arrived at the threshold of RWY28R (the inner runway of the two southerly RWY's. Most poeple would give me a funny look for this, but being totally relaxed by now and having no appointments to catch, I totally enjoyed watching the line of Air France 737's and A319/ 320/ 321 of the evening bank constantly taking off into the intensive red evening sun in front of us. I guess that's one of the magic beauties of aviation!  Big thumbs up

After take-off, F-GRHY turned northbound after a few minutes of climb, reaching the cruising altitude of 23.000ft soon afterwards. Our route this evening was different from the morning flight - leading us via Luxembourg and Noervenich towards DUS.
Another snack-mix and cookie service and another bottle of dry red (this time fromt he Medoc region) assisted my enjoyment of the return flight, and all too soon the familiar lights of Wuppertal were visible below, while our Baby Airbus decended over Barmen, the outskirts of Essen and led us right across Ratingen into DUS's RWY23L, where were on-block at Terminal B only a few minutes late.


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Photo © Stephan Tophoven



The Verdict
I know that rating an airline from a passenger standpoint is a highly subjective procedure, but from my point of view, Air France has never let me down in almost a hundred flights so far. Unlike my personal experience with certain of their Lufthansa colleagues, Air France FA's have always been courteous and friendly, although they certainly lack io foreign language skills. I don't mind, because I always crave for a chance to apply my rather rusty French, but certainly this deficiency can be a setback for other travellers.

If you get a good deal, be it on AF or another airline, I can only recommend to go to Paris! For me, it is the place we I "recharge" my "batteries", be it by staying for a few hours or by meeting friends or my family in the "City of Lights".

Thanks for bearing with me, I acutally enjoyed writing this report, although I hadn't planned to do so. And thanks to Sabena332, for giving me the virtual kick in the butt. You got me motivated to write this text!  Big grin

[Edited 2003-03-31 21:21:01]


Homer: Facts are meaningless. You could use facts to prove anything that's even remotely true!
11 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineSabena332 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 1, posted (11 years 8 months 3 weeks 2 days 17 hours ago) and read 4019 times:

Hi Jens,

I couldn`t believe it, approximately 20 minutes ago I switched on my computer again because TV is too boring at the moment and than I just saw your little trip report. It is very detailed as always and I enjoyed reading very much (as always), your trip reports are my favorites, thanks a lot for posting it!

You paid only 96 EUR for the return flight to CDG? Wow, that is very cheap, maybe I will also do a daytrip to Paris in April when I get the same fare because I have never been to the city and my Delta Sky Miles account needs a few fresh miles. Are you seriously collect AF miles until you will get a Concorde flight?

AF is also one of my favorite airlines, I flew a lot on them (in Economy Class, in Business Class, within Europe and intercontinental) and every flight was very good. I had only one bad experience back in the year 2000 when they let me wait for 9 hours for my connecting flight to DUS after I arrived from LAX, I can not blame AF for my long stay at CDG but the ADP employees because they were on strike that day.

I also like Terminal 2F very much because it has a very modern and futuristic architecture, an other advantage is the direct gate access from the lounge, you do not have to pass a security checkpoint on your way from the lounge to the gate but that should not interest me until I collected again 35.000 miles for a Business Class avard flight  Smile/happy/getting dizzy.

Thanks again for your excellent report, it made my evening today!

Patrick


User currently offlineSabena 690 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 2, posted (11 years 8 months 3 weeks 2 days 17 hours ago) and read 3988 times:

Excellent report!

How were the load factors?

That you didn't get a meal on the DUS-CDG leg doesn't surprise me seen the hour of the day, but normally AF should have served a baguette on the return flight (except this decrease in catering is very recent).

Regards
Frederic


User currently offlineTriStar500 From Germany, joined Nov 1999, 4696 posts, RR: 42
Reply 3, posted (11 years 8 months 3 weeks 2 days 7 hours ago) and read 3856 times:

Thanks to both of you for your comments!  Smile

Patrick,
If you check on the AF website under this address:

http://www.airfrance.de/double6/DE/infolocale.nsf/(LookupPublishedWeb)/de-1OFSP-DUS_CDG_99?OpenDocument (sorry, html link didn't work)

you will find more information about the attractive weekend offers. The price tag has slightly increased to 99 Euro r/t during summer though.
IMO this is an inexpensive way not only to got to Paris, but also to stay current on your frequent flyer programs.  Big thumbs up

BTW - I am half-seriously collecting miles for a Concorde flight. My average yearly ballance is 12 - 15.000 miles on Skyteam airlines, and I already have enough for a free trip to the Indian Ocean ("Seychelles here I come!"), but I'll see, how close I come to the 200.000 miles required. AFAIK, 120.000 miles are enough for a trip around the world, so this might be a better perspective in my case.  Smile

Frederic,
The load factor on the outbound flight was about 66% on an A320, with cabin separators set at about row 7 for L'Espace and row 15 for Tempo Challenge. On the return flight, a smaller A319 was substituted for the originally scheduled A320, with cabin dividers at row 4 and 8 respectively.

BTW - I got an exit aisle seat on the return leg, so my charm offensive at check-in must have been successful.  Big thumbs up




Homer: Facts are meaningless. You could use facts to prove anything that's even remotely true!
User currently offlineSabena 690 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 4, posted (11 years 8 months 3 weeks 2 days 5 hours ago) and read 3830 times:

Thanks Tristar!!  Smile/happy/getting dizzy

Another question: how do you find the legspace and the comfort of the economy class seats of AF (on short haul and long haul) compared to for example LH?

Regards
Frederic


User currently offlineAirsicknessbag From Germany, joined Aug 2000, 4723 posts, RR: 33
Reply 5, posted (11 years 8 months 3 weeks 2 days 3 hours ago) and read 3741 times:

Very nice report - especially without taking notes.

That 99 EUR fare from DUS sounds nice - and I gather a same day return on Saturday is possible - always important for a cheapskate like me who hates having to stay at hotels  Smile/happy/getting dizzy . Oh well, either that or SXB (which is not that far from Mannheim) - after all, AF considers me a "jeune" for another seven months - have to take advantage of that Big grin

Jens, if you´re crazy about Concorde (like me), do you know about the 100 minute/1550 EUR CDG-CDG flights?

Daniel Smile


User currently offlineTriStar500 From Germany, joined Nov 1999, 4696 posts, RR: 42
Reply 6, posted (11 years 8 months 3 weeks 2 days 2 hours ago) and read 3720 times:

Frederic,
Granted that my height isn't that impressive (1,75m), which comes in quite handy when travelling on airplanes, I have never had any problems with legrooms on "scheduled" carriers like AF, LH, BA and IB.

The worst I have encountered so far was the Star Airlines A320, which was substituted for an AF A320 on a flight from CDG to MAD a couple of years ago. A "large" gentleman sitting across the aisle wasn't even able to pull down his seat table because of his waist size!  Wow!

Sitting in the exit row was nice though - I was even able to cross my legs. Felt like flying Business with both seats next to me being free and me having ample legroom.  Big thumbs up
If only those little baguettes would have stayed!  Big grin

Daniel,
No, I actually haven't heard about those flights so far! Is this a direct offer from AF or is a specialized travel agent (e.g. airevents.de) organizing those trips? I won't go for this offer this year, because I'm planning to buy a car, but maybe in the next two or three years, in case the rumors about the Concorde's withdrawal from service will come true...

Concerning the cheap fares, I have only checked from DUS,and if you book via travelocity.de, you can see which dates are still available (a lot). It is possible e.g. to take the early bird out at 0735h, be in CDG by 0850h and return either at 1830h like I did or at 2035h like I was planning to do. Gives you a full day at the airport or - at least equally nice - in the city.  Smile




Homer: Facts are meaningless. You could use facts to prove anything that's even remotely true!
User currently offlineAirsicknessbag From Germany, joined Aug 2000, 4723 posts, RR: 33
Reply 7, posted (11 years 8 months 3 weeks 2 days 1 hour ago) and read 3690 times:

Just sent you an eMail via the contact feature in your profile - never did that before, so I don´t know if it´ll work or not. If it reaches you, you might drop me a line in reply, so I see it actually worked.

Daniel Smile


User currently offlinePSAHO88 From Italy, joined Sep 2000, 90 posts, RR: 0
Reply 8, posted (11 years 8 months 3 weeks 1 day 23 hours ago) and read 3646 times:

Hi

I agree with you: service on AF short sectors in the Tempo cabin is poor!
I will soon send a trip report on my FLR-CDG-CPH and back trip report, where I clearly am disappointed with the service.

Thank you for the report, by the way!


User currently offlineLPL From United Kingdom, joined Oct 2001, 1055 posts, RR: 0
Reply 9, posted (11 years 8 months 3 weeks 1 day 22 hours ago) and read 3651 times:

Brilliant report.

What year was the fire at DUS?


User currently offlineTriStar500 From Germany, joined Nov 1999, 4696 posts, RR: 42
Reply 10, posted (11 years 8 months 3 weeks 1 day 7 hours ago) and read 3541 times:

PSAHO088,
Considerung that the price for a flight ticket between DUS and CDG has decreased from 160 Euro in 1996 to 99 Euro now, the value for money is very good. I can cope with an absence of decent catering if the price is almost 40% lower.  Big thumbs up

However, being a picky customer, I would sure love to have the old-fashioned catering level of the 1990's.  Smile

LPL,
The fire was in April 1996.



Homer: Facts are meaningless. You could use facts to prove anything that's even remotely true!
User currently offlineLH423 From Canada, joined Jul 1999, 6501 posts, RR: 54
Reply 11, posted (11 years 8 months 1 week 6 days 7 hours ago) and read 3374 times:

Hey Tristar. Great trip report. We were in Paris at the same time! Nice weather that week, although as I recall that Friday was a little cloudy with some sprinkles, but nothing too bad considering you're in Paris, the vibrant, beautiful city that she is!

Thanks for the report

Merci!

LH423



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