by Jeremy / Yirmiyahu / Afconcorde1
AF Flight #023 JFK-CDG
Scheduled Dep Time: 5:05 PM, 17 May 2006
Actual Departure Time: Approx. 5:20 PM
Equipment: Boeing 777-2ER
Class / Seat: Tempo, 36L (Window)
Terminal 1, Gate 6
All I can say is that reminiscing on my previous voyage to Europe, that my flight experience with Air France surpasses every flight that I have taken until now. The flight attendants were very attentive to my needs, they did regular check-ups on the passengers, and they were outstanding.
When I entered Terminal 1 at John F. Kennedy International Airport, my heart was racing as I knew that I would be flying in one of my favorite aircraft (besides the famous, or infamous for that matter, Concorde). I quickly paced myself over to the check out, where a nice female Air France employee was waiting to see my e-itinerary. She then directed me over to the appropriate check-in counter for my flight number, very efficient and impressive.
At the check-in counter stood a nice (who looked to be a nice Haitian lady) who greeted me and checked me in. She asked if I spoke French, and I responded, in French, "but of course!" I told her that Concorde was the only way to travel to France and that if it was still in commercial service for the next fifteen years, that I would have saved my life savings to fly at least once to Paris. She agreed that it also was the most amazing aircraft.
My check-in luggage was quickly searched by security and passed through. She then wished me well, directed me to security, and then on to Gate 6. I made my way through Terminal 1 security and it only took about two minutes!
When I arrived at Gate 6, I saw the beauty in all her glory sitting there awaiting for me to board. I quickly called my mother to tell her where I was and I took a picture with my cell phone and e-mailed it to my friends. Despite the fact that my cell phone, a Verizon Wireless LG V-6100, is "out of date", I managed to get a very very fuzzy picture.
While I was waiting to board, I went to the local snack area and purchased a beer to relax a little after all the present excitement. Time after time, people came to the Gate 6 waiting area to wait for boarding time.
I always dreamed of boarding an Air France aircraft and what the greeting flight attendants would say to me. It all came to be very true, when they called for boarding. It was an egalitarian boarding and I just happened to have been one of the first ones on board, despite the fact that I was in Tempo class.
The very nice female flight attendant greeted me in French, and proceeded to speak French with her. She gave the directions to my seat in French and then proceeded to 36L. On my way, I saw two other male flight attendants and greeted them in French as well.
As I made myself cozy in my window seat, there were two other seats to my left, as to which, Thank Gd, the one to the immediate left of me was unoccupied during the whole flight. The aisle seat was occupied by a nice senior citizen who was on her way through CDG to St. Petersburg, Russia on a nice Russian river boat cruise. I made a nice short relationship with her throughout the flight as it was apparent that she was not a seasoned airline traveler.
Flight attendants were very studious about making sure that everything was secure for taxi and take off. During this time, I was very anxious for the "map" to come on the PTV screen, however, I was amazed at the fact that this was the first time that I was in a plane with a PTV period. (Reminiscing on the days when I flew a NW B747 to AMS.)
Finally we pushed back out of Gate 6 and the instructions came on all of the TVs for seat buckles, loss of cabin pressure, etc. I was curious to see which runway we would be departing that day, however, I saw all other aircraft departing runway 13R. As we were taxing, I saw all of my familiar 'plane spotting' look out points. By that time, I was assured that we were headed to take off on 13R. It was the time I was waiting for, the sound of those two huge engines...
We lined up on 13R and when the clearance was given, the sound of the two GE power houses were at full thrust and I was against the back of my seat facing the window eyeing Jamaica Bay (at this point I was at need of another alcoholic beverage.) As soon as we lifted off, we had positive rate of climb and then a quick bank to the right as we were now over the "Bayswater" neighborhood of Far Rockaway and the 5-towns. Clearly out of the window I could see the Atlantic Beach bridge and the communities of Atlantic Beach / Long Beach. We then quickly passed over Jones Beach and out to the Atlantic Ocean we went. As much as I thought we would fly through CT and on over BOS, I was much mistaken. We made a path over the SE coast of Long Island than started to make the path towards the waters east of MA.
Dinner was promptly served, and I must say, that if you order special meals, they serve you first. Now, for Air France, I must say, they had the most impressive kosher meal for me. The meat and pasta portion came certified from Weiss's Sky Restaurant in Brooklyn. Everything was double wrapped in a way that I could barely get it open (which that is the way that it is supposed to be), however, the meal came with kosher French bread, tarte aux pommes (apple tart), and a chocolate mousse substance with a cappucino cookie stick coming out of it. Suffice-to-say, this meal was very satiating.
I didn't let it spoil my fun on this aircraft, however, turbulence was present throughout 75 percent of the flight. The flight crew was very diligent of making sure that passengers were in their seats when the seat belt light was on. (This was -not- the case on DL 119.)
During dinner, I watched a many selection of approximately 15 different movies and after dinner, I took advantage of the French music. As I am a fan of Céline Dion, I was very amazed that some of my favorite French songs performed by her were on this repertoire. As the sun began to set, the flight crew wanted window seat passengers to close the window slides. I complied, however, wanted to look out anyway. So, I went back the French station was very soothing and I went into a nice reverie.
I quickly was awakened an hour later by mild turbulence and was awake for the remainder of the flight. I basically watched the map and surfed the PTV for a while. Time went on and we were approaching the English Channel. The breakfast snack was served, and special meals were given first, once again. I slid the window shade up a smidge and peeked out and saw various overcast, however, the sky was still dark for the most part as we were due into CDG around 5:15 AM.
Once breakfast was over, we prepared our decent over the Norman coast and then finally to make approach into CDG. The 12 tires hit the pavement and we were now on French soil. Being tired after the five and a half hour flight, I was now awaiting my arrival into Terminal 2C. Once debarked, I went in through the tunnel and into two halls and then I saw the titanic crowd hovering near a blocked off area. I waited patiently there being bumped through tired passengers awaiting leaving connections to different destinations. Finally after half an hour, they were directed through to a separate line. Folks coming into Paris were directed to another area. I was in customs for approximately an hour before my passport was stamped. Once I was through customs, I went to the baggage claim area. Unfortunately, I did not pay close attention to the areas were the flights' incoming luggage were marked and I missed my flight's luggage entrance. I ended up at the AF Baggage Claim office asking where my luggage was. This was another hour. My third hour at CDG was the fact that I was unable to get a hold of my shuttle service to take me to my hotel. I spent another hour and a ½ going throughout 3 terminals looking for the main office of my shuttle. The information desks were very nice and helpful, however, I was getting a "run around", however, I finally found the office and explained to them my whole story and that when I tried to call, the green (toll free) number was not functional.
While I was waiting for my shuttle (only ten minutes) another man was running up to the office in a panic and he asked me if I was a diver. Being apparent that English is one of my languages, I introduced myself and explained my whole situation. This gentleman and his wife was on a 15 hour flight from Singapore coming from Australia and they had taken about 5 buses around the airport looking for this office. (And I thought I had it bad!!)
So, we all were put on the shuttle, along with another nice couple from Brisbane. On the way out of the airport, they had one of the AF Concordes on display. (I apologize, I did not catch the ID). After that, and sitting in traffic on route A-3 for about two hours, I caught a nice tour of Paris: The Eiffel Tour, Notre-Dame Cathedral, etc. Then on to my hotel.
Overall, I must say that my flight with Air France was with the highest standards possible, and if I take another flight to France, it will be with Air France (regardless of the aircraft type or configuration.) The flight crew, the food, the entertainment selections, the window views had given a whole new meaning to, "making the sky the best place on Earth."
During my stay, I stayed in the Opéra district and I visited many "tourist sites." I had a fabulous time in France and I must say that the food over there is nothing like you would find anywhere else, although I must admit, all of the food that I ate was French/Israeli-style. I did travel to Bruxelles and Antwerpen for a day to visit friends who live there.
DL Flight #119 CDG-JFK
Scheduled Dep Time: 12:00 PM, 24 May 2006
Actual Departure Time: Approx. 12:45 PM
Equipment: Boeing 763
Class / Seat: Economy, 17E (Aisle)
Terminal 2 - E87 (meaning that I had a bus ride)
The morning of my departure I checked out of my hotel to find out that the shuttle service left my hotel fifteen minutes before they said that they would be there to pick me up. I was booked to fly out on AF Flight #22, obviously to depart at around 8:20 AM. However, I ended up missing that flight as I had to take a taxi to the airport.
I checked my baggage in and had to speak with the managers on duty about re-booking on another flight. They explained to me that there was a possibility that I would have to stay an extra night in Paris (good thing I did not have to be at work the next day) as flights were already booked, however, they did find up a slot for me on this code-share flight.
Having taken a 15 minute bus ride to the terminal, I managed to occupy myself until boarding. Once on board, I made my way to my seat. I was originally seated with a gentleman who I took to me not too comfortable with his seat, however, the gentleman sitting next to him offered a swap so that his wife could sit with him and he submitted. So ... Thank Gd, I sat next to a nice French couple to which we all were reading the headlines of the french newspaper "Le Monde".
The flight crew was average at best, although I was impressed that they were Americans who were quite fluent in French. The in-flight entertainment was definitely subpar to that of AF. No PTVs. And only 2 movie selections. The ear phones were very hard to adjust, however, I made do with the fact that I had an aisle seat and easy access to restrooms which the line wasn't as bad as it was on the AF #23 flight on the way over.
Obviously, no special meal, however, the landing into JFK was that on Runway 31L, the exact opposite of which I took off on with AF.
I apologize that my report for DL 119 is very short, however, I am pressed for time. I will post an edit with more information and hopefully some pictures in the future.