As there were a lot of discussions in the general aviation forum on TAM's new MD11 service to CDG
and as I had the pleasure of flying in the Business class of TAM's "new" MD11 last week, I think it is time for my first trip report on a.net. As it is my first report, I do not have a lot of experience what to write in a trip report. Therefore, please ask for all the things I forgot to add here. However, note that it might take me some time to answer as I am currently travelling in Brazil without permanent internet connection. Please, excuse the bad quality of the photos. My current "equipment" does not allow for better ones in the difficult light conditions of a night flight.
Enough of prepositions, let me start:
Flight: JJ8097 CDG
Aircraft: MD11 PT
Every flight typically starts with a check-in. So does also this. TAM seems to manage the check-in at CDG
after adding the 3rd flight surprisingly well. Although personally not affected by any queue, the Y class queues for all flights looked reasonable to me when I arrived around 2 hours prior to departure. Considering that all three flights depart within one hour, I had expected to see longer queues. I have seen much worse queues both at JJ
's check-in in GRU
as well as at AF
check-in in CDG
After check-in I went directly through passport control and security, spend some time in the duty free shop and boarded early. This allowed me to take some photos of the economy class seats prior most of the passengers boarded. In general, the new seat-covers and a new carpet do magic for the aircraft interior. The aircraft does not at all give the impression of being already at the end of it's life-time as a passenger jet. Only if you really search for details, it is also possible to find really used parts which were not renewed. For example, there was some grill at the toilet next to the crew bell, which you definately do not want to touch...
I missed to take photos of the First class seat, which seems to be the most problematic one in terms of quality, as it is even inferior to the Business class seat on JJ
's A332. From what I have heart at CDG
they even offer First class passengers re-booking to the business class of the other flight if they have space available.
After taking my window seat in the second part of the business class cabin, I was immediately offered some champagne and some cheese as well as I got the menu and the usual black amenity kit with a tooth-brush, eye-blinds, socks, a shaving kit, some body lotion and oil as well as ear plugs, etc. The business class was really empty, I guess less than 10 of the 49 seats were occupied. In the rear business class section we were just 4 passengers for 28 seats... (Economy class was, I guess, around 75% full).
After push back, the safety demonstration was performed manually, although a beamer was hanging in the front of the cabin section. The only time it was, however, used was shortly before landing to show the arrivals video for Sao Paulo. We took off to the east such that we had to make a 180 degree turn shortly after. Even before passing south of Paris' city centre the seat belt signs went off such that I could walk over to the other site of the aircraft to get a quick look on the illuminated Eiffel tower.
The crew then distributed the personal entertainment device with offering a short introduction and the hint that I should call them if the device runs low on power such that they can replace the battery. In total, I think it is a really nice device as the display offers much better quality than what I am used to on the A332 and a wider selection of on demand music, videos, and games. Also, the selection of audio languages was far bigger than on the A332 (though when I tested "the Queen" in German, the sound was about 10 seconds out of sync of the picture, in English it was fine). The PEA has only two drawbacks: You have to find a place where to put it (I used the table of the free seat next to me, which becomes difficult, if this is occupied), and it does not offer any kind of airshow, which is still my favourite channel in all flights.
Still playing with the device, it was already time for dinner. Being really hungry, I missed to take pictures of the entree for which I had some green leaves with a tasty "Patê em croûte", and a mushroom cream soup (nothing special). As main course I chose stuffed duck in rosemary sauce accompanied by dauphine potatoes au gratin and vegetables. Being not a wine specialist, please excuse if my choice of a South Australian Red was not the right one for this, but for me it was totally fine. Without asking the crew continuously filled up my glass again until I had to stop them...
I concluded my dinner with a nice Tiramisu tart in chocolate sauce and some Bailey's afterwards.
Before going to sleep, I was offered a bottle of water and asked if I want to be awakened for breakfast, which I declined. The seat was - as expected - not offering as much comfort as the 180 degree flat ones on the A332, but I was surprised that together with the aircraft wall, I found a nice position which allowed me at least about 5-6 hours of sleep (being 1.99m tall, sleeping in an aircraft is always a hassle...). The photo below shows the full recline of my seat. One nice thing about the MD11 is, that the cabin is warmer during the night than in the A332.
Although I had chosen not to be awakened for breakfast, I woke up well before breakfast was served. After a roll with cold cuts, a croissant, and a yogurt, I also had a very nice apple crepe served with red fruits.
The second very nice thing of the MD11 compared to the A332 is its higher speed. Thus, the flight is shorter, and we arrived well in time. I guess, this higher speed will also help TAM to a better on-time performance on their international flights, which due to chronically late departures lacked in my opinion seriously in recent months. Therefore, we bet all the other flights and were the first flight arriving at Terminal 1 in GRU
. Immigration was this early a bit of a hassle as there was only one immigration officer working, who first checked all Brazilians before taking care of the foreigners. However, nothing to complain about as, being the first one in the foreigners queue, I still arrived at the luggage belt shortly before my luggage, and were out of the airport at 6.25h, just 35 minutes after landing.