Door 2L was closed at 5.01pm CDT and the captain addressed us; first in French, then in English. He projected a flying time of 7 hours and 15 minutes. Pushback was at 5.04pm followed by engine-startup at 5.06pm. The safety video was played and we began the long taxi to Runway 32L at 5.12pm.
During the taxi we passed all the terminals and joined the short queue for takeoff on Taxiway T. We entered the runway at T10 at 5.25pm. 14R/32L is one of O’Hare’s longest runways (10/28 is of equal length at 13,000ft) so we left about a quarter of it behind us as we began takeoff roll.
The A340 takeoff didn’t seem powerful at all and the engines seemed to make more of a whiny sound than those of the A330. 5 minutes after takeoff the slats and flaps were completely retracted. And we had made our initial turn right heading northeast of Chicago.
7 minutes after takeoff an announcement came that the crew were preparing for the bar service, followed by dinner in about an hour. 30 minutes after departure our cruising altitude of 35,000 feet was reached. When the drinks came around, we were also given menus for dinner. How posh.
My 7up and pretzels
On the menu this evening:
Barley salad with cilantro and tuna
Choice of main course
Beef Bourguignon accompanied by mashed potatoes
Fillet of Pollock served with tomato basil sauce and steamed rice
Banana chocolate cake
Coffee and tea
Upon request you could also have:
Schweppes Indian Tonic
Schweppes Saveur Agrum
Brandy & Liqueur
I chose the beef with 7up to drink. It was served at 6.30pm CDT. When we got the dinner, a crew member came around with a basket of pain
(bread rolls) and asked us to choose one from it.
In my seat pocket was an amenity kit which contained a refresher towel, eye mask, ear phones for the PTVs and ear plugs. Everything was AF
-branded (with the old AF
logo, except for the Air France Magazine).
Safety instruction card
Air France Magazine
We flew right over Detroit and just north of Toronto, Canada. The flight map on the PTV was called Geovision
. This was also showing on the screens at the bulkhead.
Watching The Simpsons after nightfall
A few hours into the transatlantic portion of our journey, I saw another aircraft, what turned out to be another A340 with red engines slowly approaching us from the south. It was heading in the same general direction as ourselves. Now darkness had long fallen and I watched out my window for about 20 minutes as this aircraft got closer and closer. Then it passed right over us no more than 1,000 feet above. Because of the red engines I’m assuming it belonged to Scandinavian Airlines System (it had its landing lights on). After it passed over us the landing lights of our aircraft were switched on for about 10 seconds, then off again. Is this some sort of greeting signal or something? Next thing I knew it passed back over us again, back into my view and back again. Then it disappeared. This all happened between 8.20pm and 8.45pm CDT, fascinating stuff. This was the best pic I could get:
I tried to sleep but couldn’t (partly because of the leg room). We encountered some minor turbulence about 45 minutes before reaching the Irish coastline during an otherwise very smooth flight. The fasten-seat-belts sign was illuminated and the turbulence got worse as we went along, getting quite violent a times it has to be said. I couldn’t help thinking about AF447 at this stage but I wasn’t nervous and I knew our flight crew were expecting it because they gave us enough warning about it. About 20 minutes later it was plain sailing again.
Ironically enough we would pass directly over Ireland where we would be returning in just a few hours. It pained my mother to watch it as she would much prefer direct flights. It was just after sunrise but the west of the country was covered in cloud. I got some good clear views of the southeast though.
Breakfast was served at 6.30am CET which comprised of a plain muffin, orange juice and yoghurt. I was half expecting a croissant with it being Air France and all, but no.
We made landfall over Co. Mayo at 6.44am CET (about an hour from landing), heading in a southeasterly direction and we passed over the island within 15 minutes, heading over the Irish sea past south Wicklow. At this time our groundspeed peaked at 643mph at an altitude of 36,000 feet.
At 7.10am the captain informed us of the descent into Paris and 2 minutes later we began what turned out to be quite a steep drop. This was southwest of London as we were about to head over the English Channel. The speedbrakes were used frequently and the slats were extended at 7.46am. It was overcast so I didn’t see much of France.
We approached from the east and landed on Runway 27R (the northernmost runway) at 7.53am CET, 42 minutes early. The taxi to the gate took 15 minutes and we arrived on stand at 8.08am local. During the taxi I saw my first ever A380 up close – Singapore Airlines at a remote stand.
We were due to arrive at Terminal 2, Hall E. However (possibly because we were early) we docked at Gate F81. We disembarked through Door 1L as opposed to 2L. The gate was a dual airbridge but the second airbridge was not used (or maybe it was after I disembarked). We would have over 3 hours to wait before our connection to Shannon.
We now had to look at the boards and find the gate our onward connection to SNN
would board from. It showed as on time/Á l’heure
and would board from Gate E21 in Hall E. We followed signs and were led down stairs to a waiting bus. The bus journey to 2E took about 5 minutes and when we got there we had to re-clear security. There was a special channel for all UK and Irish-bound passengers. After security the terminal looked more like a glorified shopping centre than an airport! I bypassed all the shops and stalls and went straight to the gates and snapped some photos:
I liked 2E, it’s huge and has a lot of space to move around.
The return flight to Chicago (AF50) was already boarding when we got here – with a different aircraft obviously. This flight spends more time on the ground in Chicago than it does in Paris.
Delta Air Lines flight DL170 having just arrived from Salt Lake City
Great spot for aviation enthusiasts – you can just lay down and watch the movements all day
Our gate was E21, which is downstairs from where the airbridge-gates are. We would have to get on another bus to take us to our aircraft.
Boarding for our flight, WX5080 was called at 10.30am CET. It would be operated by Air France by CityJet
CityJet is Ireland’s third airline, fully owned by Air France-KLM. All aircraft are Irish-registered and each is named after an Irish island. It operates two divisions: Air France by CityJet
out of Paris-Charles de Gaulle and Paris-Orly and CityJet for Air France
out of London City Airport. CityJet operates a fleet of 26 95-seater Avro RJ85s (2 of which are on lease to Blue1). After its merger with VLM Airlines it will operate 41 aircraft from its bases at CDG
This flight was crewed by 2 Irish pilots, 1 Irish flight attendant and 1 French flight attendant. We were on board the Avro RJ85 at 10.55am. It was registered EI
-RJJ Hare Island
, delivered to WX
on 1 February 2008. All passengers boarded through door 1L, accessible by steps. This aircraft was painted in the old colour scheme.
Taken from the bus
We were briefed by Captain Lauten at 11.13am CET and the door was closed soon after. This flight was operated under a codeshare agreement with KLM Royal Dutch Airlines (KL2094). There was one wheelchair bound passenger on board and she was boarded via the back door on a lift. The load factor was about 90%-95% full in Voyageur
and 30% in Affaires
. All the window seats were taken so I had to sit at my assigned seat – 9C
. The engines were obstructing the view out the window so I spent most of the flight sleeping.
Safety instruction card
Logo carved into the seat
The safety demo was performed by Cabin Manager Niamh at the front of the cabin and Sophie in the centre at 11.19am. Again, the taxi was long and I couldn’t see where we were going. We began taxiing at 11.24am and takeoff was at 11.37am. Legroom was poor, but for a short flight like this I didn’t mind. Our cruising altitude was 32,000 feet. There were curtains over the business class seats during the flight but opened before takeoff and landing. There were no curtains blocking the aisle.
Bar service began at 12.00pm CET along with sandwiches if you wanted. The choices were ham and cheese or salami. I passed on the sandwich and drink because I was trying to sleep.
At 11.45am IST
we were briefed on the descent into Shannon. We were about to make landfall off the east coast and we would travel over Leinster, south Tipperary and straight into east Clare for a landing on Runway 24. I noticed the flight was quite rough at times with the severe turns, climb and descent.
The gear was down at 12.12pm IST
and we touched down at 12.16pm, 1 minute late. We spent 4 minutes taxiing and arrived at Gate 6 at 12.20pm, 5½ hours later than expected if we had travelled through EWR
We passed through passport control with no hassle. The lad didn’t even look at passports just asked “ye’r coming from Dublin is it?” (EI133 had just arrived also). We said yeah and walked right through
can’t beat the Shannon welcome!
7 out of our 8 checked bags came off at SNN
and we were the only ones standing there when all the other passengers left. There was an AF
agent standing there in case there was any problems and we told her our situation. She said it would more than likely arrive on the next flight due in at 7.50pm that evening. It did arrive and was delivered to the house the next day.
Well after all that I enjoyed the experience even if it did sway nerves in my travelling party. AF
are top notch with their service – both mainline and WX
. Legroom could have been better though. Also, just today (11/09/09) AF
/WX announced they are to close the CDG
route after 18 months of operation in October. I’m glad I got the opportunity to travel with them and they’ll be missed at SNN
Thanks for reading, feel free to comment.