Last week, Air France flew its first Airbus A380 route from Paris to JFK and then back to Paris. As you know, Air France is the first European carrier to fly the A380. Instead of simply selling the tickets for the inaugural flights, Air France auctioned tickets via eBay and donated the majority, if not all, of the proceeds to several charities that help impoverished children. Each winning bid was awarded travel on the A380 from either Paris to New York or vice versa, dependent upon which segment you were bidding on. Also included was a return flight on the day of your choice on Air France. Hotel and shopping discounts in either Paris or New York were also made available to winners of the auction.
With one day left in the auction, I decided to look at the range of bids. Mind you, I have never bought or sold anything on eBay so I was somewhat unfamiliar with the process. To my surprise, the bids for the JFK-Paris A380 trip were around $355 US dollars. The bidding was intense in the last moments, primarily because bids were quoted in Euros. When the auction was over, I had won a trip on the A380 for a mere $388 (give or take a few bucks) and it was for a great cause: help the Air France Foundation support the following charities:
Francois Xavier Bagnoud Association: http://www.fxb.org
Arts Et development Association: http://www.artsetdeveloppement.com
Association Plan: http://plan-international.org
Like I mentioned, the price included return airfare, but JFK-Paris-JFK was way too simple of an itinerary for me so I threw in a couple of other legs for good measure...more on that in other posts. Below is the first part of the experience. I will cover the arrival in Paris and post cabin photos of the A380 in Part II.
Each passenger was asked to bring a wrapped gift for a child to be donated to the Boys & Girls Club of Kips Bay.
signage over security check point:
Air France served champagne to anyone in this wing of Terminal 1, regardless of what airline one was flying.
terminal & gate area:
It was a bit tricky getting photos of the plane in New York, but here are a few:
CEO of Air France, Pierre-Henri Gourgeon, speaking just before boarding:
I was told by the gate agent there were over 500 passengers on the flight. Getting everyone on the plane is an acheivment it itself.
This tote bag was placed at each seat. Included in it, among other things, was a model of the A380.
boarding, economy style
The plane is equipped with 3 cameras:1 on the tail and 1 each on the nose and belly of the plane.
from the tail camera just after pushback from gate
The tail camera video I took during take off is posted here
dinner & breakfast menu for economy class
A few times throughout the flight, this 3 piece band made their way through the cabin.
I did manage at least 90 minutes of sleep, but was woken by some odd occurences. The first time I woke, the band had arrived once again, this time right next time, playing Happy Birthday for someone in the row across from me. Oddly, the second time I woke, there were several crew members gathered at that same row helping someone elevate their feet and fanning the person. When I woke for good, I went and checked out the bar and snacks that had been set up for anyone’s enjoyment. When I drew the curtain at the galley I found a small party of Frenchmen. They made fun of me because I was serving myself water and not champagne. I got a big kick out of them and I too chuckled at myself.
European morning from tail and nose cameras:
Much is said and printed about the A380 being quiet. My thought beofre the flight was "how quiet can a plane this large be?" Well, it certainly was the most queit plane I have flown on and becuase it was quiet, the ride seemed very smooth. And maybe it does ride more smoothly than other aircraft (?)
Air France certainly made this flight memorable and special, pulling out all the stops for all passengers. As mentioned, I will cover the arrival in Paris and post cabin pictures of the A380 in Part II. Thank you for reading this post. Comments and questions welcome of course.
[Edited 2009-11-26 07:38:40]