This is part 2 of my trip report onboard the Air France A380 in 1st class, for the JFK-CDG leg. You can read part 1 here : AF A380 1st Class CDG-JFK-CDG Part 1 (pics) (by Goldorak Dec 25 2009 in Trip Reports)
After 3.5 days in NYC under the snow and a very cold but sunny weather, it was time to go back home for Christmas and I was of course very happy to fly the A380 for the 2nd time in a few days. After quite a long taxi drive from Manhattan, due to heavy traffic, I arrived at JFK about 2.5 hrs prior to departure time. Unfortunately AF JFK station does not offer the same ground service as in CDG for the 1st class pax (see part 1 of my report for details) but still offer high quality of services. NYC (JFK+EWR) is the most important long-haul station (outside France) for AF with a total of 5 to 7 daily flights between NY and CDG, depending on the day and the season and with a high number of P and J pax. So, it’s very logical to see the A380 launched on this route by AF, as the NYC-PAR route has always been the most prestigious route for AF, with the constellation, super constellation, the B707, B747 and of course the unforgettable Concorde .
There is a dedicated counter for P class. AF staff in charge of P check-in was very courteous, and it was a French women working there who took care of me. After giving me my boarding pass, she bring me through security (we passed in front of all other people in line) to the AF lounge.
Even if this lounge is now not on par with the new CDG ones, it is still very nice and I always liked its arrangements and atmosphere of quietness. It’s one of my favourite AF lounge. It is on 2 floors, the upper floor was before reserved for 1st class pax but this is not the case anymore. It is generally well supplied with food, champagne and various wines & alcoholic beverages. Here are a few shots of the upper floor part of the lounge.
The check-in agent informed me that she will come back for privileged boarding, after all the other pax. Boarding was delayed by about 30 min as they did not finish to prepare the cabin and, as announced, the 1st class pax were among the last to board. I was introduced to the F/A and the ground agent said good bye and wished me an excellent flight. As for the ground agents in CDG, she did a great job. This should always be the way to fly !!
The flight time was announced tonight to be 6.5 hrs, so not too rapid tonight (OK to have a few more minutes of sleep !). The pyjamas, menus, amenity kits were distributed rapidly, still on the ground, as well as the pre-departure champagne . I used the changing room to wear the pyjama, while still on the gate at JFK. As for the inbound trip they gave me a garment bag to put my clothes. The doors were closed and the jet ways removed (1 lower deck, 1 upper deck). The jumbo was now ready for departure !
JFK-CDG – Flight AF007 - 22nd december 2009
A/C & registration : A380-800, F-HPJA
Departure time (scheduled) : 7:10 pm
Departure time (actual) : 7:48 pm
Take-off time : 8:27 pm
Landing : 9:20 am
Arrival at the gate (scheduled) : 8:25 am
Arrival at the gate (actual) : 9:30 am
Load factor : 100% all classes
After push-back, it was possible to see our progression on the taxiways on the main TV screens thanks to the camera in the tail of the plane. You can see that there was still a lot of snow on the taxiway sides.
The chief purser came to speak with all P class pax and was very attentive to their needs, as well as the other F/A in charge of P class. They did really an excellent work and it was so obvious that they were very proud to work on this beautiful bird. Taxi time was, for once, not too long (about 20 min) and only 2 A/C in line for take-off. Take-off was rapid and not noisy, as it is well-known for the A380.
The seat belt sign was turned off very quickly and the crew started the aperitif service. I took champagne (again !) with the very good Fauchon crepes stuffed with cheddar cheese.
Then the dinner started. Choices were pre-ordered by the crew while still on the ground at JFK. The menu included less choices than for the CDG-JFK trip, but the choices were still nice.
There was first a "mise en bouche".
Then I chose caviar for the appetizer (the last time I’ve eaten some was during my Concorde trip in January 2002), and the mushroom & asparagus risotto. I took some cheese and skipped the desert as I wanted to use the last 4-5 hrs of flight to sleep.
The F/A prepared the bed and I slept quite well. She asked me if I wanted to be waken-up for the breakfast. I said no as I preferred to sleep as long as possible. About mid-flight, the Captain turned the seat belt sign, while the flight was smooth. Some turbulences were probably mentioned by other A/C in the neighbourhood, but nothing came. I woke up about 30 min before landing, at the time the captain announced the beginning of the descent. I rushed to the changing room to put my clothes on.
The clouds were very low. This picture was taken only 5 minutes before landing.
We landed in CDG in a complete fog. I mean I knew we landed because I heard the sound of the wheels on the runway because you could saw nothing outside. Typical foggy morning at CDG in winter…
Arrived at the gate at S3 satellite of terminal 2E, P class pax were welcomed by their names by AF ground agents. These agents know of course if you are connecting or not, as well as if you have bags checked. We were transferred (by 2) in the limousines waiting at the foot of the A/C and we were directly driven to the immigration control (special lane). Then you arrive at the baggage claim where she stayed with me until I collected my checked bag, only 5 min after we arrived at the carrousel (a record for CDG which is one of the worst airport IMO for time to luggage delivery). She told me they were ensuring that the P class pax are getting their bags very quickly. Then as I was ending my trip in CDG she said good bye. This was definitely the end of a wonderful travel experience in 1st class and also in the A380, which I will take again for sure. I hope I’ll have other opportunity to fly like this. I fly often J class long-haul, so I cannot complain, but P class is really the step above. I want to thank all the AF staff on the ground and the crews for all these great moments.
Happy Flying !