My name is Maikel van der Heijden, 19 years young and living in The Netherlands. This is my first post and trip report on A.net. I've been reading trip reports here for like 3 years, I now wanted to make one myself. It's my first one so if you have any tips they are more then welcome!
Why this trip:
I always wanted to fly on a bigger plane then the normal 737’s I’m used to, when I heard that Air France was heaving some attractive offers on the Airbus A380 flight I checked their webpage. Although fairly busy with work in the summer holidays I was able to book a return trip on AF1980 & AF1981 in the weekend for a good rate. A friend of mine joined me on this trip, our first plans was to only fly the plane and then go straight back to The Netherlands but we decided that we were going to leave a day in advance to do some aircraft spotting at Paris CDG.
We spent the night before the flight in the Hilton CDG hotel (really nice hotel). Because I’m used to Dutch carriers like Transavia I was really looking forward to this more ‘’quality’’ airline and my first flight on a aircraft with 4 engines.
Before the flight & Hotel:
As I said we left Holland by car on Saturday morning to arrive in Paris at 10:30am, check in time for the hotel was 2pm so we had a little time to look around. We were well prepared I printed out some maps of the airport with spotting locations and I signed up for the spotting permit that is required to photograph airplanes at the airport (we were checked 3 times during our stay).
During the day we stayed next to runway 09R for landing traffic and 09L for the departing traffic, the sun was on the wrong side but I have some descent photos.
When flying on Air France you are able to do online check-in 30 hours before the departure of the flight. Before I left home I checked in and was able to chose my seat for both flights, the Air France website is user friendly and before I knew it I had the boarding passes ready to be printed out in a PDF format.
Late in the afternoon we went to our hotel room in the Hilton Paris CDG hotel****, car was easily parked in the car garage located under the hotel, parking is 29 euro’s a day. In this hotel they used a lot of warm colors and it looked very fresh and sharp. This hotel is also a popular overnight place for flight crews from Asia.
The thing I liked the most of the hotel are the 3 elevators in the lobby, I think they are American style.
Overview of the dining area where you can see that the whole ceiling is made of glass, that made the hotel very light. We took the elevator up.
On the upper level there was access to executive lounge for Hilton’s honored members.
The hotel room was very nice, there were good beds and also air conditioning with a large bathroom including a separate shower and bath. Here is the welcome screen on the flat television screen.
In the beginning of the evening we went to the terminal for some diner in Terminal 2, to check how this was because our flight was departing from Terminal 2E. When we came back we made a visited to the Concorde that was directly in front of our hotel. It was an awesome sight and it’s a pity I never saw it flying.
It was time to head back to our hotel room to do some administration, some nice models are displayed in the lobby of the hotel. Note the Air France Skyteam Boeing 777-300ER nose gear.
On Sunday the 18th of July it was finally time to fly on the Airbus A380 to London and back. We took the bus shuttle from our hotel to Terminal 2D, from there it was a short walk to Terminal 2E. There were no long waiting lines so we were very fast at the gate. There are plenty of shopping possibilities in Terminal 2 which is one of the newest Terminal of the airport. Here are 2 shots inside the terminal.
While waiting at the gate for boarding (that started rather late) the temperature was really getting up fast because the Terminal is made of glass, it was like a sauna in there.
On front of the 2 gates and 3 jet bridges that are being used to board the A380 there were a couple of seating plans.
Lower deck Voyageur (Economy).
Upper deck Voyageur (Economy).
The Flight, Seat, Entertainment, Cabins and Crew:
The boarding process started 10 minutes behind schedule. The gate used for the Upper deck was E53 and gate E54 for the Lower deck passengers. Off course the First class, Business Class en Premium Skyteam members were able to board first. There weren’t a lot of them so the economy passengers were the next ones to enter the beast. Here is she standing on the blocks, in this case the first A380-800 for Air France.
The door to the Airbus A380.
The second Airbus A380-800 reg. F-HPJB resting next to us, probably being prepared for a flight to New York JFK airport.
At the door we were greeted by a stewardess that directed us to our seat, the uniforms of the cabin attendants where very nice and looked very smart . Obviously I wanted to make some photographs of the La Première / First class cabin and so I asked if we could have a sneak peek. She was very kind and opened the curtain for us, and what sight it was. The Air France Airbus A380 features 9 First Class La Premiere seats on the lower deck in a 1-2-1 configuration.
She left us to head to the door again so we had plenty of opportunities to explore the cabin and make a descent amount of photographs. Another cabin attendant turned on the seat lights, that was a nice extra. Here are some shots of the awesome looking seats, I thinks the brown seats and the red carpet are a nice combination.
A shot of the ( I think) 8,4 inch LCD screen that is located in the armrest.
Seat control on the armrest.
When done making photographs of the First Class I headed to the front of the plane were the Business and First class passengers were boarding. I waited until they were all upstairs and asked if it was possible to make a couple of pictures of the flight deck. She reclined and said the flight was running late and the pilots were busy. I made a proposal to come back when we were in London or the flight back to Paris. She was amazed that we were going back to Paris on the same day and we talked a little about where I was from and stuff like that. She was fine with the plan to return when the plane was at the gate in London. Here is a shot from the front stairway.
We returned to our seat, in this case it was 12K for me. Here is a overview of the Economy/Voyageur.
Voyageur/Economy Class on the Air France A380 seats at total of 449 passengers on both the lower and upper decks. Seating is configured in a 10 wide 3-4-3 configuration. I really like to mood lighting above the windows.
My view for the upcoming 3 hours(delay).
This shot was taken before we heard that there was a even larger delay.
There were a lot off cabin attendants in the cabin walking from the front to the plane to the rear and back, it looked a little chaotic so there obviously something wrong with the aircraft. A few minutes later the captain came on the speaker telling us that there was something wrong with the aircraft and he expected to depart in a couple of minutes. It seems that it wasn’t really a big problem, there also were some staff on board from the maintenance department of Air France and they were checking the galley.
What had to take a ‘’couple of minutes’’ became 45 minutes and the captain explained first in French and later in English that they needed to have a signature from Airbus. That signature waited for another 30 minutes so eventually we had about 2 hours of delay including the boarding delay. We did had enough time to explore the IFE system. The In-flight entertainment unit in Voyageur is an 8.4 inch LCD screen, along with 600 hours of viewing & 3,000 music tracks.
The control panel is also a gaming controller and phone.
The famous legroom shot.
Because it was taking very long the attendants were going to distribute some water, this was really nice because we already were 2 hours in the airplane without even departing. Actually a funny thing with a flight time of 40 minutes. It was about 25 degrees Celsius outside the airplane but the conditioning worked fine and that made the waiting more pleasant.
Then the captain came back again and he said he received the signature from Airbus so the plane was ready to go off blocks and head to the runway. The first thing I noticed was how quiet the plane was, off course I’ve seen plenty of A380 flying but I’ve never been in one and even when the engines where starting up there wasn’t a loud sound or anything like that. The IFE also has 3 different cams that you can select during the flight, located on the nose, belly and tail section. Here is a shot of the tail cam, it brings a new dimension for passengers.
During our 15 minute taxi to the departing runway there was plenty to see, here you can see a company triple 7 waiting, must have been a great sight.
An American Airlines Boeing 767-300ER waiting at the holding point for her journey across the Atlantic. It wasn’t that busy at the runway so we were next.
Lined up runway 09R and ready to go, the captain applied power on the 4 GE and Pratt & Whitney GP7000 engines. Take-off roll was smooth and uneventful.
Passing terminal 1 & 3 during our roll, note the Singapore Airbus A380.
The 2 control towers located in the center of the airport.
Window shots are hard to make in the A380 because the window consist of 2 layers. In this picture you can also see the Concorde in the far background.
The tail camera just after departure.
A nice overview of Terminal 2 with plenty of heavy Air France aircraft awaiting their next flight.
The massive wing.
The main menu of the IFE system offering to much options for such a short flight.
Some information about our flight.
Some biscuits and Cola when we were on 24.000ft.
Beautiful weather for flying.
We are beginning our descend from the South-East, you can still see the coast of France.
Just over the English Channel.
A few other map options, really nice.
The city of London.
We also made a holding pattern, this is really common here at Heathrow.
The London Bridge.
On finals runway 27L with a crosswind, I think there was a bird that came a little too close to the tail camera.
Landing was soft and after some hard braking we were vacating the runway on the right hand side, that meant that we had to cross the runway again to end up at terminal 4.
A Qantas and a Emirates Airbus A380 on the gate at Heathrow.
The taxi was fast because we didn’t had to wait long for the crossing. Here is another photograph of the seat.
When the seatbelt sign was off I headed up to the front again to see if the same cabin attendant was again there. She wasn’t there, but there were some others, I asked if it’s was ok to make a photograph of the cockpit.
She wasn’t really sure but said ok under one condition: ‘’Don’t talk to the pilots unless they talk to you’’. You should have seen my face when she said that, I thought it was kind of funny. I’ve worked a lot with pilots in the past but she couldn’t know that off course, they are just normal people and most of the time relaxed and friendly.
When I walked in the cockpit the first thing I noticed that it’s large cockpit with enough space, but hey! it’s the biggest civil plane in the world. All the crew members greeted me with a smile on their faces, they weren’t so stressed as the flight attendant that was in front of the cockpit door. Here are some photographs.
And the last shot with the gate number.
The captain apologized that he was so busy with work that he didn’t have time to talk. Well that’s work, and with 2 hours of delay that’s not a strange thing. Then we took the stairs to the Upper deck for some shots of the Business/Affaires. The Air France A380 Affaires/Business Class cabin is located in the forward upper deck of the aircraft, with 80 Seats set out in a 2-2-2 seating configuration. IFE screen is 15 Inch wide. Seats look nice to me, been on plenty of KLM aircraft so it’s nothing different.
Then it was time to de board my first flight on a Airbus A380.
My first encounter with Air France was really good. The cabin attendants look all ‘’classy’’ and well dressed, I really liked the red leather gloves that the attendant was wearing that stood at the door really good style. Overall they were very kind and although we had a large delay the time flew by very fast and most of the passengers left the Airbus with a smile.
I must confess I’m a big Boeing fan, but the Airbus A380 performed high above my expectations, good leg room and sufficient space between the armrest and the window. And off course not to forget the low sound level in the cabin, you can really have a good sleep in this aircraft.
I’m looking forward to Air France partner KLM, which I’m going to fly to Curaçao. That’s going to be my first Long Haul and I will make a full trip report as well. Thank you for reading my first full trip report and I hope you enjoyed it much as I did.
Feedback is always welcome.