Bonjour readers, and welcome to another short haul intra Euro report on Air France/KLM.
A good friend of mine moved to France earlier this year, and we’d been discussing plans for me to come and visit - who wouldn’t be up for a short trip to the South West of France at the end of October? From what she had told me, it all sounded lovely. The weather in London has been far from pleasant in recent weeks, although it’s not been that cold for this time of year. Nevertheless, I was pleased to be out of the city for a couple of days.
I got quite excited when travel options were being considered. My ultimate destination, Azille, was nowhere near any major airports which meant I had several options. The closest option was flying directly into Carcassonne but given that only FR
would be able to carry me there from London, I immediately said “non” ! I don’t fly with Ryanair anymore.
I ended up settling for an Air France/KLM Skyteam combo which allowed me to fly LHR
on the ATR72, then down to Toulouse on an A321. I would meet my friend in TLS
. The return flight would be on KLM on an EM190 and after a short stop (more on that later) in AMS
, a 738 back to LHR
I was giddy with glee at the prospect of flying on a prop out of LHR
- never having done this before. It would also make a huge contrast with the last LHR
flight that I did in August, which was on the AF
This report will feature only the LHR
It was also the last weekend that the ATR72 was scheduled to operate the LHR
route according to the Air France website so as the day before departure arrived and OLCI opened, I was pleased to see the flight was still due to be operated by the ATR.
Air France welcomed me to OLCI so I obliged and felt happy that my trip to France was about to begin.
Some 8 hours after completing OLCI however, I received another email from Air France telling me that my ATR flight had been cancelled and they had re-booked me onto a later flight that day.
A wave of grumpiness set in, and after getting over the shock that my little ATR flight was to be no more, I also noticed that my connection time in CDG
had been reduced to just one hour.
Although I’ve not transferred flights at CDG
before, I have flown in an out of CDG
many times and read several horror stories about transit experiences there. The possibility of actually being able to transfer to another flight in just on one hour filled me with dread. A quick call to Air France and I asked to be rebooked onto an earlier flight leaving LHR
. There were plenty of seats available and the lovely lady on the phone happily changed my booking which meant I now had 3 hours to make the next flight down to TLS
Now why would they deliberately book me on a flight that gave me less time to connect there? I thought this was a bit dumb of Air France, but clearly they were far more optimistic than I was at getting through from 2E to 2F in time.
BYE BYE LONDON
I was out at LHR T4
pre-dawn, which actually made it feel like the middle of the night. I really hate when the days here get shorter *sigh*.
Check in for Air France/KLM flights was busy - in fact so busy that there was a considerable queue to check in bags. I had second thoughts about checking in anything at this point, but I had liquids which were over the limit which were presents, so that left me with no option but to check the bag in (I was later to regret this decision). The line moved faster than I thought was ever possible, and soon I was on my way through security and into the lounge for something to wake me up.
The lounge affords nice views of arrivals onto 27L, but as it was still pitch black, all I could see was the growing line of lights that were forming as LHR
started to come to life in the early morning.
A couple of coffees later, and I was getting restless, so had a short wander around to see what was on stand.
Kenya Airways 772 at the gate
Royal Brunei 772 next door, having arrived from Bandar Seri Begawan and Dubai. I call this the “Brisbane Express“, as my mother always uses this flight to visit me here from Australia.
There were a few nightstoppers as well, including a CO
757 but I was unable to get any pics. Although I love night photography, it’s always a challenge trying to get a decent shot through glass, sans tripod and where there is lots of reflection. Grrrrr.
Departures from T4
this morning before us included a KL
738 to AMS
and an AZ
320 to Milan.
Instead of being confronted with the nice little lines of an ATR72, this was what would take me to Paris this morning
Another angle with the CO
757 in the background
Not quite what I was hoping for - yet another A319. However, on the plus side, it was my first AF
319 and at least I had plenty of time to connect in CDG
Sat 30 October 2010
Flight time: 50 mins
By the time I got to the gate, the flight was boarding and the load today looked quite light.
Today was the last day of service for BA
757s and I was hoping to spot “CPET” just one last time. Of course, I never expected to but more on that shortly.
Couldn’t see a thing as the aircraft had nightstoppped meaning the windows were covered with condensation. Bugger. Here’s the view as we pushed back and taxied out. I noticed in Mark’s (BA319-131) report of his flights on the same day, the view from his BA
734 was pretty much the same at LGW
For some reason, departures had been switched to 27L, so it was only a short taxi to the end of the runway for our little A319. The cabin was nice and clean inside, cloth seats and I had the seat next to me that was empty - always a bonus!
Just before turning onto 27L, an old friend was there to wave us goodbye. Goodbye 757 I said as we started our take off roll. At least by now it had started to get light and looked like it would be a nice day in London today - ironic when I was trying to escape the yukky weather we’d been having.
Up and away passing T5
Who’s that down there? Hello CPET - and goodbye. Looks like she was being pushed back for her first rotation for her last day of service. Well, if you’ve read a number of reports on here lately such as BA319-131 and FlyingFinn76‘s reports, you’ll know what CPET was up to on 30 October.
Heading west, over Windsor before commencing a gentle left turn
In a bygone era, the London - Paris route evoked glamour and prestige. These days, it’s about as ho hum as flying gets. Many trips to Paris these days I do via Eurostar which is usually met with a “Wash your mouth out - why are you not flying?” response from my good avia friend in the US.
Air France catering today (see what I mean - nothing “glama” about this at all).
However, having said that, the crew on the flight were friendly and the captain also made a couple of announcements which were well received (by me at least, everyone else seemed to be snoozing). This included the young gentleman in front of me (who I actually thought was a woman originally because he had long flowing hair -oops) who spent most of the flight with his seat reclined. Nice and cosy - just how I like to fly….not but I guess you can’t really do anything about it.
In a sick kinda way, I quite like the fact that a number of LCCs do not allow seats to recline!
Some nice early morning view as we climbed higher and out passing the English coastline below
Unfortunately, the weather in Paris was expected to be rainy, and boy was the captain right.
After a short time, we were descending (barely enough time to eat the rather dry and cold croissant!) into CDG
. Getting closer, it was clear that the weather was less than sunny in Paris today.
We landed on one of the southerly runways, and a relatively short taxi later, were at the gate.
Welcome to France!
No real negative observations of note of my first AF
319 flight. It was on time, crew were friendly and we get to CDG
safely. Food offerings were a bit miserly but I'd already eaten in the lounge so I was not hungry. Can’t ask for too much more these days. Thumbs up for this one.
I waited for most pax to leave before heading out and looking for the signs to Terminal 2F. I had less hassle than I envisaged although some of the signage at CDG
is very poor, in my opinion.
Having found my way to 2F, I then had to wait, and wait and wait until the departures board listed my next flight to Toulouse Blanca (TLS
). Because of the way 2F is designed, you need to know precisely which gate, as there are separate security check points for each of the 2 concourses that comprise 2F. A good design? I couldn’t really see the reason for this duplication but I am no design expert.
Sat waiting landside for the gate to appear, I was deeply depressed by the fact that when sitting, the way in which the building was designed meant that you couldn’t actually see anything through the port holes.
What‘s this? A wall with some holes not very well positioned !
Finally the Gate came up so I headed to the relevant concourse, hoping for better views. Sadly I was to be disappointed. All that glass and not a decent vantage point in sight. Have I missed something here? I got bored waiting at the gate so took a pic of the colourful seats.
And the view out of the window. Can’t see any aircraft? Well they were all there - lots of Air France narrow bodies - A320/321s, 318s as well as a nice 330 parked at the other concourse at 2F but it was impossible to get a decent photo of anything, including my own A321 down to TLS
Sat 30 October 2010
Flight time: 1 hr 20
In contrast to the last flight, this one was destined to be packed full. As the departure time approached, the gate area became very crowded and people started lining up in front of the podium a good 30 mins before we actually started boarding. I find such behaviour to be quite odd given that everyone had reserved seats. The plane is not going to leave any faster if you line up!
It also became apparent that this flight should have been renamed the “Air France Creche” given the number of unaccompanied minors on the flight - a whole army of children aged between about 8 - 11 turned up wearing their UM
status around their necks. I’ve never seen so many unaccompanied kids on a flight before - do the French send their children like this around the country all the time?
As the aircraft was late arriving, we were 25 mins late boarding, and the gate area by this time represented a scene from some kind of mass evacuation - people loitering everywhere, some queuing, some not, kids screaming, people staring at their phones, some reading the paper…….
At last we were ready to go, and after boarding, this was the view from my seat - new colours A320. Are they new colours….really? Kinda like from the AZ
school of rebranding. Must be a Skyteam thing?
Finally, I also got a nice view of this A330 in the old-new colours. Very nice. I am a big fan of the 330, despite some of the negative press surrounding it, particularly at the time of the Air France crash last year.
A short taxi later, and after a manual safety demonstration from the crew, we were off to TLS
Heading for the runway
Leaving terra firma
Good bye Paris - which actually had improved weather wise by the time we departed (typical - always my luck)
Some autumnal colours as we head out of Paris
A few views of Paris on climb out - which by now was covered with only puffy white clouds!
A little further on, still climbing
No entertainment of any kind on this flight - a short drinks and snack service was completed by the crew, who, like my earlier flight, were pleasant and friendly. The captain also gave us some interesting flight information and our expected arrival time in TLS
. I was disappointed that there was no moving map so I had no idea where we were - I assumed we pretty much made a straight line for TLS
The weather steadily improved the further south we flew - yay.
Some pics as we got closer to TLS
. Again, some nice rustic, autumnal colours on the ground.
Another view as we get closer to our arrival destination
All avia fans know that TLS
is the home of Airbus so I was excited to see what might be on the ground there about to be delivered. Sinking closer and closer, I was lucky to get a view of some new A380s which were still being completed. A couple of LH
and a SQ
380 on the ground. Great stuff!
Touchdown - Welcome to Toulouse Blagnac
The main terminal building with a few Air France, EZY and surprisingly for me, an Air Austral 772.
A nice sign, reminding us that we’re at Toulouse Blagnac
Some of the Airbus action on the other side of the airport. Never seen these guys fly before, but a few days later, I watched one land. Quite impressive but so ugly. Uggh.
Air Austral F-OMAY, getting ready to depart to Reunion
With an Aigle Azure A320 in the background
We’d arrived, albeit 25 mins late. That ended my journey with Air France. What can I say? I managed to get to Toulouse, did not misconnect at CDG
and the flights were pleasant. That was pretty much how I’d sum up my flights on Air France.
Then I had a message over the PA, along with 5 other customers that they needed to speak to Air France baggage services in the terminal. Oh oh…
It turned out that Air France, despite having 3 hours to transfer my bag to the TLS
flight, seemingly found this task impossible and had therefore sent my bag on the next flight. Nice going Air France.
I thought this was completely laughable (given how worried I had been about me missing the connection in CDG
- not my bag!). Immediately, I could not understand how they managed to get it so wrong.
What I would say is that Air France managed to redeem itself in two ways (a) they told me in advance that my bag was not going to be at the bag reclaim area which meant I was not waiting and waiting and (b) the very nice lady working at their baggage office was so pleasant, it was hard not to be frustrated. She was lovely although she had no idea where I was staying when my friend gave her the address for the bag to be sent to! She handed me a Skyteam emergency pack containing the essentials and told me the bag would be delivered early the next day (although it actually turned up that evening which was even better).
I ended up meeting my friend in TLS
as planned and had a couple of lovely days in the Languedoc-Roussillon region.
A few pics that I took over the weekend -
View from the old city/castle in Carcassonne
Gruissan - just before a powerful storm passed through
Minerve and surrounds
Even the grape vines are changing colour
Thanks for reading, and of course, any comments are appreciated.