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Knightsofmalta
Topic Author
Posts: 1754
Joined: Fri Nov 25, 2005 10:51 pm

Air France Business Class To Los Angeles

Thu Aug 21, 2014 6:20 am

Folie1

Oh very well then, I think I will leave now…

My alarm goes off at 05:15. I step into the bathroom to take a shower and immediately shrink back at my own reflection. I am still a bit bleary eyed. And I am starting to look a bit like Captain Caveman, given that my last shave was the day I left Switzerland on 07 August.

GETTING TO THE AIRPORT
Transport:
taxi
Departs from: Intercontinental Beachcomber Hotel
Journey time: 10 minutes
Fare: ca. CHF15

I leave the hotel just after six o’clock in the morning. Tahiti is only just waking up; it is still quiet. Even so, there is a surprising amount of traffic on the road. I assume this must be the beginning of the commuter rush hour, even though the whole concept of such a thing seems somewhat alien, if not irreconcilable to such a heavenly place.

CHECK-IN
Location:
there is a separate check-in area for all international flights, of which there are three leaving at more or less the same time
Facilities: dedicated Air France check-in counters, separate counters for SKY PRIORITY

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On the face of it, it looks like chaos. There are people everywhere. There are three widebodies leaving at more or less the same time: the Air France service to Los Angeles and then Paris, the Air Tahiti Nui service doing the same and another Air Tahiti Nui flight bound for Auckland. The check-in counters are located right next to the exit for international arrivals. The two Paris flights have only just come in and by the looks of it, welcoming friends and family home is a big thing in Tahiti.

People everywhere. In one corner I can hear music – is somebody playing a ukulele somewhere? In the middle of the terminal the crowd has formed a circle. In the middle of it stands a traveller who has just arrived. Three Polynesian men are doing some sort of dance in front of him that I can only assume is intended to welcome the traveller home. It looks and sounds like the Haka dance the All Blacks do at the beginning of a game. But this seems friendlier, even if these guys are just as beefy and tough looking as the All Blacks…

But in spite of it all, if it were not for all the people, the process is very well organised. To access the check-in counters you have to pass through a security check, where the name in your passport is matched against the passenger list.

Immigration is a bit of a surprise. There are four queues – one for each one of the three flights and a fourth queue for crew. Immediately behind immigration is security and it really is quite amazing just how swift the process is.

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The transit area looks as though it was recently refurbished. Either that or the facility is incredibly well kept.

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LOUNGE
Location:
first floor, the stairs and lift are located right between gates 50 and 40
Type of Lounge:
contractor lounge
Facilities:
washrooms, computer work stations, snacks, hot and cold drinks – I think it should also be mentioned that there is even a Lavazza coffee machine that uses those capsules which are so much better than that Nespresso rubbish…
Internet:
available for free, passwords are issued at reception

The lounge’s most redeeming feature – even better than the Lavazza machine if you ask me – is the view it offers of what is going on outside, with three widebodies in full view. Just brilliant.

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BOARDING
Priority Boarding:
the boarding sequence is, in this order: UMs, passengers needing assistance, families with small children, SKY PRIORITY passengers, general scrum

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This is the part I have been looking forward to most: walking across the apron to board the aircraft and then climbing the stairs. And it is not just any aircraft. My chariot today is the mighty Triple Seven. Say what you will, but I think she is hot!

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CABIN
Configuration:
2 + 3 + 2 – This is an old school kind of seat. Having said that, I think I prefer it to the herringbone I experienced on Air New Zealand, for the simple reason that it offers more privacy and there is a lot more storage space. Moreover, the storage space is easily accessible and conveniently located. But there are drawbacks of course. First of all, the cursed middle seat, which really should not be an option for a Business Class product. And secondly, having to climb over the person on the aisle if you happen to be seated by the window
Facilities: power outlet, reading lamp; a blanket, pillow, hangar, slippers, socks and earphones have already been placed in the seats when the passengers start boarding the aircraft
Audio and Video: available on demand, the selection of films is somewhat limited though and the quality of the picture is no good at all

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SERVICE
The cabin crew on this flight is a mix of Tahiti based crew and Paris based crew. The maître de is a woman of Polynesian descent. The service provided by all the crew is very personable and friendly. They all take their time to interact with the passengers in a very charming and outgoing manner.

After take-off the ladies change into a typically Polynesian dress and wear a Tiaré in their hair. It is a nice touch I think.

Once we are airborne, the crew distribute the menus and the vanity kits.

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VANITY KIT
Brand:
no name
Content: shoe spoon, a large tube of Colgate toothpaste, toothbrush, eye shades, earplugs, Clarins cosmetics, lip balm

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THE MEAL
Welcome drink on the ground:
orange juice, still water or champagne
Hot towel before the meal: available but not scented
Pre-meal drink:
full bar service, served with an amuse bouche and a crispy snack
Choice:
four choices for the main dish, including one vegetarian option
Delivery:
tray service
Type of meal:
lunch, hot meal
Menu:

  • A mini vol-au-vent with salmon roe, shrimp and cream cheese served as an amuse bouche

  • Crispy crèpes filled with cream cheese and walnuts to go with the aperitif

  • Seasonal salad with a choice of balsamic dressing, French dressing or basil infused olive oil

  • For the first course a terrine of cauliflower and carrot, a chunky piece of grilled Mahi Mahi with lime juice, grilled lamb with tossed vegetables

  • Polenta and vegetable cake served with a bell pepper coulis

  • A variety of bread from the breadbasket, I count four rounds

  • Cheese from the cart

  • For dessert a combination of pastries: pineapple tartlet, praline cream puff, strawberry maccaron served with mango sorbet

  • Tea and coffee

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Something has gone awfully wrong here. I am always telling my Dutch colleague P. from work what a useless airline Air France is. On this flight however, I am finding it difficult to explain why. First we have the friendly crew, that cannot be right. And now the food: this meal is quite unusual in all respects. First of all the sheer amount of food you are served is incredible. You really do not need to go hungry with Air France. Secondly, some of the dishes are really quite interesting and unusual. I decide to go with the polenta and it really is very tasty.

The biggest pleasure though, are the desserts. So often on a plane dessert consists of some ghastly creamy concoction that is advertised as being this or that with a hint of so, so and bla but eventually ends up tasting of artificial cream and nothing else. But Air France is not having any of this: the pastry is rich and has managed to remain surprisingly crisp. It is not at all soggy.

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Once everything is cleared away, the lights go out and the blinds are lowered. I never quite understand why people do this. After all, it is a daytime flight and under normal circumstances they would not be sleeping at this hour either.

SECOND MEAL SERVICE
Menu:

  • Goat cheese canapé with tapenade

  • Smoked tune canapé with eggplant caviar

  • Hazelnut and chocolate puff pastry

  • Fresh fruit

  • Fresh cheese

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ARRIVAL
We are running behind schedule and eventually arrive in Los Angeles fifty minutes late. As such this is not really a big deal for me. But the queue for immigration is incredibly long, presumably because we arrived shortly after a China Southern A 380 which must have been pretty full by the looks of it.

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GETTING INTO TOWN
Transport:
complimentary hotel shuttle
Departs from: international terminal, hotel shuttle pick up area
Frequency: every 15 – 20 minutes
Journey time: ca. 10 minutes
Actually I am not going into town. I shall not be staying in Los Angeles. I have an onward flight tomorrow morning, so I figure I might as well take a hotel at the airport. I am staying at the Hilton LAX Airport on Century Boulevard.

ABOUT AIR FRANCE
I was fully expecting not to like Air France. Much to my surprise though, I thought they were rather good. First of all, the Polynesian touch provided by the local crew is brilliant, they were all just so nice and friendly. Secondly, the meals are something else. In terms of quantity and quality they make the likes of SWISS or Lufthansa look pretty sad. I do not think I will go out of my way to fly Air France again. But I think I may now stop actively avoiding them.
 
joeytaffy93
Posts: 319
Joined: Thu Jan 28, 2010 4:25 pm

RE: Air France Business Class To Los Angeles

Thu Aug 21, 2014 8:35 am

Good trip report, thank you for sharing.

AF certainly went all out on this flight by the looks of it.
 
lychemsa
Posts: 1865
Joined: Sun Oct 11, 2009 8:39 pm

RE: Air France Business Class To Los Angeles

Thu Aug 21, 2014 8:57 am

I flew the same route in 1986 on a Continental DC-10 which left at midnight, originating in Auckland.

The service was bad as usual. I am sure Air France is a zillion times better.

The meals on Air France long haul in economy, are also much better and more generous than Swiss or Lufthansa or of course our own US airlines which are below acceptable.

[Edited 2014-08-21 02:01:13]
 
MonsieurX
Posts: 76
Joined: Sat Feb 08, 2014 12:28 am

RE: Air France Business Class To Los Angeles

Thu Aug 21, 2014 10:47 am

Excellent trip report as usual! I always enjoy reading about your varied and fascinating experiences, reported as usual in your thorough and fair manner.

I do have to say, there's always something special about boarding a wide-body (especially the T7 and 747) via air stairs; as mere 'passengers' on such beasts we never usually get to feel the sheer, imposing bulk of the things when viewed from ground level. Sadly, it's an experience being relegated to fewer and fewer airports around the world, but every time I've done it it has felt a better experience than 99% of air bridges could provide...
 
ba319-131
Posts: 8318
Joined: Sat Jan 13, 2001 1:27 pm

RE: Air France Business Class To Los Angeles

Thu Aug 21, 2014 8:38 pm

Hi William,

Nice read and pictures, thanks for sharing

Quoting knightsofmalta (Thread starter):
CABIN
Configuration: 2 + 3 + 2 – This is an old school kind of seat. Having said that, I think I prefer it to the herringbone I experienced on Air New Zealand, for the simple reason that it offers more privacy and there is a lot more storage space. Moreover, the storage space is easily accessible and conveniently located. But there are drawbacks of course. First of all, the cursed middle seat, which really should not be an option for a Business Class product. And secondly, having to climb over the person on the aisle if you happen to be seated by the window

- 2-3-2 in JCL is just not premium in this layout. I really dislike is AF JCL layout and would not spend my money to fly them.

Quoting knightsofmalta (Thread starter):
SECOND MEAL SERVICE
Menu:
Goat cheese canapé with tapenade

Smoked tune canapé with eggplant cavia

- Yuck! - Whilst the main meal looked pretty decent, this second meal does not float my boat.

A mixed bag for me, mainly catering wise, but glad you thought they were ok.

Cheers

Mark
111 732 733 734 735 736 73G 738 739,7M8 BBJ 741 742 743 744 752 753 762 763 764 772 77L 773 77W L15 D10 D30 D40 AB3 AB6 312 313 318 319 320 20N 321 21N 332 333 342 343 345 346 359 351 388 CS1 CS3 I86 154 SSJ CRJ CR7 CR9 CRK 145 170 175 220
 
Knightsofmalta
Topic Author
Posts: 1754
Joined: Fri Nov 25, 2005 10:51 pm

RE: Air France Business Class To Los Angeles

Fri Aug 22, 2014 11:17 pm

Hi JoeyTaffy93

Quoting JoeyTaffy93 (Reply 1):
Good trip report, thank you for sharing.

Thanks, my pleasure.

Quoting JoeyTaffy93 (Reply 1):
AF certainly went all out on this flight by the looks of it.

Indeed, although I am beginning to suspect that this flights was actually pretty standard for Air France. I think they're better than their reputation.

Hi Lychemsa

Quoting lychemsa (Reply 2):
I flew the same route in 1986 on a Continental DC-10 which left at midnight, originating in Auckland.

Cool, the mighty DC-10. Alas, I never managed to get on one of those.

Quoting lychemsa (Reply 2):
The meals on Air France long haul in economy, are also much better and more generous than Swiss or Lufthansa or of course our own US airlines which are below acceptable.

That's very true. I flew Air France to Dubai in Economy a few years back and I was amazed by the sheer amount of food they gave us.

Hi MonsieurX

Quoting MonsieurX (Reply 3):
Excellent trip report as usual! I always enjoy reading about your varied and fascinating experiences, reported as usual in your thorough and fair manner.

Thanks, I appreciate the feedback. And I'm glad you enjoyed the report.

Quoting MonsieurX (Reply 3):
I do have to say, there's always something special about boarding a wide-body (especially the T7 and 747) via air stairs; as mere 'passengers' on such beasts we never usually get to feel the sheer, imposing bulk of the things when viewed from ground level. Sadly, it's an experience being relegated to fewer and fewer airports around the world, but every time I've done it it has felt a better experience than 99% of air bridges could provide...

I fully agree. Nowadays boarding a plane means that you walk from the terminal building into a tube and then into a larger tube with cramped seating. But as you say, by boarding via stairs you get to appreciate the machine which is about the carry you away. I think it makes the difference from travelling in the true sense of the word to simply moving from point A to B.

Hi Mark

Quoting ba319-131 (Reply 4):
Nice read and pictures, thanks for sharing

Thanks, my pleasure.

Quoting ba319-131 (Reply 4):
- 2-3-2 in JCL is just not premium in this layout. I really dislike is AF JCL layout and would not spend my money to fly them.

Hopefully this is a thing of the past with AF with the introduction of the new Business Class seat CX already has installed.

Quoting ba319-131 (Reply 4):
- Yuck! - Whilst the main meal looked pretty decent, this second meal does not float my boat.

I did think at the time that the food may not appeal to everybody...

Quoting ba319-131 (Reply 4):
A mixed bag for me, mainly catering wise, but glad you thought they were ok.

I can appreciate that. If you're not into French food I think you may be in trouble with AF.

Thanks for commenting.

Cheers,
William
 
adamspotter
Posts: 1191
Joined: Tue Feb 15, 2011 10:06 pm

RE: Air France Business Class To Los Angeles

Sun Aug 24, 2014 11:27 am

Hi William,

Another great report you made here, really enjoyed it!
At first I was expecting another report on how bad AF's J class is, good to see they performed well here.
The crew sound fantastic and the food also looks good and plentiful.
The only downside is the hard product but I'm sure that will improve once AF installs their new product  
Quoting knightsofmalta (Thread starter):

Once we are airborne, the crew distribute the menus and the vanity kits.

Those vanity kits looks nice!

Thanks as always for sharing!

cheers,

Brendan
 
flpuck6
Posts: 2047
Joined: Fri Jun 11, 1999 12:32 am

RE: Air France Business Class To Los Angeles

Sun Aug 24, 2014 12:55 pm

Quoting knightsofmalta (Thread starter):
My chariot today is the mighty Triple Seven. Say what you will, but I think she is hot!

YES !!! I'm not the only who thinks this ! :P

Just know, knightsofmalta, I enjoy reading all of your reports, thank you.
Bonjour Chef!
 
Knightsofmalta
Topic Author
Posts: 1754
Joined: Fri Nov 25, 2005 10:51 pm

RE: Air France Business Class To Los Angeles

Mon Aug 25, 2014 2:02 am

Hi Brendan

Quoting adamspotter (Reply 6):
Another great report you made here, really enjoyed it!

Thanks, glad you enjoyed the report.

Quoting adamspotter (Reply 6):
At first I was expecting another report on how bad AF's J class is, good to see they performed well here.

Funnily enough I was expecting not to like Air France either. But it's always nice to have your expectations exceeded.

Quoting adamspotter (Reply 6):
The only downside is the hard product but I'm sure that will improve once AF installs their new product

Yes, that middle seat really has to go. Although I'm not quite sure if AF will introduce the new C Class cabin on all of its long-haul fleet.

Quoting adamspotter (Reply 6):
Those vanity kits looks nice!

They are, the lining is a bit like the one Austrians Airlines has.

Quoting adamspotter (Reply 6):
Thanks as always for sharing!

My pleasure!

Hi flpuck6

Quoting flpuck6 (Reply 7):
YES !!! I'm not the only who thinks this ! :P

Yes, and we're not alone...

Quoting flpuck6 (Reply 7):
Just know, knightsofmalta, I enjoy reading all of your reports, thank you.

Thanks, that very nice of you to comment.

Thanks for taking the time to comment.

Cheers,
William
 
User avatar
sultanils
Posts: 1931
Joined: Thu Mar 11, 2010 5:37 pm

RE: Air France Business Class To Los Angeles

Mon Aug 25, 2014 8:29 am

Hi William, good to see another part of your holiday travels. That indeed looks like a lot of food to choose from! I’m sure you wanted the flight to last longer   And no better way of appreciating the sheer size of a widebody than boarding it by stairs - and having to turn left after climbing the stairs!

Sultanils
In thrust we trust.
 
Knightsofmalta
Topic Author
Posts: 1754
Joined: Fri Nov 25, 2005 10:51 pm

RE: Air France Business Class To Los Angeles

Fri Aug 29, 2014 9:27 am

Hi Nils

Quoting sultanils (Reply 9):
That indeed looks like a lot of food to choose from!

Yes, Air France is my kind of airline!

Quoting sultanils (Reply 9):
I’m sure you wanted the flight to last longer

Actually I have felt like that on some flights in the past. And the time did go by quickly on this flight.

Quoting sultanils (Reply 9):
And no better way of appreciating the sheer size of a widebody than boarding it by stairs - and having to turn left after climbing the stairs!

The left turn is like an additional perk. Although in this case it was a right turn. The aircraft had no First Class.

Thanks for taking the time to comment.

Cheers,
William
 
cxb744
Posts: 228
Joined: Wed Apr 05, 2006 7:31 am

RE: Air France Business Class To Los Angeles

Fri Sep 19, 2014 2:15 pm

Tahiti - LA is to Air France what US - Hawaii used to be for the US majors. You would get extra special touches you wouldn't find on any other route.
It would be interesting to know if that level of service continued to Paris.
What is it? It's A 747-400, but that's not important right now.
 
Knightsofmalta
Topic Author
Posts: 1754
Joined: Fri Nov 25, 2005 10:51 pm

RE: Air France Business Class To Los Angeles

Fri Oct 03, 2014 7:36 pm

Hi cxb744

Quoting cxb744 (Reply 11):
It would be interesting to know if that level of service continued to Paris.

I suspect it probably did. The service seemed rather standard I'd say, except of course for the PPT based crews.

Cheers,
William

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