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

Air France: Zürich To Paris In Premium Economy

Wed Oct 01, 2014 4:54 am

Folie1

INTRODUCTION

I have a meeting to attend at the ICAO Regional Office in Paris. Originally the plan had been for me to fly with HOP! from Basel to Orly and then to return with KLM via Amsterdam. Eventually though, this proved too expensive because the airport of Basel is de iure on French territory. As a result, the flight from Basel to Orly is operated as a domestic service. As far as the fare is concerned, to combine that flight with a return on KLM would have meant a combination of a domestic oneway with an international oneway, which made the ticket very expensive. So eventually I had no other choice but to get myself a ticket from Zürich to Paris Roissy with a return on KLM via Amsterdam for less than half the price and which then qualifies as an international round trip.

No sooner had I booked the ticket, the Air France pilots decided to go on strike over management’s intention to strengthen Transavia in Europe. And so my original flight to Paris at 16:40 was eventually cancelled and I was reprotected on to the later flight at 18:00. In the sum of all things, I think Air France handled the situation very well. Given the amount of strikes the carrier’s staff has staged over the years though, that is hardly surprising…

GETTING TO THE AIRPORT

I leave Basel on a lovely Sunday afternoon. Probably this is going to be one of the last nice days before autumn sets in. I take the 15:07 ICE to Zürich, which is surprisingly punctual today. German trains are notoriously late. The journey to Zürich main station takes fifty minutes. At the main station I cross the platform and board the airport train. The journey to the airport only takes eight minutes.

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CHECK-IN

Terminal:
Check-in 2
Row: 4
Counters:
Dedicated SkyTeam check-in counters. There is a separate queue for SkyPriority passengers

I drop my bag at check-in and collect my boarding pass. I’ve already checked in using the KLM app but the Add to Passbook functionality is not working – again. The airport is pretty busy in the retail area above the railway station, while the check-in area is fairly quiet.

LOUNGE
Type of Lounge:
Air France branded lounge
Facilities:
Small area for work and two work stations with computers, the toilets are outside
Wifi:
Available for free on request at reception
Catering:
A small selection of cold snacks and drinks, the only hot item is a tomato soup which looks as though it has been there all day

Security is easy. Here too there is a dedicated queue for First Class and Business Class passengers and Priority card holders. The security check point will eject you straight into the duty free shopping area. To reach the Air France lounge walk through the shopping area and turn left. Keep walking past the Swiss restaurant and then do a sharp left turn. Go up the stairs and you arrive at the combined reception area of the Air France and OneWorld lounges, both of which are operated by the same company.

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BOARDING

My flight is boarding from gate A05, in one of the oldest parts of what used to be Terminal A. This is a bus gate, so I should be able to take some decent pictures of my chariot to Paris this evening.

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The gate agent scans my boarding pass and informs me that I have been upgraded to Premium Economy Class. And so has my colleague M. I do not get a chance to check out the back of the bus, so I am not sure if the flight was really that full – presumably because of the strike – or if this is simply a sign of goodwill on Air France’s side to apologize for the strike.

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Our bus pulls up next to the aircraft. The A 318 really is a strange bird. Somehow the proportions just do not seem right. Obviously it has the overall dimensions of the other Airbus narrow bodies. But it is just so short!

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THE CABIN
Seating:
3 + 3 with the middle seat left empty
Pitch: 32 inches
With: 17.5 inches
Facilities: none

There are four rows of Economy Premium, although initially the seating seems a bit strange. There is one person sitting on either side of row one. Rows two and three are empty and then on row four there is a couple sitting on the left side and three of us sitting in the right side. I am not sure if perhaps the gentleman at the window should have been on row three instead. But it does not really matter. The flight is on fifty-five minutes.

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THE CREW

There are three cabin crew on today’s flight. The purser is a middle aged gentleman who has obviously decided not to let the strike dampen his spirits. He is actually quite funny and interacts easily with the passengers.

SERVICE

As I enter the plane, there are refreshing towels laid out by the entrance for passengers to take. Even so, once the doors close one of the crew passes through the cabin offering larger, better quality towels to passengers sitting in Premium Economy. No offence BA, but those flimsy little things you offer in First Class as towels are really no match for these rather substantial things Air France provides in European Economy!

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THE MEAL
Type of meal:
snack
Choices: none
Meal:
  • savoury maccaron filled with salmon mouse

  • something with olives, fennel and aniseed

  • roll of cream cheese

  • fresh fruit salad

  • dessert

  • bottle of mineral water

  • sweets bag from Fauchon

  • coffee


I have never bothered so far to try Premium Economy Class in Europe on Air France. So perhaps that is why I am all the more surprised when shortly after take-off the service begins and one of the crew places a tray with food on it in front of me. Goodness!

What’s more, the food is rather tasty. Of course it is only a small snack, but on a flight of less than an hour I was not really expecting any much other than perhaps a cup of water and a forced smile.

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I am just about finishing my coffee when the cockpit crew announce that we have started out descent.

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ARRIVAL

Schengen flights operated by the mainline fleet arrive and depart from Terminal 2F. The airport and terminal are surprisingly deserted this evening, and I can only imagine it having something to do with the strike.

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GETTING INTO TOWN
Mode of Transport:
suburban train
Fare: EUR20 for a return ticket
Journey time: 30 minutes to Châtelet Les Halles

There are various options to reach the city from Charles de Gaulle. The cheapest way and probably the quickest is the RER train. Not all the trains stop at all stations on their way into the city. Fortunately, tonight I am in luck and the next train will only be making a brief stop at Terminal 1 before going direct to Les Halles.

There I change to the Metro, from where it is another eleven stops to my hotel in Neuilly. The good thing about the Paris metro is that the stations are very close to each other. So even though there are eleven stops, the journey does in fact not take that long.

All in all, this was another good experience with Air France – despite the strike. The service was very good and I think the way the airline handled my booking was very good and proactive. Even so, a strike is always inconvenient and leaves a bad impression. What good are nice service and good food to me if I cannot even rely on the airline to operate the flight I have booked? I can appreciate that the pilot’s union may be a tad unhappy about the way things are going. But the moment your passengers start getting the full brunt of it, I think you are on a slippery slope.
 
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AirAfreak
Posts: 1014
Joined: Thu Apr 12, 2012 4:20 am

RE: Air France: Zürich To Paris In Premium Economy

Wed Oct 01, 2014 5:41 am

Bonjour knightsofmalta!!!

Thank you for another detailed report and with such nice service with AF Premium Eco!!!

It has been a very long time since I flew this service with AF within Europe (CDG-DUB) and I have to say the catering has definitely improved since then! The presentation is also very nice and definitely exceeds my expectations of what to expect on such short services!

My favorite photo is of the A318 just before boarding the stairs to the plane with the beautiful Swiss skies in the background.

Also wanted to ask, does Swiss (the airline) have it's own restaurant beyond security (such as TG's own restaurant in Phuket) or is this a Swiss-style restaurant? The interiors of Zurich seem easy to the eyes, too!  

A very nice read on this late-Tuesday night here in Los Angeles... I will dream of flying my beloved Air France  


Bon Voyage,

AirAfreak  
Korean Air | Excellence in Flight.
 
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airbuseric
Posts: 3565
Joined: Sat Jan 22, 2005 1:24 am

RE: Air France: Zürich To Paris In Premium Economy

Wed Oct 01, 2014 7:16 am

Hi W.,

nice brief report on AF in Y+. Good to see you flew anyway despite the strike, AF seems to handle things well in these cases. A friend of me flew long haul and got protected on KQ.

Quoting knightsofmalta (Thread starter):
I’ve already checked in using the KLM app but the Add to Passbook functionality is not working – again.

Never encountered a single problem with the KLM app and Passbook thing...., instead, I cannot always select seats/see the seat map. It's not flawless yet  

Got that service on AF once on CDG-AMS, a packed A321 and was surprised to get a little plate meal service  Usually Y+ seem to be quite well booked in Europe (guess from connecting flights), and it caters a specific type of passenger from the corporate segments that are not allowed to fly in Business but can get away with this 'Economy' class.

Nicely done by AF   

Regards
Eric
"The whole world steps aside for the man who knows where he is going"
 
lychemsa
Posts: 1866
Joined: Sun Oct 11, 2009 8:39 pm

RE: Air France: Zürich To Paris In Premium Economy

Wed Oct 01, 2014 2:34 pm

Lufthansa is another airline always on strike.
 
gabrielchew
Posts: 3819
Joined: Tue Aug 02, 2005 5:43 am

RE: Air France: Zürich To Paris In Premium Economy

Wed Oct 01, 2014 7:08 pm

Nice report William. Good that you still managed to get to Paris despite the strike. I didn't know that AF had a Y+ on shorthual routes - looks like a nice cabin, although I think they may be devaluing their J product.

Quoting knightsofmalta (Thread starter):
Originally the plan had been for me to fly with HOP! from Basel to Orly and then to return with KLM via Amsterdam. Eventually though, this proved too expensive because the airport of Basel is de iure on French territory. As a result, the flight from Basel to Orly is operated as a domestic service. As far as the fare is concerned, to combine that flight with a return on KLM would have meant a combination of a domestic oneway with an international oneway, which made the ticket very expensive. So eventually I had no other choice but to get myself a ticket from Zürich to Paris Roissy with a return on KLM via Amsterdam for less than half the price and which then qualifies as an international round trip.

This is a perfect example of why airlines should offer o/w fares on shorthual routes. Thank goodness U2 and FR are so big in the UK, and BA were forced to adopt the concept.
http://my.flightmemory.com/shefgab Upcoming flights: AMS-RIX-BUD-VDA,ETH-TLV-FCO-LHR,STN-TXL-LCY,LTN-CPH-LTN,LGW-SZG,MUC-LHR
 
Knightsofmalta
Topic Author
Posts: 1754
Joined: Fri Nov 25, 2005 10:51 pm

RE: Air France: Zürich To Paris In Premium Economy

Sun Oct 05, 2014 5:43 pm

Hi AirAfreak

Quoting airafreak (Reply 1):
Thank you for another detailed report and with such nice service with AF Premium Eco!!!

My pleasure.

Quoting airafreak (Reply 1):
It has been a very long time since I flew this service with AF within Europe (CDG-DUB) and I have to say the catering has definitely improved since then! The presentation is also very nice and definitely exceeds my expectations of what to expect on such short services!

It had been quite a while for me too. So I was pleasantly surprised. Somehow I always find that Air France are better than their reputation.

Quoting airafreak (Reply 1):
My favorite photo is of the A318 just before boarding the stairs to the plane with the beautiful Swiss skies in the background.

It was a lovely day for flying. Typical late summer weather. But I think it's definitely turned autumn now, the rains have started.

Quoting airafreak (Reply 1):
Also wanted to ask, does Swiss (the airline) have it's own restaurant beyond security (such as TG's own restaurant in Phuket) or is this a Swiss-style restaurant? The interiors of Zurich seem easy to the eyes, too!

No it's a Swiss style restaurant. I've never had a meal there though. I find the chalet vibe a bit weird in the middle of an international airport...

Quoting airafreak (Reply 1):
A very nice read on this late-Tuesday night here in Los Angeles... I will dream of flying my beloved Air France

Thanks, glad you enjoyed.

Hi Eric

Quoting airbuseric (Reply 2):
nice brief report on AF in Y+. Good to see you flew anyway despite the strike, AF seems to handle things well in these cases. A friend of me flew long haul and got protected on KQ.

The handling of the strike really was quite impressive. I received regular updates in the run up for my flight.

Quoting airbuseric (Reply 2):
Never encountered a single problem with the KLM app and Passbook thing...., instead, I cannot always select seats/see the seat map. It's not flawless yet

Strangely enough, I never have problems with the seat selection...as you say, there's still room for improvement.

Quoting airbuseric (Reply 2):
Got that service on AF once on CDG-AMS, a packed A321 and was surprised to get a little plate meal service Usually Y+ seem to be quite well booked in Europe (guess from connecting flights), and it caters a specific type of passenger from the corporate segments that are not allowed to fly in Business but can get away with this 'Economy' class.

Actually I was wondering about that. Does Air France still even offer a Business Class product on short-haul?

Hi Lychemsa

Quoting lychemsa (Reply 3):
Lufthansa is another airline always on strike.

Indeed, Lufthansa became Air France's saving grace during the strike!

Hi Gabriel

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 4):
Nice report William. Good that you still managed to get to Paris despite the strike. I didn't know that AF had a Y+ on shorthual routes - looks like a nice cabin, although I think they may be devaluing their J product.

Thanks, glad you enjoyed the report. I'm not quite sure if they still have a Business Class on such short flights. There was no additional cabin divider or anything of the sort and all the seats were marked with 'Business' headrest covers.

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 4):
This is a perfect example of why airlines should offer o/w fares on shorthual routes. Thank goodness U2 and FR are so big in the UK, and BA were forced to adopt the concept.

I suspect that's probably exactly the reason why the airlines are reluctant to introduce one way pricing...

Thanks for taking the time to comment.

Cheers,
William
 
abrelosojos
Posts: 4323
Joined: Sun May 29, 2005 6:48 am

RE: Air France: Zürich To Paris In Premium Economy

Tue Oct 07, 2014 3:00 pm

Thanks so much for this report. AF Y+ on this short haul sector seems really good. I was particularly impressed with the meal service they offered. Besides, AF short flights are usually good and have the best crew in the system ... along with their DOM/TOM based crew. It is long haul where it all breaks down!

BTW, could you tell me more about Y+ and how it differs from J on intra-Europe? Or, does Y+ replace J? And if the middle seat is blocked in Y+, what happens in J?

Thanks so much for writing this report.

Saludos,
Alex
Live, and let live.
 
Knightsofmalta
Topic Author
Posts: 1754
Joined: Fri Nov 25, 2005 10:51 pm

RE: Air France: Zürich To Paris In Premium Economy

Sun Oct 12, 2014 7:41 am

Hi A.

How are you? And above all, which corner of the world are you currently in?

Quoting abrelosojos (Reply 6):
Thanks so much for this report.

My pleasure.

Quoting abrelosojos (Reply 6):
AF Y+ on this short haul sector seems really good. I was particularly impressed with the meal service they offered.

I must say, I rather liked the product as well. I also suspect that the upgrade was more of a gesture of goodwill because of a strike.

Quoting abrelosojos (Reply 6):
BTW, could you tell me more about Y+ and how it differs from J on intra-Europe? Or, does Y+ replace J? And if the middle seat is blocked in Y+, what happens in J?

I've done some research. By the looks of it there really is no more Business Class on European routes. It's just Economy Premium or regular Economy. To be honest, I think that's actually not a bad move seeing as the Business Class product on most European short-haul flights is hardly deserving of the name (except perhaps if you're travelling with Air Serbia).

In any case, thanks for taking the time to comment.

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

RE: Air France: Zürich To Paris In Premium Economy

Sun Nov 02, 2014 1:11 pm

Hi William,

Another very nice report you made here. AF Y+ looks pretty impressive for such a short flight. Shame that the strike had so much impact on their operations and profit..

Looking forward to the next one!

cheers,

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

RE: Air France: Zürich To Paris In Premium Economy

Sat Nov 22, 2014 9:11 pm

Hi Brendan

Thanks for taking the time to comment. Sorry it's taken my a while to answer. I've been busy travelling these last three weeks. I've now reached the halfway point. Only 11 more flights to go before the end of the year.

Quoting adamspotter (Reply 8):
Another very nice report you made here. AF Y+ looks pretty impressive for such a short flight. Shame that the strike had so much impact on their operations and profit..

I must say I was pretty surprised with the product. I must say though, I do find it a bit strange that their service in Y+ should be so radically different to that of KLM.

Quoting adamspotter (Reply 8):
Looking forward to the next one!

Just give me two weeks of so....

Cheers,
William
 
MHG
Posts: 942
Joined: Mon Dec 13, 2004 1:33 am

RE: Air France: Zürich To Paris In Premium Economy

Sun Nov 23, 2014 9:11 am

Very interesting report on a rather "un-thrilling" European shorthaul flight.
Interesting in particular as I have obviously missed something in terms of "onboard service development" among European carriers ...
I usually fly AF only once a year on FRA - CDG - FRA and never heard of Y+ being offered on shorthaul flights ...

This additional offer is certainly aimed at business travellers that in many cases are not allowed to fly C-class on shorthaul flights due to corporate regulations.
I guess you were travelling in a higher Y booking class - do they really offer for sale Y+ right from the time of booking ?
Flying is not inherently dangerous but it is very unforgiving in case of carelessness, incapacity or neglect.

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