Hi guys, I wanted to test the new Air France La Premiere Designer Suite, and the opportunity came last week on my way back from a short 1 day biz trip to Melbourne, Australia.
Being Platinum for Life with Air France, my preferred airlines of choice come within the SkyTeam family, so when I had to plan this trip to Australia I checked with Garuda, and on the way back to Singapore I flew Garuda business class from Melbourne to Jakarta via Denpasar so that I could easily connect from Jakarta to Singapore with the Air France flight that features the new La Premiere Suite.
I have planned this La Premiere trip with our Chief Creative Officer, who flew in on purpose from Singapore and whom I met at the Garuda First Class lounge at Jakarta airport for then continuing together back to Singapore.
Singapore got the privilege of being the first country, and first AF
destination to receive the new 4 cabins which have been conceived and designed with the passenger in mind, and reflecting the art of welcoming guests “a la francaise".
Featuring the new long-haul products and services, with the new La Premiere Suites, the new Business Class, and the new Premium Economy and Economy class cabins, Air France debuted on 29 September 2014 with the first fully fitted aircraft, a Boeing B777-300ER, flying the Paris/Singapore/Jakarta route and back, with flight numbers AF254 and AF259.
I can imagine the question: why Singapore?
And the answer is quite simple: Singapore is the leading Asian business, trade and financial hub at the strategic core of the 10 economies of the ASEAN markets which are experiencing strong economic growth; Singapore is France's third major trading partner in Asia, and Singapore is home to over 600 French companies which have elected the Lion City as regional HQ
For those of you more interested, or with an interest, in business and trade aspects, the following is the link to my column "Here's why Singapore is Air France's first destination for new luxury in-flight service"
which has been published on the Singapore Business Review magazine on 22 Dec 2014, and offers a snapshot on the trade and FDI flows between France and Singapore:
Back to the flight and last Thursday 13 August after a pleasant 6-hour flight from Melbourne to Denpasar and a 90-minute connecting flight to Jakarta I was met at the arrival gate by an Air France representative who escorted me to the La Premiere check-in counter.
flight: AF 259
route: Jakarta-Cengkareng to Singapore-Changi
suites 1A and 1E
class: La Premiere
cabin load: 2/4
schedule: dep. Jakarta at 7:30pm - arr. Singapore at 10:25pm am (1h 55')
The La Premiere check-in counter was in place just for the 2 of us as we were the only 2 pax flying La Premiere from Jakarta, and upon arrival my boarding pass was already printed and presented to me with the stylish red ticket folder for La Premiere passengers
With no luggage to check, just carry-on, the Air France representative escorted me to the immigration counter, skipping the queue and passing via the diplomatic line where i simply dropped passport and boarding pass to an officer and walked straight away to the Garuda First Class lounge (both passport and boarding pass were later forwarded back to me in the lounge by the Air France representative who took care of the formalities).
La Premiere passengers are welcome to use the First class lounge operated by Garuda, with a dedicated section exclusively for First Class passengers:
The section is on the lower level of the larger business class lounge, separated by a red cordon, and accessible via an escalator.
I was the second passenger in the lounge as my colleague arrived one hour before me and enjoyed the very same assistance from the arrival gate to check-in, immigration and lounge.
And until departure the 2 of us will be the only 2 guests in the First Class lounge.
The lounge features an animated piano playing classic music, individual seating areas and a dining area.
Upon arrival we were welcomed with a glass of Laurent Perrier champagne accompanied by a fruit plate and a bottle of mineral water, all presented by a gracious lounge hostess who unfortunately could not speak English so the communication was rather basic
We then tried the a-la-carte dining available from the Garuda First Class Menu:
My colleague selected the canapé with prawn, cucumber and herb cream cheese as appetiser while I opted for romano chicken caesar salad, to be followed by the same main course of Atlantic red snapper, mashed potatoes infused with truffle oil, sautéed mix herb vegetables.
And the above accompanied by a bottle of Billecart-Salmon Brut Reserve champagne (on the morning Garuda flight from Melbourne to Denpasar I was offered the Billecart-Salmon Brut rose').
Frankly the impression of the lounge and the service was weak: lounge staff not well trained and unable to speak English.
When asking what champagne labels were available I got a "yes" twice as an answer, and when asked again the answer was "vodka".
The champagne bottle was not presented in its ice bucket, food presentation quite basic and particularly the red snapper has a fast food look which also reflected in the lack of flavour as it was overcooked and tasteless.
These are details which are essential for a First Class passenger who expects the highest level of service according to the class of travel (if I travel Air Asia from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur I do not place any expectation, but when I travel business or first class that's when I do expect a certain level of style and become demanding).
Anyway it was time for boarding and at 6:45pm the 2 Air France representatives who welcomed us upon arrival came to pick us up and escorted us to the D07 gate and all the way up to the aircraft door.
Upon entering the B777-200 we were greeted by the chief cabin and the La Premiere f/a, and once seated the captain passed by to say hi.
It was a sort of family reunion because we recognized some familiar faces from the cabin team whom we met several times on the Paris to Miami and back sectors (great sunny Florida), so we exchanged few chats.
In the meantime a glass of Bollinger La Grande Annee 2004 was served while we took position in our suites, 1A for me and 1E for my colleague and business partner.
The new Air France La Premiere suite, an exclusive environment where well-being, rest, and peace of mind blend in harmony in the 4 individual suites displayed in a 1-2-1 layout.
The seat fully stretches out to become a bed over 2 meters long with a mattress and a pillow fit for the world's best hotels.
In between a second round of Bollinger champagne the welcome amenity kit exclusively designed by Givenchy pour La Premiere and the exclusive pyjama have been handed out
And right before taking off the dining menu and wine list are distributed
The short flight from Jakarta to Singapore features just a light meal composed by:
Breast of duck with five-spice seasoning, mango salad
Filler of salmon with fennel and Pernod sauce
steamed potatoes and baby vegetables
Fresh fruit salad
But the wine list is fully available and includes some of the best wine selections, starting with the great Bollinger La Grande Anee 2004 champagne and featuring:
one innovative rose wine - Cote de Provence Domaines Ott Clos Mirelle 2014
one white wine - Vallee du Rhone, Les Casinos Condrieu 2013 Paul Jaboulet Aine
two red wines - Bourgogne Beaune Premier Cru Champimonts 2009 and Bordeaux Chateau Beau-Sejour Becot Premier Grand Cru Classe 2008 au 2010
And now let's give a look at the suite environment
And dinner time, and the finest designers of French tableware created what is a unique experience.
A clean white tablecloth to present a collection designed by Jean-Marie Massaud with the clean lines of a porcelain plate by Bernardaud, bevelled glasses and cutlery from the house of Christofle, and the winged seahorse of Air France adorns each of these creations:
The outstanding rose wine from the Roederer Champagne estate
The duck breast has been changed on the spot with a trio of salmon and filet
The delicious fillet of salmon presented in its cocotte
accompanying the salmon with the Viogner, a great white wine produced by a small vineyard in the northernmost area of the Rhone valley
and to conclude the dining experience, a good espresso and a box of chococlate
One hour and a half literally flew away in the best possible way: a great designer suite, posh and elegant, the epitome of refined luxury, without the gold and kitch glamour of the suites of other airlines, enjoying great wines and good food, and the great charm of a highly professional and friendly La Premiere chief cabin attendant with whom we talked most of the flight exchanging our quarter of a century experience in flying with Air France, from the Concorde to the A380
That's all folks and hope you do enjoy this TR, and until the next one I wish you all the best.
[Edited 2015-08-18 07:45:24]