Hi Frugalistas! Those of us who are fortunate to be able fly Business Class know that not all Business Classes are created equal. In particular, I notice a distinct difference between the amenity of Business on European routes compared to my long haul flight to Europe from Australia. On my recent trip, I was able to fly from Istanbul to Paris via Air France’s European Business Class service. It’s not long haul standard, but for a 3hr 40min flight it does a good job, and Air France does seem to be one airline keen to differentiate its Business and Economy (Coach) Class offerings.
Air France Business Class on the ground
I notice my first different between Business and Economy Classes at check in. Business Class passengers (and premium Sky Team members) get a dedicated counter check in service. Economy class travellers need to use the self service check in kiosks and then queue for the bag drop. There seem to be plenty of ground staff available to assist with check in, but there is a definite queue for the bag drop. Almost no queue for Business Class. I’m given a pass for the Security and Immigration Express Lane, and good detailed instructions for the Sky Team lounge, and I’m on my way in no time.
The Skyteam Lounge is similar to those I’ve seen in pictures online. Very modern in a retro 1970s kind of way. I like the sockets for electronic charging available freely throughout the lounge. There is a limited selection of both Western and Turkish foods out. My flight is very early in the morning, but a good selection of alcohol is already available. I find the wifi quite slow to log in, but very good once it has warmed up.
Boarding calls are made, and the scene is quite chaotic when I arrive at the departure gate, with people everywhere and what looks a confused random queue of people waiting to board. I manage to find what is possibly the Priority Boarding queue, and once boarding commences I’m pleased to see that Priority Boarding is strictly adhered to. A good selection of French, English and Turkish newspapers is available to grab on the way on board.
Air France Business Class in flight
We are on an A320 with a standard 3×2 layout. For Business Class, the centre seat is blocked out. The seat is very hard in the bottom department, but has fabulous lumber support. Pillows, and one of those awful blankets that always leave fluff on your clothes (you know the sort, I’m sure) is also provided. Fortunately, temperature control on the flight is great, so the awful blanket is not required. A good range of French and English magazines complete our amenities in Business Class. There are no TV screens on the A320.
The crew is mainly male and are friendly and charming throughout the flight. Announcements are made in French, English and Turkish. I find the English very heavily accented over the announcement system, so much so that the French version is actually easier for me to understand.
A full breakfast is served to Business Class passengers. Our trays arrive with fresh fruit, burcher muesli and a hot dish of menemen (a delicious Turkish egg dish with tomato and red and green capsicum), potato and mushroom. The fruit and muesli are quite respectable. Unfortunately the hot dish is not hot and the menemen is only lukewarm. It’s sad, because it is actually extremely tasty, and has a wonderful creamy texture. If only they’d delayed our meal service by 10minutes or so….. Warm (yes, definitely warm) bread rolls and croissants are offered. The croissant is a proper French one and tastes good. The coffee is also good. Top ups of hot drinks are offered, as are extra croissants.
Arrival at Charles de Gaulle
We touch down on time, and for once after a short haul flight into Paris, we pull up at the gate rather than on the tarmac (note to self: maybe Air France is the way to go to avoid a tarmac disembarkation with a bus ride to the terminal). Business Class passengers are given Express Lane passes again for Immigration, so in a matter of minutes I’m out of the terminal and on my way.
What do I think of Air France Euro Business Class?
I was very pleased with my experience on Air France Euro Business Class. The only blemish I could see was the lukewarm breakfast dish, which was a shame, as it was a very good dish, and only needed a little longer to reheat. Both on the ground and in flight service was polite and friendly. Unlike on many short haul offerings, Business Class passengers are definitely given preferential treatment, which one would expect given the price differential.
Author’s note: I paid for my own ticket on this flight