Air France, Business Class – Airbus A 319: Paris to Zürich

1000px-Air_France_Logo.svg

Date: 10 March 2016
Departure: 16:20
Arrival: 17:15
Flight time: 55 minutes
Seat: 1A

TRANSFER IN CDG
Transport:
CDGVAL automated train.
Journey time: 5 minutes.
Departs from: Ground floor of Terminal 1.
Arrives: Terminal 2.
Cost: Complimentary transfer.
I am one of the first passengers to disembark from Qatar Airways’ A 380. There is an agent from the airline standing in the airbridge distributing priority passes for immigration and so it happens that I am already standing at the station of the CDGVAL 10 minutes after getting off the plane.

IMG_0559
IMG_0560
IMG_0561
IMG_0564
IMG_0565

LOUNGE
Location:
There are two piers to Terminal 2F and there is an Air France lounge in both piers, located on the lower level.
Type of Lounge:
Air France SkyPriority lounge.
Facilities:
Toilets, showers, a good selection of magazines and newspapers.
Catering: A selection of different snacks; things like sandwiches, cheeses and cold cuts which change throughout the day.
Internet:
Complimentary wifi, no password required.
The architecture of Terminal 2F is quite striking. With all the glass there is an abundance of natural light that gives you the feeling of actually sitting outside. The excellent view of the action on the ramp helps too.

By the time I reach the lounge, I have another ninety minutes before my flight to Zürich starts boarding. The lounge is not too crowded, but judging by the litter on most of the tables, the place must have been pretty crowded not too long ago. But the staff do an excellent job to get the place tidied up and by the time I leave, the place is looking neat and tidy.

IMG_0566
IMG_0567
IMG_0568
IMG_0569
IMG_0570
IMG_0572
IMG_0574

BOARDING
At Charles de Gaulle airport there is a dedicated line for SkyPriority passengers and the first boarding announcement is to invite these passengers to board first.

IMG_0575
IMG_0576
IMG_0577

CABIN
Configuration:
2 + 2. It is the standards European set up with the middle seat blocked in Business Class.
Pitch: 33 inches, which gradually decreases to 32 inches towards the rear of the aircraft.
Width: 18 inches.
Air France operates the A 319 in two configurations. One configuration is for 129 passengers in two classes. These aircraft are deployed on international short-haul routes. And then there is the high density configuration with 142 seats in Economy Class only for domestic services.

On today’s flight there are five rows of Business Class with a total of 20 seats.

IMG_0578
IMG_0580
IMG_0579

SERVICE
There are three cabin crew working the flight today. All three of them are male and the two middle-aged gentlemen working the Business Class cabin are so camp they are almonst a cliché of themselves. Service on the ground is limited to the distribution of packed refreshing towels. However, having said that, they are made of cloth and are of reasonably good quality. The scent is also fairly modest. Very often the pre-packed towels tend to smell a bit overpowering.

IMG_0581
IMG_0583

THE MEAL
Type of meal:
Afternoon snack.
Delivery: Tray service from the trolley.
Meal:

  1. Beetroot hummus tartlet.
  2. Canapé of smoked salmon.
  3. A warm cheese bun.
  4. Bowl of grapes.
  5. A sweet caramel muffin and lemon cream profiterole.
  6. Tea or coffee.

In recent years Air France has certainly upped its game as far as short-haul catering is concerned. Where previously in Business Class everything was served on plastic, they now use proper dishes and even real cutlery. Even the coffee comes in a proper mug these days! The food is very tasty and hits the spot nicely, just the right thing for such a short hop from Paris to Zürich.

IMG_0584
IMG_0585
IMG_0586

ARRIVAL
The flight really is not much more than a hop, and only a short while after the trays are removed, we start our descent into Zürich. Outside the weather is good, it is a bright sunny day. And I am quite taken in by the stark contrast in scenery. Where the scenery in Saudi Arabia was dominated by the vastness of the desert, here everything is lush and green. There is even snow on the hills.

IMG_0587
IMG_0588
IMG_0590

It is nice to be back home. Next week I shall be off the Luxembourg again.

CONCLUSION
With this flight comes to an end my journey to Saudi Arabia with Qatar Airways and Air France. As far as Qatar Airways is concerned, I really do think they are an excellent airline. Their Business Class product, both in terms of hardware and software, is superior to that of many other carriers. And part of that, I think, has to do with the reliability and predictability of their service. As far as their First Class is concerned though, Qatar is a bit of a mixed bag. For sure, the product is very good. But even so you cannot help feel that they do not really know what to do with a First Class. And indeed, the difference between their First and Business Class offerings is minimal.

And then there is Air France and Paris Charles de Gaulle airport, both of which are seriously underestimated. The hub in Paris works like clockwork. All the flights arrived and departed pretty much on time and even the transfer between Terminals 1 and 2 was painless and far more pleasant than having to transfer between terminals in Heathrow for example.

Qatar Airways, First Class – Airbus A 380: Doha to Paris

Folie1

Date: 10 March 2016
Departure: 07:55
Arrival: 13:10
Flight time: 7 hours and 15 minutes
Seat: 2A, window on the port side

TRANSFER IN DOHA
It is just gone five in the morning when I arrive in Doha from Riyadh, so the lines for security are still fairly thin. Security is a painless affair. Behind security, the young lady who picked me up as I deplaned is waiting for me. She guides me to the lift to take us one floor up to the reception area of the Qatar Airways First Class lounge.

LOUNGE
Location:
One floor up from security.
Type of lounge: Dedicated Qatar Airways First Class lounge.
Facilities: The lounge is very generously laid out and has an elegant, understated feel. There is one à la carte and one buffet restaurant, a business area with meeting rooms and Apple workstations, day rooms with beds, showers, toilets, a baggage storage room and an integrated duty free shop.
Name: Al-Safwa Lounge.
The lounge is impressive. First of all, because of the very high ceilings it is very quiet and there is a hush about the place. Given that not all aircraft have a First Class cabin, the number of passengers using the lounge is somewhat limited, which gives the place a very exclusive touch and feel.

The young lady wishes me a pleasant stay and informs me that one of her colleagues will come to pick me to escort me to the gate at B3 at 07:15, just slightly over one hour from now.

IMG_0497

IMG_0498

IMG_0499

IMG_0500

IMG_0501

IMG_0502

IMG_0503

IMG_0504

IMG_0505

IMG_0506

IMG_0507

IMG_0508

BOARDING
At Hamad International Airport the gates equipped to handle the A 380 are on two floors. The lower area is obviously for Economy Class passengers, while the upper waiting area is for First and Business Class passengers. There is also a separate desk for premium passengers to enter the holding area. Right behind the desk is a set of stairs and a lift to take you one floor up.

IMG_0509

IMG_0510

Once the flight is ready for boarding, the young lady invites me by name to step on board. She escorts me down the airbridge, introduces me to the purser standing at the door welcoming passengers and then bids me goodbye. From a passenger point of view, the experience it is a perfect handover from the ground staff to the cabin crew.

The flight attendant guides me to my seat on 2A, while one of them hangs my jacket in my own clothes locker, the other places the bulkier one of my two bags in the storage compartment at the front of the First Class compartment.

THE CABIN
Configuration:
1 + 2 + 1
Seat: 2A, window seat on the port side of the aircraft.
Pitch: 80 inches.
Width: 83 inches.
Capacity: 8 seats.
The Qatar Airways First Class seat is not of the closed suite variety that most airlines appear to be adopting these days. Even so, I like the seat very much. I think it looks rather classy. And once the privacy screen is raised after take-off, you really are completed hidden from sight. The seat has been well designed I think, and the storage space is convenient and certainly sufficient. There are no overhead bins in the First Class cabin. However, larger items and bags can be placed under the ottoman. In addition, there is a large storage closet at the front of the cabin. There are two toilets for First Class passengers, located to the left and right of the staircase leading down to the main deck of the aircraft.

Every seat is equipped with a power socket and USB port. Two pillows and a blanket have been placed at every seat before boarding.

IMG_0511

IMG_0512

IMG_0513

IMG_0514

IMG_0516

IMG_0523

IMG_0534

IMG_0535

IMG_0537

VANITY KIT
The First Class vanity kit is nearly identical to the Business Class one and is also Giorgio Armani branded. The main difference is that the First Class kit includes a small flacon of perfume and a tube of shower gel. Other than that though, it is about as useless as the Business Class kit, especially given that Qatar Airways, unlike Emirates and Etihad, does not have a shower on board.

SERVICE
As in Business Class, the service on the ground begins with a welcome drink, hot towel and a bowl of nibbles.  This is followed by the dates and coffee once the doors are closed.

IMG_0515

IMG_0517

IMG_0519

IMG_0522

 THE MEAL
Type of meal:
Breakfast.
Delivery: Individual delivery.
Service: À la carte, you can dine whenever you please.
Menu:

  • Strawberry and banana smoothie.
  • Fresh fruit
  • Greek yoghurt with strawberry compote and toasted granola with nuts.
  • Buttermilk pancakes with mixed berries, honey and vanilla mascarpone.
  • Selection of bread and pastries with butter and marmalade.
  • Tea and coffee.
  • Valrhona chocolates.

The timing of the first service is very good, it is not rushed and there is a enough time between the individual dishes. The smoothie is very tasty, so when the cabin attendant asks me if I would like another, I give an enthusiastic ‘yes’!

The pancakes are very tasty, but also very sweet. I think I might end up falling into a sugar coma! Strangely enough, I had a very similar meal in Singapore Airlines Business Class recently on my way to Brazil.

I had an early start this morning. So once the table is cleared away, one of the flight attendants turns my seat into a bed and raises the privacy screen for me.

IMG_0524

IMG_0525

IMG_0526

IMG_0527

IMG_0528

IMG_0529

IMG_0531

SECOND SERVICE
Menu:

  • Smocked halibut with mackerel rillettes.
  • Paneer tava tikki with chilli potato wedges, saffron upma and sambhar.
  • Selection from the breadbasket with butter and olive oil with balsamic vinegar.
  • Chocolate dessert with a lemon éclair.
  • Tea or coffee.

By the time I resurface, we are only ninety minutes out of Paris. One of the cabin crew asks me if there is anything I would like before we land, so I decide to go with the fish and then the Indian main dish. Both dishes are very spicy. Qatar Airways’ catering is not shy with the spices and puts a decent zing in the Indian dishes, but without blowing the top of your head off.

IMG_0543

IMG_0542

IMG_0544

IMG_0545

IMG_0546

IMG_0547

IMG_0548

IMG_0549

IMG_0550.jpg

IMG_0551

IMG_0552

ARRIVAL
Eventually the flight draws to an end and we start our descent into Paris. I rather liked the countryside in Saudi with its immensity. Even so, I must confess I am rather glad to be back in Europe with its familiar climate and lush green vegetation.

Terminal 1 is very quiet when we land and there are only four other aircraft parked at the satellites.

IMG_0554

IMG_0556

IMG_0557

Qatar Airways, First Class – Airbus A 330-200: Riyadh to Doha

Qatar_Airways_Logo

Date: 10 March 2016
Departure: 04:15
Arrival: 05:00
Flight time: 45 minutes
Seat: 3J, aisle on the starboard side of the aircraft.

INTRODUCTION
The course in Riyadh has gone well and we managed to finish one day ahead of schedule. A quick mail to my travel agent and I am booked to return home one day earlier than expected. Cool!

GETTING TO THE AIRPORT
Transport:
Private car provided by the hotel.
Journey time: Around 30 minutes, depending on the traffic situation and your driver’s sanity.
Departs from: Doubletree Hotel by Hilton in al-Muroj.
Arrives: Riyadh King Khaled International Airport.
My flight will be leaving at 04:00 in the morning, so I guess it is best if I check out of the hotel at 01:30 to arrive at the airport at around 02:00, two hours prior to departure.

The traffic in Riyadh is interesting. There are definitely not as many cars here as you see in Dubai for example, so you rarely get the kind of clogged up traffic jams where nothing moves anymore. Even so, the Saudis have an ‘interesting’ style of driving, to say the least. Essentially, their motto is to do what ever you like on road, just as long as you can solve it by honking your horn. Repeatedly.

CHECK-IN
Location:
Terminal 1, counters 118 – 121.
Counters: Three Economy Class counters and one Business Class counter.
Facilities: Only airport check-in available.
Check-in is a huge mess. There is only one person ahead of me but he is travelling with eleven heavy suitcases of luggage. The problem is that the luggage belt is having difficulties dealing with the copious amounts of luggage passengers are checking in. So the belt keeps stopping to let other pieces from other counters pass. Eventually, it takes no less than 45 minutes to process the eleven suitcases and that is still a lot faster than the crawling Economy Class lines.

I then head straight for immigration and security, where the queues are surprisingly short and processed in an unexpectedly efficient way.

IMG_0479

THE LOUNGE
Location:
Behind security turn right and right again, there is a set of escalators leading up to the Lounge.
Name: Premier Lounge.
Type of lounge: Contractor lounge.
This is yet another sad excuse for a ‘premium’ lounge. From what I can tell, there is no food available in the lounge. Those dried biscuits do not qualify as food I think. The drinks selection is also somewhat limited and the presentation is positively lousy. I sit down long enough to drink a small bottle of water and then decide to leave the lounge again.

IMG_0480

IMG_0481

IMG_0482.jpg

IMG_0483

BOARDING
Boarding starts a whole hour before departure with a first call for Business Class passengers. It is going to be a full flight in Business Class this morning and most of the passengers are looking about as bleary eyed as me.

THE CABIN
Configuration:
2 + 2 + 2
Seat: 3AJ, aisle seat on the starboard side of the aircraft.
Capacity: Unfortunately it is dark outside, so I cannot make out if it is an Airbus A 330-200 or a -300 that will be taking me back to Doha tonight. In addition, Qatar Airways operates both types in a number of different configurations.

Despite the configuration, the seat on the A 330 is still fairly private. The seat pairs by the windows point outwards. In addition, the seats are staggered, which means that the aisle seat is slightly further back than the window seat. There is also a large divider between the seats. Every seat is equipped with a power socket and USB port.

A pillow and blanket has been placed at every seat before boarding.

IMG_0484

IMG_0485

IMG_0486

IMG_0487

IMG_0488

SERVICE
As usual, the crew is an interesting racial mix of nationalities. There are three female cabin crew working the Business Class cabin – they are from Bulgaria, Zimbabwe and Jordan respectively. All three of them do an excellent job interacting with the passengers, making sure they get settled in for the flight. By the time the crew pass through the cabin taking orders for breakfast, I have already nodded off to sleep. But once we get airborne, the Bulgarian notices I am awake again and comes to ask me if I would like to join for breakfast.

THE MEAL
Type of meal:
Breakfast.
Service: À la carte service.
Delivery: Individual delivery service.
Menu:

  • Avocado and date smoothie.
  • Seasonal fresh fruit.
  • Potato and spinach tikki with fig chutney, za’atar labneh, feta cheese, cucumber, tomato, olives.
  • Tea or coffee.

The flight time to Doha this morning is only 45 minutes. Even so, Qatar Airways provide an extensive service. The trays are brought out individually and the meals are served – in theory – whenever the passenger requests to eat, although of course the options are limited given the short flying time.

IMG_0492

IMG_0493

IMG_0494

IMG_0495

IMG_0496

ARRIVAL
I have just finished my last bite of food when the captain comes on the speakers and announces our descent into Doha. Everything happens rather quickly. The crew clean up the cabin in no time and shortly thereafter we are already touching down.

As I exit the aircraft, there is a young lady from Qatar Airways ground handling waiting to escort me to the First Class lounge. Our aircraft is parked at one of the farthest contact stands in the terminal and it is a good 10 minutes walk from there to transfer security.

Qatar Airways, First Class – Boeing B 787-8: Doha to Riyadh

Folie1

Date: 06 March 2016
Departure: 01:20
Arrival: 02:15
Flight time: 55 minutes.
Seat: 3A, window on the port side.

TRANSFER IN DOHA
Behind security I head one floor down to the central airside area. I am always a bit disoriented in Doha. But eventually I do find the escalators leading up to the First Class lounge. Unfortunately though, by this time the departure time for my flight to Riyadh is already quickly approaching and I still have another 15 minutes walk to make it to my departure gate. So I decide to skip the lounge this time. Something to do on the way back, when I have a longer layover in Doha.

BOARDING
Boarding already starts about 45 minutes before departure. By now it is already nearly one in the morning, so I am not complaining.

IMG_0466

THE CABIN
Configuration:
1 + 2 + 1.
Seat: 3A, window seat on the port side of the aircraft.
Pitch: 80 inches.
Width: 22 inches.
Capacity: 22 seats.
The seat and cabin configuration is the same as on the Airbus A 380. The only difference is that the hull of the aircraft has a narrower diameter, so the cabin feels less cavernous. A pillow and blanket has been placed at every seat before boarding.

IMG_0467

IMG_0468

SERVICE
Service begins -as usual – with the distribution of welcome drinks and towels. I go with the lime and mint juice and a cold towel to wake me up. Next come the newspapers. With a flight time of only 55 minutes, no vanity kit or slippers are distributed. Once boarding is completed, the crew will pass through the cabin offering passengers dates and a cup of Arabic coffee.

IMG_0470

IMG_0473

THE MEAL
Type of meal:
Midnight snack.
Service: À la carte service.
Delivery: Individual tray service.
Menu:

  • Once more, I forget to take the menu, so I cannot remember the exact name of the dishes I had. All I know is that it was an Indian meal and that the piece of chicken that was served with the dish was warm.
  • Selection of breads.
  • Chocolate dessert.
  • Tea and coffee.
  • Valrhona chocolates.

Qatar Airways’ offering on such a short flight is really quite impressive. What is more, it is quite amazing that they manage to serve all passengers with enough time to spare for them to be able to enjoy the meal.

IMG_0474

IMG_0475

IMG_0476

IMG_0477

IMG_0478

ARRIVAL
Eventually the aircraft dips its nose and we start our descent into Riyadh. I am about to arrive in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for the first time. Much to my surprise, and contrary to all the reports and reviews I had read prior to this trip, immigration is a swift and easy process. There are two channels for foreigners. One is for first time entries into the Kingdom, while the other is for repeated entry passengers. In any case, fifteen minutes after exiting the aircraft I find myself standing outside the terminal looking for a taxi to take my into town.

Oh yes, about that. Sometimes in life it is easiest to just surrender to your faith. The only means of transport to and from the airport is by taxi, and the driver will rip you off.

Qatar Airways, Business Class – Airbus A380: Paris to Doha

Folie1

Date: 05 March 2016
Departure: 15:00
Arrival: 23:25
Flight time: 6h 25 min
Seat: 14A, window on the port side

TRANSFER IN CDG
Transport:
Shuttle bus and automated train.
Journey time: About 15 minutes.
Departs from: Landside.
Arrives: Terminal 1 CDGVAL station.
Fare: Complimentary.
I make my way to the landside exit of Terminal 2G. I do not have my boarding passes for the onward connection yet. The N1 and N2 shuttle busses both run from 2G to 2F, which is  the central complex of Terminal 2. The journey to 2F will take approximately 5 minutes. From the bus stop head one floor down and follow the signs marked CDGVAL, the airport’s automated people mover. It is about a 5 minutes walk. The CDGVAL takes another 5 minutes to make the journey from Terminal 2 to Terminal 1.

IMG_0407

IMG_0408

IMG_0409

IMG_0410

IMG_0414

CHECK-IN
Location:
Terminal 1, Hall 2
Counters: Six Economy Class counters, two Business Class counters, one First Class counter.
Facilities: Qatar Airways has an app that works rather well. However, you cannot add the boarding pass to Passbook and can only print a copy of the boarding pass. There are no self service check-in machines for Qatar Airways at CDG.

There is quite a queue at Economy Class, apparently today’s flight is full, but the Business Class counters are empty when I arrive. A young lady immediately checks me in and issues my boarding passes for the flight to Doha and my onward connection. She also hands me an invitation to the Galaxy lounge. First and Business Class passengers are eligible to use the fast track at CDG, which goes by the name of ‘No 1. Access’. It is highly convenient, given that the queues can be rather long.

IMG_0415

IMG_0417

LOUNGE
Name:
Galaxy Lounge.
Type of lounge: Contractor lounge.
Location: In the main building of Terminal 1. Access is via lift.
This is the same lounge Qatar Airways was using the last time I flew with them from Paris last year. Back then though, it was called the Air France Première lounge. Alas, apart from the name nothing much has changed and it is still the same rat hole it was when I last visited. In fact, I open the door to the lounge and I am instantly reminded of how little there is to enjoy in this lounge. So I turn around again and leave. Instead, I head for the satellite from which my flight will be leaving.

IMG_0418

IMG_0419

The security check at CDG’s Terminal 1 is done just before you enter the satellite. Here too, premium passengers can avail themselves of the No. 1 Access priority lane, but essentially all this means is that you get to jump to the head of the queue. Behind security I buy myself a sandwich, a chocolate maccaron and a cup of coffee and find myself a quiet seat by the window.

IMG_0421

IMG_0426

IMG_0423

IMG_0424

BOARDING
Boarding for the flight starts on time. There is a separate gate for all passengers on the upper deck of the aircraft, so the premium passengers are completely segregated from the riffraff.

IMG_0428

IMG_0429

THE CABIN
Configuration:
1 + 2 + 1
Seat: 14A, window seat on the port side of the aircraft.
Pitch: 80 inches.
Width: 22 inches.
Capacity: 48 seats.
The Business Class seat on the A 380 is very similar to that on the Boeing B 787. The seat offers a lot of privacy because the window seats all point outwards towards the window. Which obviously also means the seat is great for looking out the window. But apart from that, the seats are not aligned in a row. As a result, it becomes pretty impossible to make eye contact with anybody, unless you really, really want to. And there is ample storage space, even for larger items like a laptop, iPad or Kindle. The cabin has a very spacious and airy feel. Every seat is equipped with a power socket and USB port.

A pillow and blanket has been placed at every seat before boarding.

IMG_0431

IMG_0432

IMG_0433

IMG_0434

IMG_0436

IMG_0438

IMG_0441

IMG_0442

IMG_0444

VANITY KIT
The Qatar Airways Business Class vanity kit is branded by Giorgio Armani. It features a lot of pretty useless items and lacks a lot useful ones. There are socks, earplugs and eye shades, but there is no toothbrush and no comb or brush and no shoe horn. Instead, there is a fairly large tube of Giorgio Armani moisturizer. Toothbrushes are available though in the toilets. They come with Colgate toothpaste.

IMG_0437

SERVICE
Service begins, as usual on Qatar Airways, with the distribution of welcome drinks and towels. Every passenger has a choice between a hot or cold rose scented towel. To drink I go with the lime and mint juice, which is very sweet but very refreshing too. Next come the newspaper and then finally the vanity kit. Once boarding is completed, the crew will pass through the cabin offering passengers dates and a cup of Arabic coffee, which is very tasty as well, as long as you like cardamom – otherwise steer clear!

IMG_0439

IMG_0440

The amazing thing about the service on Qatar Airways is that it is highly predictable, it is always the same and you always know exactly what to expect.

IMG_0443

After take-off, there is a drinks service. I have a Coke Zero and a ramekin of warm nuts to go with that.

IMG_0446

IMG_0447

THE MEAL
Type of meal:
Late lunch.
Service: À la carte service.
Delivery: Individual tray service.
Menu:

  • Smoked haddock on a bed of rocket salad with peas.
  • An Indian dish, the name of which I cannot remember. But it was certainly very tasty.
  • Strawberry frangipan tart with vanilla mascarpone and raspberry coulis.
  • Selection of breads.
  • Tea and coffee.
  • Valrhona chocolates.

On mid-haul flights Qatar Airways only offers one service in Business Class, which is perfectly adequate for a flight with a duration of around six hours. However, should you feel hungry at any point during the flight, they do have small snacks. There is also the large bar area in between the Business Class section and the Economy Class mini cabin on the upper deck, where they serve drinks and canapés.

IMG_0449

IMG_0450

IMG_0453

IMG_0454

IMG_0455

IMG_0456

IMG_0458

ARRIVAL
Eventually we start our descent into Doha. Our routing takes us right over the downtown area and due south of the airfield on the downwind. As we begin a series of turns to line up with the runway, it becomes quite apparent that we are reaching Doha in the middle of its late night arrival bank. There are flashing lights of other aircraft all around us in the air.

IMG_0459

By the time we reach our parking stand and I alight from the aircraft, I only have an hour or so to make my connection. I make the long trek to security, which is crawling with people that have just arrived on all those other aircraft we could see in the air. Fortunately, there is a dedicated line for premium passengers and despite the chaos, the line moves quickly.

HOP by Air France, Economy Class – Embraer 175: Basel to Paris Charles de Gaulle

PHO33247944-70bc-11e4-8b5a-134ccaaaf9f6-805x453

Date: 05 March 2016
From: Basel Mulhouse
To: Paris Charles de Gaulles
Departure: 10:40
Arrival: 11:40
Flight time: 1 hour.
Seat: 5A
Aircraft type: Embraer 175

INTRODUCTION
I arrived home from a course in Luxembourg yesterday evening. Today, less than twelve hours later, I find myself back at the airport for a short flight to Paris. This is, as you may have guessed, just a positioning flight.

IMG_0382

CHECK-IN
Location:
Departures level, French sector.
Counters: Two SkyPriority counters and two Economy Class counters.
Facilities: There are four self-service machines available at the airport. Check-in on the Air France app is also possible.
The flight from Basel to Paris Charles de Gaulle is treated as a domestic flight. As the passenger you do not really notice any difference, save for the fact that you have to check in for the flight and pass through security in the French sector of the terminal.

LOUNGE
Name:
SkyView Lounge.
Type of lounge: Contractor lounge operated by Swissport.
Location: In the international Schengen area, right behind the duty free kiosk.
Facilities: Workstations, newspapers and magazines.
Internet: Wifi available free of charge.
Catering: Hot and cold snacks available throughout the day.
Behind security, the French sector is connected airside to the rest of terminal, which means that you can still access the duty free shop and, more importantly, the Swissport SkyView lounge. Admittedly, it is quite a trek from the French sector to the lounge, but at least that helps to pass the time.

The SkyView lounge is open to all passengers. If you are not holding a Business Class ticket and are not an upper tier member of any frequent flyer programme, you may still use the facilities for a fee of CHF38.- per person.

The lounge was recently refurbished on the entrance level. Apart from the new furniture, they appear to have planted new palm trees in the courtyard, which makes a huge difference. The palms that had been there before were starting to look rather sad.

IMG_0383
IMG_0384

The main area of the lounge and the buffet are on the upper level. The food & beverages selection is pretty fair and, in my view, perfectly adequate for a lounge at a regional airport. Throughout the day, there is a good selection of hot and cold snacks to choose from. There is also an open-air terrace which doubles as the smoking area. You need not worry about the cigarette smoke though, because the terrace is fairly large.

IMG_0385
IMG_0387
IMG_0392
IMG_0388

BOARDING
Boarding for the flight starts on time. Air France/KLM does not have a dedicated line for status holders and Business Class passengers. However, the first boarding call is for SkyTeam Priority passengers only, who are invited to just push to the front of the line. I always feel a tad uncomfortable, although most travellers seem to be used to it by now and you rarely get any complaints any more.

IMG_0394
IMG_0395

CREW
The cabin crew on this flight is made up of two middle-aged gentlemen. I would not say they are rude or impolite, they are just not gushing either. Evidently, they are also refusing to speak anything but French.

THE CABIN
There are two things that really elude me about the cabin of HOP’s Embraer 175. First of all, I cannot understand why there is a cabin divider when HOP only offers an Economy Class product. And secondly, why is it that HOP, like Alitalia, finds it so hard to align the passenger seats with the windows of the aircraft? On most rows the windows are rather inconveniently positioned. As a result, to look out you generally have to twist you neck round quite a bit.

IMG_0396
IMG_0398
IMG_0397
IMG_0400
IMG_0401

THE MEAL
The flight time to Paris is announced as 55 minutes. Given that this is really just a short hop and a domestic one at that, it is rather nice that HOP will offer you hot and cold drinks and a choice of either sweet or savoury biscuits. As a rule, I would try to avoid the savoury snack because it is usually not very good. The sweet biscuits on the other hand, I can highly recommend. They are lovely, sweet and have a rich buttery flavour.

IMG_0402

ARRIVAL
We land in a westerly direction, which means we have rather a long taxiway all the way back to Terminal 2G, which is the easternmost terminal in CDG. Terminal 2G is where all the HOP/Regional flights arrive and depart, in addition to a few other carriers like Luxair. There is an airside and landside connection from 2G to the other terminals.

IMG_0403
IMG_0404
IMG_0405
IMG_0406