Date: 10 March 2016
Flight time: 55 minutes
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Type of meal: Afternoon snack.
Delivery: Tray service from the trolley.
- Beetroot hummus tartlet.
- Canapé of smoked salmon.
- A warm cheese bun.
- Bowl of grapes.
- A sweet caramel muffin and lemon cream profiterole.
- 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.
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.
It is nice to be back home. Next week I shall be off the Luxembourg again.
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.