Date: 25 March 2017.
Flight time: 1 hour 40 minutes.
Aircraft: Airbus A 319.
Seat: 2F, window on the second row.
Terminal 2E and 2F are connected airside and you can easily make the transfer on foot. On this particular occasion the process is incredibly swift, given that I’m the only customer at the security checkpoint and the many staff at the four open security lanes look absolutely bored out of their wits.
I checked in for the flight using the Air France app, which works very well since the last release. As I already mentioned, my flight will be leaving from Terminal 2F, which is the Schengen terminal for all SkyTeam carriers. There are two piers to the terminal.
I really like the architecture of the building.
There is an Air France Business Class lounge located in the tip of the pier and both piers have their own lounge. However, right now the lounge on the one pier is closed for refurbishment. The lounge that is opens appears to have undergone recent refurbishment. They didn’t do anything drastic, it’s more of a facelift really.
The lounge is nice and has many seating options along the huge curved windows that offer some excellent views of the activities on the apron.
The food options in the lounge are good, with a wide selection of salads, soup, sandwiches, cheese and sweet snacks.
Showers and toilets are available in the lounge.
Boarding for the flight is from gate F21, which is a bus gate. Which means I hit the jackpot and my ride to Madrid is parked on a remote stand. Oh happy day!
The cabin layout is your bog standard European Economy Class seat with the middle seat left empty. Even so, I think Air France have done a good job working on the appearance of the aircraft, which looks elegant and bright. There is a red pillow at every seat as I board the aircraft.
Seven of the twelve seats are occupied.
There is one gentleman working the Business Class cabin. I assume he must be the purser. His English and Spanish are both excellent and he goes about his duties conscientiously.
The service on the ground begins with the distribution of small bottles of water and packed refreshing towels which are lightly scented.
There is no drinks service ahead of the meal being served. Despite the flight time of one hour and forty minutes, we are served the same type of meal that you also get on the much shorter sector from Paris to Zürich. But somehow, given my recent experience with Lufthansa from Munich to Malta, that really should not surprise me. Short-haul Business Class catering in Europe is definitely going to the dogs.
It’s not that there is something wrong with the meal and it tastes okay, I just think it’s a bit small. It’s also an odd combination of randomly selected items.
The meal consists of:
- a savoury cheese muffin, served warm
- a brioche filled with cream cheese and tomato paste
- two shrimps sautéed in sesame oil, served cold
- a berry maccaron
- one profiterole
- and some incredibly rich chocolate thing that clings to your teeth
- a box of chocolate covered wafers
To drink I have a Coke Zero and then coffee.
I think this is the first time I’ve landed in Madrid coming in from the north. The airport is fairly busy, with quite a few departures to Latin America. There are three LATAM aircraft parked at the gate and two Avianca Dreamliners taxiing out for departure.
In Madrid, Air France uses Terminal 2. Normally you can make your way into town using the metro. However, for the time being, the station and tunnels of the metro line that runs to the airport are out of service for maintenance. But a there is a replacement bus service in operation – the SE2 – that takes passengers to the next open metro station. Just stay on the bus until the final destination and then follow the other passenger.
Air France provided a solid service on both flights today. The crews were friendly and professional and the aircraft both looked as though they were in mint condition, with a tidy and modern cabin. Of course it helps that the B 787-9 from London to Paris still has that ‘new car’ smell to it and the crew were obviously very proud and eager to show off the product.
As I said, the meal was a bit of a let down. But I think that has less to do with Air France and more likely reflects a general trend among the European carriers.
The transfer in Paris was painless, highly efficient and certainly much more pleasant than connecting at that rat hole they call Frankfurt airport.