Airline: Air France
Aircraft: Airbus A 318
From: Paris Charles de Gaulle, Terminal 2F
To: Genève Cointrin
Flight time: 1 hour 30 minutes
This post marks the beginning of my sabbatical: my six months of paid leave start on 1 March 2020. Before I eventually do get on the plane to Oz though, there are still a few things that need taking care off. So I will still need to go to Luxembourg twice before I’m well and truly gone. This post and the next are of the positioning flights to break in the ticket, so to speak.
The first leg will be from Paris Roissy to Geneva. The flight is operated by Air France, but also carries the codes of SWISS and Air Mauritius.
As such, the flight will operate out of Terminal 2F, which is the Air France Schengen terminal. Air France has a dedicated check-in zone for its SkyPriority and Business Class passengers.
During the check-in process I interact with three Air France employees and obviously they have all been properly trained in customer care. The first is a middle aged man at the entrance to the check-in area. I approach him and ask if I can check in here, even though I‘m booked on the LX flight number.
He welcomes me to Air France and tells that bien sûr, I‘m welcome to check in here, and makes a joke that with SWISS being located in the ‚flying saucer’ on the other side, by which I figure he means Terminal 1, boarding might be a bit cumbersome.
Next a young woman ushers me to a free counter, where another young lady welcomes me to Air France and checks me in. Of course, I know that this amount of staff is a luxury not many airlines can afford. And I know Air France isn‘t exactly in excellent shape financially. But seriously, from the perspective of the passenger experience, this is really how it‘s done. Lufthansa, are you even paying attention…? As I exit the check-in area, all three wish me a pleasant flight.
The two piers at 2F are very elegant and stylish, but also not very practical. Today it‘s okay because there aren‘t that many passengers. But when it‘s busy, it‘s difficult to get through.
The lounge is one level down from the main airside area and is spread out over two levels. In typical Air France manner, the services available on both levels are identical and include a fully stocked bar as well as a counter with savoury dishes and another with sweet dishes. I can highly recommend the crêpes sucrées. Although you probably don‘t necessarily need to have five like me…
Throughout the lounge the Air France branding is visible, from the posters on the wall to the pattern on the floor. The lower level is usually a little less crowded, by the way.
Boarding is strictly by zones, with Business Class passengers boarding in zone 1.
From the inside, the Air France A 318 is easy to distinguish from the A 319 because it has cloth seat covers instead of leather. On every row of three there are four USB ports. The aircraft also has wifi available and the crew will distribute information cards in Business Class with instructions how to log in.
On today‘s flight there are six rows ahead of the cabin divider for a total of 24 seats. I count 20 passengers in the forward cabin. Incidentally, on the port side, there is no row 1. So row 2 is the bulkhead row.
There are two cabin crew in the Business Class cabin. Both of them are middle aged. The female cabin crew is elegant in her appearance and very charming in dealing with passengers.
Once the doors close, packaged and scented wet towels are handed out. The flight time is 55 minutes.
Despite the short flight time, Air France does a full meal service on this flight. Given the size of the cabin, the trays are served from the trolley.
On the tray there is an asparagus salad and shrimps on a raspberry coulis, which taste much better than they sound.
In addition, there is a small plate of cheese. The crew offer warm bread from the basket to go with that.
For dessert there is a rhubarb tarte and a small piece of dark chocolate. The flight attendant is very attentive and goes out of her way to make passengers feel comfortable. If only flying could always be like this…
At 13h40 the captain comes on the PA to inform us that there will be a delay of about thirty minutes for our arrival, due to the fact that there was a dog on the runway and all arrivals had to be halted for forty minutes while they caught it.
As you may have guessed, I’m a big fan of Air France. Even so, I have to say that on this trip they really impressed me. First of all, because I find it refreshing that the staff on the front line who deal with the passengers obviously seem to enjoy their jobs. Or at least are sufficiently motivated to deliver a seamless and rather pleasant customer experience.
Eventually, we land at 14h33 and taxi to our stand in the French sector of the airport. And that‘s when the culture shock sets in…