Airline: Air France
Aircraft: Airbus A 330-200
To: Paris Charles de Gaulle
Flight time: 7 hours 10 minutes
Seat: 3C, aisle seat
Air France operates two daily flights from Dubai to Paris. AF655 is the night time service which departs Dubai at 01h30, to arrive in Paris at 06h15 in the morning. This flight is operated by a Boeing B 777-300ER and features Air France’s fabulous la Première.
AF659 is the day time service that leaves Dubai at 06h40 and arrives in Paris at 11h40. This service is operated by an Airbus A 330-200. Air France is currently in the process of refurbishing the Business Class cabin on its Airbus A 330s. In both the old and new versions, the seating configuration is 2 + 2 + 2, seeing as the aircraft are mostly deployed on mid-haul sectors only. The main difference between the new and the old seat is that the old seat is an angled lie-flat, while the new seat is also lie-flat but horizontal.
Theoretically, only aircraft in the new configuration are operated to Dubai. However, for operational reasons it may happen that you will find yourself sitting in an aircraft in the old configuration.
In the new cabin the first row on the port side is row 1. Whereas in the old configuration, the bulkhead row on the port side is row 2.
Getting to the Airport
I leave the Sofitel Downtown near Burj Khalifa at 04h26. The journey to the airport takes exactly 14 minutes to complete – partly because there is hardly any traffic with it being the weekend, and mainly because the driver clearly has a pressing appointment with death and thinks I might fancy coming along for the ride.
Air France operates out of Terminal 1 in Dubai. Check-in is done in area 2 and there are seven counters open when I arrive.
When I arrived in Dubai a week ago, the immigration officer stored my passport data, so that I could use the biometric smart gates. As a result, passport control for departures is now very swift and painless.
At this time of the day, Terminal 1 is not very busy. As such, security only takes a few minutes and then I’m on my way to the shuttle that will take me to the D gates.
In Dubai Air France uses the SkyTeam lounge for its Business Class passengers. The lounge is very spacious. I’d like to say it’s also quiet, but that would be a lie, because there’s this beastly little squirt making enough noise for ten. Luckily the little creep soon vanishes when the Saudia flight to Jeddah is called for boarding. Peace at last…
Boarding starts at 05h55. It’s still dark outside and the location of the gate makes photos of the aircraft impossible.
Boarding is by zones, with Business Class passengers in zone 1 boarding first.
My first impression of the seat is good. The cabin looks tidy and the seat configuration is practical. There is a stowage compartment right below the video screen and in the side of the seat.
The inflight entertainment has touch screen technology and the picture is very sharp. Complimentary wifi for text messages is available. For more capacity, passengers can purchase individual packages.
The divider between the two seats is good, and in the open position offers at least some privacy.
On this service, Air France serves the main meal immediately after take-off, which I think is rather inconvenient, because most passengers have had an early start and want to sleep, more than anything else. And so I decide to skip the meal and go off to Noddy land instead. In the bed position the seat is very comfortable, and together with the thick blanket and plump pillow makes for a good few hours of sleep.
The First Meal
I wake up halfway into the flight. One of the crew sees me and immediately comes to ask if I’ll have breakfast, which she subsequently brings me with an espresso and fresh orange juice.
The meal consists of a plate of smoked salmon and smoked turkey.
Fruit salad and yoghurt.
And a selection of bread.
There is also a choice of English breakfast or sweet crêpes. But seeing as I already had something to eat in the lounge, I decide to skip the hot meal.
The Second Service
A bit over an hour out of Paris the lights come on and a light snack is served.
It consists of three small canapés with cheese, salmon and grilled vegetables.
A bowl of fruit.
And a strange looking dessert I steer clear of…
The crew on this flight are truly excellent. Throughout the journey they are constantly passing through the cabin and even actively asking passengers if there’s anything they can do for them.
Eventually, we land in Paris ahead of schedule, despite the detour via Saudi Arabia. The flight ends at Terminal 2E. I now have to make my way to 2F for my onward connection.