Airline: Air France
Aircraft: Boeing B 777-300
From: Paris Charles de Gaulle (Roissy)
Flight time: 6h50mins
Seat: 3L, window seat
To date, the UAE’s three largest airlines, some of the country’s ANSPs and a few smaller operators use the tests my university is responsible for. Which is why I regularly travel to the UAE to train new assessors. Every time I come here, the flying Dutchman tells me it’ll probably be the last trip for a while. But that never really seems to be the case…!
I go through immigration in terminal 2G, at which I just arrived on a flight from Basel. Behind passport control is the stop for the shuttle bus, which pulls up just as I’m through passport control. The journey to terminal 2E(K) is nine minutes.
On the way I get a nice tour of some of Paris’ best sights (at least I think so…):
Once I enter the building at 2K, I head one floor up to the main concourse. My flight to Dubai is boarding from K41, which is the gate immediately next to the escalators.
I don’t recall having passed through this terminal before. And I must say, the architecture is spectacular.
Just as I step off the escalator, boarding for my flight begins, 55 minutes before departure. That seems rather early to me, but I figure I might as well skip the lounge and just get comfortable on board instead.
Well hello, gorgeous! Aren’t you a lovely big girl… in case you hadn’t realised, I seriously have a thing for the B777. Those engines…!
The Business Class cabin on Air France’s B777-300ER is configured in a reverse herring bone layout. There is a smaller Business Class cabin of four rows between the L1 and L2 doors, and then the larger cabin after the L2 door. Row 3 is the bulkhead row of the forward cabin, immediately behind La Première.
Air France has one of my favourite Business Class products. The design of the seat is great and the amount of privacy offered is also very good.
There is ample storage space and the layout of the seat is very practical.
When I reach my seat, a pair of slippers, a thick pillow, a nice, fluffy blanket, and a bottle of Evian have already been placed there.
A member of the crew quickly comes to greet me and then hangs my jacket.
Once boarding is completed, service begins with a welcome drink. There is a choice of champagne or fresh juice. I have the latter, which turns out to be a combination of apple, banana, orange, pineapple, spinach and something else I’ve now forgotten. It’s quite tasty!
This is followed by the distribution of the unscented hot towels, which are also very fluffy.
We take off heading westwards. Our flight today is routing via Switzerland, the eastern Mediterranean, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. The flight time is six hours and 25 minutes.
After take-off, the vanity kits and menus are distributed.
The service begins as soon as the seat belt sign is turned off.
To start, I just have a glass of Perrier, which is served with the appetizer, which is smoked duck with a celery and hazelnut purée. There’s also a packet of cheese-filled crackers.
The tray is served with the first course and salad on it. The starter is foue gras, which I simply don’t like, and a lentil and cauliflower salad, which is very tasty and flavourful.
There’s a lovely selection of warm bread served with the meal.
For the main dish, I have the fish, which isn’t all that good and has a somewhat off-putting smell from the reheated mussels.
Next is the cheese course, which is served with more bread. There are three pieces of cheese, a camembert, a cantal and a goat’s cheese. All three are quite subtle and go well with a glass of port.
And finally, for dessert I have a small ramekin of mocha ice cream, which is a refreshing conclusion to the meal. Two hours after take-off, the service is completed.
For the rest of the flight I lounge in my seat, reading my Kindle. I can highly recommend Ian McEwan’s The Cockroach, which is a brilliant satire based on Kafka’s Metamorphosis but in reverse, in which a cockroach finds himself transformed into the British prime minister.
The Second Service
90 minutes out of Dubai, the lights are turned on again and a light snack is served ahead of our arrival.
The snack consists of a chicken wrap and two sweet pastries and is perfectly adequate, given the short flight time.
Eventually we land after six hours and fifty minutes, including 25 minutes spent holding over Dubai. The airport seems very quiet and there are hardly any people on the shuttle to the arrivals building.
Immigration is deserted. I’m seen to by a friendly young guy, who tells me he’s now registered me in their system, so I’ll be able to use the eGates on my next visit.
I grab a taxi and make my way to the hotel. It suddenly starts raining heavily, and within minutes Sheikh Zayed Road is flooded is places. I’ve never seen Dubai like this. It’s still warm though.