Air France, Economy Class – A 319: Zürich to Paris-Roissy



Finally, it is time for my summer vacation. With only eleven flights, by my standards I have a very modest itinerary to cover in two weeks.

The first leg of this series sees me travelling on one of Airbus’s smallest aircraft – the Air France A319 – from Zürich to Paris-Roissy. This, of course, is merely a positioning flight. Originally, this flight should have been operated by an A318. However, I know from a reliable source that Air France has a tendency to swap aircraft on this route rather frequently.

Getting to the Airport

Transport: Train.
Departs from: Basel Swiss Railway station (Being right in the corner between Switzerland, France and Germany, Basel has three railway stations).
Frequency: Every 30 minutes via Zürich main railway station, where you have to change. From there you have a train to the airport at 07, 09 and 37 and 39 past the hour. Alternatively, there is an hourly train at 40 past the hour, which runs directly from Basel Swiss Railway station to Zürich Flughafen.
Journey time: About 80 minutes.
Fare: CHF38 for a second class one way ticket. The fare is the same, whether you take the direct train to the airport or change at Zürich main station.

Rather than carting my suitcase all the way to Winterthur and then back again in the evening, I decide to hop off at Zürich airport on my way to the office in the morning. Lockers are located one floor up from the platform, to the left of the escalators leading up from platforms three and four. There are lockers in different sizes and prices range from CHF6 for a small locker that can take one piece of large hand luggage, to CHF15 for a locker large enough for two standard size suitcases.


Location: Check-in 2, row 4.
Facilities: Check-in machines, Web Check-in.
Counters: One counter for SkyPriority passengers and two for all other travellers.

I always thought the KLM app was much better than the Air France one. However, recently both KLM and Air France released updates of their respective apps and I must say, the Air France one is now much better and more attractive. I think what I dislike the most about the new KLM app is that finding information is far less intuitive. Just try looking up a ticket number for one of your bookings!

During the check-in process, I am given the option to upgrade to Business Class for CHF125 or to select an emergency exit seat for extra space. The standard price for an emergency exit seat is CHF11 for regular passengers, CHF5.50 for Gold card holders and free of charge for Platinum card holders.


The Lounge

Location: One floor up from the airside centre.
Type of Lounge:
Dedicated SkyTeam lounge, operated by DNATA.
None to mention really. The toilets are outside the lounge, no showers.
Food: Sandwiches, biscuits, soup. The food changes throughout the day.
Bar: Selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks and juices, including, somewhat surprisingly, cranberry juice.
Free wifi, the code is issued at reception.

The lounge has been done up since my last visit. There are new bistro style tables and chairs to match. It is a vast improvement over the chairs there used to be in the lounge. The entire bar area is new too. They also appear to have expanded their food options. Apart from the soup and sandwiches there are now also small bowls with different types of salad available.



Our flight is delayed arriving from Paris, and so boarding starts about thirty minutes late. The first call is for Business Class and status card holders only and I am quite impressed by how the sequence is enforced, with passenger not falling into either category being turned away and asked to wait.


The Cabin

Seat: 10D, aisle seat on the emergency exit.
Configuration: 3 + 3
Pitch: 32 inches
Width: 17.5 inches.
Facilities: Reading lamp and an air vent, adjustable headrest.
Audio and Video: None.

Air France’s A319 have a seating capacity of 125 in a two-class cabin, with an Economy Class and a Business Class section. Although it should also be mentioned that Air France operates the A319 in two different configurations. On domestic routes the aircraft only has one class and is configured for a capacity of 142.

The cabin is comfortable and spacious. The seats have leather covers and look fairly new. In fact I do not think I have every been on an Air France aircraft with this type of cabin.


The Crew

The cabin service is provided by four cabin crew, one male and three females. I did not have any interaction with the male, but the three ladies were all very charming, friendly and chatty.

The Meal

  1. Brioche bun with salted butter and Emmental cheese
  2. Coke Zero

This makes for an interesting comparison. As far as the quality of the sandwich is concerned, I think KLM has the upper hand. Their cheese sandwiches are tastier because the bread they use is not as rubbery as the bun provided by Air France. Furthermore, KLM have some Dutch cheese in their sandwiches, which is a nice local touch. Given the vast number of delectable French cheese, it is somewhat alienating that they should use a Swiss Emmental instead!

Having said that, Air France certainly has the better drinks selection. Whereas in KLM you have a choice of orange of apple juice, coke or still water, Air France offer a nicely stocked bar even in Economy Class.


Terminal: 2F

Terminal 2F is where most of the Schengen flights of Air France and their partners arrive and depart. Like everything else in Roissy Airport, the facility certainly looks very sleek and stylish but not very user or passenger friendly. In particular, transferring between one terminal and another can be quite a nightmare in Paris, which is why I have decided to spend the night here before starting on the journey proper.


Getting to the Hotel

Transport: Complimentary Roissy-Val shuttle train.
Departs from: Terminals 1 and 2.
Frequency: Every few minutes
Journey time: About 15 minutes door to door.
Fare: Free of charge.

I am only spending the one night in Paris, so I figure I might as well stay near the airport. This time, I shall be staying at the CitizenM. To reach the hotel from Terminal 2, first take the complimentary Roissy-Val shuttle train, which links the three terminals. Alight at Terminal 3, then take exit 1 and follow the signs. The CitizenM is about two minutes on foot from the Terminal 3 stop.


Air France, Economy Class – CRJ1000 / A 319: To the lavender fields of Provence


A while back Air France came up with the bright idea of setting up secondary, low-cost hubs in Toulouse and Marseille. Among the newly opened routes was Marseille to Basel, where I live. I’ve always wanted to visit the Provence region of France, so once the flights were released for sale, I booked myself on a flight from Basel to Marseille in the evening of Friday, 29. June 2012. The return would be the next evening, on Saturday, 30. June 2012. This gave me nearly 24 hours to drive out of the city to see if I could find the famous lavender fields of Provence, which are in bloom in June.

And then along came Air France and made a dog’s breakfast of the whole thing. Quite a while after I had booked the flights, I received a mail from Air France informing me that due to the bad performance of the route, the Saturday flight had been cancelled. I would need to be rebooked. The easiest thing of course, would have been to rebook me for the flight the next evening, Sunday, 01. July 2012. But private affairs required me to be back in Basel on Sunday morning, so instead of taking the direct service, I opted for a 06h15 departure from Marseille to Roissy and then on to Basel. That would get me into Basel at 09h45. 06h15 is very early and yes, transferring in Roissy is not my idea of fun either. But it cannot be helped.

Then a while later I needed to be in Dubai for a week, until 28. June 2012. I subsequently booked flights with Oman Air to get me from Zürich via Muscat to Dubai and back. The Oman Air flight back to Zürich would be on Friday, 29. June 2012 and would arrive back in Zürich at 18h40. This gave me enough time to get back to Basel, grab my rucksack and head for Basel airport for the flight to Marseille at 23h00.

And then along came Air France and made a dog’s breakfast of the whole thing. After I had booked the trip to Oman, I received another mail from Air France informing me that the flight from Basel to Marseille had been rescheduled and would now already be leaving at 20h00. There was no way I would make it from Zürich by that time. And so it came that the outbound flight had to be changed as well. Eventually I was rebooked to leave Basel at 10h00 on Saturday, 30. June 2012. I would fly to Marseille via Orly.

But one must look at the positive side. At least this meant that I would be flying on the Britair CRK to Orly.


Date: 30. June 2012
From: Basel
To: Paris Orly
Airline: Brit Air for Air France
Aircraft: Bombardier Canadair Regonal Jet CRJ-1000
Economy Class
Seat: 1A

Getting to the Airport

The journey begins, yet again, outside the main railway station in Basel. It is here that I catch the line 50 to the airport.


The airport is looking good. Following the completion of the exterior, the interior has now also been revamped.


This here is actually what used to be the oldest part of the original construction from the 1970s.


I cross over into the French side. I’ve already done OLCI, so I head upstairs for security.



The French side of the departure lounge is empty.


At around 09h30, my bird finally makes an appearance. This will be my first trip with the CRK!



A short while later, boarding is called. The load on today’s flight is rather light and boarding is quickly completed.


The Cabin

Platinum members get seats at the front of the plane, hence I am on 1A. There are about 8 empty rows in between me and the rest of the passengers. The cabin on this bird is in mint condition and has that lovely crisp new plane smell about it. I suspect it hasn’t been in service very long.


The cabin crew make a quick welcome announcement in French and English and then we’re off.


Take-off is to the south towards Switzerland and Basel. After take-off we do a steep right turn and set course for Paris.


The Crew

Once the seat belt sign goes off, the curtains close and the crew start to prepare for the service. The cabin crew on this flight consists of two very chirpy and friendly French young ladies. Perhaps it’s the weather, perhaps it’s the light load or perhaps a combination of both but they appear to be in a really good mood.


The Meal

For the meal I have a cup of hot chocolate and sweet biscuits. The flight attendant tells me that the hot chocolate is made with water. But If I add two creamers I won’t be able to tell the difference. I try and must admit, not bad at all.


The weather en route is overcast.



On the approach the weather clears up. But alas I am sitting on the wrong side to be able to see the city.


We arrive in Orly on time and taxi past a huge variety of different airlines and aircraft types. A short and pleasant flight comes to an end.


Transfer in Paris Orly

Domestic flights arrive and depart from Orly Ouest. The terminal is quite old and evidently not geared for transfer passengers. This means that although I’m on an intra-Schengen flight, I will still have to go through security again. There is a separate area for SkyPriority passengers to check-in, but alas no fast track through security.


The Lounge

Even so, once I’m through security I still have enough time to visit ‘Le Salon Air France’. Air France operates a shuttle, called ‘La Navette’, to a number of French cities. These flights all leave from the same area in Hall 2 and the lounge is only available to these flights. The lounge is not very well stocked and not exactly fancy. But it gets the job done and it offers some excellent views of the apron.


Date: 30. June 2012
Paris Orly
Air France
Airbus A319
Economy Class
10D, aisle


Boarding is called a few minutes late. It’s an orderly affair and Air France take their boarding by seat rows very seriously.


Originally I’m on 10E, the middle seat on the emergency exit. Fortunately the guy on the aisle recognises some pal of his just as the doors close and decides to move. I shift across to the aisle seat, leaving the middle seat empty for the rest of the flight.

The Cabin

The cabin on this aircraft has a very modern and spacious feel to it. The seats are not exactly comfy but sufficient for a short flight of only one hour.


The Crew

Service on this flight is pretty much the same as on the previous flight. The crew are friendly and chatty.

The Meal

The meal on this flight is as frugal as that on the previous one too. This appears to be the standard on Air France domestic flights. I have a Perrier and more of the biscuits.



The approach takes us over water and eventually a set of large salt pans. It’s quite spectacular.


After we land we taxi past a huge fleet of fire protection aircraft.


I deplane and head outside. It’s a nice day but very hot. But it still feels nice. Just like a summer holiday. As for Air France, I don’t think I’ll ever be a fan. But I must say, these two flights were not bad – not bad at all.


The Provence region of France is very beautiful and offers some quite dramatic landscapes. Softly rolling lush green hills will suddenly give way to ragged cliffs with quaint little villages perched dangerously on the promontory. The lavender season, when the flowers are in bloom, is relatively short. I think I was quite lucky in that everything was still in full bloom when I visited.

I think I shall have to return some day and maybe spend some more time here.