Air France Boeing 777 Premium Voyageur

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Background

Paris-based Air France can trace its history back nearly 80 years and currently serves over a hundred destinations worldwide, including more than 30 cities in Africa. In 2003, the airline partnered with Amsterdam-based airline KLM, which connects an additional 14 African cities with the Dutch capital. Both airlines are members of the Skyteam alliance. Air France offers daily flights from Johannesburg to Paris, with most services using the Airbus A380. The airline began rolling out its Premium Economy cabin – dubbed Premium Voyageur – in 2009, and it is now available on 90% of all Air France services.

Check-in

I was due to fly on the A380, but for some reason the aircraft was replaced with the Boeing 777 – either for that particular day or the week. I’m led to believe that it’s almost always an A380 flight, and that the cabin is the same on the B777, so I didn’t see any problem with the change. With regards checking in, whenever I fly nowadays I use online check-in to speed things along, but I needn’t have worried this time. One of the selling points of booking a ticket in Premium Voyageur is that passengers use the priority check-in desks offered to Business Class passengers, so there’s rarely a queue. Full-fare Premium Voyageur tickets also accrue 25% more Flying Blue loyalty miles than a similar Economy ticket, and passengers receive a generous baggage allowance – two pieces of up to 23 kilograms each.

Boarding

Premium Voyageur passengers do not receive lounge access, so I made myself comfortable in the spacious boarding area set aside for the Air France flight. The queues were orderly and boarding proceeded on time.

The Flight

One of the highlights of flying in Premium Voyageur is that it is a separate cabin, curtained off from both Business and Economy, so the atmosphere is quiet and peaceful. The premium feel is enhanced by the fact that the seats – as you find in most Business Class cabins – recline within their own hard shell, so there’s no loss of personal space when the traveller ahead decides to get some sleep. That’s certainly something that irks me about sitting in Economy Class. Also, the seat is 40% larger than what you’ll find in Economy – 20% wider, with 20% more legroom – so it’s a comfortable step up from Economy. There’s a sizeable tray and an in-seat power point, making it easy to get some work done, and I liked the fact that a water bottle was ready and waiting alongside good-quality noise-reducing headphones. The only disappointment was the food, which is the same menu as offered in the Economy cabin. For a nation known for its cuisine, the evening meal of chicken a la king with soya-sauce noodles was one of the most bizarre I’ve ever eaten in-flight. Thankfully, the baguettes and cheese were plentiful to make up for it.

Arrival

We arrived on schedule at Paris’ sprawling Charles de Gaulle airport, leaving me plenty of time to find my way through the maze of passageways to my connecting flight down to Toulouse. Happily, the suitcase checked in at Johannesburg transferred safely to Toulouse as well.

Verdict

The Premium Voyageur cabin is a worthwhile step up for travellers needing a little extra comfort without the steep fare of a Business Class ticket. While the in-flight cabin crew could perhaps do a little more to entrench the ‘Premium’ feel, the quality seat and extra space make this an excellent ‘Goldilocks’ option for corporate travellers with an eye on the bottom line.

Richard Holmes

Contact

airfrance.com

 

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