Flight check: Air France A380 Business Class

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Background

Air France is a full service global airline that flies to 168 international destinations in 93 countries. Most of Air France’s international flights operate from Paris-Roissy Charles de Gaulle airport. In 2007, the creation of a profit- and revenue-sharing transatlantic joint venture between Air France-KLM and Delta Air Lines was announced. Air France has a daily return flight to Paris from O.R Tambo International Airport.

Check-In

We departed from O.R Tambo International Airport. I found the check-in process to swift and well signposted, with excellent queue management. I appreciated the smiling “Merci Beaucoup” from the ticket clerk, although I suspect that was the sum total of her French. Nice touch, though.

Lounge 

Friday nights are busy at ORTIA and so was the lounge that was heaving with passengers. Lounges with high volume are often littered with used glasses and plate. Not here though. This place is efficiently run and nice to start one’s trip with a little glass of genuine bubbly and fresh decorative canapés. Too bad I had a wife hell bent on some pre-flight duty-free therapy otherwise a little more time could have been spent finding a little pre-flight joie de vivre.

Boarding

A friendly welcome on board and help with cabin luggage and coats was done with a smile on the face. And the champagne service continued.

The Seat

The entire raison d’être behind business travel – am I going to be comfortable or will I need the use of a skilled physiotherapist when I arrive some 11 hours later? Well I didn’t! The seat moulds to the shape of your body and provides all-over comfort and superb sleep quality. It’s shell design conserves your personal space and ensures your privacy throughout your flight. The seat is also equipped with a personal screen so you can enjoy a fully comprehensive entertainment line-up that includes 500 hours of varied programming available on demand. In addition, you also receive the following items: a hypoallergenic feather pillow; a soft blanket and a ‘comfort and well-being’ kit containing toiletries and Clarins skin treatment. Between you and me I was sorry to disembark.

The Flight

What we really mean here is the food. High-end airline cuisine with generous portions and well-informed recommendations from the flight crew. Air France’s Business class customers enjoy dishes signed off by chef by the famed Michel Roth. On our menu was a fresh gourmet Parma ham appetiser accompanied by a seasonal salad. There were four hot dishes to choose from, including the guest chef’s signature dish, with two kinds of meat, fish and an alternative offer of risotto specialties. I chose a salmon and lime dish, which was a good as anything I’ve tasted off the Avenue des Champs-Élysées. After the main course, a selection of cheeses, an assortment of desserts, a hot beverage and after-dinner drink concluded the meal. I don’t do desert, but the offerings looked chocolaty and sinful. To accompany each dish there was a selection of two red wines, a white wine and champagne. For customers wanting more time to work or relax, the ‘on the go’ option offers a cold meal of gourmet appetizer, seasonal salad, a selection of cheeses and a trio of desserts, served after take-off. Breakfast was a strong coffee and a sublime selection of pastries. I liked the fact that, like a good restaurant where the waiter always has half an eye on your pleasure, so too did the Air France crew. Breakfast was served the following morning with a smile and some degree of interest in my onward destination. In fact, I have one of the flight crew to thank for a meal recommendation in Nice.

Arrival

A smooth touch down into a grey Paris, but a long taxi to the gate. However, I love looking out at the bustle of airport activity. Our baggage was waiting after a seamless immigration experience.

Verdict

I’ll have to try very hard to find a better alternative when flying to Europe. In an age of increasing airline service parity, Air France has found a delicate balance between style comfort and savoir-faire

Jeremy Maggs

Contact
www.airfrance.com