AIR FRANCE – THE FRENCH SUPER BIRD
Air France, the French flag carrier, was formed on October 7, 1933 in a merger with Air Orient, Air Union, The International Air Navigation Company, and the Société Générale des Transports Aériens (STGA). During the second world war, the airline was headquartered in Marseille, France which was far from the war front, at the time. The company was nationalized in 1945 before being privatized again in 1999. The airline also acquired Air Inter and the private UTA (Union de Transports Aériens) in 1990. In 2000, Air France was one of the founding members of the SkyTeam Global Airline Alliance. In 2004, the French carrier and the Netherlands-based airline KLM merged,forming what is known today as Air France – KLM Group.
Nowadays, Air France flies to more than 150 destinations around the world and operates a fleet of more than 200 aircrafts. Its aircrafts range from the Airbus A318 to the A380, which you are about to board.
Today’s trip will embark you on-board the Super Airbus A380 between New York and Paris Charles-de-Gaulle in Air France’s Premium Economy Class. This flight is operated daily as “AF007” and departs the city that never sleeps at 18:40 local and lands in the French capital at 08:00 local time.
At JFK’s airport, Air France welcomes its passengers at Terminal 1. This terminal is indeed welcoming and offers a good number of automated check-in machines. The indications are clear and the airport staff is professional.
Once through security, you do not find a large area, but you will find the basic duty-free shops expected at an international airport. Air France also offers to its Premium passengers the possibility to buy lounge access for 35 USD. We do apologize for not being able to present you the latter due to the fact that it is a last-minute upgrade.
Today’s bird is a 9 year old A380-861 registered F-HPJB. It is equipped with four GP7200 engines born from the alliance of General Electric and Pratt & Whitney. Both the alliance and the GP7200 engines were made especially for this Airbus.
The cabin of the Air France’s A380 offers a very pleasant feeling of space and modernity, especially due to the luminous onboard lighting and the huge windows, the largest ones in the industry. Air France’s Super bird can carry up to 516 passengers with 9 in “La Premiere,” 80 in Business Class, 38 in Premium, and 389 in Economy.
This configuration offers an awesome pitch of 38″ and a seat width of 19″. The seats are comfortable, equipped with both an adjustable headrest and foot-rest, and large storage spaces are offered. A personal reading lamp, as well as an electronic PC outlet and a USB port, are also featured in this Premium Cabin located on the upper deck of the Airbus A380. An amenity kit composed of a toothbrush, toothpaste, a pair of earplugs, and an eye mask are provided to the passengers in Premium Cabins.
The meal service began about an hour after take-off with an “A La Carte” menu distributed to passengers on the ground. Today, we decided to have you discover the Conchiglie pasta in marinara sauce with ricotta cheese and spinach. The catering service proposed by Air France for its Premium passengers is the same as it is for its Economy Class’ passengers. The food is basic, and a wide selection of drinks are also offered to the travelers. The red wine chosen to accompany today’s dish is a rather good 2016 “Maison Castel”. A breakfast composed of a hot drink, orange juice, yogurt, and bread was served before landing in Paris.
Entertainment-wise, this Premium Economy is fitted with 8″ large IFE screens offering near 100 films, 26 video games, and 300 music albums. To enjoy it, a remote control and a “Phitek” headset equipped with noise-canceling are attached to every seat. The negative point is that this cabin does not offer the possibility for the passengers to use their own headsets. The Air France Magazine, as well as a selection of newspapers, were available during the flight.
On this route, Air France suffers from hard competition as American Airlines, Delta and the low-cost carrier Norwegian are also connecting JFK and Paris, not to mention United Airlines flying from Newark Airport. The overall product is good and within the standards of the market. Indeed, the cabin offers more space than a traditional Economy, the dinner service was average, and the crew was friendly, available, and regularly passed through the cabin to propose different beverages during the flight.